The End of the World as We Know it (And I Feel Fine)

 

This is it: the day the Mayan Calendar “runs out,” and the “age ends.” Some people say it’s the end of the world. Of course, some people said the world was going to end last year (link). Others said [Late Great Planet Earth’s prediction]. Of course, a lot of people thought the wheels would come off one New Year’s Day, 2000, including Prince:

Some survivalists have been holding onto the belief that TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) is “just around the corner” since the Carter Administration. I know, I actually have a couple of late 70’s survivalist manuals. They’re entertaining reading, if dated and a little bit creepy.

Okay, a lot creepy.

But the real question is why? Why are we so quick to jump on every apocalyptic bandwagon? Why did we love Mad Max, The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, Waterworld, and Left Behind so much? Okay, “love” may be a little strong for the last two, but still. Why are we so fascinated by the end of it all?

Why do we spend so much time poring over The Revelation to the Apostle John, mostly ignoring the pertinent letters to the seven churches and instead trying to suss out every scrap of meaning about horned dragons, the mark of the beast, and who might be the antichrist (pretty sure it’s not Barrack Obama. He’s just a garden-variety militaristic corporate puppet, though admittedly one with a penchant for bombing civilians).

I’ve read a lot of “prepper” materials, and a common thread I detected was a deep dissatisfaction with the current world, and a desperate hope that a rebuild world might turn out better. If that sounds paranoid or even insane, just think about what goes on every day.

The poor of the world still struggle with starvation, disease, and water so contaminated it can kill. Predator Drones still sweep the sky in Pakistan and Yemen, killing men women and children in our name. Children die by the thousands, too far away for us to care.

Here in the first world, an entire generation struggles with massive college debt, delaying marriage, home ownership, and starting their adult lives.

The Internet brings easy access to knowledge and far-flung friends, but also puts sexual predators and hardcore pornography within easy reach of our children and ourselves.

Factory farming exhausts the soil and treats living animals with cruelty and contempt.

The rich get richer.

The middle class sees no real gains from increased productivity.

Life is hard.

 

We should all want something better. It is a godly part of us that calls out for something better. And I believe that, in time, Jesus will return and bring a new Earth, a new creation where evil has no place. But I don’t pretend I can know the day or the time. And I can’t cover my eyes and wait for it to come.

So push aside this talk of Armageddon. Hug your family. Call your friends. Give your time and money to someone in need. Extend the hand of friendship to someone who’s lonely. You’ll be glad you did, whether the world ends tonight or not.

And just in case it does, I’ll leave you with one last thing. It may be my last chance to do this.

Advertisements

The Audacity of Losing Hope in Politics

I know it’s easy, in this political season, to look at both candidates and lose hope.

One promises hope and change, but wages a drone warfare against Pakistani villages, killing hundreds of civilians. The other speaks the language of conservativism and the Christian Right, but spent his career dismantling businesses and shipping jobs overseas.

Both seem utterly in the grip of corporate interests.  Neither seems apt to bring an end to warrantless surveillance, extrajudicial execution, and indefinite detention.

Yes, they’re different, but they’re different like Nero and Julius Caesar were different.  One may be worse, one may be better, but neither one will be truly good.  God warned Israel against wanting a king, but Israel persisted.  It looks like we’re still reaping that harvest now [1 Samuel 8:10-18]

As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, I’m not going to be able to vote for either President Obama or Governor Romney, because of their use of (and acceptance of continued use of, respectively) Predator drones to strike Pakistani villages.

Killing men, women, and children, burning houses, and terrorizing  entire towns semi-permanently?  Cruel and pointless.  Defining as “militants” any male of fighting age who happens to be found in these areas?  Deceptive and arrogant.  Hiding these actions from public scrutiny?  Disreputable and disgusting.

Nobody seems to be taking this seriously.  Most of my ‘progressive’ friends and most of the Emergent Evangelical voices on the blogosphere are still singing the President’s praises, as if they’d never even heard of this.  My more conservative friends wholeheartedly get behind Mitt Romney, taking an “anybody but Obama” stance.

Even the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson hasn’t ruled out continuing the drone-slaughter, even as he promises to bring the troops home.  Apparently, Pakistani lives are cheap these days.

And both candidates who actually have a chance of winning are so beholden to corporate interests that we commoners hardly even matter.  Would I have voted for one or the other, if not for this slaughter?  Maybe, but it doesn’t matter now.  I won’t support this with my vote.

I’ve heard people say that President Obama isn’t a real Christian, but never because his hunter-killer drones kill Pakistani children.  No, it’s because he’s pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.  I’ve heard people make similar arguments about Governor Romney, because his economic policies will hurt the poor.

And everybody’s so gung-ho for their candidates that they seem to think the world will end if their man loses.

The world won’t end.  Too many rich people have too much invested in this crony-capitalist, “too big to fail” model.  The world will only end when God ends it.

And that’s the thing to remember.  God is not up for re-election.  God is the king of the universe, regardless of the popular vote or the electoral college.  As Christians, we have to remember that, and remember where our true loyalty lies.

I’ve heard people question whether any true Christian can vote for President Obama.  And I’ve heard the same thing about whether any true Christian can vote for Governor Romney (not because he’s Mormon, but because of his regressive economic policies and his pseudo-Randian VP).  Frankly, both positions are ridiculous.

Christians have a lot of reasons for voting for candidates, and questioning somebody’s commitment to Christ because they don’t share your political preferences is borderline blasphemous.  Election 2012 isn’t the Messiah versus the Antichrist.  It’s two rich, connected power-players competing for the most powerful prize on the planet.  If your conscience leads you to vote for one or the other, fine.  But shut up about God’s candidate.

As Christians, we need to maintain unity, with each other and with our neighbors of other faiths.  Whoever wins will be our President, but not our true ruler.  You don’t like Romney?  You don’t like Obama?  Try living under Nero or Caligula.  Try being a Russian or Ukrainian or Lithuanian Christian during the Stalin years.  Though many were martyred, God preserved his church, and it flourished, even underground.

To quote Longfellow, God is not dead, nor does he sleep.  No matter who wins or loses, we have to stick together, to pray together, to pray for whichever man makes it to the White House, to pray for our nation.  God is our Hope, not any man.