I think I speak for everyone here when I say that I hate spam e-mail.
What really gets me is when this blog’s inbox starts filling up with spam. I mean, the inbox for Cerulean Sanctum is geared toward you, the reader. That e-mail address exists for you to use to contact me about important issues. It’s your way to get personal, to go beyond the public discourse of a blog comment section.
Sadly, I get more spam here than I get personal e-mails from readers. The proportions are close, but spam still wins.
And what kind of spam fills this blog’s inbox? Want to take a guess?
Actually, it’s entirely spam from Christians. Or spam representing Christians. Not any Christians I know. Not from readers, at least.
What really galls me, especially as a writer myself, is that the vast majority of spam I receive at this blog is from PR organizations trying to promote Christian books, especially novels.
Now I’m really sensitive about this since I hope one day to sell my novels, but heck. How lame that Christians are spamming this blog’s inbox with this:
New Mystery : Boone’s Creek: Almost Home
Avon Park, FL – Apr 28, 2008 – Author $$$$$, in Boone’s Creek: Almost Home, develops a mystery plot with an intriguing romantic subplot built in.
Jenna Lewis’ relationship with Joe started out as casual friends. Joe’s wife died from ovarian cancer at an early age. Jenna befriended him. Jenna’s family was killed when the plane they were in went down in Colorado. Jenna was supposed to be on that plane. For months following the tragic accident, Joe helps her work through her grief.
Jenna, who is a search and rescue handler, is then summoned to Sebring, Florida to rescue a family that had gone missing. Jenna feels she is out of her league until the next night her own grandmother goes missing too. This motivates her to persevere and assist in the rescue mission.
Unfortunately she becomes entangled in a web of deceit and corruption. To make matters worse, Jenna turns to Joe for help in finding her grandmother. Their relationship develops and Jenna becomes hesistant to allow herself to fall in love with him.
About the book:
Boone’s Creek: Almost Home by $$$$$
Date of publish: March 24, 2008
About the author:
$$$$$, who began writing at the age of ten, is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She wrote a column for the Morrow County Sentinel from 1984 to 1989. Her book, The Shorter Version, was published October 2007. $$$$$ resides in Florida and Ohio.
The poor soul writing this kind of slapdash PR needs to go back to school to learn how to writes themself some respectubble English. I love that hesistant toward the end. What a spectacular portmanteau word, a cross between hesitant and resistant. Somewhere, Lewis Carroll is chortling.
This, and many more spam e-mails like it, are coming from bostickcommunications.com. Another spammer with religious ties is morris-king.com, who appears to have some vested interest in BeliefNet. The less said about BeliefNet, the better. And alarryross.com, which openly proclaims its Christian background, also spams up this blog.
I get prophetic newsletters I didn’t sign up for, appeals to support this ministry and that, and a multitude of corporate “Christianized” open hands I never invited here. Hey, I don’t use the Cerulean Sanctum e-mail address except for personal correspondence, so someone from these various companies/ministries physically landed here and wrote down the e-mail address for this blog, thinking, I bet Dan would want to check out our sanctified book, newsletter, ministry, seminar, or stained glass window oven trivet seeing as he’s a fellow believer.
One of the major problems with the American subculture of Christianity is its hard sell on everything. Saddest of all, the shoe has been wedged in the door jamb not so Christ can be shared, but so another ____________ can sell some Christianized imitation of ____________. And I consider it the hard sell when some slick sales droid tries to hock “Christian” junk on a blog that exists to help the Church makes sense of the times.
In the case of the press releases for Christian authors, hey, I commiserate. Now is a tough time to be selling books. But spam isn’t the answer.
And I’m not even sure how much I like it when well-known Christian publishers approach me through the blog and ask me to review one of their books. Yes, that’s a legitimate request, even if it is slightly abusing the blog’s e-mail address. What truly troubles me is they’re asking me to review their book, the intent being to sell those books to you because of my review and imprimatur, yet they’ll not even offer a few bucks for my time. Not that I can be bought—the lack of advertising on Cerulean Sanctum should tell you something—but that a Christian company thinks it’s okay to make money off someone’s work/time without any worthwhile form of compensation. (Sure, I get to keep a book I didn’t seek out and would not have bought myself, but that book won’t feed my family, will it?) Frankly, I find that corporate hubris startling.
It bothers me when values are for sale and Christians fall in lock-step with the world. When cash is involved, it seems far too many believers are repeating that well-worn line from Jerry McGuire rather than quoting from God’s playbook.
16 thoughts on “Sacred Spam”
You could try adding a contact page using plugins like http://www.phrixus.co.uk/pxsmail/ so that readers can contact you without giving out your personal email.
I’ve thought about that route, but it’s less personal because you, as the person contacting, don’t receive an e-mail address for the contactee. You can’t put him/her in an address book. You may not get a receipt when you send via a contact form. Nor do you have the original of what you sent should something go wrong and you need to resend. Contact forms are the Web equivalent of a black hole.
