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Author Topic: A Letter From God...
OhPuhLeez
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That's right - a personalized letter, direct from God, for our troops and their families.

I'm not religious, so I am TRULY interested to know what others feel about this, if anything.

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manji
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Only English and Spanish? I guess He only offers His condolences to American soldiers. I thought He knew more languages than that.

And he signs all the letters with God. I guess even God doesn't take His own name in vain.

Tongue-in-cheek aside, since one can only mock the people who write these letters, there's nothing more I can say.

[ July 26, 2004, 02:52 PM: Message edited by: manji ]

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Everard
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I think I feel that these cheapan religion, make a mockery out of the word of god...
I suspect the people who write these only have the best intentions, but they are "speaking for god" and thats... something that I don't think people should presume to do. It makes a mockery of those who have had a personal experience with the divine.

This makes me very uncomfortable. But I guess its not very surprising.

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Kherlen
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Yeah, this is a little...well...crass. What did the admins of the site do, draw straws to see who gets to write the next letter? "Ooh! Me! Me! I wanna be God this time!"
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OhPuhLeez
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It made me uncomfortable, too (I guess I can speak up now) that they were CHARGING for a letter from God!

What's up with that????

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thegreatgrundle
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I guess tithes alone don't bring in the cash that they used to. Even God needs enough to get by. It's a hard knock life...
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JeSuisse
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This doesn't make me uncomfortable, it pisses me off.

I don't think these are people who have the best intentions. I think these are a**holes who try to make money off suffering people, and Everard is right, it mocks erveryone involved. I find the letter to the children especially revolting.

Now I just wonder if anyone actually buys these letters. But since even Spam seems to work, I guess this will, too.

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OhPuhLeez
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Okay - well, yeah, it pisses me off in all sorts of way.

However, not being religious, I didn't want to start the thread out by stepping on toes of those who feel more strongly on the topic than I do.

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msquared
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This is offensive in so many ways.

I can not see mysefl being comforted by getting this letter.

msquared

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DonaldD
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quote:
Direct from God is providing personalized letters from God, for parents and spouses who have lost a loved one in the war. This letter is available at no charge.
Not that I don't think the concept a little odd, but they don't seem to be asking for money (unless I'm missing something?).
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OhPuhLeez
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There was one page that had a PayPal $4.95 plus tax thing...maybe it's a donation to God?

Edited to add - if you click any of the following links:

For the Loss of a Loved One

For a Loved One in the Military

For the Spouse of a Loved One

For the Children of a Military Parent

You get the PayPal thing.

[ July 26, 2004, 03:47 PM: Message edited by: OhPuhLeez ]

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Mr Xin Ku
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quote:

I think I feel that these cheapan religion, make a mockery out of the word of god... I suspect the people who write these only have the best intentions, but they are "speaking for god" and thats... something that I don't think people should presume to do. It makes a mockery of those who have had a personal experience with the divine.

What Ev said here fits my feelings the best.
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Grant
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Well, I don't see it as that horrible. It's pretty much on the level of a letter from Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I think these people are regular bible belt Americans who are trying to spread some comfort in the world. They certainly arn't going to be making alot of money off of $5 a letter. Their intent is good, if their action is a little sketchy.

That said; if I lost somebody to the war and recieved something like that in the mail, I'd probably be pissed. I can understand clergy, friends, family, all trying to explain tragedy through the eyes of God, but I don't think any of them actually have the gumption to say for certain that they know what the will of God is. The letter is a bit presumptious, but it's not evil, no harm is intended.

In the end I don't really think it's that big a deal. Do we need to jump on every group that thinks they know the truth? We couldn't live together.

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Kherlen
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"It's pretty much on the level of a letter from Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny."

Nah. No-one like Coke or Paas has made God laughably mainstream.

"Do we need to jump on every group that thinks they know the truth?"

When they're bumming PayPal donations off of you to support faux divine revelation, yes. Yes we do. They need a good web designer, too.

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OhPuhLeez
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And while I myself equate God with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, I bet there are many people here (and elsewhere) who won't appreciate that comparison [Wink] .
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Kit
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I can see where something like this could be nice for some people. I've seen poems and email spam that are similar, and they were alright. (Well ok, some were spam, but the contents were ok.) But to be setting yourself up as writing for God, and to be involving money, required or not, just rubs me wrong. I see it like selling sacrifical animals in the temple, making a market place of somewhere(or something) sacred.

