Faith Column: Apocalypse is a self-fulfilling prophecy
Stop worrying about the End Times and get proactive
It was a classic summer afternoon. My mom and I were out for a walk, close to the Dalhousie C-train station in the northwest Calgary. I was 13 years old, fresh to junior high.
I was indoctrinated in evangelical Christianity, so rather than spending my free time enthralled in Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl — which included far too much magic for a good Jesus-lover — I was charging through the Left Behind series.
You know, the one that re-popularized the whole “rapture” thing and spawned three of the worst movies ever made.
We were wandering around, having a merry time I’m sure, when the blazing sun was covered by clouds.
For whatever atmospheric or meteorological reason, everything turned red. I freaked out. I was certain that this was it: that this was the moment.
I can’t exactly recall what I was pulling it from, but there was some moment in Left Behind when the sun went red and thousands of massive locusts came and stung the shit out of everyone who hadn’t been zapped up into the sky by Jesus Christ.
It was obviously a tense moment for my young soul. I think anyone being confronted with the possibility of being stung to death would react the same way.
But the reason I tell this tale, which unfortunately is true, is because the concepts that I was struggling with as a pre-teen are still the same concepts that many adult evangelicals are trying to come to terms with.
Like, the world is going to end within a few days, or months, or years in the worst case scenario, and we just have to prepare ourselves for eternal locust stinging or worshipping some hyper-masculine deity in the clouds, depending on which side of the canyon you’re on.
Quite a majority of Christians today — and worshippers of other Western religions — believe that there’s some kind of end of the world coming.
Now, some might label themselves as pre-millennialists or post-milliennialists or some other jargony combination of obscure and mostly useless theologies, but the point is that the assumption is widespread.
It’s no wonder that 13-year-old me bought the stuff so easily (although the manipulative usage of youth fiction by two old white dudes also contributed to my plight).
Now, I’m happy with the notion of people believing whatever they want to believe.
I think it’s rad that people can label themselves as a Jedi on the Canadian census, if that’s what they really want Statistics Canada to know them as (although the long-form census was scrapped by the neo-cons in power, so who knows if that bit is true anymore).
My issues with this whole the world-is-going-to-end-really-soon phenomenon is that it has created a frightening abundance of people who just don’t give a shit about the world, preferring to hole themselves up in Kansas City and pray for the chariots to swoop down and kill the gays.
This is applicable even to the most “progressive” congregations. Heaven — or some semblance of the afterlife — is the main focus of the endeavour.
The 80 years that we put in (or 86.1 years if you’re a Japanese woman) here on the earth ultimately don’t matter, as we’re going to supposedly be spending a whole heck of a lot more time playing harps than doing what it is we do down here.
But the issue with this theology — of pointing ourselves only in the direction of the clouds — is that people become utterly useless here on earth.
Try talking to a Christian about their mission. Even if they don’t say it out loud, they’ll somehow tie it back in to making it into this alternate reality of sorts.
It won’t be about helping to revolutionize economic systems or protect the rainforests from clear-cutting or ensuring that a proper investigation is done into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women of Canada.
It’ll be about them, fixing up their own destinies, while planning to leave all this other shit to burn.
It needs to just stop. I’m not pretending that I don’t think about what happens after we die, but it’d be super nice if people could just shut their traps about the end of the world and try to direct their energies towards efforts that ensure that the world isn’t going to end.
Like maybe dealing with climate change, or the apartheid in Israel or the military-industrial complex in the batshit-crazy country of the United States.
Because to be frank, unless we do so, I feel that whatever God is out there is going to be rather pissed that we screwed up Her earth.