Saturday 25 November 2023

Be a Goat

 Intrigued by this re-interpretation of the Parable of the Talents where the third servant (who didn't do anything with his talent, and was cast out into the darkness etc etc) is in fact the hero.

And turning to the story of the Sheep and Goats, and thinking - maybe that's how we should approach that? What if the Goats, who are not doing the "good works" expected of them, are in fact the ones who are protesting against an unfairly structured society? What if visiting those in prison is effectively supporting the elite in their use of imprisononment as a tool of injustice against the poor? Acting as an opiate of the masses when they should be rejecting the whole concept of jail as a civilised way of dealing with issues?

What if those feeding the hungry are in fact thereby propping up and unjust and capitalist system? Because, after all, it's the State that should be feeding the hungry. All the food banks are just covering up the injustice, when to refuse to feed the hungry is the radical act that demands we rise up and overthrow the whole system from the top down? Starting with... erm... God.

And so the goats are cast into eternal punishment. Martyrs to the cause. We stand with you, comrades.

Saturday 18 November 2023

In the making of Memes there is no End

Apparently this quote from Facebook  (where I saw it) is by someone called David Rankin. I have no idea which of the many David Rankins. But it doesn't matter, of course, as it's been turned into a meme. It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you've put words onto a wacky image and saved it as a jpg, it must be true. No Harvard referencing system required.

Olde worldy looking woman saying "You can't trust an apocalptic religion to solve real-world solutions. Their identity is based on the world ending".

The meme is using a fairly imprecise meaning of "apocalyptic that really means "eschtological", I think.  And when you look at the Parable of the Talents, you've gotta say it's pretty end-timesy, but not all that apocalyptic. Jesus doesn't invoke dragons, beasts, talking horns and all of the genuine apocalyptic stuff, just a bloke going on a journey and leaving behind some slaves to look after some money.

And bear in mind it is money. The English word "talents" comes from this parable. But in the parable, it's a huge amount of money. One talent is maybe twenty years' labour for a worker.

 And the parable isn't about just sitting around and waiting for the owner to come back, whatever the meme writer may think. If anything the opposite. The slave who just sits around and waits for the owners' return is the one who gets the telling off. It's the ones that are active about their masters' business who are commended.

And that's what Jesus expects of us through this parable. We have an amount of time alloted to each of us. We don't know how long it will be till we are called home, or Christ comes - in whatever way. What are we going to do with it? We can make smug Internet memes like the smug atheists (other smug belief systems' memes are available). Or we can assist food banks. Visit the sick. Raise money for Ukraine. Work to give medical assistance to people in other, less fortunate countries.

The irony of the slave who buried his talent is that burying it was actually more trouble than taking it to the bankers. We can actually put more effort into evading the responsibilities we have, than into fulfilling them. We can run after all sorts of unproductive things rather than do something useful with your time.

And this is not a call that every Christian should be a superhero for Jesus all the time. It's possible for us all to be tired, depressed, old, feeling that we cannot be producting servants, generating eternal wealth. But the master in the story has handed out the talents in different amounts - and yet both the man with five talents and the man with two received the same reward - to be given more responsibility and enter into their master’s favour.

But in the round, for all of us - to quote the meme - is our identity around the world ending? Yes it is. But when Jesus comes, we shan't be sitting around waiting for him - that would be burying our talents. We shall have been busy doing his work for him, and shall receive our reward.

Wednesday 1 November 2023

All Souls’ – an explanation

A quick correction on the advert we put up on the BeakerWeb for our All Souls’ Service.

When we said “we will be commemorating all those who have died by lighting candles at our Sunday Evening Service”, we didn’t mean that Sunday Evening services are particularly dangerous.

Nor is there any need for an exclusion zone around the tea light stands.

I hope this clarifies matters.