Sunday, March 26, 2006

Don't Dream It's Over

"People don't come to church for preachments, of course, but to daydream about God."

-Kurt Vonnegut

I don't often speak about religion here on my blog, but something happened last week, during one of President Bush's press conferences, that I found particularly interesting. Since I haven't seen a lot about it, in either the mainstream media or in the blogsphere, I thought I might try to open a dialog about it here. I am interested in what you think about the connection between George Bush, and the Apocalypse.

Now wait before you answer, you should know I haven't gone off the deep end of things, I don't believe George Bush is the Anti-Christ, I do wonder however, about some of the decisions he makes, given that he claims to be a Christian. I am concerned sometimes about the assertion from some members of the far right, that if one is a Liberal and a Democrat then therefore there is no way one could also be a Christian. I am here to tell you, and show you, that I am living proof of such. I have been happily enjoying a relationship with Christ for many years, but not all of the years were as happy and content as they are right now. See, when I was attending regular church services, I came out of those services feeling worse then when I went in.

I couldn't take the sermons, week after week, encouraging me to hate my neighbor. The church I was attending had been robbed of some expensive items, several times, and from the pulpit week after week came the same message, that the people in the area around the church were to be feared and loathed. They were stealing from the church to buy drugs or alcohol. There was no real proof of who had broke into the church, let alone what their motive was, so how could I possibly embrace the thought that I needed to automatically hate whoever did this to my church family? I asked once, "Why are we not going door to door in the neighborhood, to preach and share about our church with local families?" I never really got a good answer to that question. Why do we humans always seem to hate what we don't understand?

How does this apply to President Bush? Well, last week during a visit to Cleveland Ohio to promote the war in Iraq, a women who was in the audience made a reference to a recently published book that says, "members of the Bush administration have reached out to prophetic Christians, who see the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism as signs of the apocalypse." She then asked, "Do you believe that the war in Iraq and rise of terrorism are signs of the apocalypse?" Bush responded, amid laughter from members of the audience, "The answer is, " he said and paused, "I mean I haven't really thought of it that way. First I've heard of it by the way." I thought about the question for a moment, then considered the rest of his answer, "I guess I think more practical then that." What could be more practical, from a Christian standpoint, then the contemplation of how the world, and it's inhabitants are progressing spiritually?

If you are a Christian or have studied the bible, then you know the signs of the apocalypse are quite clear, and so is the suggestion that we not waste our lives looking for it, because it will come "as a thief in the night." There are however, clear signs we will see which will be leading up to the end of days. War & rumors of wars, the earth will experience "birthpains." Man will turn against man. It won't be a very pleasant time at all.

Now, every generation has speculated about the end of days, it is something to consider. Many a cult has been based on those fears. Personally, I don't fear the end of the world, I mean, what can I do? Can I hold back God when he says, enough is enough? It's the times leading up to those last few moments on earth that concern me. When researching for this entry, I came across all kinds of opinions about whether or not we are in the end times. One particular opinion that struck me was the thought, from a far right web site, that believes we shouldn't care about Global Warming, because we are already at the end of days. I don't know about you, but isn't that when we should care the most? As a Christian, I believe God gave us an amazing gift...THE PLANET EARTH...and because of the toxins we have put into the ozone, we may have begun something that we have no way to reverse.

The United States leads the world in the amount of toxins we put into the air. Recently, the Bush administration tried to stop a top NASA scientist from reporting his findings on the effects of Global Warming. We already know we are facing another year of stronger then average storms, when hurricane season begins in June. Why do you suppose President Bush pays such little attention to our environment? Why has he been so complacent when it comes to having enough medication for all Americans, should our worst fears come to life, and we experience a pandemic in the United States? How can a man, who claims to have a close relationship with God not be concerned about these issues? Why has he ignored the terrible conditions around the world, such as the near genocide happening right now in the Sudan?

I could give you the laundry list of what has changed in our environment in the last 25 years, in the last 10 years, in the last 3 years, but I give you credit for realizing what's happening around you. If you hadn't heard, about the polar bears that are drowning because of the ice melting beneath them, or how much the temperature in the Atlantic ocean risen, or the unprecedented amount of discoveries of new species of animals, then you may want to do some research and decide for yourself what might be happening. Sigh. Tonight on AOL news, is a report about the possibility of a large earthquake occurring here in the East Bay, of the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live. It has some startling facts that we in California tend to not think about, until we have a series of tremblers like we have had recently reminds us of our complacency. We don't have a certain weather to serve as an indicator, or a certain time of year, to shore up for. As a result, our earthquakes come suddenly, like a thief in the night.

I don't worry about the end of the world happening in my lifetime, because I try my best to remember the teachings of God. Not the teachings of ANY mortal man. Our ministers are there to guide us, and I don't make a sweeping generalization that all ministers are missing the mark, but unfortunately, the ones I have met so far left me with the distinct feeling that in order to truly be loved by God, I had to have the approval of the teacher teaching me. I had to be right with God, according to the minister's assessment of me. That meant falling into line, and hating all the right things, and all the right people. Almost as if there was a political correctness that was taking place in church. I can't do it. I can't put that much faith in any one mortal man, be it minister or politician.

So tell me, do you think we are in the end of days? Share with me what you think might be the signs, if you do believe we are there. Do you think today's churches are run more politically then in the past? What do you see as the biggest obstacle facing the world wide Christian community today? If you aren't a believer, I still want to know what your thoughts are. Please feel free to tell me what you think. Your comments are always safe here, as I have said before, all comments are welcome, provided they are made with respect.

