I think that when it comes to emails, there are lots of ways to add some God flavor. You can have a holy sounding email address like [email protected] You can sign off with a shout out to God like “in His grip” or “God bless you.” And you can include a little icon of a cross or a fish or a dove.
I think those are interesting, but my favorite way to add some holy to an email is to put a quote at the end. I think this a fairly wide spread phenomenon and non Christians do it too. But we have the added pressure of using that quote to possibly spark a thought in someone about God. That’s a big responsibility and to help you pick the best quote I want to give you some tips on things you should avoid:
1. The Lewis Sandwich
I should apologize everyday for not doing a post on C.S. Lewis yet. Christians love him. And one of the ways we show that love is by using his quotes in our emails. But sometimes in our affection, we go over board and create a “Lewis Sandwich.” This is when you quote Lewis, then add a quote from someone else, and then remember another Lewis quote you love and add that too. Suddenly you’ve got a total of three quotes, with two Lewis quotes sandwiching someone else. The whole thing is a mess and C.S. Lewis will probably punch you in the neck in heaven if you do this.
2. The Riddler
If you ever get a quote that is completely confusing and borderline undecipherable, then you know the Riddler has struck. When I get one of these, I’m not sure if someone is trying to appear smart or if I am in fact just dumb, but occasionally people will send quotes like, “Laughing, loving and crying are the secrets angels share when we admit we’re only human.” What? What does that mean? You just sent me an email with directions to a cookout. Are you trying to tell me something about the hamburgers we’re going to have? Is that a code for danger? I’m completely boggled.
3. The Instigator
Sometimes, people use a somewhat controversial quote in their emails because they want to start a debate or stir the waters. I often try to instigate conversations on this site, so I completely understand this approach. And, I have a new favorite example. One of the quotes I have received recently is from a fairly famous pastor that said, “God is not green. Kermit is green. It will be a cold day in hell when I preach on recycling and not the gospel.” I confess I’ve spent far too little time learning about environmental issues but I am challenged by Rob Bell’s statement that “How we treat the creation reveals how we feel about the creator.” He made it in regard to how we treat people but in a good way it’s forced me to think about how I treat the earth, which is also God’s creation. And I don’t agree that it’s an either or situation. Either you preach recycling or you preach the gospel. But maybe that quote is taken out of context and the pastor meant something else. Ahhh! See, the instigator has won. I’m debating the quote at the end of an email.
4. The Encyclopedia Brown
I used to love Encyclopedia Brown, the boy wonder detective that would solve mysteries for 25 cents. He was able to do so because he knew everything. Sometimes, at the end of emails, people add quotes that try to tell you everything. Out of nowhere you get a three paragraph quote from Billy Graham that explains the trinity in rich, colorful detail. I think we should collectively come to an agreement as Christians that the quote you use at the end of your email should never be longer than the email you have written. If your email says, “See you tonight!” your quote shouldn’t say, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
5. The Anonymous Quote
Almost anything sounds kind of smart when you put it at the bottom of an email and attribute it to “anonymous.” Do you know which poet once said, “Fairytales don’t always have a happy ending?” What about, “I must take the baby steps until I’m full grown?” Those are OK, right? I mean the first one speaks to the universal sense that often life does not work out the way we’ve planned. Things fall apart. Relationships end. Hearts are broken. The second quote seems like it might be about the renewing of the mind that is possible through Christ. It could be about 1 Corinthians 3:1 where Paul says some people are “mere babes in Christ.” So who said those two quotes? Fergie. They’re lyrics from the song “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” So usually, when someone sends me an email with an anonymous quote, I assume it’s something Fergie said and start singing it. I ask my wife to join in and play the role of Ludacris, but she never will.
I am cool with a quote at the end of an email. At times I’ve learned something new, been challenge and gained some insight into the person that sent it. I just think we should avoid those five situations. What quote do I use in my own emails? I’ve never had one, but the other day an editor from a large ministry organization said something to me:
“I tell you, the concept of “Booty, God, Booty” has revolutionized my life.”
Sure, she might have been teasing and I guess you could see using a quote about something I wrote as narcissistic, but the idea of having the phrase “Booty, God, Booty” in a quote made me giggle like a 12 year old. And quotes at the bottoms of emails are usually so serious, that I couldn’t pass this one up.