Mark 12:40

They are the men who rob widows of their homes, and make a pretense of saying long prayers. Their sentence will be all the heavier.”

the longer the prayer
the more cheating

a twenty dollar prayer
returns fifty in interest

within an extensive prayer
are a multitude of wiggle words

as long as I have a prayer
I can put off being caught

after all it the best prayer
who will be most honored

often the loudest prayer
has the quietest conscience

It is difficult to keep the little perks of life in their place. They are greedy and in their desire for more move from ordinary status indicators to mendacious activity or habitual dishonesty.

Perks are also slippery in that they can provide the cover of deniability that it is religion causing the problem, but the state. One of the key insights here is that of Marx in labeling religion as part of an opiod crisis, deadening selves to the pains of everyday life. Waetjen8 uncovers some of this in his assessment:

“…by compromising with the ruling class so that the norms of Levitical purity might govern the life of the Jewish people, they stabilized and perpetuated the political status quo with all of its injustices and inequalities.”

Myers165 sharpen the details of this general statement:

Scribal affluence is attributed to “devouring widows’ houses under the pretext of long prayers”. This probably refers to the practice of legal trusteeship, in which the estates of deceased men were given to scribes to administer because the widow was deemed unfit to run such affairs! In compensation the trustee received a percentage, and embezzlement and abuse were not uncommon. As in the earlier dispute over korban (7:9ff) and the Temple action, Jesus criticizes “piety” as a mask for “robbery.”

Wright175 brings this into current times:

“The world has not changed, it seems. Not only lawyers, but also politicians and other leaders in the civic world, are again and again discovered to be putting on a show to gain favour while underneath they are after money.”

Recognition of this pattern calls for calling BS.

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