Social Media

Memeology 101

I post a lot of memes on my social media pages, mostly Facebook and Instagram. I usually post four Bible verse memes every weekday morning on Facebook and other miscellaneous memes (usually a theological quote or Christian humor) at various times on all my social media platforms. Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve gotten some critical comments about a few of these memes, which, I think, stem mostly from misconceptions people have about what a meme is and the general understanding of the function of memes on social media. I’d like to try to clear up some of those misconceptions today.

Memes- Definition and Function

A meme is simply a picture with words superimposed on it (usually a couple of sentences, max), like the ones in the collage above, that you see on social media. The function of a meme is to convey a brief thought, quote, or joke. Memes are not books, articles, theses, or even long Facebook posts. They are not meant to exhaustively cover every aspect of the thought they present. Reading a meme is kind of like eating one grape (or even reading one verse of Proverbs!). The grape is good and nutritious in and of itself, but it is not: a bunch of grapes, a full meal, a well-balanced diet, or the buffet at Golden Corral. It is simply a grape. Appreciate it for what it is and don’t criticize it for not being something it isn’t.

Bible Verse Memes (BVMs)

The criticism I most often receive about Bible verse memes (a picture with a Bible verse on it) is that the verse is not in context. Of course it’s not in context. That’s the nature of a meme- it contains only a brief thought or quote (which is why you don’t usually see an extraordinarily long verse {like Esther 8:9} on a meme, either).

BVMs are not meant to be a Bible study, sermon, or exegesis of a passage of Scripture. The daily BVMs I post are to jog your memory about passages you’ve already studied or to pique your interest in studying the passage surrounding the verse on the meme. When I post a BVM, I do my best to make sure of three things: a) the meme contains a whole, not partial, verse, b) the meme contains the reference so you can look up the context for yourself, c) the picture that goes with the verse does not suggest a misleading meaning to the verse.

Interestingly, the only verses I seem to receive the “out of context” criticism about are Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:13. (Shouldn’t we want all Bible verses to be in context?) I’m fully aware that many Christians out there, and even false teachers, use these verses out of context. The fact that many people misunderstand or twist these verses to fit their own agendas does not negate the fact that these are still Holy Spirit-breathed portions of the Bible. I refuse to surrender these verses to those who abuse them by declining to post them. God’s Word is God’s Word, and even one verse can stand on its own, qualitatively, as the Word of God. The reader is the one who has the responsibility to look up those verses and understand and use them in context.

Christian Quote Memes

Going back to the grape illustration, the thing to remember is that a meme is not meant to exhaustively cover every aspect of the thought it presents. If I post a meme that says, “The grass is green,” that does not mean:

Only grass is green
–Everything in the world is green
–There aren’t other things in the world that are other colors
–I hate things that aren’t green
–Grass should never be mowed, fertilized, watered, etc.
–Grass can’t be other colors because you could dye it or set it on fire

Also, simply stating that the grass is green does not obligate me to explain photosynthesis, suggest landscaping techniques, or debate zoysia versus Kentucky bluegrass. There’s certainly a time and a place to go into detail about issues (which I do every day on the blog), but it is also okay to make simple, true, stand alone statements without having to comment on every intricate aspect of the topic.

People Pictured in Memes

This is something you kind of have to get a feel for through exposure to memes, but I’ll do my best to explain.

Sometimes a meme uses a picture of a person because the words on the meme are a direct quote from that person. Other times, the words on the meme poke fun at or allude to the person pictured. Still other times, the words on a meme have nothing to do with the beliefs, personality, or actions of person pictured in the meme, rather, that picture was selected because of the look on the person’s face, the way he is posed, etc.

If you’re confused as to whether or not the person in the picture is being quoted, you can always Google the quote to find out. If you’re familiar with the person in the picture and know he would never say the words on the meme, it’s fair to assume the words are either poking fun at/alluding to the person in the picture, or that the picture was chosen for the visible appearance of the person, not for his beliefs, personality, actions, etc.

