Monday, May 12, 2008

Morning Newspaper, Coffee... and a Bible?

A few days ago, I opened my morning paper to a surprise news item crowing about a plan to distribute free 'Pittsburghized' New Testaments to over 250, 000 subscribers. Now, I am well used to eating my morning cereal from the little sample boxes that I pick up with my newspaper, or using the free samples of Advil and Aleve for particularly trying news days. I could surely have done with some of the latter for the headache this gushing news induced in me:

Tears spring to Suzonne Smith's eyes when she talks about her effort to distribute Pittsburgh-themed New Testaments to Allegheny County residents.

"It's our hope that God's word will transform and change lives and the whole city will be impacted," said the Sewickley resident, who with her husband, Tom, is co-chair of CityReachers Pittsburgh.

If all goes according to plan, on Sept. 7 when Allegheny County subscribers to the Post-Gazette unwrap their Sunday paper, they will find a New Testament in an advertising pouch like those used for sample soaps or cereals.

Tears spring to my eyes too, when I think of the massive amounts of trash likely to be generated by this effort. By their own account, they expect reverential treatment of the free Bibles by about 36,000 people. This means the paper and ink spent on printing about 214,000 are wasted ( translating to $418,000 in printing costs and another $100,000 or so in delivery costs.) My, my, these people have about half a million dollars to waste on trying to bring salvation to a grand total of maybe 14% of the target population. Hallelujah!
( And I just must borrow Hillary Clinton's lines here, they are too apt not to use : "the sky will open, the light will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing" .... and the world will become a happier place for all the people receiving the bible with their morning paper and coffee.)

Now if we could just see similar outreaches putting a mini-Koran or mini-Torah or mini-Geeta in everybody's daily paper, we could simultaneously deforest all the Canadian pine forests and hasten the Apocalypse or Qayamat or the end of Kaliyuga or whatever you wish to call your version of the end-times!


Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that the older religions (Hinduism, Judaism,Zoroastrianism..) don't proselytize as much as the (relatively) newer ones (Islam, Christianity) do..

Sujatha said...

The older religions didn't feel the need, I guess. The younger ones needed to market/force themselves to gain adherents, and so burgeoned to include the largest groups- a fair simplification of almost all the religious wars and strife of the previous centuries.

I'm waiting to see if some cantankerous 'Burgher decides to write a letter to the editor about this, and we do have a number of them!

Anonymous said...

Very true. Hinduism in particular has been quite blasé about this, preaching that all roads lead to the same God..

Ruchira Paul said...


Please post on A.B. Separation of church, state and the morning paper! Isn't it enough that we have the Gideon's Bible in hotel rooms and the evangelists knock on our doors every other Saturday?

Sujatha said...

A not-so-cantakerous Burgher has weighed in, just as I expected.
Randi Morgan writes in today's Post Gazette:
PG proselytizing

I find your plans to distribute copies of the New Testament troublesome ("Plan to Hand Out 250,000 Bibles: Group Wants to Put Them in Sunday Papers," May 11). This is the kind of proselytizing that will anger some of your subscribers, annoy others (as they put it in the trash or recycling bin), and please only the choir to whom it preaches.

Will you also distribute the teachings of Hinduism, the teachings of Buddhism or how about the Quran?

I can't help but wonder what real good could be done with the money that will be spent on Bible distribution -- say quake victims in China, Iraq veterans, starving people?"


Mind meld!!