God Wants You to Send Me Money

‘Dear…Someone Connected With This Address’, the letter says, ‘God’s holy blessing power is in the enclosed prayer rug of faith we are loaning you to use!!!’ Papers fall out of the envelope, pictures and triple-underlined pages of rant.

I wish they had sent me a rug. I need a rug. But they sent me a picture of a rug. I can’t put a little piece of paper on my floor and use it for a rug.

I think it’s psychological warfare. They’re messing with me.

If I accept that this piece of paper is a rug, maybe I’ll believe that the scary picture of Jesus, with closed eyes that pop open when you stare at it, is a miracle.

How did St. Matthew’s Churches find me? I’m a Unitarian. And I have many people and causes right here at home to give my money to, not least of all my church which is expensive to maintain (it’s an edifice). I’m also a Pagan, so I can laugh this off, but the weird and slightly occult combination of warnings and promises scared my kid.

I had to explain that you can’t hex a person you only know as ‘someone connected with this address’.

Of course I Googled the sender. Ripoffreport has a long comments section. There ‘s people who gave biblical rationalizations for giving money to crooks and expecting God to bless you, and also some creative ideas like sending heavy stuff in the postage paid envelope so that it costs the sender.

But brethren, do you know the dark night of the soul? Do you know what it’s like to live in a permanent February? Have you ever been so sick of being broke that you start spending your last pocket change on lottery tickets? Have you ever gone days without anyone to talk to? Do you know anyone who is losing their grip on reality, or starting to forget things?

Then you know who these people prey on.

Alternet has a great article on a day of reckoning that may yet dawn…

The New Testament reports that Jesus rarely used fancy modes of transportation to get around. He walked most of the time, although Matthew and other gospels mention that he once rode a borrowed donkey into Jerusalem, where he burst into the Temple and tossed out the money changers.

Nearly 2,000 years later, some who claim to speak in Jesus’ name are taking a different view. Consider Bishop Eddie Long, who pastors a megachurch in Lithonia, Ga. With a salary approaching $1 million a year and a nine-bathroom mansion situated on 20 acres, Long’s choice of vehicles reflects his opulent lifestyle: He drives a $350,000 Bentley.

Far from casting out money changers, Long is likely to join them. In a 2005 profile in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he defended his high-flying ways, insisting, “I pastor a multimillion dollar congregation. You’ve got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that’s supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering.”

Long’s lack of humility has probably done him no favors. At the time, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), expressed dismay.

“When I hear about leaders of charities being provided a $300,000 Bentley to drive around in, my fear is that it’s the taxpayers who subsidize this charity who are really being taken for a ride,” he quipped.

I’m glad Alternet mentioned that passage about the money changers. There’s also a lot of relevant stuff in the book of Matthew. In Matthew 19 verses 21-24 Jesus says to give to the poor. Not the rich. He didn’t say give to the rich. How sad that St. Matthew’s Churches got it all turned around.

Another enlightening passage is Matthew 18 verse 6, where Jesus says to be like a little child…

‘And whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.’

I think Jesus sounds kind of upset in that passage. He sounds kind of protective of the vulnerable. If I were a believer, even a little, and I made a pile of money leeching off needy people, I’d worry about being awfully warm in the next world.