I have to admit, if there was a standard letter that was just personalized I might not might so much. Why? Because then I would know exactly what I was getting, I would be requesting a known simulation of what God might write. But the way I see this I am really letting someone else "place words in God's mouth" without knowing whether I agree with it or not. Now God can say whatever He wants, and whether I agree or not is up to me. But if I pick someone to speak as God for me, then they better say what I want to hear. (Wow, that last bit sounds pretty bad.)

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Grant
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I certainly don't equate God with Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny, but I would see a letter like that with the same type of seriousness that I afford to the latter. And these fellas arn't making alot of money off of this, the only people that order them are people that believe in the sentiments they express. Lets be serious, these people are not dangerous. They're probably breaking even or making enough money to pay rent. It's probably some little old lady's church group from Yazoo, Mississippi.

If you're threatened by these people then you've got a real problem with people being able to express their religious beliefs. What about evangalism? What about church TV? What about dry counties? Pick a real target if you fear religion, not "letters from God".

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OhPuhLeez
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Laughing my ass off here - I assume you're not addressing me, right? I have no fear of religion.

I have a problem with 1 - People "speaking" for God; 2 - People charging for the ACT of "speaking" for God.

But that's not being threatened, nor am I fearful - I just think it's absurd.

But fearful? Absolutely not. Why would people practicing their religion scare me, as long as they don't expect me to do anything about it, or shove it down my throat? And since I've never had that happen (okay, well, a few JW doorbell rings that my dogs probably could have done without, but that's about it [Wink] !), why would I be fearful?

And if that's what your are inferring from my post, it's incorrect.

And if I somehow implied it, I certainly didn't intend to.

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JeSuisse
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Just in case this was also aimed at me. I'm not threatened by these people and I don't fear religion. I don't know what evangalism is, but I hate church TV. Thank God [Smile] Europe doesn't have that yet (or at least I've never seen it here).

I do have a problem with people who "express their religious beliefs" like that. This has nothing to do with religion or expressing their beliefs. It has nothing to do with trying to ease suffering, either.

So either these people are complete idiots, or they are stupid and think this will make money, or they are stupid and this is a very stupid joke site.

Have your pick, but after some thinking, I choose to believe that this is just a stupid joke. It's better than believing that there are people on this Earth who are this stupid.

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Zyne
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[Since when can only forum leaders delete posts. And what is a forum leader--Are they like moddies minions, the lesser roots, or something?]

[ July 26, 2004, 10:50 PM: Message edited by: Zyne ]

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Zyne
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Dear Child,

I wanted to write you personally to tell you how very proud of your Dad I am, Sam I am. He is one of the finest men of our time. His mullet is matched by none. And I wanted to make sure that you know that this does not go unnoticed by Me or your Mom or your country. So I have enclosed these pictures of your Dad and me at the beach and this videotape so that you will see what Dad and his co-workers do at the prison.

[Smile]

*flames to my arse, thanks* *xoxoxo*

[ July 26, 2004, 10:49 PM: Message edited by: Zyne ]

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OhPuhLeez
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[Big Grin] !
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Kherlen
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Mullets make everything funnier.
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FIJC
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quote:
"I'm not religious, so I am TRULY interested to know what others feel about this, if anything."
I think that the concept is too presumptuous.
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OhPuhLeez
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Couldn't agree more...

I mean, I assume you're saying the concept of the website, not the concept of my wanting to know how other, more religious, Ornery members feel about it [Wink] .

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Pete at Home
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I could not find a sample of any specific letter.

My own religious beliefs oppose any sort religion-for-money deal, but I don't dispise other groups that see things differently.

In "The Divine Image" William Blake made the point that divine qualities such as "mercy, pity, peace, and love" are human qualities, and that "when we pray in our distress," we tend to project these qualities.

Jesus says that life eternal is to know God, and later expresses his desire that those that follow him, learn to be one with him (John 17).

I think that the exercise of trying to write as we imagine God would write, is a positive one. Like Prayer, it can be a sincere attempt to come to a greater understanding of God's mind.

Presumptuous? Of course. Like girls pretending to be their mothers while playing house, children of God trying to capture the voice and intent of God is presumptuous.

If the person tried to pass off the writings as God's actual voice, then I could see cause for outrage. But I don't think that deception is the intent here. I haven't found a link to the actual text of the letters, but I have a hard time believing that anyone is really fooled into believing that these letters actually came from God. We know that it's an exercise, a presumptuous but honest attempt to look at life through better eyes.

But I'm curious why so many non-religious people are offended by this. If you don't believe in God, don't you also see the Bible and other holy writ as "presumptuous"? Are you upset by sales of the Bible?

