Spam as a window to other cultures

About fifteen years ago, I wanted to download a King James Bible onto my Palm Pilot clone to read Ecclesiastes on an airplane. Sure, I could have just lugged a trusted printed Bible with me, but aside from the inconvenience I didn't want to put the poor people sitting next to me in fear of me witnessing to them. There being no copyright in the KJV, my download was free, but I had to provide an email address for the download. Since that scriptural download, the email address I used has received a steady stream of promotions from an online "Christian" store. They offer plenty of Bibles, of course, with "The Complete Illustrated Children's Bible" at the top of yesterday's missive. Beyond Bibles, the most recent spamming also includes hard-hitting titles like "The Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets them Free" and "Wisdom for the Way: Wise Words for Busy People." Perhaps my favorite deal from last Friday was a book discounted (appropriately enough, but likely with no sense of irony) as "Slightly Imperfect" and entitled "They Shall Expel Demons: What You Need to Know About Demons--Your Invisible Enemies." Of course, most of the sales missives also feature abundant kitsch, things like mugs and plaques and posters with pithy encouragement and occasionally scriptural words emblazoned upon them.

I suppose I could try to unsubscribe from the list, but I kind of like the emails. I find most of the items on sale a little silly--I already know plenty about demons, inasmuch as I know there is no such thing as actual demons, thank you very much--but I don't revel in the oddity of the products so much as I enjoy a glimpse into another world adjacent but scarcely overlapping my own day-to-day life.

I'm a cultural voyeur, the kind of person who could have lived happily as a working anthropologist had life turned out differently. I enjoy brushes with other cultures and seeing how they tick. I left the Christian fold years ago, but I left the part of Christianity that wanted advice for dealing with demonic encounters before there was email to hawk books on the subject. I have enough experience with Christianity to know that I don't want to go sit in a pew for the cultural experience, but I like seeing what this particular "Christian" company thinks will sell to the faithful.

Spam can be a window to another world, you just have to glance through it.