Saturday, December 31, 2011

12 Apocalypses for 2012: Predictions for the New Year

The world is going to end! 2012 marks the finality of all life on earth. Yes, you've heard this before, and are probably saying to yourself. 'Yeah right. You're just another kook declaring the end." But this is really it!

2011 saw the end of the world almost come. But apparently God changed His mind and gave us one more year. May 22nd, 2011 The Gathering held a Left Behind Party to celebrate with those of us who were left behind after the rapture. Turned out that the whole world could have been invited, because Jesus missed the bus, and didn't arrive on time.

So, we are thinking that 2012 can't possibly be wrong. It turns out that minds as prominent as Nostradamus, the Mayan prophets, and George Monbiot (uhm, whoever that is) all seem to agree we have reached the final bell at the end of the school day for this earth.

Despite the fact that others have said the world was ending in 1914, 1988, 1989, 2000, and 2011 (only to cover a few); you can be guaranteed this time, because the world will end not just once, but twelve times in 2012. Yes! Count them 12 times.

So you can keep track of all the endings, I have listed them below:

Apocalypse by Galactic alignment: January 21st, 2012

In this amazing event of the Galactic Alignment, our solar system will enter the center of the milky way, which appears to be a black hole shaped like a CD spinning at high speed. Theorists debate what will happen when we pass by this center point. Will we get sucked into oblivion? Will the earth start wobbling like a car with bad tires traveling too fast on the freeway? We're not sure. We just know it's gonna be a mess, and we're all gonna die. Of course, optionally chiropractors could offer free alignments on this day.

Apocalypse by Pole Shift: February 21st, 2012

No, not even pole dancing classes will help you survive this one. When the earth flips over, the magnetic field reverses, and Australians are looking at the North Star for the first time in their lives, it will certainly be the second end of the world for the year 2012. You can try and run, but you'll never run fast enough to keep up with the seasonal changes. If you could get from Boston to Buenos Aires in about 10 minutes that would be your only hope. Our primary suggestion is don't drive on February 21st, cause the freeways are gonna be messy.

Antichrist brings the end: March 21, 2012 (scroll down linked page to see Nostradamus' prediction)

Nostradamus described three antichrists over the course of history. On March 21st the last and final antichrist (Yep, the really bad boy of the Bible) will create a little trouble for us. Especially when God finds out what he's up to. That will bring a little holy heck down on our heads.  Our suggestion is to avoid tattoo parlors with specials deals on '666' forehead tattoos from now until March 21st.

Solar Storm Apocalypse: April 21st, 2012

You can't expect to get away from the heat when you die in the end times. The fire is coming for you. Hell will not only rise up from the core of the earth, and spew out through the volcanoes, but will rain down from above in massive solar flares. 
“The energy released from a flare is equal to 100 million hydrogen bombs,” scientists tell us. Our suggestions for April 21st, buy lots of beef (or a turkey), and get ready for a great barbecue. If your gonna go up in flames, might as well do it fat and happy.

Apocalypse by Flooding: (part of pole shifting) May 21st, 2012

Of course we are banking on rain that day, and a few rainbows, hoping that maybe God didn't forget about the rainbow covenant thing. But if He decided to give global flooding another try, our suggestion for this day is don't go to the beach. Our bet for any survivors on this day are competitive swimmers, Tibetan monks high in the Himalayas, and jellyfish.

Global Warming Jellyfish Apocalypse: June 21st, 2012

Wild herds of Greenpeace and Surfrider Foundation activated jellyfish shut down a power plant in Scotland this last year. It appears that we are on the verge of the end of vertebrate life on earth. Don't go surfing on this day, and if you see huge mutant jellyfish running down the street after you, get a camera. If you survive, which is unlikely, at least you'll have a cult classic; or you could try to herd the jellyfish, start a ranch, and a company to create a wonderful Japanese ice cream topping.

Ice Age Apocalypse: July 21, 2012

A sudden ice age is coming your way this year. "What can do that? Glaciers. Really, really fast glaciers." Okay, that may go down as one of the most stupid lines in movie history, but you are gonna be saying it sometime this year when the next ice age comes your way and ends the world. Our suggestions for this month. Put your stock in Ben and Jerry's.