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A. Alzabo
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FIJC wrote:
quote:
I think that the concept is too presumptuous.
Not as presumptuous as receiving a letter to God.

I knew a brilliant but strange fellow in high school who filled out a bunch of the college/informational stuff as "Jesus H. Christ." Soon, he was getting all kinds of mail addressed to Jesus. He bragged that his personal relationship with Jesus was so close, he got His mail.

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musket
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I'm agnostic, but only because I don't know with certainty that God doesn't exist. I don't think He does, but I could be wrong.

This shtick doesn't especially surprise me, nor does it especially bother me. Hucksterism is nothing new, nor is naievte or stupidity, among the religious and irreligious alike.

I actually think I'd be more offended if I did believe in God.

[ July 28, 2004, 06:00 PM: Message edited by: musket ]

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Pete at Home
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How is this any more "Hucksterism" than, say, playing the voice of God in the 10 commandments?

Doesn't hucksterism require an intent to deceive?

Where are these people seriously passing themselves off as God?

(Now if they are, even to a child, I'll agree that's monstrous).

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musket
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Pete, hucksterism is only one of several possibilities. If they're indeed asking money for this, then it's possible they are just as insincere as Marjoe Gortner was. On the other hand, they may not be.

Either way, they are saying that these letters come from God. The very name of the site is "Direct from God."

How do you know they aren't serious about their ability to pass along God's literal words directly from the source, to people who order these letters?

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Pete at Home
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How do I know? Well, the front page of the site says:
quote:
This site and our products are lovingly brought to you by Chelsea's Hope. Our letters are created for the troops and their families to help boost morale and to bring comfort and solace into their lives during these difficult times.
Our letters are personalized with the name of the person receiving it. You also have the option of having the letter you purchase sent directly to your loved one or sent to you, so you can send it on yourself.

Direct from God is providing personalized letters from God, for parents and spouses who have lost a loved one in the war. This letter is available at no charge. This is our way of honoring the brave troops that have given their lives for our country.

If they are trying to dupe people into thinking it's from God, then who the hell does "we" and "our" refer to?

If they were trying to fool someone, they would have said:

quote:
This Chelsea's Hope site has been personally commissioned by God, to distribute His letters. God writes these lettersfor the troops and their families, to help boost morale and to bring comfort and solace into their lives during these difficult times.
God's letters are personalized with the name of the person receiving it. You also have the option of having the letter you purchase sent directly to your loved one or sent to you, so you can send it on yourself.

Direct from God distributes personalized letters from God, for parents and spouses who have lost a loved one in the war. This letter is available at no charge. This is God's way of honoring the brave troops that have given their lives for our country.

Even if they had said that, it would not prove that deception was their intent (one can after all assume an intelligent audience) but the lack of such language clearly shows that these letters are a role-play rather than a con.

Seriously -- isn't this all obvious?

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OhPuhLeez
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I don't think it's trying to dupe people into thinking it's from God.

I think it's shameless consumerism, an embarassing use of one's faith.

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musket
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quote:
I think it's shameless consumerism, an embarassing use of one's faith.
AKA hucksterism.

And no, Pete, is isn't obvious.

quote:
Direct from God is providing personalized letters from God, for parents and spouses who have lost a loved one in the war.
Not personalized letters from the good folks at Chelsea's Hope. Personalized letters from God. Not "letters from God" in quotation marks. No qualifications about it. Direct from God.

As mentioned already, as what I think Ev once accurately called an agnostic atheist, I am not offended. Nor do I think these folks are dangerous.

All I'm saying is that if I were a believer, I would agree with FIJC-- it's presumptuous. If you don't agree, fine by me.

[ July 28, 2004, 09:17 PM: Message edited by: musket ]

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Grant
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Can anyone actually find out how much money these individuals are making from this enterprise? Can it be proven that they are working for profit? What level of profit is acceptable? How much money should a priest or minister make? How much money should the pope have in his bank account? How much money should a teacher or policeman or the third baseman for the New York Yankees make?

I still don't see this as EVIL. If the letter said "vote for Bush, God says so", that would be wrong. If the letter said, "this is god, send money to me and I'll forgive your sins", that would be wrong. If the letter said "this is god, vote against abortion and legalized alcohol", that would be wrong. All of those things would piss me off and bother me. "This is God, be comforted from your loss, your loved one did not die in vain" is a bit crass, but it's not EVIL.

Sorry, but the little old ladies church group from Yazoo Mississippi doesn't upset me. I don't think they're making alot of money from this, and if they are, then I don't see what separates them from Jim Baker, Kenneth Copeland, or a million other religious figures who interpret the will of god, pass it along to others, and make their living from it.

