'Dear God, I hope you got my letter and...'

A fisherman found 300 letters to God, which were floating in the ocean. Some of them dated back to 1973.

He posted them on eBay, treating them as ‘antiques’; but received hostile letters and phone calls and cancelled the auction. Many of the letters were addressed to a New Jersey minister, and the man will give the letters to the late minister’s daughter.

Writing a letter to someone who won’t read it has been refered to on this Board as a good way to get things off one’s chest.

They shouldn’t have been offered for sale. Too close to violating the right of confidentiality of clergy.

I think that the clergyman is the one with the right. i don’t think there’s any tradition that says laypersons must maintain confisentiality. However the letters could be considered U.S. Mail, so it might have been a crime to ‘intercept’ and sell them.

Umm…Johnny LA?

I was talking about

the rights of the people who wrote the letters


Both the Clergy and the people who consult them are protected. And writing a letter to God, in care of a clergyman, probably falls into this.

Since it appears the letters were never actually mailed, but placed on an altar, I’m not sure the USPS would be interested. Unless some of them had stamps. That would make a difference.

I don’t know the ‘rules of religion’, but the way I understand it is that confidentiality is between the clergyman and the churchgoer. That is, the churchgoer is ensured that the clergyman will not reveal what the churchgoer tells him. AFAIK this pact of confidentiality does not apply to a third party. But then, I don’t go to church.

In any case, I agree that the man should not have tried to sell them. I understand his view of them as ‘antiques’, but I don’t agree with it.

test message

Is this a sign or some kind of ironic comment on the subject of the thread or really a test message?


If the letters were anonymous, I see no reason to not “publish” them–sounds like they weren’t, though. God help us if my journal ever got out (I plan on burning it before senility hits).

They were written in care of the ocean. I don’t think they count.

I’m sympathetic, but please. Let’s cut across. Postal regulations don’t apply to the letters that were never consigned to the Service, and they don’t apply to letters taken in care by the USPS after they are delivered and received by the addressee. So that’s out. Clergy confidentiality is enforceable only if there’s anyone there to assert it, and under law it exists only when there is an actual dialogue between clergyperson and parishoner that takes place in private, and neither condition exists here. Any communication here started out piled on top of one public place (a church altar) and ended up in another(floating on the high seas). So let’s leave the law out of this. Let’s say, instead, that when people write down their private thoughts and then entrust them to an institution, such as a church, that can be expected to be discreet, that they have a right to privacy short of concealment of a crime. Not statute, not a civil right, just a privilege granted to everyone by decent people everywhere. That should be enough. If it isn’t, than all the laws in the world, each with a thousand policemen to enforce it, cannot preserve civil society.

Just came by to appreciate the XTC reference.

No, they were sent to a church managed by a clergyman.

They ended up in the ocean years after he died.