Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Tricksters of the trade

I MADE THE mistake recently of signing up for an online presentation by someone who promised to take my freelance writing career to a whole other level, and ensure that I always got front-row parking every time I went to the store.

Okay, I’m exaggerating about the parking thing. Still, they exuded the sense that what they were offering would usher in this great new world in which I no longer had to deal with the problems of mere mortals.

And then I started getting the follow-up emails. Two and three of them—each and every day. All written in this faux best-friends style, as if we’d known each other since kindergarten. Most of them also dangled the pledge of further insights—for a suitable up-charge.

However, because we were BFFs, I wasn’t going to have to pay the usual rate. No, they were offering me the opportunity to glean their wisdom for a special reduced fee, if I registered by midnight. No pressure, but with limited space, I’d want to be sure I didn’t miss out. Of course.

After several days of this, I started to feel like instead of signing up for a class, I’d been taken hostage. And I began to wonder…

If they were making so much money as a freelance writer that they didn’t know what to do with it, while working only a few hours a day… why didn’t they just concentrate on doing that, rather than hawking cut-price tuition? Maybe I do them a disservice; could be, they were just really grateful for their success, and generously wanted to share it with other.

Or, maybe it was all smoke and mirrors.

That’s certainly what some of the online reviews I found of the course in question suggested. Others who had taken the bait told how the great “insider secrets” that were dispensed were either a) blindingly obvious, b) hopelessly outdated, or c) unrealistically naive.

There was also something vaguely familiar about this whole hucksterish pitch that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. And then it came to me: some (though not all) Christian television ministries out there. Those that tell viewers who are having money problems to give to support the broadcast, as an act of faith, on the understanding that God will reward them.

Now, I do believe that sometimes God asks us to step out in faith and bless others as a sign of our trust in Him. But why don’t those ministries that need money to stay on the air give away whatever cash they have left, to people in need, trusting that God will reward their faith, rather than relying on others’ belief to fund them? That would be really putting their money where their mouth is.

Photo by Chris Tomneer Aka Pseudo on Foter.com/CC BY-ND

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