Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chain Email Christianity

I received a chain email from my mother this week. This might not hold the same significance for you as it does for me, but I was fairly certain I had succeeded in training my mother not to do this. Here it is below:
"Money bags
This year, July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens
Once every 823 years. This is called money bags. So, forward this to
Your friends and money will arrive within 4 days. Based on Chinese
Feng Shui. The one who does not forward.....will be without money.

Kinda interesting - read on!!!
This year we're going to experience four unusual dates.
1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11 and that's not all...
Take the last two digits of the year in which you were born - now add
The age you will be this year,

The results will be 111 for everyone in whole world. This is the year of
The Money!!!

The proverb goes that if you send this to eight good friends money will
Appear in next four days as it is explained in Chinese FENGSHUI.
Those who don't continue the chain won't receive.......
Its a mystery, but its worth a try. Good luck."

It struck me that this chain email - and perhaps all chain email - shares a strong memetic resemblance to christianity, in that the things that make chain email work are the same things that make christianity work. Below is a chart comparing some common themes in chain mail and christianity.

Chain Email Christianity
Promise of reward If you forward this, you will have good luck! If you believe this, you will go to heaven!
Threat of punishment If you don't forward this, you will have bad luck! If you don't believe this, you will go to hell!
Appeal to mystery How it works is a mystery, but it totally works "God works in mysterious ways"
Appeal to truth This is real. It happened to John on his way to work, and John is an honest guy This is the word of God, and God wouldn't lie, would he...?
Appeal to altruism If you send this, a little girl in Nicaragua will get a kidney Is it not right to save your loved ones from hell, or just from their sinful lives?
Spread the word For this to work, you must send it to five of your friends "Go forth and make disciples"
Impending deadline You have to send this within an hour for it to work You have to repent before you die

So what do you think? Is chain mail religion in microcosm?

P.S: It also struck me as funny that the play with numbers in the example from my mother smacks of rapture-ready Harold-Camping-esque biblical numerology.


  1. I wonder if the Nigerian Prince has any of the same similarites?