Saturday, March 26, 2005

Those Who Help Themselves

A drowning man should ask God for the strength to swim for safety, not to be plucked out of the ocean by a helicopter.

That is a direct quote from the great armchair philosopher and quiche-maker extraordinaire of our time, my brother Peter.

He also goes on to say that a housewife should not pray for her husband to be faithful, but to have the courage to cut off his balls when the bastard comes home, but I think he was being just a little melodramatic.

He said that as a response to an e-mail forward he and I received from our sister about how God had saved 400 Christians from tsunamis that wiped out the city of Meulaboh. The Christians had gathered in a nearby hill after they were forbidden by the city's Muslims from celebrating Christmas and were thus spared.

My sister, in the past few years, has become more and more religious. In her zeal to spread the word of God, she sends me e-mails that are meant to be inspirational and faith-affirming. I should have told her that she should send me a backstage pass to an Indigo Girls concert, only in the music of folky lesbians with hairy armpits do I see God. Or in a grilled cheese sandwich.

E-mail forwards are a sub-genre of spam that I believe are more dangerous than the Viagra-pushin’, pyramid scheme-solicitin’, Christian-singles-in-your-area-pimpin’ variety. At least those are filtered by your spam blockers into a ‘bulk folder’ where you can go through them leisurely while you are waiting for your boyfriend’s response to your e-mail that you’ve got gonorrhea.

Nope, e-mail forwards are insidious because they are sent by erstwhile well-meaning people like your co-workers, your friends, your lil ole grandma, who think that they are taking advantage of technology to keep in touch. Well, they are mistaken. In terms of keeping in touch, these e-mail forwards cannot take the place of real, handwritten, personal checks of $50 or more.

If you send enough of these e-mail forwards, your friends may start disregarding your e-mails or worse, mark them as spam.

My friend Rooster was a well-known abuser of e-mail forwards. He used to send jokes everyday until one day, he accidentally sent his naked chatroom pic to his entire mailing list. Now, we call him Chicken Little. I wondered if I should also send him a note of congratulation, since I spied two eggs nestled underneath his hairy nest.

You could learn a lesson from this too. Your gonorrheal e-mail could be sitting in your boyfriend’s bulk mail folder, along with the other e-mails for CHEAP$$$ CaNaDiAn pen1cillin!!! How ironic.

I guess a lot of people misunderstand the purpose of prayer. People think that every time they need something, they can put their palms together and ask, you know, like it’s a 1-800 number to the heavenly Sears catalog. That's just stupid. God would never have anything else but a Barney’s catalog. He's not that cheap.

Look, I am not saying that in times of extreme desperation, I have not prayed to God that he send me that pair of Gucci suede loafers, overnight delivery please. But for me, it was more like a way to express my frustrations, my fears of not having the right shoes for my outfit. I don’t really expect that God would give me something that I didn’t work hard for.

And to be honest, I was really offended that people are out there attributing these things to God, putting words into God’s mouth. I don’t believe that God would kill thousands of people just to prove a point, that would just be plain evil.

I think there should be a rule that miracles can only be attributed to God after they have been researched and verified, the facts beyond a shadow of a doubt. There should be a governing body, sort of a Good Housekeeping “Seal of Approval” on it, but by Calvin Klein or something--but please not the Pope, he's done enough damage this century. Otherwise, I feel that we have cheapened the True Miracles.

Peter wrote back to our sister:

I think that people put a lot of meaning into things that are just random or natural. My problem with these forwarded religious emails is that people read them and think they are true without any critical thinking whatsoever. I believe that faith should not be bolstered by untruths, and that faith should not take the place of rational thought or personal action. A drowning person should pray to God for the strength to swim for safety, not to be plucked out of the water by helicopters. God helps those who help themselves.

Amen, brother. Amen.


Put your own holy face on a grilled cheese sandwich

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