Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The End Times are Upon Us!

    If there had been time, Marie Exley would have liked to start a family. Instead, the 32-year-old Army veteran has less than six months left, which she'll spend spreading a stark warning: Judgment Day is almost here.
    Exley is part of a movement of Christians loosely organized by radio broadcasts and websites, independent of churches and convinced by their reading of the Bible that the end of the world will begin May 21, 2011. (source).
I thought that the End Times were coming on December 21, 2012?

Before this, I thought that the End Times were coming at Y2K?[1]

Oh, wait. The End Times were supposed to come even earlier than Y2K: some time between 1500 and 1800,[2] or even earlier[3].

Silly me. Of course, this time the End Timers are correct.

p.s., let's revisit this on May 22, 2011, and we'll have a good chuckle. If I'm wrong, I'll by you a beer.

[1] See: Schaefer, Nancy A. "Y2K as an Endtime Sign: Apocalypticism in America at the fin-de-millennium." Journal of Popular Culture 38:1 (Aug. 2004), 82-105. Abstract: Views the recurrence of American millenarianism through the reactions and writings during the 1990's on the expected "Y2K" computer catastrophe. Long expectant of a cataclysmic upheaval, some American evangelicals saw the onset of Y2K as a harbinger of the biblically prophesied end times. Predictions ranged from riots in American cities to worldwide nuclear Armageddon and the installation of the "one world government" or "new world order" that American evangelicals feared. These reactions demonstrated the persistence of anti-intellectualism among American evangelicals and the persistence of their belief in prophecy. Despite the failure of the catastrophe to materialize on 1 January 2000, the beliefs that formed the context for these reactions to Y2K have persisted.

[2] Williamson, Arthur H. Apocalypse Then: Prophecy and the Making of the Modern World. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger, 2008. Summary: An introduction to the Apocalypse and an explanation as to why many of Europe and America's most creative minds (Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish) believed that they were living in the latter days of the world and the culmination of human history. While few intellectuals today accept the notion that the world is literally about to end through a prophesied supernatural act, between 1500 and 1800 many of Europe's and America's most creative minds did believe it.

[3] See: Kyle, Richard. The Last Days are Here Again: A History of the End Times. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1998. Book Review Excerpt: Richard Kyle, who teaches history and religion at Tabor College in Kansas, has written a brief survey of the ways in which Christians have conceptualized end-time events over the course of two thousand years. In his account he accents what he describes as the "major doomsday themes' (10), resulting in a volume that is filled with scores of references to historical examples of apocalyptic warnings and predictions of impending destruction or disaster. The principal theoretical insight he employs is the judgment that stress and social upheaval are leading reasons why apocalyptic ideas flourish and increase in any particular time period. Kyle also emphasizes the persistence and the elasticity of eschatological traditions, two additional accents worth remembering in our own day as we approach the turn of the millennium. At the present, presses--both university and commercial--are groaning under the weight of publications dealing with apocalyptic topics. It has been decades since publishers have had such a convenient conjunction of a hot "religious topic," widespread interest, and abundant entrepreneurial opportunities. Unfortunately, the weight to which I refer is often not the weight of substance, but rather the weight of volume--simply pages upon pages.



  1. I see three "sadnesses" in this latest apocalyptic scare: (1)People spending their time worrying about the world ending instead of living happily in whatever time we each have; (2) People being turned away from the Gospel message of Christ due to failed apocalyptic warnings issued under the guise of Biblical 'prophecy', and (3) worthwhile writings being turned away as publishers focus on the latest trend in the ever present emphasis on filling our minds with pabulum while their pockets grow heavy with gold.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree, Grace, particularly with #1 and #3.

    On #2, I can agree in the sense of considering Jesus' message from the secular humanist/atheist perspective that I hold. That is, if we put aside for a moment the contentious assertion about Jesus being the Messiah, only some of God, etc., and we look at some of the fundamental teachings that the New Testament writers ascribed to him, there is much there that would make the world a better place, if more people were to put the lessons to practice. These lessons would include a detachment from material goods, commitment to serving those in need, eschewing violence, leading by example, etc. These are the some of the same lessons that the Buddha taught 500 years before Jesus' birth, and many historians and comparative mythologists have provided evidence of Buddhist influence on Jesus (also here, and in other sources), but the lessons are still applicable.

    That people ignore these lessons and then write books about it or stir-up fear and anxiety is quite sad; that people have consistently done so since before the time of Jesus is also sad and is the historical thread that I'm trying to point out!

  3. Your point, and that made in the book link you provided, can be countered by the Christian belief that Jesus is part of the triune Godhead and was, as the Bible clearly states, present at the creation of our Earth. So, if the teachings of Jesus and Buddha are similar, it is no surprise. Jesus preceded all men. How, or if, He communicated with Buddha or other religious leaders may never be known to most of us, but to believe that it was possible is as viable a theory as to say that Jesus "copied' the teachings of Buddha.

    I am sad, dear nephew, that you label yourself a secular humanist/atheist. As a trained historian you know better than to lock yourself into absolutes. Agnostic I could accept and believe it would better describe the journey that you have told me you're on in studying all the world's religions.

    Though I am a Christian believer, I continue to question and study what other religions teach, what archeologists and ancient historians, creation and evolutionary scientists teach and proclaim so that I know that what I believe is built on a foundation that I can trust and support. When one claims to be an atheist, he denies the existence of God. I do not see how one can study the Bible, as a world religion, and deny the existence of God. Or how can one enjoy the beauty of God's creations and not believe that God exists. Perhaps "atheist" was a typo. ??

    I treasure the fact that we can have these discussions without any animosity. If we continue to poke one another's conscience, we can continue our quests for truth in the true love that all seek. The subject is too important not to discuss with honesty and an open mind and heart.

    Much love.

  4. I treasure the fact that we can have these discussions without any animosity

    Absolutely! If more of us worked toward this goal, the world would be a much better place, that's for sure. (Unfortunately, there are still quite a few nutcases in our midst.)

    I am sad, dear nephew, that you label yourself a secular humanist/atheist. As a trained historian you know better than to lock yourself into absolutes.

    You bring up a great conversation starter . . . it's going to take me another blog post to respond adequately, so, everyone, please stay tuned!