“The people liked the prospect of the end of the world because it would be a spectacle, something to relieve the fearful monotony of their lives. Funerals and weddings were commonplace, and nothing could have been so interesting to them as the coming of the end of the world … unless it had been a first-class circus.” -EDWARD EGGLESTON, The End of the World
Is it not what going to a carnival is all about? Illusions, a disavowal of reality, to get a way from the cares of this word, a blissful hallucinatory confusion? Like the carnivals, Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, said that is what religion is about. “Religion is a system of wishful illusions together with a disavowal of reality, such as we find nowhere else but in a state of blissful hallucinatory confusion.” (Freud, The Future of an Illusion)
Of course the carnival comes to town every year, and apparently so do people’s expectation of Christ’s return or some other apocalypse, like an earth smashing comet, nuclear disaster, Jade Helm, crash of the dollar, the end of the world. People set dates, they pass unfulfilled, and the people actually increase their faith in “the coming”.
I won’t bore you with the psychological reasons for this (ok, I will, but I will make it very brief.): Fatalism – fa·tal·ism, noun. – the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable. a submissive outlook, resulting from a fatalistic attitude. Disassocociation – the term dissociation describes a wide array of experiences from mild detachment from immediate surroundings to more severe detachment from physical and emotional experience. In mild cases, dissociation can be regarded as a coping mechanism or defense mechanisms in seeking to master, minimize or tolerate stress – including boredom or conflict. (Both definitions taken from Wikipedia)
Hal Lindsey, one of the main proponents of end times prophetic best selling authors, asks his readers: “As history races toward this moment, are you afraid or looking with hope for deliverance? The answer should reveal to you your spiritual condition. One way or another history continues in a certain acceleration toward the return of Christ. Are you ready?” By taking current events and relating them to scripture, these people are scaring the excrement out of people to bring about their “eternal salvation”. And what a better way, instead of telling people that God loves them to save them (there is no urgency and therefore no response), rather tell people God is coming back extremely pissed and destroying the world and all those in it that don’t do what He says and what His special appointed people in “power” say to do. An American president familiar with the knowledge of control through mob mentality said, “People react to fear, not love. They don’t teach that in Sunday school, but it’s true.” – Richard Nixon
“The belief in the Rapture, in particular, with its promise of planetary escape prior to nuclear cataclysms and other disasters, offers a compelling scenario by which fears of inevitable doom are transformed into expectations of salvation. The following account of Jerry Falwell’s (an American evangelical Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, and a conservative political commentator) belief in his being taken away in the Rapture typifies this faith in divine evacuation prior to Armageddon: “I heard Falwell sum up his reason why a nuclear Armageddon would not bother him. ‘You know why I’m not worried’ he said. ‘I ain’t gonna be here’” (The End of the World As We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America, by Daniel Wijcik) Admittedly, it seems like a great way to view the world. There is no accountability other than “believing in Jesus” and no responsibility. It is a fairy-tale view of life. “A poor girl may have an illusion that a prince will come and fetch her home. It is possible, some such cases have occurred. That the Messiah will come and found a golden age is much less probable.” – Freud, The Future of an Illusion
The problem that I have with people waiting for Jesus to return and “rapture” them is; “Nearly half of the American population is eagerly anticipating the end of the world. This dewy-eyed nihilism provides absolutely no incentive to build a sustainable civilization.” -Sam Harris. End times teaching provides “absolutely no incentive to build a sustainable civilization”! Isn’t that why we are here?! To be co-creators in this beautiful creation? To roll up our sleeves and work to bring the kingdom that is within (according to Jesus, Luke 17:20-22) to the without? James Allen says that our environment is but a reflection of what is on the inside, a looking glass:
“Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: —
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass.” (As a Man Thinkerh, 1902)
If so, that seems very unresponsible to hope that God will just destroy it all and take us to a new beautiful place leaving all the unbelievers to be punished and die and then suffer for eternity in everlasting fire and torment. This sounds a lot like plain old scare tactics.
At my home we have a flower bed that was made by the people that lived here previously. There is a little mulch, black stuff – intended to keep weeds from growing, two small surviving rose bushes, and lots of blackberry vines that we cut back but continues to thrive and climb in the deck and reaches for your ankles when you walk by. We have visions of grandeur for this flower bed since we moved in. We have been its tenants for over a year. We want flowers in there that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. If we don’t get in there and put forth the effort to create what we desire, it isn’t going to just happen.
Let’s carry on the analogy of the flowerbed. Let’s say I wanted to create a fabulous place for myself. A place that my children could enjoy and their children enjoy and experience. A place of beautiful flowers, statues, sculptures, manicured shrubs, flowing fountains, you get the idea. It is NOT going to just appear. It takes work. It takes effort. Not even hoping or praying it will is going to create it. You dream, envision, you plan what you desire, and you work it.
