Monday, January 14, 2008


Junk mail, get it whether I want it or not. Spam likewise. I Googled the word, “Spam” thinking it was an acronym for something and found a different one to define it, “UBE” – Unsolicited Bulk Email. I still have no idea why the word, “Spam,” is used in this context.

My search did lead me to an acronym for SPAM in a completely different context, however – Shoulder of Pork and hAM. UGH! My grandchildren in Hawaii love it, especially in the form of Spam Musubi – “a block of salted (not vinegared; that would be sushi) rice with a slice of Spam (cooked or uncooked) on top, and typically nori (dried seaweed) surrounding it to keep it in shape.” YUK!

According to Wikipedia, “In the United States, the residents of the state of Hawaii and the territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands consume the most Spam per capita. On average, each person on Guam consumes 16 tins of Spam each year…In Hawaii, Spam is so popular it is sometimes dubbed ‘The Hawaiian Steak.’” It goes on to say, “Many jocular ‘backronyms’ have been devised, such as ‘Something Posing As Meat’ and ‘Spare Parts Animal Meat’ or ‘Special Purpose Army Meat.’" There must be a sermon illustration in there somewhere?

Now where was I? Oh yes, we arrived home, after an extended two month absence, and the mail had piled up, mostly junk mail, advertisements for Viagra, reverse mortgages, hair loss (growth) formulas, hearing loss solutions, memory loss treatments and back copies of various magazines, including AARP (all age related mind you). In the mix were three back copies of one of our church denominational magazines. Here’s where I get a bit befuddled.

I, an American, receive the The Salvation Army British Territory’s “Salvationist” (denominational paper) whether I want it or not. It used to be an international paper published by our Headquarters in London, but that all changed somewhere along the way. Yet we still get it and most pay for it whether they want to or not.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an excellent publication (certainly not junk mail in that sense of the word), geared to the British audience, obviously. And they have reason to be proud of it. It’s just that I have no desire or need to know the itinerary of their territorial leaders. Places like Market Rasen, Sleaford and Basingstoke are totally off my radar screen. The Territorial Commander’s column is spot on for that part of the European Continent, but I would be more interested in what my own leaders are doing and saying – Butte, Albuquerque, Kake, Escondido, Pohnpei, now you’re talking my language.

It’s nice to know that their TC sent an anniversary message to the Queen, but the concept of royalty doesn’t even begin to compute with me, culturally. And I’m glad to know that SP&S is “On the Road, “Coming to Worthing and Winton Corps” (wherever they are). I must admit that it does make me a little envious, though, being that my own territory doesn’t have a Supplies and Purchasing Department of its very own.

Then there are the adverts (“ads”), like this one: “Do YOU know anyone linked to The Salvation Army who does not get a copy of “Salvationist” every week? There are employees, regular worshippers, friends, clients, former Salvationists and others who will enjoy reading a copy regularly if they receive it.” In the lower right-hand corner there is a large star with the inscription, “Still only 60p” (however much that is). The byline reads, “Salvationist – the essential read for everyone linked to The Salvation Army.” Perhaps that should be extended to read, “…in the British Territory,” don’t you think? Besides where are my friends going to find 60P, huh?

I do enjoy the “Letters and News” section and can relate to a recent letter to the editor titled, “We are a corps not a corpse.” The writer was relating to “our corps here at Sudbury (wherever that is) referred to as a corpse” in a telephone inquiry. He went on to say, “Couldn’t we find a better way to describe our church centres (“centres” doesn’t jive with my Spell Check) – or perhaps our centres of evangelism? I want people to know that we are alive and kicking, not dead and buried.” Fire a Volley! Amen! Even an American Salvationist can understand and connect with those feelings.

A recent column by the editor was headlined, “Nutters do it together.” It was in reference to Tony Blair not speaking out about his faith because “he felt he would be thought ‘a nutter.” Huh? I don’t know what it means, but if speaking out about your faith makes you one, lay it on me.

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place…And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language... we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God…’ Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine. (Paraphrased: “These guys are nutters”) – Acts 2:1-13.

OK, with those kind of editorials maybe the “Salvationist” is worth 60p a week (however much that is), even in America… whether we understand it or not.