I can’t speak for everyone who shares memes, but the rule of thumb for my social media pages is that you will never see me positively quoting or promoting the beliefs of someone who’s well known to be a false teacher or otherwise theologically aberrant by biblical standards. So if you see a meme on my page that contains a picture of a famous false teacher, a non-Christian actor, politician, etc., it should be a given that I am not promoting his or her false beliefs. The meme is making another point, which you will need to glean from context or ask politely about.

Attribution

Most of the memes I share were not made by me. I see them – shared by a friend or a page I follow – in my social media timeline and I share them, just like you do. Most of the time I don’t share them immediately. They sit in my file for days, weeks, or even months before I get around to sharing them.

At that point, I can’t remember where I found them, so I can‘t type out a caption crediting the person who made it (if I even know). (If you design memes and you want credit for them, my advice is to watermark the meme with your name or website.) So, if you see me share a meme with no attribution, I’m not in any way trying to plagiarize it or claim that I made it any more than you would be if you shared a meme like that. All of the memes I create are watermarked with my website address (see collage above). If you see me share one that doesn’t have my website on it, you can safely assume I did not create it.

I hope this helps clear up any misunderstandings you may have about any of the memes I post on social media. Memes are just little nuggets that are meant to be humorous or thought provoking. Let’s let them be what they are, not expect them to be what they’re not.

Pop Theology, Social Media, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Pop Theology: Twisted Scripture

Originally published May 22, 2015pop theology twisted scripture

 

Dear Pop-

I saw this meme that I thought was a Bible verse. It had a nice thought and a Scripture reference after it, but when I turned there in my Bible, the nice thought didn’t say anything close to what the verse actually said. It turns out that someone wrote what the verse meant to her and then put the Scripture reference after it. And there’s a whole Pinterest board dedicated to memes like this! Is it OK to handle God’s word like that? I’ve also included some other memes I found that sound fishy to me. Your thoughts?

Penny Pinterest

 

Screenshot_2015-04-23-08-20-50

Dear Penny,

Jon Acuff’s a fun dude, but this is dissin’ God’s word. Ain’t nobody – NO-O-O-O-O-BODY got the props to bling up the Bible. No addin’ to it. No subtractin’ from it. Bad things’ll go down, ya dig?  Jots? Tittles? Keep your mitts off, and swing that sword right. And what up with all this “Inspirational Version”? God’s word is da bomb diggity all by its onliness, got me?

 

10857871_884902334876078_6947353962358613734_n

Heck to the no. Check it.

 

10401339_2331680386869577_7526666480006145492_n

Fo’ relz? Where’s that in the Big Book? Lemme let you in on a little inside info: nowheresville. Jesus said as long as we’re hangin’ on the big blue, there’s gonna be trouble. Lots of it. But check it out- who cares? We don’t throw down our faith on havin’ a good day. We throw down our faith on Jesus, even when it’s a bad scene.

 

11051558_10153641788073625_1262363071_n

Yeah? Tell that to Jesus. His haters had front row seats to torture Him and watch Him die. Or the eleven out of Jesus’ twelve closest homeboys who were executed by their haters. Put your peeps on a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and quit littering up social media with this mess. Kick that prosperity gospel junk to the curb.

 

Well, Penny. I’ve laid down the gospel 411 for ya. Keep your specs on Jesus and keep the faith.

For the Homies,
Pop

Pop Theology, Social Media

Pop Theology ~ Twisted Scripture

pop theology twisted scripture

 

Dear Pop-

I saw this meme that I thought was a Bible verse. It had a nice thought and a Scripture reference after it, but when I turned there in my Bible, the nice thought didn’t say anything close to what the verse actually said. It turns out that someone wrote what the verse meant to her and then put the Scripture reference after it. And there’s a whole Pinterest board dedicated to memes like this! Is it OK to handle God’s word like that? I’ve also included some other memes I found that sound fishy to me. Your thoughts?

