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.

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