Sunday, November 16, 2008

“Blessed are the meek” - a closer look

The Gospel of Matthew would have us believe that the meek are blessed because they will “inherit the Earth”. For nearly two thousand years, most mainstream theologians have been happy to go along with this unassuming promise, as it certainly seems harmless enough. Bible researchers have described it as “kind of nice”, and reminiscent of the inside of a Hallmark card.

Recently, however, this chapter of Matthew’s Gospel has come under scrutiny for the questionable logic it bears witness to. It appears that after years of research, the meek have so far accomplished very little. None of the world’s famous monarchs were meek. If they were, they found themselves pushed out of windows, or easily led into damp dungeons with the promise of tasty candy. If the world’s greatest navigators had been meek, the United States would instead celebrate Thank God Columbus Stayed at Home Day. Well actually they wouldn’t, as the continent would still be home to tribes of meek natives, shyly keeping out of each other’s way. There would be no need for peace treaties, peace pipes, or Pocahonti to placate their conquerors.

Fig. 1, Disney didn't believe this version would sell

Games of historical determinism aside, it appears that the meek still refuse to contribute anything of value to the world. A recruiter at one of London’s top management consultant firms assured our reporters that meekness was not a quality that was required of potential employees. “We prefer, you know, people who do stuff”.

Indeed, it appears that “not doing stuff” is the one thing that sets the meek apart from people of worth. Only last month, the world failed to commemorate the passing of meek author Arthur B. Gillingham, who wrote no books of note. Furthermore, the National Meek Badminton League is the only major sporting association in the United States without its own devoted ESPN channel. It is doubtful that a meek person could have genetically engineered dinosaurs from prehistoric DNA recovered from the fossilized remains of mosquitoes.

The likelihood of meekness succeeding on its own is therefore small. Commentators have thus queried whether an outside player will step in at some point and give the meek a helping hand. “They certainly couldn’t do it on their own,” was the overwhelming opinion of all polled wealthy, successful, diligent, attractive, award-winning City lawyers. Still, the inerrancy of Biblical scripture has some worried. After all, it now seems that all that investment bankers will inherit are worthless stock options and suffocating mortgage payments.

“It’s right there in Matthew”, argued the only meek person who didn’t scurry away from our reporters. “It has to be true,” he reasoned, while swatting away a pair of seagulls. “At least I hope it is, because I gave that hobo the keys to my house.” The conclusion urged by these Biblical scholars is to stop trying to accomplish things, because God will give the earth to lazy freeloaders anyway.

We here at Frodology are however deeply alarmed. Frodologists of all stripes are inspired by the journey of Frodo, in which he risked peril upon peril to destroy the One Ring. Sure, he dragged his feet at times. Yes, he had to be bodily dragged out the door by Gandalf. And it’s very possible he sustained that potentially fatal troll wound to avoid having to go to Mordor. But the fact is, Frodo did it. Frodo accomplished something beyond the mere conjuring so beloved of Jesus.

Let us be inspired by this apt passage of Frodo, from The Two Towers, p 258:

“I’m tired, and I don’t think I can scramble among stones much longer tonight…”

Well that’s not the right quote. How about this one, from The Fellowship of the Ring, p 87:

“I do really wish to destroy it! … Or, well, to have it destroyed. I am not made for perilous quests. I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?”

Ah, crap. Goddamn Ballantine Books. Ok, well this one is pretty good:

“… The history of evolution is that life escapes all barriers. Life breaks free. Life expands to new territories. Painfully, perhaps even dangerously. But life finds a way.”

Ok, that one’s actually from Jurassic Park. It's still good though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Christians: He left us! He left us!
Frodo: But that's NOT what I'M gonna do

Lex: He left us! He left us!
Dr. Alan Grant: But that's NOT what I'M gonna do's not much of a stretch at all, really