Saturday, May 21, 2011

The End Time Watchman and Horrible Christian Reporting

Quoted not quite right again am I, and then added to to that dilemma is the problem of people who think they are Christian reporters.

Ms. End Times from the blog The End Times has decided to make a call on what the Salem Gazette reported about our Left Behind: The Party! event. I am a universalist and a liberal "pseudo-pastor" according to this fine example of a Christian theologian and reporter.

So for the note Ms. End Times: This party is designed to be a response to poor Christian eschatology, and we have a hope of changing the term "Left Behind" into what it was meant to be - not a statement of left behind in the rapture, but remaining alive after judgment. You can read up on John Woolvaard's commentaries on that subject, and discover that even he (as one of pre-tribulational eschatology's finest scholars) sees one being left, and one taken as not referring to a rapture.

So, Elizabeth, if you would like to be like the Pharisees and accuse me of dancing while the piper pipes - go ahead. But if you like - let's talk.

I love this stuff actually. Gives me a chance to respond to bad theology. ;-)

End of the World: seeing my own face in the apocalyptic mirror

The end did not come, and will not too soon. At least my Christian mysticism and eschatology tells me that. (And yes, I did use the term mysticism, because I acknowledge that I believe things which are hidden and dark things I call truths, and others reject those same things because they are not measurable.)

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.

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 21st Judgment Day! (Sign of the Times)

As we are preparing for Left Behind: The Party! on Sunday Dave arrived at The Gathering this evening for our movie night (we watched Ingmar Bergman's Seventh Seal!) with a great surprise! An honest to goodness apocalypse warning advertisment sign he found abandoned on the side of the road!

Yes, that's right we have our own May 21st advertisement now! Here's Dave, and Jonas (who by the way is a wonderful skeptic friend) declaring the end of the world and the judgment of God in front of the church tonight. Oh yeah, this will add wonderful mystique to the black hole I've created on the ceiling of the church, and Essene apocalyptic library we are creating in the Vault, and our end of the world song list complied by Dave.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 21st and Irreverence, Humor and Doctrine

As we have the rapture of true believers and the judgment of God upon this world nearly upon us - for the 5th or 6th time since I've been a Jesus follower, I am asking myself how much satire and irreverence I am allowed in response to silly doctrines coming from Christianity.

Is telling jokes about people who in some ways believe the same things I do like a Jew telling Jewish jokes? or when Christians tell jokes about silly things in Christianity are we perceived in the same manner as someone like Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris telling jokes about Christians? Will I just come off as rude because I look like an outsider to those whose beliefs are not the exact mirror of my own?

I find satire, and a bit of irreverence from God Himself at times in the Old Testament, and wonder how far I can take it.

After planning a Left Behind Party, and writing a desperately irreverent and humorous song I wonder how far one can reach toward irreverence, before it is perceived as unfaithfulness by people who don't understand. I am planning a rapture propulsion project and want to serve red Koolaid all to hint that the idea of being able to name the date of God's judgment or Jesus' return is both silly and potentially harmful to the faith.

But the question I ask myself and God is "how far can I go with gentle humorous irreverence?"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

4 days and the end comes - again

Over the last number of months I have been considering the problem of apocalyptic annunciations, and their impact on society. I do not have an educated position on the impact of apocalyptic warnings, and I am not sure that I even have a sense of the negative impact of repeated warnings of impending doom. What I do know is this: apocalyptic warning is a bad habit of people from every walk of life. Scientists and preachers alike appear to be susceptible to sandwich board declarations.

Over-population did not end the human race in the 20th century. California never fell off the west coast into the ocean, and I am not a burnt potato chip because the ozone layer disappeared. Y2K did not end civilization as we know it, and global warming is still to be determined as far as the ultimate impact.

Jesus did not return in the 500's, 1260 AD, 1844, 1914, 1974, 1981, 1988, 1989, 1994, and God is not going to begin wiping out the world on May 21st - 4 days from now.

Yet, it is also unlikely that either scientists nor religious leaders are going to learn from these lessons, and it is unlikely that either group will see themselves in the face of the other.

On one hand it is natural for both scientists and religious people to point toward an apocalypse. Whether the evil of this world deserves judgment from "Holy God," or we finally die as the universe moves toward an inevitable heat death we should at least learn this: If indeed apocalyptic concerns are built into the system of this tenuous and short life we live Prophets and priests have led the way in declaring the fact that there is an end, and there should be some thought about this fact.

To this the scientist owes the priest a debt for having led the way in apocalyptic concern, and the priest owes a debt to the scientist/skeptic who will not settle (well, not usually) for numerology and voices from beyond to determine the time of the end.

At least for this declaration from Harold Camping about the coming of judgment, I am planning on having fun and throwing a party on May 22nd.

For more check out my song on Youtube: