Saturday, May 21, 2011

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.


Unknown said...

Thanks for a good article.
As you pointed out, the fact that there are so many voices of doom out there, some of them profiting from it, some sincere, doesn't mean that things won't happen. I see things coming. Sometimes I talk about them, perhaps sometimes unwisely. I think it's better to talk about the correct thing to do in preparation for what is coming, which is to get in the Ark, figuratively speaking. And the Ark is Jesus. Fear is useless, and unnecessary if you're in the Ark. And even if disaster doesn't come, it's still the best thing to do.
"Blessed are the peacemakers".

Cern said...

That's the cookie. :) It so neatly fits with the adage of when we point a finger at others we have four fingers pointing right back at ourselves.

So we try our best to be self aware. We try to be open to our own shortcomings and to the potential for our own 'preaching in error'. Let's say we are successful in that.... or we think we are. Should we then go on a crusade to try to convert others to that perceived state of self awareness? How should we view those who have not yet embarked upon the quest for self awareness? Should we mock them for their folly? Should we pity them?

Perhaps we should replace 'self awareness' for the Ark that is Jesus...... Or, in my case, the over-arching spirit who we might know through the many spirit beings represented in our natural world. Again, do we mock or pity those who do not see the truth we see?

Much is said of Christian love. Indeed, the concept of 'Christian' love might be found in many faiths... so much so that one might almost feel that such love is one aspect of human nature. It is an important aspect, and one I feel is particularly pertinent to this topic. We can offer that human love, free from judgement, mockery, pity.... we can offer that love in support of our fellow human.... from my perspective, in support of our fellow spirit being. If, as I believe, we are all connected and are all a part of that over-arching spirit being, then, when we see shortcomings in others, we are seeing shortcomings in ourselves..... which takes us right back to looking in the mirror. :)



Stephen said...

Speaking of judgement. Those who project their psychological fears onto others - clearly bring "judgement" upon themselves - and this truth appears to stand whether one believes oneself to be a sincere Christian or not as the case maybe. Maybe if one discovers "truth" by learning how to understand the preponderance of consistent fact, rather than base it upon some paranoid belief - treating all humanity with EQUAL respect, then just maybe you've arrived at a place of consistent understanding what "truth" is in all probability, all about. I find, it's not by any "make-believe" and/or "traditionally conceived" measure. Yes Mike (Cern) - best to limit judgements if judgement ever appears warranted, to that "mirror".

Stephen said...

"Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this
special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature:
for any thing so o'erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose
end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold as 'twere the
mirror up to nature: to show virtue her feature, scorn her own
image, and the very age and body of the time his form and
Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 17–24