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When religious leaders convince folks that the world is coming to an end during their lifetime, people adopt a sense of fatalism that is enormously destructive because it breeds inaction towards some of the biggest issues of our time.
I propose that it is time for us to accept as a premise in whatever environmental discussions we have -- or indeed, in any deliberations on anything taking place in the future -- the fact that the world is coming to an end.
In apocalyptic times -- and our time surely is one -- it's easy to succumb to hopelessness, but few have discussed why hopelessness can be so magically attractive.
What would it look like if we actually recognized the legitimate and inscrutable existence of things apart from ourselves? How would this alter how we interact with each other and with the planet?
When movies with biblical or Christian themes (e.g., the recent Noah) get panned, one hears instant charges that they are regarded as bad simply because they treat such themes.
While the idea of believers being "caught up in the air" is mentioned, it is metaphorically describing the Second Coming. Paul is not claiming, nor even implying that Christians will disappear before all hell breaks loose on earth. In fact, the very idea of the rapture is antithetical to the narrative of scripture.
No unambiguous passage supports Christians being "raptured" before the tribulation. The Book of Revelation describes sufferings, many of which characterize much of the world we live in. But while Revelation depicts God protecting at least some of his people from his own judgment, it nowhere mentions Christians being removed.
Sure, Christians would love their Messiah to come back soon. But things here on Earth keep indicating that won't be happening anytime soon.
The fatalistic belief in the end of humanity, most often because of our sins or lack of virtue, is as frightening as it is harmful. If we believe that no matter what we do, the majority of us will perish in some reign of heavenly or demonic fire, what is our motivation to plan for our collective future?
Not gimmicky or derivative, it's actually about something we've lost touch with in American culture; perseverance in the face of despair.
Honestly, I feel like the whole damn world has gone mad, and I can only hope that as the weeks pass -- like with a new lover you foolishly think is The One--this show will be seen as the dumb, overly-dramatic charlatan it is.
When I would complain about some trivial disappointment as a child (or even a teen -- and, really, disappointments at that age never feel as trivial as they are), my mother would say, "Well, it's not the end of the world." Fortunately, she didn't live to see contemporary pop culture.
I struggled to write this article. I was imagining people scouring the article for every little thing I did wrong. I was constantly questioning the worth and validity of what I had to say. I'm still doing it as I write this.
We're in this world together, and our responsibility to preserve this planet goes well beyond any single individual's bunker's walls.
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