Planet X Apocalypse: August 21, 2012

Hurtling toward us with great speed is a planet hidden from the eyes of the astronomers, but there is a woman named Nancy who has been receiving transmissions from the zetas who live on Planet X. Scarier than the zetas is the fact that we could just bump into the Planet X and get creamed. Our suggestion for this day is to take off that aluminum foil hat and start listening for zeta transmissions.

2012 Alien attack Apocalypse: September 21, 2012

It turns out that the Nephilim live on planet x and are coming to get us. It's their giant battle station in the sky. Our suggestion for this day is to watch the original Star Wars trilogy and hope that the Emperor of Planet X gets what Darth gave the Emperor of the Dark Side.

Zombie Apocalypse 2012: October 21, 2012

Scientists have recently recreated the virus from the 1918 Spanish Influenza which killed millions of people. When this breaks out in the public, and people start dying by the millions once again, we will be running from the zombies. Get your zombie mobile ready now for this October Apocalypse. If you thought the other apocalypses were ugly this will be the ugliest one yet!

Mormon Apocalypse?: Mitt Romney brings on the end: November 21st, 2012

When the American public unwittingly votes Mitt Romney into the presidential office, the Mormon Church will begin the takeover of the world and an ensuing apocalypse for all non-Mormons. It's takeover time!

Apocalypse of Capitalism: an atheist prophecy December 21st, 2012

Atheist, radical materialist, and Marxist/Lacanian theorist Slavoj Zizek is declaring the end of capitalism as we know it. Now wouldn't it be just the thing to tweak our little Christian brains if the only prophecy to come to pass by the end of 2012, was the one presented by the Atheist? Now Zizek does declare that Atheists are the only people who can be "true Christians." Well, as far as the prophecies for a 2012 Apocalypse, Zizek gets my vote as most likely to occur. Although, those jellyfish as ice cream topping are more intriguing.

If you are worried, here is how to make everything okay. Thanks to Seraphim for this wonderful link.

I have a personal plan for surviving he 12 Apocalypses of 2012. I am going to throw 12 parties. One each month for each end of the world. Look for 2012 to be radically bi-polar year. Not only will the poles flip, but one day you are gonna die, and the next you will be invited to a party.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Jesus without strings: parsing the phrase (2)

This is a phrase I used a few days ago in my update on The Gathering's activities through 2011, and then initially described in simple terms in my first defining post. That first post identified with human expectations typically found in churches, which differ from the outline of Biblical morality and foundational beliefs which accompany the life of faith. Yet, I do believe that there are deeper issues of theology to be considered in the phrase "Jesus without strings."

In the tension of law and grace, or perhaps better described - in the void between law and lawlessness - there is a Jesus without strings.

Law is an outward force imposing not only definition, but impetus, persuasion, and even physical behavior modification techniques upon people. It is a subtle puppet master over us. The pull of a state law imposes fines, brings police action, and renders judgments when we transgress its defined lines of behavior. It is needed in a broken world, but as current events evidence, it is often oppressive. This is significantly different than grace.

Grace is an inward force. It is both an acceptance by God offered to us, and a power and understanding residing within us. Grace is not strings attached from the outside modifying behavior by threat of punishment, but a gentle action of volition. We connect to that which is good through love, and agreement with the activity of grace.

Grace is further empowering, because God is on the other side of the participatory equation. He gives power to accomplish the things we can not find the ability to complete on our own.

This agreement of love further cuts the strings of the law, because, as the apostle Paul describes it "against [love and the other fruit of the Spirit] there is no law." The love/grace combination stand as the void between law and disobedience or selfish rebellion.

Perhaps we have unfortunately positioned grace and law as opposites of one another in our theology. Whereas the opposite of law is probably unrestrained freedom or violent *anarchy. The love/grace combo stand in the space between law and its violation. Grace and law are in paralaxis to another. There is no place on the line accessing movement toward God where grace and law meet one another.

From an eschatological perspective: Jesus does not drag me toward salvation like a puppet being pulled toward a destination unwanted. I walk with Him in the direction of His deep desire. Grace is resistible (sorry Johnny C, I disagree with the L on your little flower). Paul speaks of this grace as having appeared to all men, and yet we do not all live in it. "For the grace of God which bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." (Titus 2:11)

The very resistible nature of grace shows how unrelated to law it is. It is not an opposite of law. It is something totally other. Like trying to compare apples and nuclear weapons there are only dissimilarities. There are no similarities. They are something completely different from one another. Grace is sustenance for the hungry soul. It is picked as well as provided. It grows without our understanding the mechanics of its development. Law on the other hand brings a scorched earth perspective to obedience - obey or suffer the consequences. It is complicated as it attempts to head off all the creative activities of sin and selfishness. It is unbending and threatening. It is necessarily held together by human activity as we regulate the actions of one another to keep it working.

The Kingdom of God is not a kingdom as we imagine this world's kingdoms to be. It is not driven by force. It does not drag its subjects kicking and screaming through its gates. Jesus does not work me like a marionette to bring me into His kingdom. He is indeed, "Jesus without strings."

Grace being so significantly different than law has radical implications on church life and Christian leadership. Those who are understand those implications will also understand how it relates to the phrase "messy church," and how that phrase is a positive one. But, that's a whole other set of posts. (insert a smirk and a wink)

* I have purposely phrased this as "violent anarchy," because I view grace as a type of anarchy. It is something which law has no connection or necessary interaction with.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jesus without strings: parsing the phrase

 I used the phrase "Jesus without strings" in my yearly update on the activities of the The Gathering, and it seemed appropriate to parse the phrase, and describe what I was thinking when I rather loosely released it.

"With strings attached" is a phrase used to describe an offer, which once presented does not come alone, but has hidden expectations or demands attached to it.

Christianity often appears to come with strings attached, and many people have felt that these strings were hidden strings. The message of the Gospel comes with the declaration of being a free offer: salvation by grace through faith. Then with a few days, weeks, maybe even years of attempting to follow the way of Jesus, there appear to be expectations from the community of that same faith which seem disconnected from a personal relationship with Christ.

Specific doctrinal points rise up as speed bumps in the road of faith. One is forced to agree with these points of belief or have a bumpy ride. When and how Jesus returns; whether we are "once saved always saved" or there is a possibility of walking away from Christ; doctrines of spiritual warfare and the activity of the devil; minute details concerning the sovereignty of God; or views of Heaven and Hell become major points upon which our ability to fellowship with one another is determined.

Political orientation often pulls hard to the left or to the right as an attached string, which appears to decide the depth of one's commitment as a follower of Christ. Those on the right (of American political thought) view those on the left as immoral or controlling. Those on the left view those on the right as equally immoral on different issues, or stupid. Somehow it suddenly appears that political affiliation, or special interest issues are critical to living a life of faith within many communities of faith.

Other strings have a moral force. Behavior modification is enforced and even things unrelated to basic Christian morality somehow become necessary to a life of faith. Don't wear this. Don't go here or there. Don't eat or drink this or that. Don't hang out with those kinds of people. The initial call of the Gospel turns into a community acceptance list, as once hidden strings begin to reveal themselves.

In saying this, I am not saying that there are not foundational important issues of faith. I am not saying that there are not political issues of concern to the heart of God, or that our behavior should not be modified by our faith. I am saying that doctrine, politics and behavior are not the path into our life in Christ, and should not be the primary points of maintaining a relationship with God and His people.

I also do not believe that person of Jesus attaches strings to us in the way a puppet master manages the actions of his marionettes. I admit, I have a fairly radical view of freedom, and very low view of determinism. Although there are points of our human experience which predetermine our position in life, our response to specific situations, or our ability to succeed, these are not by any means a micro-management of our behavior. They do not give evidence of a God who manipulates the minor details of life, or forces our hand to control our daily actions, choices, emotions and thought. The hand of God does not come with puppet master strings attached.

For me, my faith comes with a radical sense of freedom, and with that freedom great potential and - dare I say, with the possibility of being misunderstood as contradictory - personal responsibility.

Yet, this Christian faith, once understood at a simple level, should have no other strings attached. I yearn for such a faith in a local experience - one without strings attached.