Wednesday, December 07, 2011

In Which Tony Perkins Produces An Outcome He Didn't Intend

We're coming to you today from the Department of Theology here in the marbled halls of IM Central. The Department of Theology is located in the Center for the Co-opting of Religion to Suit Your Biases which is part of the College of Thank God Jesus Can't Speak For Himself.

While slooshing the inter toobz this morning we ran across this:

Jesus was a free marketer, not an Occupier

written by well known theologian and leading explainer of "What Jesus Really Meant To Say" Tony Perkins whom-we hasten to point out-is not a bigot according to Bill Donahue, a man who has more experience with bigotry than almost anyone else in the country. We mention this because one of the measures of one's gravitas in the field is the stature of those who vouch for him.

OK, so Perkins explains that Jesus was not an occupier, which would probably explain why he got so upset with the money lenders occupying the temple. Pretty straightforward, except that since the SEC hadn't been invented yet we have to assume the money lenders were in there lending money at totally free market rates, so we have a bit of a conundrum, or as Mr. Perkins might say, something I'll make up stuff about later.
As Jesus was about to enter Jerusalem for the last time, just before his crucifixion, he was keenly aware that his disciples greatly desired and even anticipated that the kingdom of God was going to be established immediately on the earth.
Unfortunately Paul missed that meeting.
The apostle Paul also expected a quick return. Although he apparently never met Jesus, he knew about the promised return, and he expected to live long enough to see it happen. In 1Corinthians 7:29-31 he says that the time is so short that believers must drastically change the way they live.
But we have to assume he did get the memo:
Matthew 16:28, in which (Jesus) says "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." Another example is found at Luke 21:32, where he says "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." He makes similar statements in Luke 9:27 and Mark 9:1.
Well, it seems we have another conundrum on our hands, but since Mr. Perkins is much more intelligent than Paul was, having graduated from Liberty University with a BS (no pun intended) he knows which of Christ's positions is the right one.
As a way to break the news that it wasn't going to happen in the manner and with the timing they expected, Jesus pulled them aside and gave them instructions by way of a parable. The primary purpose of the parable, which appears in the Gospel of Luke, was to make clear to his disciples that the kingdom of God would not be physically established on the earth for some time and that, until then, they were being entrusted with certain responsibilities. Here's the direct quote from Luke: "He called his ten servants, and gave to them ten minas, one mina each (a mina today would be worth around $225), and he then told them to 'Occupy till I come.' "
Oh Jesus you scamp! Always with the parables. Now, we're tempted (Get it? Tempted. Because we're writing about  religious matters and such. This blog has layers, man, layers!) So we're tempted to say Mr. Perkins is about to tell us Jesus would be for the Occupy movement because he uses the word occupy in his story, but for a guy so close to Jesus he gets a bad taste in his mouth every time the J mans burps, we figure there's got to be more to the story.
No, the Greek term behind the old English translation literally means "be occupied with business."
Right. Which is why Jesus owned a Subway franchise in Judea.
From a spiritual perspective, the mina in this parable represents the opportunity of life; each of us is given the same opportunity to build our lives, and each of us shares the same responsibility to invest our lives for the purpose of bringing a return and leaving a legacy.
Wait. So now you're saying Jesus would support the people in the occupy movement who are investing their lives in bringing about economic justice and leaving a legacy of equality and fairness?
The fact that Jesus chose the free market system as the basis for this parable should not be overlooked.
Really? We're supposed to take the point of the parable symbolically, but the topic literally?  Man! This bible study stuff is confusing. Can we go back to when we just had conundrums?
The third servant in the story had apparently either slept through his economics course or was just indifferent to the work delegated to him. He had essentially kept the capital entrusted to him under his mattress for safekeeping. The employee review is immediate and intense: "Out of your own mouth will I judge you, you wicked servant." The king's disappointment and frustration are nearly palpable. "Why didn't you at least put the money in the bank and draw interest?" the king inquires. While such language might prompt an HR complaint today, its meaning was quite clear to the disciples. There are no excuses for doing nothing.
"There are no excuses for doing nothing." So the big J would have been out there in Zicotti Park. Whew! Thanks for clearing that up Mr. P.
Some would argue that such an approach encourages abuses, the likes of which we have seen on Wall Street. While some egregious abuses have taken place, they are not inevitable or intrinsic to free enterprise.
Gotcha!  And as long as there are abuses, we need to be out there doing something about them. No excuses for doing nothing and all that. You know, you could have just said the in the first place.

No comments: