At the End of the World

(aka the post on eschatology and also Trump.)

We’ve made it to the third post on fundamentalism and all its fun problems. I’m going to try weaving in some current events that relate to this specific issue of what many fundamentalists believe about how the world is going to end. And how that affects how people are treated in fundamentalist circles and in the world of politics.

Two terms for you which many of you are probably very familiar with if you grew up in this environment are pre-tribulational rapture and pre-millennialism. The first encapsulates what many fundamentalists and your more conservative evangelicals believe about the rapture. Basically, Jesus is coming back to rapture the church away from the earth while the world goes through seven years of terrible terrible things (antichrist, lots of people die, all that jazz. Scary stuff in the book of Revelation). Pre-millennialism is the idea that Jesus comes back to the earth to establish his million year reign on earth after the end of the Tribulation.

NOW: because fundamentalists believe this and because they believe what they believe about morality, they tend to only focus on spiritual things in preparing people for this end of the world scenario they believe so strongly about.

If you believe the world is ending, but you’re not sure when, you’re going to live your life a certain way.

If you believe that your spiritual destiny matters more than the physical state of the world and people in it, you’ll only care about “sharing the gospel” with folks and not nearly as much (if at all) about social justice…except as a prerequisite to helping people “get saved.” Even if that means leaving people in oppressive circumstances. But they’re saved, on their way to Heaven and will be raptured with the church, so it’s all good.

They don’t think climate change is a thing. They don’t usually have a problem with torture. Or war crimes. Or those stuck in a cycle of poverty. Or systemic racism. If any of this sounds familiar, we just got a new leader of the free world who is the result of what fundamentalism can bring to a society. I truly believe these are dark, dark times. Sorry, I’m a downer, but this shit is real. The authoritarian president shit. I don’t know about when the world is going to end. I do know that fundamentalists hold to this American version of Christianity that looks nothing like Jesus. It looks a lot like the Church’s politics and religion being mixed together. I am involved in politics because I think politics affect people and Jesus cares about people. THEY are involved in politics to protect self interest in “religious liberty” to discriminate against refugees, disabled people, people of color, women, LGBTQ people…The list goes on.

Also, isolationism is a BIG thing with fundamentalism. Again, sound familiar? Because, if you believe you have to follow a certain moral code to be in good standing with God, you will try avoiding anything or anyone who is “of the world” and tend to be isolated from the real World. It means saving people from the fires of hell but leaving them in their own version of that fire on earth.

I don’t like to make jokes about Hell because it was taught to me as a very real reality. And something people tell me occasionally because I’m gay is that I’m going to Hell. Fun. Stuff. I don’t have time for this anymore–mostly because this type of thinking leads to only caring about one part of a person and not all of them. Not to mention, what kind of God do you have if you claim this God is loving and don’t love your neighbor? I feel like Jesus said something about that somewhere….

This goes back to the angry God as Judge. And leads to fear of living. That’s what I grew up with…being taught I didn’t need to fear death because of Jesus. But I was afraid of living. I even had nightmares growing up that the Rapture happened and I had been left behind. Sometimes I still do. Many of those nightmares have been coming back.

In closing, I used to think this was a normal way to think. Ya know, being preoccupied with the end of the world and telling people they’re going to hell out of concern for them. Now I see it as one of the cruelest things you can say/believe when you don’t truly love people in real life. So…to those people who do this:

What would you do if you knew the world was ending?

Would you fight for justice and stand for the oppressed?

What would you do if the world was ending?

Would you save as many people as you could?

What would you do if the world was ending?

Would you stand with the broken and damned?

What would you do if the world was ending?

Would you try to stop it…

Or just smile as you watched everything burn?

What would you do if the world was ending?

What would you do?

_______________________________________________________

I was inspired by the song End of the World by Ingrid Michaelson, which you should totally listen to.

I was also inspired to write this after reading Girl at the End of the World which I referenced at the end of my last post. It is an incredible book and a very hard read.

 

 

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