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Welcome! You've Got Hate Mail

PEOPLE SKILLS

My computer monitor glowed like the luminescent eye of a sinister Cyclops. The evil cyber-voice seemed to cackle as it announced, "You've got mail."

Ah, but what kind of mail had come through my virtual door slot? When will some enterprising computer geek develop software to identify incoming correspondence? Something like, "You've got a note of appreciation from a congregational admirer," or at least, "You've got hate mail." After all, a man needs to prepare himself.

I clicked on the mailbox icon. My screen filled with dozens of replies to my most recent weekly congregational e-mail. Most were expressions of affirmation or chatty rambling greetings from Internet novices.

A few, however, bore the sinister markings of the virtual critic. The subject lines were tantalizing in their artful negativity: "You must be confused" or a somewhat less subtle, "Disappointed by recent sermon."

I always click first on the obviously negative e-mail. Better to take the medicine quickly. ...

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From Issue:Fall 1999: The Forecast
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