Date: 36 A.D.
RE: Marketing campaign for your new religion
As vowed, I have met with the focus group to gauge the reactions of locals to my proposed marketing campaign. I made sure to include all the important sub-groups; lepers, Samaritans, Pharisees, etc. Here are the preliminary findings.
As I predicted in the beginning, the motto, "The new improved Jewism for a new millennium" did not resonate with the all-important younger generation. Modern kids are always coveting something new and different. They don't think of Judaism as cutting edge and hip. Speaking of cutting edge, I have found overwhelming support, primarily from potential male converts, for eliminating circumcision as a requirement for membership in your religion.
Rather than presenting you and the other disciples as a sect of an existing religion I have determined that you would attract more customers, or converts as we like to call them in our business, by offering the image of a totally new religion. Furthermore, my research has indicated that including the concept of Christianity as "The One True Religion" goes a long way towards developing brand loyalty. This was particularly true when the component of eternal damnation was included in the formula. Prospects who were told that the punishment for heresy and blasphemy was "being cast in to a pit of fire and brimstone for eternity" were twice as likely to endorse the idea that all other religions were false than those prospects who were told that committing the same sins would lead to "God being really disappointed." But don't go overboard with the wrath dynamic. Let us be honest, too much wrath is a turn-off for your average man-in-the-street. Boils, plagues, the streets running with the blood of first born sons—that is the old- time religion of the last century. I see placing your god as the kinder gentler god. Still a mover and a shaker, still capable of smiting, but a bit more on the forgiving side. Mercy is the key word here. Mercy and forgiveness: that is where the action is in the coming century. It is in this spirit that I again suggest that you go with the "Ten Suggestions" rather than the "Ten Commandments." The word commandment doesn't leave much wiggle room. The "Thou shalt not..." flavor is so negative. Rather than focusing on what not to do, what about giving some direction on what to do? Lead with the positive. The classic "you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar" idea. For example, instead of "Thou shalt not kill," what if we went with, "It is a good idea to respect life." Catchy huh? But don't make a decision right away; sleep on it for a few days. On the third day when you rise I think you will find that the concept will have grown on you.
My research has confirmed what you already suspected, Romans who are used to the tales of Zeus and all the other standard gods expect, nay demand, the supernatural in their religion. Special effects such as parting a sea or a talking burning brush just don't excite people anymore. Been there, done that. Therefore, as we indicated at our last supper meeting, we think the miracles aspect is vital to taking your group from a small time local sect to a world wide phenomenon. I feel strongly that the bringing back to life of the dead is the thing you have to offer that no other religion can provide. Sure some so-called religions have the promise of reincarnation, but face it, running the risk of coming back as a beast of burden just isn't nearly as appealing as life ever lasting in a perfect place with streets of gold.
But despite the attractiveness of the product, you still need to go beyond the simple word of mouth advertising on which you have been relying. Since there are so many other religions competing in the marketplace, most of which have been around for many more years than yours and therefore have name recognition, you will want to find a public figure to endorse your religion. I have contacted Caesar's people who say for the right price he might be willing to recognize Christianity as a legitimate religion. Bear in mind however, he would still expect the usual sacrifices, etc. I will continue to negotiate on this point as I know you have strong feelings on rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. We won't make any formal covenant with him until I get your approval.
Finally, I think even though most of the world's population is completely illiterate, publishing a book goes a long way in gaining creditability. You wouldn't believe how people sit up and take notice when a prophet mentions something like, "It is written that..." or, "As I spoketh in my gospel..." Having a bestselling book can help you guys overcome the handicap of not being rabbis.
See you at the birthday feast on the 25th! I was going to bring frankincense as a gift, but I heard that Mary has developed an allergy to it. Any truth to that rumor? I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of one of her holier-than-thou snits. I thought I'd pick up a cheese and veggie tray from the deli on the way over. I'm sure there will already be enough bread, fishes, and wine.
P.S. Do you still want me to keep Judas out of the loop? What did he do that pissed off you guys so much?
© 2002 by Mic Hunter. All rights reserved.