Dumbing Down

Sound bites are all about dumbing down.

They have to be, no intellectual worth his or her salt would be unintelligent enough or monosyllabic enough to use short pithy little sayings. It’s not right innit?

But when we read the Bible what do we get?

There is a lot of law in the Bible. The first five books, the Pentateuch, are chock full of law in all its wondrous complexity. But it all starts with commandments, the law in sound bite form.

Ten commandments

Short sayings, God dumbing it down.

But using sound bites is not necessarily dumbing down. If there is depth behind the sayings then these short sayings can be a way in for people. “You shall not murder is easy to understand without having to understand Bronze Age Mediterranean culture or the early Hebrew system of cities of refuge for those who have accidentally killed. It is all there in the Bible for those who wish to go deeper, though it is not memorable.  The soundbite though is easy. “You shall not murder” is the bit you need to know.

Hurray for the sound bite.

Jesus did the same. The sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel lasts for three chapters, but begins with the Beatitudes.

Beatitudes, what a name, there is something here that is easy to understand and remember, but it is as if the theologians want to keep Jesus to themselves, so they hide him behind long technical words. It couldn’t be further than that.

Jesus has some hard teaching, but he eases us into it with a dumbed down version in sound bites.  Do you want to know what God’s kingdom is like? Jesus teaches about it in sound bite and stories so even the simplest and the young are invited. I’m not surprised the intellectuals were infuriated with him. Those who want to keep God for themselves are always infurited when someone talks about God simply.


the poor in spirit
those who mourn
the meek
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
the merciful
the pure in heart
the peacemakers
those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake
you when others revile you and persecute you …

Yes God loves to dumb things down. He has to, otherwise how would humans, even the brainy humans, understand.

The Great and wonderful God, creator of the universe, wishes to speak to us, but our tiny minds can never contain him. So he dumbs himself down, even to the point of being human. That is the amazing story of the incarnation.

There are people looking for Jesus. Do not be the one who hides him

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