That said, I do use one on my business’s site.
You have our sympathy. What I hate is that so many Christian friends/acquaintances think it’s okay to add us to a mailing list of regularly generated “teachings”. Or think I want them to send me all those emails that threaten disaster if I break the chain, like a voodoo curse in the name of Christ. I ALWAYS break the chain, merely because I hate to be threatened–and I am, perhaps, just a tad rebellious. (Though against that sort of coercion I think even Jesus would rebel.)
I refer people to sites/teachings I enjoy (such as this one), but I always send them the link so that they can make the decision to receive the information for themselves, not have it fall into their inbox because I’ve made some determination that they might need/want it.
Dan, I’m grateful that you continue to be open to your readers. I suppose moneychangers will always be out there whose tables need to be flipped and whose wares scattered.
I have no idea who, if anyone, outside of here signed me up for mailing lists. I hope that hasn’t been the case.
I don’t mind friends sending me unsolicited info. I’m talking real spam from people trying to sell things. Or the crazy prophetic stuff that’s never ever right.
Christian products are a 7 billion dollar industry in the US.
I get all kinds of religious spam and all of it out of America.
I have never asked for a single piece of it.
If people running ministries and religious businesses expect anyone who has been online for awhile to be stupid enough to think their disclaimers are true, guess again. I think there are ethical sites that honour their disclaimers, but why should I or anyone else run the risk of trying to figure out who they are?
I get Jesus junk peddled at me, I get US religious/patriotism that is nothing short of nauseating. I get agents begging to give me a free book or love-link their “Christian website”, I get book offers, I get sermons and discount offers for DVD’s and CDs. I get pr’s and all kinds of breathy begging.
I use a junk account to write denominations, ministries etc because of the religious garbage that floods back. I’m on ‘ministry’ email lists I never signed up for, many whose sites I’ve never been to.
When I went online a computer expert had the decency to tell me how to set things up to avoid worse.
While drugs and pr0n still make up the bulk of the spam BDBO filters out on the blog, the email box is full of this garbage.
I’ve learned not to check that email account inbox until I’m good and ready and not stressed. Once it hits the junk box, it isn’t coming back out. It’s gone. I don’t unsubscribe or return. That’s just asking for more. And I no longer care if if a ministry, church or organization is legit, you will never going to get my attention, time or my resources again.
If a supposed Christian businessperson doesn’t understand boundaries, that’s fine. You won’t be crossing mine again.
And don’t get me started on Christian blogs and ad placements.
When I did the God-blog demographic series years ago, US “Christian’ blogs were overloaded with ads. It was disheartening and pathetic, and I went to a few thousand faith blogs around the world. The US christian were way ahead of the rest of us trying to make a buck. We’ve been catching up.
Are Americans so poor they need to plaster their blogs with ads to make ends meet?
I have a great deal of respect for any blogger who refuses to peddle a product or ministry, says no, or who is willing make a full and open disclaimer when they come across something they want to pass on.
There is nothing sacred about it. Keep your Christian capitalism and stop pretending it’s just evangelical entreprenuerism. Please.
I’m not sure that Americans are so poor that they need to plaster their blogs with ads. Americans are opportunists. That may define us more than anything.
I share a lot of your same attitude on this. Yet I also realize that this stuff exists because we created an environment for it to exist. It’s a Pandora’s Box kind of thing. Even Christians think they should go after a little bit o’ the action.
From time to time I get e-mails from people who want to send me money. I’ve struggled for years with whether or not to set up a tip jar. Things are tough all over in Ohio where I live. It’s a tough road sometimes, knowing what to do.
That may not be the same thing as what I posted about, but I still wonder.
If someone wants to send you money, must that be the same thing as having a tip jar? You’re not asking for anything. You keep your hand to the plow here, give unstintingly to bless others, so might the Lord not use readers’ gifts as a way to bless you? Especially as you don’t even cajole with a sidebar to a payment link
Dire Dan: “Americans are opportunists. That may define us more than anything”
Calvin Coolidge once said that the “business of America is business,” and indeed commercialism has permeated every aspect of our lives. One doesn’t have to look far to find out that this is the case. It has pretty much defined the paradigm of how many churches operate nowadays: pastor=CEO & church=business-franchise.
But I think an even bigger problem is the increasing tendency of church leaders (or the big name leaders) to be concerned about their being respectable.
With so many blog sites and web development sites available for free, one doesn’t have to be wealthy to have one. So, no, if a blogger has advertisements on his blog, then he chooses to have them–or he/she is ignorant of the fact that there are lots of other ways to go about establishing a web presence than using a site that peddles anything. Now, we may not have a lot of traffic on our websites, but I write for my friends and family, so it doesn’t matter. As I don’t like to read ads or have anyone ask me for money, I won’t advertise or ask. The Lord is perfectly capable of meeting our needs if we just stay close and on our knees and with our hand to whatever plow he gives us. But that’s another subject. For this one, I’m just grateful we have spam checkers and filters. If I didn’t write someone and don’t recognize his name–or the subject line– I’m not likely to open his email.
