To the same degree that conspiracy theories, gaslighting propaganda, and political spin dominates our cultural discourse – a proportional disenchantment and distrust begins to settle over every cultural institution. This is because people have become convinced that the whole thing has gone off the rails, imagining it to be in a state of free fall, plummeting towards some unavoidable calamitous appointment with destiny. So even though T.S. Elliot already told us that the world does not end with a bang, but a whimper – we all seem eager to try our hand at apocalyptic prognostication . . . truly a first world obsession.
It would seem, if cultural anxiety and hysteria is to be believed, that I have spent my entire life waiting in the vestibule of the Apocalypse – where we’re all waiting to make our final descent into our last moments before judgement day, where the shame of our folly and arrogance await us. Well, except for those who tried to warn us all of the impending doom – they get the smug satisfaction of being prophetically astute as they too are lowered into the abyss with the rest of us. But given that we’re awash in thousands of doomsday scenarios – it’s hard to say which one of them will actually win the soothsayers lottery of cataclysmic events.
One of the benefits of growing as old as I have, is you live long enough to pick-up on all of the reoccurring patterns in the cultural narrative – like how every generation seems eager to tell its own story of how the world will end. All that’s needed is a half plausible threat as a prompt, and anxious fear will take it from there – finding every reason to extrapolate the least bit of evidence into a full blown crisis. In my day it was over-population, nuclear annihilation, and an imminent ice age – since then, it’s been global warming, emerging viral pathogens, and economic collapse. So it’s no surprise that we incessantly rehearse our fear of the future in the dystopic fiction of the books and movies we consume.
It’s important to note that there’s always a religious fervor associated with such phobic predictions – because suspended disbelief is required if their dark foretelling of the future is to be accepted as inevitable. In this way religious cults and progressive social movements share the same ethos, language, and expectation that our unbridled fears should be allowed to write the story of our future demise. Because the agreed upon assumption here is that we are all at odds with our own existence, and that we can somehow create the illusion of controlling the outcome of this alienation if we’re willing to anticipate the worst. This is beyond pessimism – this is like buying stock in hell, because the fire insurance premium was discounted to half price.
Interestingly enough, the meaning of the word apocalypse has nothing to do with some world ending cataclysm – but rather, an apocalypse is a revealing of what’s been hidden, of what is true about what already exists. And the truth is that Christ is already “ . . . the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:13). It is this very timelessness of Jesus that defines the Christian understanding of the future. Our hope isn’t found in the tedious details of how we think it all ends – our hope is in the God who transcends time, and holds our future in his hand.
It’s always best to remember — it will only be this way a little longer
One thought on “Vestibule of the Apocalypse”
Again Greg you put succinctly a very clear understanding of what’s really going on in the world. So many times during wars and natural calamities, people have felt ” this is it the end is near” . No it seems the basic nature of man is to throw his hands up and given in to doom. We true believers now the true ending of the story in all of it’s magnificent splendor. We await in excited anticipation of Lord Jesus’s return.
And that is what real followers of Jesus are focused on.
Maranatha, come quickly.
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