On spam and “angels unaware”


The Scribe recently caused a major firestorm.  (But to paraphrase Colonel Jessup in A Few Good Men, “Is there any other kind?”)  He did this by attempting to share his Blog by way of a older-person singles-group email list.*

The short version of the lesson learned:  “I shan’t be doing that again!

But the episode was instructive, and it did lead to a couple of Bible-verse memory jogs.  It also led to a realization of an apparently-unique theme of this Blog: As a general principle, it’s better to be open-minded than close-minded.  So if that idea bothers you – if your mind is already made up in many or most things – you might as well stop reading right now.

One reason it’s better to be open-minded – The Scribe contends and will contend during the life of this Blog – is that you simply get much more out of your Bible study that way.  If you read the Bible with a closed or “narrow” mind, you’ll simply be cheating yourself out of the opportunity to live life “in all its abundance,” as Jesus promised in John 10:10.

Getting back to unsolicited email – also known as “spam” – it certainly does present a major problem for all internet users. (See Unsolicited Bulk Email: Definitions and Problems.)   But from that a general principle might be gleaned:  While most unsolicited emails present a problem, that doesn’t mean some of them don’t also present an opportunity.

That is, to simply close your mind and reject all unsolicited email is arguably as unwise as refusing to extend hospitality to anyone, regardless of circumstances.  That’s because – as the Bible says in Hebrews 13:2 – “Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.”  (The “angels unawares” language comes from the King James Bible, the one God uses.)

The updated version of that could be:  “Don’t automatically reject all unsolicited email, because you might find some of it interesting or even – heaven forbid – enlightening.”

On the other hand, neither clumsiness, nor stupidity, nor ignorance of the law is any excuse.

Then there’s the nice lady who created the email list in question, the nice lady who ended up getting so much grief because of the offending mass email, and to whom The Scribe has apologized and will continue to apologize profusely.

When The Scribe tactfully suggested that some of irate recipients of the offending mass email might be a tad grumpy -“Who are you and take my name of your *&^&% list” was a typical response – the nice lady politely responded that “These people are not grumpy.”  But she also noted that “I am getting hundreds of emails every day and they are all nasty.”

Which led to another Bible-verse memory jog, to wit: Matthew 7:16, which in the Good News Translation reads, “You will know them by what they do. Thorn bushes do not bear grapes, and briers do not bear figs.”  Which might be interpreted: It’s pretty hard to send a nasty email without being tainted by nastiness yourself.  (See also James 3:11, in the Aramaic Bible in Plain English: “Is it possible that from one spring, sweet and bitter waters go out?“)

The point is, this was a Christian older-person singles-group email list.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of 2d Corinthians 5:18 – saying God has “given us the ministry of reconciliation” – The Scribe can only apologize yet again, and promise that the mistake will never repeated.  Then too, his grievous error might prevent other “newbie” Bloggers from making that same mistake: Never, ever try to expand your unique “ministry” – whatever it is – through such a mass email list.

Mea coopa, mea coopa, mea maxima coopa
Mea coopa, mea coopa, mea maxima coopa

Point taken.


The cartoon is courtesy of http://www.reverendfun.com/add_toon_info.php?date=20070115&language=en.

*  The practice of referring to oneself in the third person is Illeism, “sometimes used in literature as a stylistic device.  In real life usage, illeism can reflect a number of different stylistic intentions or involuntary circumstances.” Illeism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.   Former Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole “regularly referred to himself in the third person, a habit that made him the target of ridicule in a series of skits on Saturday Night Live.” 11 Famous Illeists | Mental Floss.

The “mea coopa” reference was to one of the verses from Jimmy Buffett’s song “Fruitcakes.” And a note: That’s the way it comes out when he sang it, but the actual words are “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”  A Youtube version can be seen at FruitcakesJimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.  For the lyrics see Jimmy Buffett – Fruitcakes Lyrics.  One other point to be added from the song, Jimmy noting that the “God’s honest truth is it’s not that simple,” which is why it pays to have an open mind.  (Put another way, the Bible message is simple enough for a child to understand, yet we adults can spend a lifetime plumbing its depths and still not understand more than a fraction of its eternal truthes…)  Note also the following from Wikipedia: “Mea culpa is a Latin phrase that translates into English as ‘through my fault.’  It is repeated three times in the prayer of confession at the Catholic Mass: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa — ‘through my fault, through my fault, through my [own] most grievous fault.'”



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