Speaking of the religious right and exploitation: A Salon reader alerted us to an intriguing email from Andrew Accardy, an executive vice president of Purpose Driven Ministries, regarding last week's media frenzy over hostage hero Ashley Smith. The ministry affiliated with Rick Warren's blockbuster Evangelical book, "The Purpose-Driven Life" (which Smith reported was instrumental in persuading her captor, Brian Nichols, to free her and her daughter), wanted to make a point about its benevolent intentions with regard to the headline news. From the email:
"From: Purpose Driven Ministries
"Subject: God makes the waves, and we just ride them
"Date: 17 Mar 2005
"Dear Colleague in Ministry,
"As Rick Warren taught us in his book, The Purpose Driven Church, our job as church leaders is to recognize a wave of God's Spirit and ride it. God makes the waves, and we, like experienced surfers, just ride them ... Only God could create a wave of this kind, allowing Ashley Smith to share her testimony across the country while generating interest in a discipleship tool such as 'The Purpose Driven Life.'
"There is a risk that we may be misunderstood, so let us state something clearly: What happened in Atlanta was a tragedy of extraordinary proportions, and we are grieved by these senseless murders. We have no interest in exploiting this tragedy for any gain, but we do believe the only hope in the midst of such tragedy is the peace and love of God, found only through his son, Jesus Christ."
And it's not as if book sales needed a boost -- Warren's became the bestselling nonfiction hardback in U.S. history, and there are more than 22 million copies in circulation overall. It has generated considerable interest in China, and even prompted Fidel Castro to ask for an autographed copy. Nonetheless, the folks at Purpose Driven seem to be just fine with riding a retail wave, after all:
"While many people will be asking about The Purpose Driven Life -- it's not about us. This is a kingdom moment. Yet, as people ask, we want you to have the tools available this Easter to help people in their spiritual journey. That's why we're offering you today a deep discount on The Purpose Driven Life (hardback book) and What on Earth Am I Here For? (the first seven chapters of PDL in an evangelistic booklet form).
"Purpose Driven Life
"16 hardback books
"$95 per case
"Use PROMO code 2005 EASTERPDL when ordering
"What on Earth Am I Here For?
"$175 per case
"Use PROMO code 2005EASTERPDLTC when ordering
"We're only giving this offer to you as a 40 Days of Purpose Alumni church. Our discounts will expire on March 25."