“Jonathan Acuff betrays America with Anti-Christian article.”
That was the title of a post that was written in response to a CNN article I wrote. In the post the author ripped me apart, questioning my love of democracy, apple pie and freedom.
But I think it was a joke. It has to be, it was so over the top and hateful that I have to assume they were just joshing. (I’m bringing the words, “joshing” and “no doy,” back by the way.)
My biggest clue that it was a joke was that they didn’t use the preferred way to express Christian angst … the open letter.
An editorial device in which you vocally, visibly pen a letter to a person or company and then post online or in a newspaper, the open letter is a staple of Christian rage. We are to open letters what Shakespeare is to plays. We are able to craft them like no other. They flow from our pens like water down a cold Colorado mountain. We type them with the speed and intensity of a red bulled hummingbird.
Maybe you’ve never written one though. Maybe you’re not aware of how to handcraft this type of missive. Allow me to provide you with:
The 6 rules of writing an open letter
1. Always address your open letter to someone famous.
No one wants to read your open letter about your next door neighbor whose dog uses the bathroom in your yard. You won’t get any attention from crafting “An open letter to Frank Johnson.” Boring. Instead, write the open letter to Miley Cyrus’ parents.
2. Explore the “open tweet.”
Traditional handwritten open letters are so 2000 and late. Consider penning an “open tweet.” Much shorter, but yet still highly public, the open tweet is a great way to express your anger. I’ve mentioned before that someone once tweeted that they were going to stop following me on twitter because I tweeted about the Oscars too much. That was a well played open tweet. (In my defense, had I known his personal limit for Oscar-themed tweets, I would have been able to accommodate him.)
3. Always ask for something wildly difficult in your open letter.
The point of an open letter is to ask some wicked famous to do something wicked difficult. Dear Google, please remove all porn from the internet permanently in the next 48 hours. Thank you.” When it comes to the open letter, remember, “Go big or go home.”
4. Never try any other method of contact first.
I’m not famous, so I should never get open letters written about me, but when someone does criticize me and I write back, they rarely respond. That’s because most times, criticism online isn’t about creating real, tangible change or resolving an issue. It’s about attention or frustration. So don’t email a person or contact their website, go right to open letter mode.
5. Wait 24 hours before you post or share your open letter.
Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, posted an open letter after LeBron James said, “I wish I could quit you, and it turns out I can.” The NBA fined Gilbert $100,000. I don’t have that cash and if you don’t either, please be very, very careful about waiting 24 hours before writing your letter.
6. Use capital letters sparingly in your open letter.
IF YOU YELL THE WHOLE TIME, NO ONE WILL READ YOUR LETTER. YOU NEED TO DROP LITTLE “YELL GRENADES.” HAVE A normally capitalized paragraph and then out of nowhere, blow something up like, PLEASE STOP SELLING RAP ALBUMS WALMART! Boom!
A Christian list with 6 points and not 7 is just begging for an open letter. Before you pen one though, how about helping me complete this list?
Have you ever seen an open letter you thought worked well?
Is there anything you would add to this list on how to create one?