Wether or not it is good or bad, it isn't unlawful. If you believe that it is that serious, and that something like this should be unlawful, I'd like to hear what your critera would be on who should lawfully be able to express their opinions on the will of God, and why other individuals should not. I've already expressed my opinions on what I consider to be harmful uses of "using God's signature", but even they arn't illegal.

I don't make a habit of looking down on people, even those I think are ignorant or immoral. And I'm afraid that complaining about them doesn't help much.

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musket
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Grant, maybe I'm missing something here. Did anybody say anything about this being evil, in capital letters or otherwise, until you did?
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Pete at Home
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quote:
I think it's shameless consumerism, an embarassing use of one's faith.
Like I said, it would embarrass me if it turned out a Mormon was involved in it. But that's because of our strict doctrine against priestcrafts of any kind. I'm more comfy with this, than say with, a preacher preaching about faith and one's commitment to God, and then passing around the plate right at the climax of the sermon, telling people to write their checks to show their faith.

I really think that it's obvious, and intended to be obvious, that these people are writing the letters, and that they aren't *really* from God. Hence I see no deception, and no harm done.

To me, this discussion seems to show that non-religious people have a really low opinion of the intelligence of religious people...

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Grant
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Sorry musket, I was just impressing upon everyone that I'm not that worked up about it. If it's not wrong, captial letters or otherwise, then I don't see how anybody can be bothered by it.
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Pete at Home
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Seems to me that in a society where a movie like Bruce Almighty doesn't even attract a few token protests, it's a little silly to get riled about an obviously fictionalized series of letters that are based on the premise that God might feel sympathy for the families of American service men and women.

In Enders' Game, Ender sends off that message re Bernard from "God" ... (eliciting the response "I didn't know God was logged into the system" ...)

Blasphemous?

Maybe 300 years ago. But today, we think of God so little as a society, that people are starved for the sort of reassurance that Religion used to provide. This stuff fills a gap. Does it fill it well? Probably not. But as far as priestcrafts are concerned, this is really minor league stuff.

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suntranafs
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OH MY G-D!!! haha THEY'RE charging five whole dollars for a written letter with a pretty, artistic cover????? That's so much more than a regular post card!! And only ONE out of the FOUR letters they're offering is free??!!! And they're sending comforting wording to people who might actually need it in the form of a letter from God???
Certainly blasphemy in the highest degree. I'm sure they're making hundreds of millions on this scam. and getting away with it too, I mean obviously if you got a letter signed from God you would be sure it was from God without a second thought right? you'd never think oh this is surely some big scam and certainly not be touched and think, gee that was really thoughtfull of somebody. Give me a break people have you got any idea how much has been made on films about Christ and the like? Wake up the religous economy is so huge it's mind blowing and you bitch about some tiny entreprenuering bit like this? Heck they're practically doing an honest days labour for an honest dollar. For those saying I don't believe in God, but... No buts! And if you can't at least appreciate the idea in theory just shut your fat mouths. And for people who think trying to write letters for God is blasphemy, guess what? God doesn't write letters very friggin often, and I'm guessing that he would be glad if someone was really writing letters for him, in the same way that he's glad when people do good deeds and claim they're only doing them with Gods help. If you think it's remotely blasphemy you need to check out where food is being sold on sunday at church and yeah, as Pete implied, hit the fast forward button for about 300 years worth. We don't hang people for being nice anymore, it's too darn late for the salem witch trials revisited. These people probably think they're doing a good thing and to some extent you can bet your backside they are, and rest assured no great harm comes of it, so don't knock so hard what you don't know.

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TomDavidson
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What I particularly love is the way these letters use the pretext of the imaginary authority of "God," as author, to make political points.

Here's a quote that follows a paragraph in which a spouse is told that her military husband -- and bear in mind here the aurhor knows nothing more about him than his name and rank -- is "one of the finest men of this or any other age:"

quote:
As I look down, I wonder, when did humankind go so astray? When did the freedom of choice become a free license to hurt and kill others? When did free speech become so ugly? When did the free will, that I wanted people to use so wisely, become so ugly and distorted, bending to rationalize even the most heinous, hideous and humiliating of choices.
Leaving aside God's obvious grammatical errors, I'm troubled by the fact that the whole middle of the letter is a thinly veiled screed -- disguised as the regretful musings of an omniscient God.

While pandering to ignorant religious people is always profitable, it's still pretty disgusting.

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