Walking down the street of my little town by the beach today I found on the sidewalk a set of men’s clothing complete with crushed energy drink can and a set of woman’s clothes inclusive of purse and hat “left behind”. Someone had made a little display of what the Rapture might look like for the rest of us (thinking the Rapture in the realms beyond must be one big nudist camp as I am trying to visualize this…).
The End of Times has been scheduled by the Kansas City minister Harold Camping (who is still taking donations…) for 6PM CST today! This is, according to Camping, 7000 years to the minute after Noah’s flood. You can buy a t-shirt from Camping stating that you are “Rapture Ready” – and people have set up pet care for the creatures whose owners will be off skyward later today! (I guess the pets are not expected to have professed their faith adequately).
This is quite amusing – I have to say. I am enjoying the many creative postings on facebook as my friends are mockingly saying goodbye and reveling in the ridiculousness of it all.
And then there is a side of me that finds this preoccupation with the end of all things troubling. There are many versions of doomsday believers out there. Camping is an easily dismissed version, but more sophisticated versions abound. Dispensationalist and Eschatological theories have always been plentiful; the “Left Behind” series that soared to the top of Best Seller lists. And they all manipulate deeply with the human psyche and ratchet up the fear motive again and again: If you do this, say this, believe this and most importantly don’t do this you will be one of the chosen ones, when the end comes. There are versions of this also in the environmental movement, where people believe that the earth is actually a vengeful entity, whose wrath has been stirred up by our environmental abuses to the point it will throw us humans off and the current climate changes are part of such retribution. Here the message is that if we do not quickly enough replace our light bulbs, we will perish as a species due to our transgressions against nature.
Whether I am a Christian or an environmentalist (yes in both cases) I must say that the fear-based motive to move people to action (or reaction) in my view is both misplaced and deplorable. It is to use fear as a manipulative tool to further your agenda. And often actions founded and carried out in fear are blind, dumb, misplaced and desperate.
We as human beings tend to create the kind of reality we are looking to find. If we are walking around paralyzed by fear, we will see threats and imminent manifestations of our worst nightmares everywhere (the war in Iraq is one such prime example).
So what might be another option for expression? Christianity is all about love; as is every religion at its core. The environmental movement is about joy of nature including our own. How would a message of love manifest and be able to inspire us going forward? How about an invitation to a new and more meaningful lifestyle that incorporates care and concern for the least among us, love for our neighbors and ourselves, as well as care for the planet that feeds us? How would a new and stimulating environmental focus look that makes it clear that doing our part for the environment is a joyful exercise in community building and strengthened connections? A new sense of abundance?
As I continue down Main Street someone has left a pair of shoes with dry ice in them. The shoes are smoking as the imaginary person blew out of there to the Eternal Realms. A group of people are standing around laughing and taking pictures. And it strikes me that right there I am watching a fearful agenda being creatively transformed into a communal experience of laughter and sharing right in front of my eyes! Yes indeed, there is hope for humankind!