Early in my life I was introduced to the chain letter – one that you send to your friends and ask them to pass along to a certain number of others. Somehow by taking the time to send the letters and continue the chain, I believed I was helping perpetuate good in the world. The downside was the requirement in these letters that I continue the chain or face “consequences.”
At some point I became bothered by the influx of mail and began to reject the myth that I would come to a horrible end if I failed to resend the letter to at least five of my friends. Gradually, I realized that by participating I was furthering a lie about God’s nature.
Chain letters imply that sending them on to others will bring good – and that the failure to do so will bring evil. When I could step back from this superstitious belief, I realized that it would try to impinge on the role God plays in the profitable outcome of everything in His universe. God didn’t need me to do His work by sending chain letters. He is quite able to perpetuate good within all of us because He is the source of all good. Nor could I be deprived of good when I didn’t send a chain letter on to others, because the letter threatened that bad things would happen to me.
Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Monitor, once wrote, “A lie has only one chance of successful deception, – to be accounted true. Evil seeks to fasten all error upon God, and so make the lie seem part of eternal Truth” (“Unity of Good,” p. 17).
The chain letter is by its very nature a document of chance and superstition. It infers that if we fail to respond, cosmic forces will deprive either the senders or recipients of health, wealth, love. But God, not the chain letter or the fear of evil that it suggests, has all power, and His power is always good.
Doesn’t it make more sense to know – as Jesus taught and proved – that God is the source of health, wealth, and love? As life’s necessities, these are not arbitrary, nor are they products of chance or change. They are divine in origin, present here and now for everyone to enjoy. Chain letters would have us believe that the message of the letter has the ability to influence our lives, either improving or destroying what God has already given to each of us. The fact is that the good in our lives is not arbitrary; it is a permanent, divine fact that we can acknowledge and give gratitude for every day.
Now when I find one of these letters in my e-mail from a well-meaning individual, usually a friend of a friend of a friend, I thoughtfully pray to know that it can have no effect on me, or anyone else for that matter.
Chain letters often contain petitions for prayer and include a message that by obliging the senders, someone will be physically healed. In this instance I prayerfully affirm that divine Love, the source of life and wellness, is fully present in the experience of all people.
Healing is the natural effect of prayer, and it isn’t bolstered by either fear or superstition. Mrs. Eddy prefaced her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by saying, “In the spirit of Christ’s charity, – as one who ‘hopeth all things, endureth all things,’ and is joyful to bear consolation to the sorrowing and healing to the sick, – she commits these pages to honest seekers for Truth” (p. xii).
Chain letter requests for prayer stem from a desire to seek and bear witness to God, who is Truth. And it is easy to see how much more beneficial to the sender it is to respond “in the spirit of Christ’s charity” – joyfully, hopefully, and compassionately loving. This love reaches farther than any e-mail or letter can. Sourced in infinite Love, it pours out generously to all people, and under all circumstances.