(From John Martin, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Detail from John Martin's "The Last Judgement." (1853))
I've watched, and enjoyed, disaster movies like "Colossus: The Forbin Project" (1970) and "Deep Impact" (1998). It's been a few years since Harold Camping's high-profile predictions, and I'll get back to that.
Folks didn't have movies, disaster or otherwise, in the 19th century; but they did have paintings like John Martin's "The Last Judgment." Not everyone could afford original artwork, of course, but engravings and lithographs were making art available to an increasing fraction of the population: and that's another topic.
"2012" (2009) shares the epic scale of John Martin's paintings: and is 'Biblical' to the extent that it borrows names like Noah and Ark. I've discussed calendars, Chicken Little, and Y2K before. (December 21, 2012)
I like rip-roaring tales, when they're presented as fiction. Using a tale of terror and foreboding to convince folks that the world's end is imminent? That's something else.
These days, folks get their 'end times' stories from books and movies of the Left Behind variety, and the occasional chap like Harold Camping. (June 14, 2011)
'End of the world' predictions of one sort or another are nothing new. Some, like February's announcement of Ragnarok, aren't particularly serious. Others end in broken lives: and, occasionally, bodies:
- The People's Temple
(San Francisco; Jonestown, Guyana; 1978)
- Order of the Solar Temple
(Geneva, Cheiry, and Salvan, Switzerland; Morin Heights, and Saint-Casimir, Quebec; Vercors mountains of France; 1994-1997)
- Heaven's Gate
(San Diego, Rancho Santa Fe, California; 1997)
- Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God
(Rwashamaire, Kanungu District, Uganda; 2000)
I think perennial 'end times prophecies' also encourage the notion that all 'religious' folks are obsessed with an imaginary cataclysm.
I'm Catholic, so I must believe that the Final Judgment is coming at the end of time. I also must accept what we're told about the event's timetable: we do not know. (Mark 13:32-37; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 675-682, 1040)
I can work with that.
For the sake of folks like Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, Luc Jouret, and Credonia Mwerinde, I hope that they sincerely believed their claims. Lying is an offense against truth, and a bad idea. Add suicide and murder to the mix, and it's a very serious situation. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2282, 2482-2487)
I think the recurring silliness of predicted apocalypses is related to conspiracy theories.
Both offer simple explanations for this world's endemic unpleasantness, and offer believers the perk of being in on secret knowledge that 'the masses' either don't have or won't believe.
On a lighter note, I offer this explanation for lost airline luggage and state lotteries. Mutant squirrels and corrupt pet store owners are plotting to enslave humanity in their nougat mines. And that's yet another topic.
I'm a Christian, and a Catholic, so I take the Bible very seriously: including Mark 13:32-37.
My Lord didn't know when this creation will be wrapped up, but made it clear that we are on standby alert in the meantime. That was about two millennia back now, the orders haven't changed, and every few years someone pops up with another 'end times' prediction.
My guess is that the Final Judgment won't happen until the 8.2 kiloyear event, Y2K, and Y10K are seen as roughly contemporary. Given the scope of standing orders outlined at the end of Matthew, we'll probably need every millennium we get:
"11 Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
"Go, therefore, 12 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,
"teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 13 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.' "
'Making disciples of all nations' doesn't mean hard-sell 'evangelization.' Each of us chooses to believe, or not believe; and the choice must be made freely. (Catechism, 1730, 1782)
The basics of what our Lord taught are simple, but not easy: love God, love our neighbors, see everyone as our neighbor, and treat others as we'd like to be treated. The Nicene Creed is a pretty good summary of my faith. (Matthew 5:43-44, 7:12, 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31 10:25-27, 29-37; Catechism, 1789)
As I said last week, part of my job as a Christian is sharing the best news humanity's ever had: God love us, and wants to adopt each of us. (John 3:17; Catechism, 52, 1825)
I don't expect fast results. It was 19 centuries, for example, before a sizable fraction of folks in several countries decided that owning other people was wrong. Maybe after another 19 centuries, we'll have that many folks convinced that resolving conflicts without war is a good idea — and that's yet again another topic. (October 26, 2014; September 7, 2014)
"14 'When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations 15 will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats."I hope that I'll be with the 'sheep' at this creation's closing ceremony. For now, I'm 'working out my salvation,' as Philippians 2:12 puts it. (October 26, 2011)
Today's Gospel reading makes it clear that where I'm standing after the Last Judgment depends on what I've done — or not done — now. (Catechism, 1038-1039)
I won't have to wait until then to find out where I'm spending eternity, though. Each of us gets serious face time with our Lord when we die.
It's called the Particular Judgment, when we either accept or reject the grace of Jesus. It's not just 'believing.' It's faith and works: we're expected to act as if what we believe matters. (Catechism, 1021-1022, 1051, 1814-1816)
"In the evening of our life we shall be judged on love"The good news, part of it, is that we're already in "the last hour," and have been for two thousand years. The war is over. We won. This world's renewal is in progress, and nothing can stop it. (Matthew 16:18; Mark 16:6; Catechism, 638, 670)
("The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Sayings of Light and Love," St. John of the Cross; via "Three Points in Time," Dani De George (2008) p. 21 / Google Books)
More about why I'm hopeful:
- "Life, Death, and Hope"
(November 2, 2014)
- "Caesar, Civilization, Dealing With Change — and Building a Better World"
(August 31, 2014)
- "Robin Williams, Suicide, and Hope"
(August 17, 2014)
- "Following my Lord to the End of the Universe: And Beyond"
(June 1, 2014)
- "Being Saved, the Narrow Gate, and All That"
(October 26, 2011)