Skip

Just headed down to the dump with these children's letters to God
November 3, 2006 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Bag Of Prayer Letters Plucked From N.J. Surf. One man wrote from prison, saying he was innocent and wanted to be back home with his family. A woman wrote that her boyfriend was now closing the door to her daughter's bedroom each night when it used to stay open, and wondered why. One unwed mother wrote that her baby was due in four weeks, and asked God to make the father fall in love with her and marry her so the child would have a father. The minister died two years ago at 79. How the letters, some dating to 1973, wound up bobbing in the surf is a mystery.
posted by 445supermag (27 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
The man who found the letters...said he is sad that most of the writers never had their letters read. But he hopes to change that soon: He is putting the collection up for sale on eBay.

Disgusting.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:56 AM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Disgusting and illegal, most likely.
posted by jon_kill at 11:56 AM on November 3, 2006


I would have expected them to be incinerated.
posted by smackfu at 11:57 AM on November 3, 2006


I hope whoever buys them burns them. I'd buy them myself, if I knew when the auction was.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:05 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Imagine your most anguished prayer going unheard and unseen, thrown away, and eventually fallen into the hands of someone who mocks you and callously profits off your grief.

Sounds like the story of America's religious right.
posted by maryh at 12:07 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Wow. Great article until I came to the very last sentence about the guy putting these incredibly private confessions up for auction. What a prick. It is just mind-bogglingly shameless profiteering.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 12:14 PM on November 3, 2006


Many of the letters were addressed to the Rev. Grady Cooper, though many more simply said "Altar." According to the text of several of them, they were intended to be placed on a church's altar and prayed over by the minister, the congregation or both.

I wonder if the letters were ever meant to be read at all. Maybe they were meant only to be prayed over - a tradition similar to writing prayers and placing between the bricks of the wailing wall.

The guy who found this, however, is either stupid, totally callous, or following recent trends - both.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:26 PM on November 3, 2006


Why not give the letter to a church, ask them to pray for whomever wrote them (even if it is late already), and then destroy them.
posted by dov3 at 12:27 PM on November 3, 2006


The winner of the auction should pay for it with a rubber check.

However, I do think there is value in learning the general content of these letters, in the abstract...in much the same way that PostSecret helps people discover that their "dirty secrets" are much more common than they might expect, learning that others have the same doubts you do can be an uplifting experience.
posted by maxwelton at 12:28 PM on November 3, 2006


Imagine your most anguished prayer going unheard and unseen

That may have been the point. Maybe people would send them to the pastor, and he would pray over them without reading them? I've never heard of anything like that though, to be honest, and I wouldn't expect it at a Baptist church. Very odd.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:28 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Follow-up story: internet auction cancelled; the letters will now be handed over to a church. Thank goodness!!!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:32 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Am I missing something? The letters were sent to the minister, some time starting in 1973, and until when is unclear. They were sent in order to be prayed over at an altar. The followup article seems to be making the assumption that this never happened, but I don't see why not. It seems like the most likely scenario is that the minister got the letters, prayed over them, took them home (since he didn't know what else to do with them), and then they got pitched after he passed away.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with various churches deciding to pray over 'em again just in case that wasn't the scenario, but the article seems to be taking it as a given that the letters were never properly handled in accordance with the wishes of the writers. Am I missing something?
posted by Bugbread at 12:53 PM on November 3, 2006



the letters will now be handed over to a church.

what a relief
posted by French Fry at 12:57 PM on November 3, 2006


I agree, bugbread; just because the letters ended up in a weird place doesn't mean they weren't handled properly to begin with (of course, since the person they were written to is dead, we might never know). I also think the idea of churches playing Dear Abby with the letters is in poor taste; they should be prayed over once again and tastefully destroyed.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:58 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]




So that's why grandpa died.
posted by 2sheets at 1:07 PM on November 3, 2006


I find my own reaction interesting. I'm an atheist and think the whole prayer thing is stupid, yet I find myself offended that these letters are being read and mocked. It feels wrong.
posted by cccorlew at 1:19 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


"It was never my intent to make a lot of money off this," he said. "If it went over $100 or so, we were going to donate it to charity."

Yeah... sure... that's it... my intent was to make a little money, since that's now become impossible I think I'll just... er, give 'em away.
posted by scheptech at 1:27 PM on November 3, 2006


Seconded, cccorlew.
posted by lekvar at 1:56 PM on November 3, 2006


So, the Jersey shore is where prayers go to die? I can see that.
posted by a young man in spats at 2:05 PM on November 3, 2006


Pardon the pun, but it seems a little, err, fishy.
posted by fixedgear at 2:07 PM on November 3, 2006


A year has passed since I wrote my note
But I should have known this right from the start
Only hope can keep me together
Love can mend your life but
Love can break your heart
I'll send an S.O.S. to the world...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:12 PM on November 3, 2006


So, uh, why would the woman care whether her boyfriend closed her daughter's bedroom door?
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:54 PM on November 3, 2006


cccorlew : I find my own reaction interesting. I'm an atheist and think the whole prayer thing is stupid, yet I find myself offended that these letters are being read and mocked. It feels wrong.

I was feeling the same way. Though the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn't the prayer aspect so much as it was that intimate details of their lives being read by someone unintended. Even that wouldn't have bugged too much except that the finders first instinct was to try to use them to make a profit.

That's what offended me.
posted by quin at 3:19 PM on November 3, 2006


So, uh, why would the woman care whether her boyfriend closed her daughter's bedroom door?

That would depend on which side of the bedroom door the boyfriend was on.
posted by spaltavian at 3:33 PM on November 3, 2006


This is sad, on so many levels. I hope at least some of the letter writers ended up better off.
posted by tommasz at 4:31 PM on November 3, 2006


If we're talking about letters between two years and 27 years old, which possibly were never intended to be read, I'm not sure I'd say "thank goodness" they may be handed over to a church. The pastor of the Church of Restoration says:

"I would read them and write back as a representative of God ... If they're having domestic problems, we would give them referrals on where to go for help or how to deal with the situation. ... "The one who had an abortion, I'd tell her you can't change what you did, but you can make sure it doesn't happen again, and try to go forward from here"

Would you really want some unknown pastor, not necessarily from your own denomination, responding to problems you may have dealt with, moved on from or changed your view of years ago?
posted by paduasoy at 5:31 AM on November 4, 2006


« Older "Yeah, I know the meeting will be there, but will...   |   Online research source list Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post