Dear Sir/Madam …
A little over 17 years ago, I commenced an appointment as editor of ‘Warcry’, an appointment I happily held for the next five years. For those new to the Army, ‘Warcry’ was the weekly periodical that preceded the current ‘Salvos Magazine’.
As editor, I received many letters from readers, some encouraging, some thankful and some offering personal testimonies or suggestions for articles. Alternatively, I also received letters that were highly critical of our content or our movement, letters that were very attacking or accusatory, and letters that were downright odd or confusing.
I thought I might share a sample of these latter ones with you; by way of reference, I’ll just use the first name of the writers and won’t reveal locations.
Max was a regular correspondent. He would write a short letter pointing out some fault in society and then asking God to “withhold rain on our continent” until the problem was remedied. Nothing like a bit of divine blackmail to get Australians moving in the right direction.
He sent me one letter referring to the number of crimes happening on pathways where people would walk or bikes would be ridden. Max suggested that citizen groups could be set up to catch these criminals and that “capital punishment (a public flogging) be used in spite of age, creed or gender… Make the punishment something they’ll remember”.
Robert wrote to me complaining about an image we’d used to accompany one story, saying that the image included nudity and it was shameful for The Salvation Army to use such an image. I wrote back to him and pointed out that the image was part of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling in the Vatican.
He responded to me by saying that it was still inappropriate for us to use the image and that he wasn’t surprised to hear of its location “because Catholics aren’t Christians!!!”. He added that, “We cannot support nudity in any form; God clothed Adam and Eve and that’s good enough for me.”
Dianne said a lady came to her corps for welfare support and, in disgust at receiving a lesser shopping voucher than she wanted, she swore and spat on the floor. Dianne queried, “Spitting on the floor is desecrating God’s house, isn’t it? What does God say about spitting in church in the Bible?” Not much, I think.
Graham wrote to me to say we were quoting from the wrong Bible – “The only correct version is the King James Version; all other versions are counterfeits.”
Angela sent me 17 pages of gematria (ciphers, cryptograms) where words are given number values. She attempted to prove that key words in a recent edition of ‘Warcry’ kept adding up to 666 and clearly The Salvation Army are demonic.
Doris said she’d been involved with the Army for 30 years and got highly critical of some of our practices before asking why we don’t do wedding services – “Is it because we fear rituals?” – because she’d never seen or been to an Army wedding. How do you tell someone that we do do weddings, but no one had ever invited her?
Arthur asked me if I’d “gone bananas” because we reviewed a movie, he thought was anti-Christian. My reply to him began: “In response to your letter and question of 6 November, no, I don’t believe I’ve gone bananas”, and I went on to explain why we ran the review.
Judith (another regular correspondent) opposed our review of the movie ‘Shrek’ because Shrek was “unappealing, immoral, crude, hideous, and ugly”. She said he would cause children to “wake and scream at night”.
Gail sent me a 474-page document telling me why our government was un-Christian. It included photocopies of newspaper articles and correspondence she’d shared with newspapers and government officials. I confess I didn’t read it all.
And, finally, Ronald invited me to join his One World Government “to manage Planet Earth and all things within it”. He sent me a weblink, which I looked up and discovered his organisation contained one member – Ronald. I chose not to join him.
– Major Mal Davies and his wife Major Tracey are the Corps Officers at Adelaide City Salvos