This gem of a solicitation mailing arrived at our apartment last week.
The front of the envelope reads, in black lettering with red underlines,
This very old church loans this to you to bless someone connected with this home. Then, it must go to another family that desires God’s blessings. See letter inside … YOUR HOME FIRST!
There is no return address and the addressee is “Resident – To a Friend.”
Click through for the back of the envelope.
Across the black of the envelope, again in black lettering with read underlines, there is text reading:
God is doing great things in answer to prayer. Log onto www.AboutSaintMatthewsChurches.com and www.BiblicalPrayer.com to read testimonies of answered prayers.
We pray that you will bless someone in this home spiritually, physically & financially. And please dear Lord, bless the one whose hands open this letter. Make good changes in this one’s life and give them the desires of their heart. We pray over and bless this letter in your holy name. Amen.
It’s easy to make fun of this mailing’s excessive use of underlining and bolded text, and the thin grasp of coherent sentence structure. And it seems fairly obvious from the external packaging (we didn’t actually open the envelope; speculation was much more fun!) that the people behind the mailing are hoping to make money in some way through encouraging people to imagine that the letter will in some way “give them the desires of their heart.”
I’m struck by the inclusion of “financial” blessings, as well as the emphasis on the “desires of their heart.” These prompt me to think that the organization behind the mailing is likely influenced heavily by recent prosperity gospel teachings, that eschew the more traditional evangelical Christian suspicion of worldly wealth and “sins of the flesh,” or more earthy pleasures in exchange for righteousness and assurance of salvation. While I’m not myself of the Christian faith, what I know of the historical Jesus and most of the Christian theologians and practitioners I admire leads of me to believe this is a deep, deep perversion of the best of Christianity’s teaching.