Saturday, May 21, 2011
End of the World: seeing my own face in the apocalyptic mirror
But I have to ask myself amidst all the joking, and mocking responses to the declaration of the end of the world who I am ashamed of most. As a Christian, one would expect that I would respond that I am ashamed of Harold Camping - that he bears the name of Christian as I do, but no, after reading an excellent LA times article on him I find him to be an interesting man with more integrity than many a TV evangelist. He drives a '93 Camry, and has a modest home. Seems his zeal plays out in action, and he invests himself in what he believes. Spent his multi-million dollar empire of stations in promoting what he thought was truth. So, for he and his followers I am not ashamed, but hopeful that they will survive this error in judgment (sorry for the bad pun.)
I rather find myself ashamed at our society.
I have watched the passing of Y2K, and the warnings of the ozone layer disappearing. Global warming continues to take on apocalyptic dimensions, and we are spending billions to divert it - billions we don't have.
I have been told with regularity that I need certain medical tests, medications, and financial plans in order to survive in this life. With a gentle art of persuasion our minds are being driven toward a sense of personal doom. Last month it was declared in the news that a big bottom is a woman's greatest fear. A jeans company held that study - hmmmmm...a little "end times" apocalyptic study? This month the news on a woman's greatest fear sounds more likely - running out of money. Of course that is an American variation on a fear of the loss of security.
Science and advertising do end the round up of social apocalyptic misfits. Racing for contention in this category are politicians who do all they can to make their opponent's or the other party's position appear to be destructive ideas. Certainly it is dangerous and the ruin of America if we should follow them.
Religion brings up the rear in this kind of apocalyptic annunciation. Far more has been spent on global warming, political mud-slinging, and advertisements dragging you to the pharmacy than in religious end of the world scenarios. This moment about the end of the world will come and go, and we will laugh. But, will we see our own faces in the mirror as it passes? I think not.
My great hope is that we might take this moment and let it linger for more than a few days. That we might study ourselves, and look for the fear-mongering, apocalyptic tendencies which fill the pages of every newspaper, countless TV ads, political campaigns, and scientific positioning for funding.
Are we desperately grasping for hope in far too many ways today, as we are pummeled by the threat of lack, loss, and insufficiency?
To the atheist who declares that religion is source of war and evil in the world - are you responsible for this? To the scientist who positions his stats in exaggerated terms for funding sake - are you responsible for this? To the advertiser who looks to make the product she is pushing feel like it is necessary - are you responsible for this? To the insurance agent who positions his product in gentle threats of calamity - are you responsible for this? To the preacher who makes her altar calls in the face of the threat of death and judgment every Sunday - are you responsible for this?
I do not deny the fact that disaster occurs, or that apocalyptic scenarios are inevitable in the future, but I do wonder why we can not see ourselves in moments like May 21st.
To you who looks back at me each morning in the mirror - are you responsible for this? and can you learn from this?
PS - that is Dave and Jonas my buddies holding the sign above. They actually don't believe this stuff.