(Garden at Palace of Versailles)
What is the attraction of End Times, and Rapture? “Problems have become so big, with no solutions in sight, that we no longer see ourselves able as human beings to solve these problems. From a biblical point of view, God is going to solve them. From other points of view, there has to be some sort of catastrophe.” – Lorenzo DiTommaso, a professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal. He says about the “apocalyptic worldview”, “It’s a very persistent and potent way of understanding the world,” (The End of the World As We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America, by Daniel Wijcik) It provides a sense of comfort for some, for some more it provides a special sense of empowerment knowing and understanding “prophesies” that others are unable understand. “Revelation of the secret order of events in the midst of seeming chaos makes devotees privy to arcane knowledge of the meaning of history. Believers are assured membership in an elect, righteous group that will be rescued from apocalypse and enjoy eternal life. By living in the last days and by being members of the “terminal generation,” as Lindsey puts it, one’s life takes on a renewed importance because one is participating in the cosmic drama that will end in the grand culmination of history. The sense of enhanced self-esteem that apocalyptic knowledge may provide is illustrated by Lindsey’s describing his readers as wise and discerning, descriptors he deems appropriate because the prophet Daniel “observed that at the end of time the ‘wise’ would understand. In biblical terminology the ‘wise’ are people who study what God has to say and become enlightened to its meaning by the Holy Spirit” (The End of the World As We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America, by Daniel Wijcik)
I am unable to keep Freud’s thoughts out of discussions like this; “If one wishes to form a true estimate of the full grandeur of religion, one must keep in mind what it undertakes to do for men. It gives them information about the source and origin of the universe, it assures them of protection and final happiness amid the changing vicissitudes of life, and it guides their thoughts and motions by means of precepts which are backed by the whole force of its authority.” – Sigmund Freud People sit back in their armchairs, feeling smug, knowing that they are right, they will be “lifted up”, no worries, no sowing into the future, waiting for His imminent return, and awaiting the death and destruction that is coming to all others that do not think the way they do. And half of America believes this?! By not sowing into the future, because they know Jesus will be back this year or next, they are fulfilling a prophecy of doom for the next generations. The denial of personal responsibility that often characterizes fatalistic beliefs is noted by historian of religion Kees Bolle, who states that “an attitude of defeat is in evidence in the belief that the future is inevitable and fixed as the past. One’s acts become acts of a higher power. . . . [Fatalism] consists of the renunciation of one’s own reason (hence also of one’s own responsibility), and the hypothesis of a rational coherence of events in another order” (The End of the World As We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America, by Daniel Wijcik)
What is worse is the preaching against peace, or the attempts to bring about peace in order to usher in the return of Jesus. “For instance, television evangelist Jim Robison, who was invited by Ronald Reagan to deliver the opening prayer at the 1984 Republican National Convention, states, “There’ll be no peace until Jesus comes. Any preaching of peace prior to this return is heresy; it’s against the word of God; it’s Anti-Christ” (Halsell 1986:16). Like Robison, Lindsey also declares that world peace is impossible, promising his readers that Judgment Day and Jesus’ return will occur a generation after the establishment of Israel, which was proclaimed a nation on May 14, 1984.” (The End of the World As We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America, by Daniel Wijcik) “This fatalistic renunciation of social action and responsibility is further exemplified by the widespread dispensationalist belief that international peace efforts are the work of satanic forces, with organizations such as the European Community and the United Nations, as well as various governmental and church institutions, considered to be part of a worldwide, evil conspiracy. Human efforts to improve the world are considered not only useless but possibly satanic, and believers are freed from moral obligations to save it from annihilation because the world’s problems and ultimate destruction are part of the divine plan. Catastrophes and tragedies thus may be interpreted as positive events that signal the End and portend the transformation of the world, with the promise of a divine order, in which righteousness and goodness will replace suffering and wickedness.” “Hal Lindsey and other dispensationalists similarly attribute unfavorable events in world history to secret and powerful agencies, asserting that Satan is the mastermind behind the current corruption of society and that various organizations unknowingly may be part of Satan’s evil plan.”(The End of the World As We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America, by Daniel Wijcik)
What is it that bothers me about end times teachings / preachings? The cartoon creator of Snoopy and Charlie Brown, with common sense jokes and thoughts, Charles Schultz, says it pretty clear, “I think this is irresponsible preaching and very dangerous, and especially when it is slanted toward children, I think it’s totally irresponsible, because I see nothing biblical that points up to our being in the last days, and I just think it’s an outrageous thing to do, and a lot of people are making a living—they’ve been making a living for 2,000 years—preaching that we’re in the last days.” (Speaking of making money, the end times prophecy books and movies are continuously number one best sellers in the count of hundreds of millions, every year… that Christ doesn’t return.)
I leave you with this to ponder. It will take a slight bit of analytic thinking skills to correlate the story to what I am talking about. The story comes from the movie Billy Madisson. Adam Sandler, Billy, tells Miss Lippy his thoughts on the actions of the boy in children’s book, The Puppy Who Lost His Way. “Whoa whoa whoa, Miss Lippy. The part of the story I don’t like is that the little boy gave up looking for Happy after an hour. He didn’t put posters up or anything, he just sat on the porch like a goon and waited. That little boy’s gotta think ‘You got a pet. You got a responsibility.’ If your dog gets lost you don’t look for an hour then call it quits. You get your ass out there and you find that fucking dog.”
Here are a few end times and religion quotes I like:
My favorite – “The end is always near.” Jim Morrison
“Religion’s eleventh commandment is “Thou shalt not question.”- Freud
“Where the questions of religion are concerned people are guilty of every possible kind of insincerity and intellectual misdemeanor.” – Freud
“Christians, and some Jews, claim we’re in the “end times,” but they’ve been saying this off and on for more than two thousand years. According to Hindu cosmology, we’re in the kali yuga, a dark period when the cow of history is balanced precariously on one leg, soon to topple. Then there are our new-age friends who believe that this December we’re in for a global cage-rattling which, once the dust has settled, will usher in a great spiritual awakening. Most of this apocalyptic noise appears to be just wishful thinking on the part of people who find life too messy and uncertain for comfort, let alone for serenity and mirth. The truth, from my perspective, is that the world, indeed, is ending — and is also being reborn. It’s been doing that all day, every day, forever. Each time we exhale, the world ends; when we inhale, there can be, if we allow it, rebirth and spiritual renewal. It all transpires inside of us. In our consciousness, in our hearts. All the time.” – TOM ROBBINS, interview, Reality Sandwich