06 December 2011

The Theology of Emoticons

In the near future, theologians reading the King James version noticed what they concluded was the first use of emoticons. In Matt 6:

32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

Once they'd found the smiley face in the middle of the verse, theological debate ensued.

"What does this mean?"
"I think it is accidental."
"Do you explain away any inconvenient thing in the Bible this way?"
"As an accident?"
"Why don't we just assume that this is the word of God and as such there are no accidents?"
"Well this is hardly the stuff of a Dan Brown novel."
"Let's not degrade this conversation with reference to fiction."
"So you suppose that this is serious?"
"Let's assume that it is. So what do we make of this?"
"Well, let's look at the context. It's the sermon on the Mount and Jesus is telling people not to worry about natural provision because God will care for them."
"So the smiley face is a happy, reassuring sign that lets people know that these temporal things are not so important. God will provide."
"Perhaps. But that wouldn't do much to explain the many people for whom God apparently did not provide - the untimely deaths, the starvation, the disease. It could be that this smiley face is the first instance of sarcasm."
"Please, Jesus was sarcastic?"
"Well, it would explain so much."
"Jesus is love. The smiley face is obviously an expression of joy."
"Ha! Sarcasm."

And just like that, the discovery of the first emoticon created a new rift, a new schism in the Christian world. After the discovery of this first emoticon, the Christian world was still divided into Catholic and Protestant but each of those was further divided into sarcastic and hopeful. And perhaps it was the toll of thousands of years of observing human nature, the times, or an actual insight into reality but the new believers in God the Sarcastic were surprisingly numerous.  It was - and remained - a curious world.

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