March 23, 2009

Beginning of the End?

I've had a generous handful of conversations of late with folks who think the end of all civilization is nigh. And I don't mean in that comical, sandwich-board sort of way where the guy stands out on the corner and rings a bell; no, I mean in that full-throated, last-refuge-of-a-scoundrel sort of way. There is a profound and deepening anxiety welling forth, and we do well to pay attention.

By and large, the people crowing about said irreversible finality aren't the types who are easily dismissed for their inherent flakiness. They don't generally truck in doomsday scenes. They don't fall easily off their posts or flap in the doctrinal winds.

The whole thing gives me uneasy pause, even as I pray for steady words of counsel to grant.

Without a doubt, it's hip to be hopeless. The Obama Thing was so 2008, and with nearly three months under our belt in 2009, we find the bottomless economic debacle of the moment a bizarre kind of counterbalance: so that positive aspirations are positively outre. Maybe it's just the collective theater of imagination, Jung's constancy of the subconscious, sitting on the chest of Hope and poking at his throat.

(I guess I'm not hip, then, as I have long tended to view my own situation as a daily exercise in pragmatic and constructive problem-solving. Even when things may have seemed particularly hopeless, faith and patience have generally won the day.)

Would that it were not so, but some of this appears to be rooted in the year 2012, and of the endless speculation that's already running us up to then. And if we find ourselves in it now, it's surely going to get worse -- er, more intense, over the next three years.

Between now and then, look for end-of-the-world scenarios to garner increasing exposure. Our friends at Columbia Pictures have located the anxiety taproot and are assembling a snappy-looking film called "2012" whose trailer features a Buddhist monastery at the top of the world getting cold-cocked by a wall of water. I know, It's probably only a big-budget, high-effects disaster film like The Day After Tomorrow. But Hollywood can anticipate and package paranoia in prescient ways.

Probably the most responsible Christian response for the moment is to get well grounded in the best-known authorship studies of the apocalyptic literature, even while boning up on the 2012 hubub. We need to have a faithful, generous, and scholarly context laid forth for those of us who don't use things like Revelation and Daniel to scare the beJesus into people. Rationality doesn't win in the face of immediate panic. It takes time to build.

In any event, if you're in ministry, you should expect inquiries.


Darksplitter said...

December 21, 2012 is as much about new beginnings as it is about endings to the ancient Mayans who created the calender by which many "New Age" scholars are predicting the Apocalypse. It was thought of as a Date to signify humanities entrance into a new era of our evaluation, when our minds and emotions would evolve more away from its bestial nature. True some pretty catastrophic events where expected to go along with this change, but since when did some Native American Solar calender have any bearing on our Christian belief in the second coming of Christ?

"Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."

I assume Jesus knew more about "The Day" and "The Hour" than anybody else, and he says here in Matthew 25:13 that no man knew when he would return. And I would point towards Revelations, where John warns of many false prophets before the End of Days. But alas, what harm could come from people making ready there souls for that day to come. I know too many who thought they had time, and where taken from this life with that same thought,"I still have time to make my soul right with the Lord!" Best for us to prepare as if that ole "End of Days" was today, give over our Salvation to Jesus Christ, and be ready now...Just in-case.

My thoughts anyway,

Kenneth Freeze

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I agree that we will see many types of media capitalizing on the speculation and fear associated with 2012 and the yet-again supposed end of the world.

I have often wondered how people felt during WWI or when a crazed mass murderer was marching across the globe in WWII. Did they think they were living in the "last days" and that Christ's return was eminent?

I agree wholeheartedly with your suggested response to this intensifying mayhem. We as Christians must be thoughtful, sober-minded, and prayerful. We must know the Scriptures be filled with hope, and seek to be made the spotless bride of Christ so that we will not be ashamed at His coming; whether that be in 2012 or 4012.