Penny Pinterest

 

Screenshot_2015-04-23-08-20-50

Dear Penny,

Jon Acuff’s a fun dude, but this is dissin’ God’s word. Ain’t nobody – NO-O-O-O-O-BODY got the props to bling up the Bible. No addin’ to it. No subtractin’ from it. Bad things’ll go down, ya dig?  Jots? Tittles? Keep your mitts off, and swing that sword right. And what up with all this “Inspirational Version”? God’s word is da bomb diggity all by its onliness, got me?

 

10857871_884902334876078_6947353962358613734_n

Heck to the no. Check it.

 

10401339_2331680386869577_7526666480006145492_n

Fo’ relz? Where’s that in the Big Book? Lemme let you in on a little inside info: nowheresville. Jesus said as long as we’re hangin’ on the big blue, there’s gonna be trouble. Lots of it. But check it out- who cares? We don’t throw down our faith on havin’ a good day. We throw down our faith on Jesus, even when it’s a bad scene.

 

11051558_10153641788073625_1262363071_n

Yeah? Tell that to Jesus. His haters had front row seats to torture Him and watch Him die. Or the eleven out of Jesus’ twelve closest homeboys who were executed by their haters. Put your peeps on a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and quit littering up social media with this mess. Kick that prosperity gospel junk to the curb.

 

Well, Penny. I’ve laid down the gospel 411 for ya. Keep your specs on Jesus and keep the faith.

For the Homies,
Pop

 

Pop Theology

Pop Theology ~ Miscellaneous Memes

PT Misc Memes

Dear Pop Theology-
I’m always seeing memes on social media that sound kind of “Christian-ish,” but I’ve got a funny feeling about them. Enclosed is my latest collection. Can you help me out? What’s your take on these?

Signed,
Facebook Frannie

 MH900303525MH900303525MH900303525

Dear Frannie-
I’m always down with helping a hermeneutical homie keep it real on the F.B. Here’s the 4-1-1 on the pix you laid down:

 FirstLastWhazzup with that? Might as well do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around, ‘cuz that’s what it’s all about on this one. Jesus Himself says the EXACT OPPOSITE of this, feel me? Check it:

So the last will be first, and the first, last.
Matthew 20:16

And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Mark 9:35

Anybody who puts God first will be looking for the last spot in line. Word. Read it.

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Yo Dawg, how do you know that, hmmm, you anonymous meme-maker, you? You don’t know me, you don’t know whether or not I’m saved, and you don’t know what’s going on in my life. Maybe everything is going great today and it’s all going to go down the toilet tomorrow. (That’s what happened to Job, after all.) Plus, how do you know what God has planned for me? Can you read God’s mind? No? Then step off and stop making blasphemous memes where you pretend like you can.

For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?
Romans 11:34

550439_10151014588895280_1263179_nOh heck to the no. Another poser thinking he knows me and my deets, only this one is psychic to the angels, not God. How do you know the angels say “it’s over”? You must not be tight with any angels because if you were, you’d know that saying anything is “over” ain’t their turf. And since when did angels test anybody? And where does the Bible say that re-posting something on Facebook is a test? And how do you know the angels are going to fix two things? Why not one? Why not 47?  How do you know they’re going to be big things? Why not small? Why not venti? Like I said, a poser looking for his 15 minutes.

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Job 1:21b

10377542_10152880567466204_2282848201163701097_nSo, if you do the thing, you get the bling, right? Show me the money? Really? Slip me some Scripture, bro. Where’s that at? Christianity ain’t no tit for tat, quid to the pro quo. God doesn’t owe you anything special for going through a battle. You’re a soldier, a slave. That’s your job. Does God bless us? Fo shizzle. But blessings aren’t a payoff for active duty. We got our pay on the front end. God has already blessed us infinitely beyond what we deserve by saving our sorry, sinful carcasses out of hell. He blesses us daily with His love, listening to our prayers, forgiveness, provision for our needs, comfort, strength, mercy, and so much more. Expecting bling for what’s already in your job description? Oh no you di-int.

“Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
Luke 17:9-10

There it is, Frannie. You pick up what I’m layin’ down? Keep your nose in the Book and your eyes on the prize, and remember, Jesus ain’t your homeboy, He’s your King.

For Relz,
Pop