Well, I guess I’m just easy ….
I always send friends stuff I think would interest them. Sometimes I’m wrong, yet they take forever to get up the nerve to say something. So I stop. Half the time a couple of months later they’ll say — you never send me anything any more. I say — you said you didn’t want it. They say — just send the cute stuff. Uhhh, OK.
I always thot sending the article is better than sending them the link — if they don’t want it, it’s just as easy to hit delete after the first para as it is after reading my case for why they should go to the link.
BTW, I’ve copied/sent a lot of Cerulean stuff. Personally, I think it’s valuable enough to take the risk of offending someone who only wants cute stuff.
When I was blogging, I would have had ads if I had any readers! I see ads as being one legitimate way, to use Normandie’s phrase, to keep one’s hand to the [writing] plow God allowed. Tip jars don’t bother me, either. It’s all voluntary, and I see no corrupting influence. Right now I see “Regulus by Ben at Binary Moon” and Created with WordPress. Doesn’t corrupt me nor Dan, I would suspect. I see the cerulean background with no urge to go skiing.
I’m told that displaying your email address as dan AT whatever DOT com protects against spam. Dan, you might try that. Or do as Susan suggests, and then reply to people with your personal email so they’ll have it for next time. As for dropping one’s message into a black hole, they should have copied/pasted it into their own doc for filing if they wanted a copy — perhaps you could stick that reminder into your site somewhere.
As has been said, there are lots of ways to filter out spam. And I would add, there are a lot more hardships in the world than having to delete a bunch of it every day.
You see the e-mail address in my sidebar, but it’s actually not harvestable by robots. The browser renders it, but robots can’t slurp it. People came here physically and wrote it down. Some people actually get paid by spammers to troll sites that way. That may have been the case here. That’s it’s mostly spam from Christian sources tells me that’s exactly what happened. Since that’s the case, no trick in the world is going to defeat that unless I go to a contact form.
The commercialism that has become part and parcel of American Christianity may well be the death of it.
Dan, in your attempts to combat spam, have you tried employing one of the methods at http://members.cox.net/timandbeth/spam ?
Also, when I saw the subject “Sacred Spam”, I couldn’t help but think of the Monty Python spam skit where, in that song, where they sing “lovely spam!”, I couldn’t help but think “sacred spam!” LOL
Anyways, you might wanna try one of Tim Williams’ E-mail address obfuscation methods. Good luck, brother!
Fred in St. Louis
I feel your pain.
I have a contact form and even I get handwritten spam offering from people wanting me to review books or peddle Christian products, Christian MLMs, or pleas for money for missions organizations promising a trip to India if I gave. The worst ones are from the ‘grand rebukers’ who give you the ‘prophetic death threat’ via ‘hit and run’ methods and leave a bizarre looking e-mail address knowing that if you responded, it would bounce back. However, I have their IP address date/time stamp in case someone goes over the edge.
The other area to be concerned over is allowing your name, phone, address (and now e-mail address) to be listed in the annual church member directory. In fact, before I joined the church I attended and filled out the general information forms for the church rolodex, I boldly stated on that form in BOLD CAPITAL letters that the church was NEVER!!! to give, sell, partner, or by any other means my personal information except for local church business issues or letters from denomination headquarters. The reason why is because:
(1): One church I used to attend would, for extra money, contact Christian ministries and offer to ‘give’ them a copy of the church directory for a donation to the church. How I found out about this was that my last name was misspelled in the directory and I started receiving Christian junk mail with the misspelled last name and when the church split, one of the elders who left along with me confessed and asked for forgiveness and repentance for doing this practice.
(2): There are congregation members who will un-staple their copies of the church directory apart, scan them, and offer them (to make some extra money) for sell to Christian organizations (especially religious right political ministry organizations) who ask for money or even more appalling, certain political candidates who have the approvals of religious right organizations. Then you would receive a ‘special letter’ appealing to the Christian conscience playing on the ‘abortion’ and ‘homosexuality’ cards in envelopes that looked like government checks, yellow western-union telegrams, or foreign airmail letters with the alternating blue/red stripes.
Also, when I used to subscribe to a very popular Charismatic magazine and it’s sister Christian Men’s magazine, I always received alot of Christian junk mail in my mailbox from National Christian organizations and wondered if it came from them because the address in small print was the same hometown as the headquarters of that Christian magazine???
His Direness: “American subculture of Christianity is its hard sell on everything.”
Dan, I think it would be an interesting research project to find out just how much of “christian merchandising” is actually owned by well known large corporations with publicly traded stock on the NYSE. Just who is it that owns the outfits producing today’s CCM? Who owns the bookstores selling all this xtianized muck? Who is it that is publishing an ever increasing number of gazillion different Bible translations?
Whoever they are, I suspect for them we’re just another market to be exploited.