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A meme is a unit of cultural information.  It’s an idea which is usually expressed in some culturally defined action. Meme’s are transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.  Meme’s are shared meaning endorsed and entrenched over time.

An interesting example of a meme is found in the ancient sacred texts of the Hebrews.  They were instructed to never forget and even to repeat the words of the law of God given through Moses all the time.  They were instructed to never let them depart from their mouths and even to write them on their foreheads and their hands (I can’t imagine that this was to be done literally but nevertheless the idea seems to me to be clearly that in every practical area of their lives the laws or sayings of God were to be the filter).

But then along came a man named Jesus who never rejected the ancient memes, he just introduced such a revolutionary interpretation of them that it caused all manner of disturbance.  He presented such a radical shift in the cultural thinking of the day that it eventually led to his death.

One way of looking at this is that it revealed that hundreds of years of memetic culture was challenged and for two thousand years now we have seen and lived with the effects of this.

New doctrine was scripted to document and interpret these events and in these texts new patterns of understanding were introduced that amongst other things indicated that the ancient Hebrews seemed to miss the real meaning of the teachings of Moses and the prophets.  The doctrine of the so called New Testament reveals that the memes of the ancients were somehow lost in translation, that they we not mixed with faith but instead clogged with meaningless religious ritual and cultural and political bias.

Now I am sure there are many different interpretations of this process of events but the one that really impacts my thinking is that this same Jesus was recorded as saying that he would return again.  He also cautioned and directly questioned whether when he did return he would find faith on earth.

Could it be that one set of memes was replaced by another and that the same disturbance might be repeated?  Only this time on those who for two thousand years have believed that they have direct access to the Living God and as a consequence the keys to knowledge and truth … just like the ancient Hebrews themselves believed of their belief systems in their day?  The New Testament scriptures reveal that the Hebrews could not and even would not accept this and as a result the life and truth of God was snatched from them (at least for a time, depending on one’s theology) because of their offense.

Now no one knows when or how Jesus will return, but when he does I wonder how we who believe we have the full truth might react when we see him as he really is?

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2 Comments

  1. I am convinced that the Romans reshaped the meme when they first recognised – then shortly after – made Christianity compulsory. The Catholic Chruch gradually introduced a political power into the shaped meme – eventually to be challenged by a variety of forms of Protestantism.
    The bit that the social evolutionists sometimes miss is that evolution of a faith depends on two things – first some variety (mutation?) to set up differences which can then be selected out – and secondly a change of circumstances which favours different forms of the meme.
    An interesting post.

  2. I’m with you peddibill – and it is interesting to see how quickly, in the greater scheme of things, Jesus’ ideas were reshaped into old ‘meme’s’.

    As always, Lloyd – interesting stuff.


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