Saturday, June 23, 2012

I Get Mail

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...
The Envelope Front
Well, I got this last year, but I kept it because I find it amusing. It occurred to me that I ought to share!

I'm not even sure how to describe this letter thing/package I got. It's some kind of marketing for... prayers? I think the ultimate purpose is to try to get your contact information and perhaps a donation.

They sent me an "anointed prayer rug" that I was supposed to use and send back, along with religious ramblings, etc. Let's explore this fantastic piece of junk mail!

I would like to have posted the entirety of the mailing, but I suspect that would be a copyright violation. Actually, they have it marked as copyrighted! I'll have to work with "clips" of the highlights and discuss them, and that should take care of fair use.

Back of the Envelope
I looked at the back of the envelope, and realized this was going to be a barrel three-quarters full of chuckles.

I hadn't even opened it yet and it was already pandering hard to theists.

Note, that at this point, it was a very generalized feel-good prayer. There's nothing about being a supernatural order catalog yet, but that's coming. A lot of marketing companies try to put messages on the outside of the envelope to "hook" the person into reading more, such as "DO NOT DISCARD" or "TIME IS RUNNING OUT". This one, however, takes the cake.

The first page I removed from the envelope starts right into the marketing. It's a classic approach - front-load a bunch of testimonies about success to get you interested. Of course, we can't examine these claims and determine whether they're genuine or the combination of different psychological factors (assuming this isn't just made up)

I may do a breakdown of personal testimony/experience at some point, as they are complete failures of the standards of evidence. I digress.

Anointed "Prayer Rug"
Normal skeptical people have a "sounds too good to be true" rule of thumb that would be catching ablaze at this point, but the letter continues. They claim to be giving you a "prayer rug" that you must use and send back to them immediately. They provide you with an evelope, prepaid and everything. This "rug" is "anointed", which basically means that they talked into thin air at an invisible dude floating around int the sky to do something to the "rug". You may look at the "rug" to the right. It's essentially a cheap paper poster.

Look into Jesus's eyes, they say, and you'll see them open. They've set up a cheap optical illusion, taking advantage of well known visual perception issues. The open eyes are very lightly printed, and if you stare at it long enough, you start to see it.

Typical with such marketing campaigns, they're trying to keep you distracted. The letter is attempting to hurry you along to pray on the rug, and quickly send it back along with the "prayer needs" page. They're keeping you too distracted in the ferver of raking in the cash to realize what they're doing.

Tell them what you need!
Here's the "prayer needs" form. For some reason they want to know your needs, and you can actually request cash from them/God? They have plenty of spots for praying for other people - lots of opportunity to be "altruistic" while trying to get the $43,000.

But wait, what's that?

Oh, right. They want your money. You see, part of the "prosperity gospel" is that if you give some "seed money", God will reward you many fold.

Of course, they don't tell you that you WILL get anything in return. They just claim other people have, and then let you make that assumption on your own. It's clever. It's sad that people fall for it. They know people will feel arrogant for asking for things like cars, etc, without donating something. What's $50 if you're about to get a Corvette out of the blue?

Look at all the amazing undemonstrated claims!
In case you still weren't sold on sending this back to them, they send along an extra testimonial page to seal the deal.

Look at all the flash and graphics! Don't look at the man behind the curtain - look at this! Wow!

In case that wasn't enough, still, they also included a "Sealed Prophecy" that's basically a brochure taped closed, and when you open it up, it's all capitalized ranting.

They say that they don't want you curious about the future, but rather concerned about worshiping God today.

The "prophesy" is that if you communicate with God enough, he'll work through you, you'll feel power build up in you and your life will change. Well duh - doing different things changes your life.

Needless to say, I didn't follow the instructions.

Throughout this entire package, they're constantly assailing you with emotional appeal and marketing strategy.

I discussed in an earlier post how a belief in God can stunt one's capacity to critically think. This is a decent example. Those who don't think this through... well, they're out some hard earned cash now.

Skepticism can protect you from such scams.

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