The Inaugural Punch: Apocalyptic Thinking Is Immoral 27 February 2006Posted by Todd in Christianity, Cultural Critique, Ethics, Islam, Political Commentary, Politics, Religion.
Testing the waters, a little, I'm just repeating a post I made over at Folks on the Fringe to see how Blogger works.
The belief in an "end of times," "second coming," or as Evangelicals call it "rapture" is among the most problematic and, in my opinion, deeply immoral beliefs to come out of Christianity. It leads believers to see history and their world as a declension narrative, that is, a story of decline and fall. Because of that perception (which is historically not even close to being verifiable), it enables them to disengage and watch human suffering, salving their consciences with "Oh, but Jesus is coming soon."
People in various messianic religions have been predicting the returns of their messiahs for thousands of years. He/she never comes back, and we still live in this world, right now, with real problems and real suffering, which we have the power to ease and maybe even eliminate.
There is a way that people who expect the return of their messiah take joy, or at least a sick kind of excitement, in the suffering of other human beings–for to them, it appears to be a "sign" of the immanent return. Many of us have sat in church meetings or at family reunions where believers speculate about Gog and Magog or whether we'll have sex during the Millenium, almost giddy with pleasure.
Given that it allows human beings to cut off compassion, justify their inaction and apathy, and even take pleasure in the suffering of others, I can think of few other aspects of Christianity or Mormonism that are more immoral than eschatology (belief in the apocalypse).
Considering that the people who run our country have all drunk the Evangelical Kool-aid (not to mention munching on the Neo-Conservative Chex Mix), I fear that they will use that power to force an Armageddon, because they believe it is supposed to happen, ignoring all the possible other ways to solve, reconcile, change the world we live in here and now. I am afraid not of Jesus's immanent failure-to-show, but that because the people who hold the guns think that their messiah (e.g., Jesus or the Mahdi) is coming back soon, so they will gladly start a bloodbath to make it happen and fulfill their own fantasies…er, prophecies.