Article Links
"Bush Explains Confidence In Iraq Progress" USA Today
"Happy Doomsday To You" Washington Post
"Next Big Quake?" AOL News
"Analysis: Defining Genocide" BBC

"In Autumn"
Yuba Gap
October, 2005


Anonymous said...

So many complex questions. As a Pagan, I don't spend much time pondering the Christian Apocalypse, but I've studied the Bible and have some thoughts.

There are several schools of thought on the interpretive framework of the book of Revelation and I don't believe that the world will end in that fantastical way it describes when read literally. I take a scientific approach here. The sun may go supernova, we may cause our own demise by ruining our environment, through nuclear war, etc. I don't believe that we are seeing any "signs." There have always been wars, famine, natural disasters, plagues, and so forth.

I don't know about churches being political, but there are religious organizations (such as the Christian Coalition) that are very powerful politically. We may not be living in a theocracy right now, but church and state have a long history together.

I think the biggest obstacle facing the Christian community (and other religious communities as well) is the inability to agree, even on what constitutes basic doctrine.

TJ said...

Ditto I couldn't have said it better Cosette.

Bill, the Wildcat said...

I can offer a conversative Christian viewpoint (assuming I'm correct in calling myself conservative) on this one. While I think a lot of what the Bible states can be taken literally, I just can't apply that to "Revelations." If one assumes "Revelations" does describe the actual end of days and not a bad acid trip, then I think you have to consider the messenger. You have a man describing things in a world eons beyond his own. How well would any of us fair in describing a world radically advanced beyond our own?

Of course, I sometimes think we've always lived in the last days, that we're applying our perception of time to God's. Wouldn't it be fair to assume that if God is all-knowing, then he doesn't view things chronologically as we do? What I'm saying is that "Revelations" is about death and can perhaps be applied on an individual level.

I tend to give "Revelations" little serious thought, at least in the sense whether I'm living in it. Yes, it makes for lively debate, but in the end, accomplishes nothing.

sunflowerkat said...

I think the biblical description of the end of days is I believe all the stories of the bible to be. I am not concerned about it in a literal sense. I am gravely concerned about the environmental havoc we seem bent of bringing on the planet. And I agree with you completely in that EARTH is gift from God that should be treated with the utmost respect and care. We may very well be bringing and environmental "end of days" upon ourselves.

Charley said...

There is a fabulous book on Revelation called, "The Lamb's Supper." It talks about an interpretation of Revelation as an analogy to the worship of Christ. Definitely worth the read.

As for the end days, I believe they will come as they may, but I do think we are closer than not - for a number of reasons. Most, however, is that the intersection of the spiritual and material in my faith (Roman Catholic) is very strong. The visitations at Medjugorje, the long traditions of how the papacy will end (not much more time according to that legend), and the visions of the saints all point to a sooner rather than later ending.

As for being a 'liberal' christian, I think that's bunk. Too often we describe ourselves as conservative, liberal, republican, democrat. One benefit of having a strong doctrinal church is that you know quite clearly where you stand. I am a Catholic American. I define my beiefs and actions by the tenets of my faith. That makes me conservative in some areas and liberal in others. And true Christians, I believe, put love above all else. Love and life first and let that guide you on the way.

Whew - I could go on forever :)


betty said...

As a Christ follower, I have read the book of Revelation several times. Frankly, it is one of my favorite books in the Bible because amongst the tales of what is to come (and I firmly believe they will come as it is written), there is still praise and worship given to the Lord and that is just awesome to me.

Are we living in the end times? Yep, we are. The end times, as explained to me by several different reliable pastors, ministers, etc, started when Jesus ascended after his resurrection. Are we in the final days? Only the Lord knows for sure. That's why I never believe anyone who says the world is going to end on this or that day. Jesus even said while he was walking the face of the earth that only his father knew when it was to come.

Rather focusing on the end times and trying to understand it all and trying to figure out when it might happen, I'm hoping to make sure that people don't forget the real message. They need to be saved and to have a relationship with Jesus and to know that he died for their sins. The believer has no fear of the end times because of where he will be spending eternity. Those who do not know the Lord have eternity as well as the end times to get through. Leading others to know Him is sooo vital!

Interesting thoughts you brought up (Charley from Courage sent me over your way)


Karen Funk Blocher said...

From what I've read and learned in several venues (college course, sermons, etc.), Revelations was written in a literary genre called apocalyptic literature. It is an allegory, mostly commenting in code on the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. As my religion prof put it, "It's 'predicting' the recent past."

My beloved Dan, a devoted reader of Hal Lindsay, was convinced the world would end in 1986. That year came and went, 20 years ago. Dan himself didn't make it to 1986, but the world goes on. Dan's world ended in 1978, and he presumably went on to the next one.

It seems to me that it's terribly presumptuous to predict a certain date or year, especially one we expect to see ourselves. We can't even be sure when our individual lives on Earth will end, much less predict what God (or the human race) will do and when. All we can do is be good stewards of the Earth and ourselves, and live as though the Earth needs to last for millenia yet - and as though we may die tomorrow.


patsy said...

Right on. I don't know when i have read a clearer statement about faith, also i do believe we are end times.I think the less said about bush the better we may be treading on dangrous ground when we speak aloud about Geo. Bush.