Enough about Christmas, let’s talk about death and destruction. Excited? Well, it seems a lot of people are. I know folks who just can’t pass up an opportunity to point out that we are in the last days—the great end of times. Usually the reference comes up in relation to some grave concern expressed about the fate of our country—a nation in the hands of the conspiratorial communists currently in the White House plotting the destruction of everything our Found Fathers held so dear. Yes, the Constitution is hanging by a thread, (but a pretty resilient thread, it turns out, since the same thread has apparently been sustaining said document since McCarthy’s and Skousen’s 1950’s). I remember when Clinton won office in 1992 and 1996; the right heralded both events as the downfall of America. Then Bush’s double election signaled the decline of Western civilization to the left. Now Obama—no, this one’s for real this time—stands with scissors and thread firmly in hand. Fifty gallon water storage containers are on sale…quick!
I’m a bit of a scrooge when it comes to the apocalypse. I have a hard time getting into the spirit of the season. There is something utterly pessimistic and unChrist-like about seeing Christ in every earthquake, hurricane, famine, flu outbreak, war, and election-that-didn’t-go-my-way. I realize that the world will experience such travails in the last days, but isn’t there something perverse about delighting in headlines that represent the suffering of millions simply because it makes me think the Second Coming is getting that much closer? I know doomsdayers would never admit to finding happiness in such things. No, such is there difficult job to point out hard reality to a head-in-the-sand world. But I’m skeptical. There is just too much energy and excitement behind their predictions to be the reluctant conclusions of those who actually pine for world peace.
Perhaps other things are at stake here. After all, the daily grind can be a grind, and the prospect of worldwide upheaval may offer hope that in 10 years from now something much more interesting will be happening in one’s life than ordering more toner for the copy machine.
I can’t think of anything more wonderful than Christ reigning upon the earth, but what I’m really wondering is this. Is there any way we can get to the millennium with a smaller body count? Do the scriptures allow for a kinder and gentler interpretation regarding the extent of the calamities of the last days? (If they don’t, does that imply a doctrine of predestination?) Hasn’t the world already experienced enough bloodshed in the form of two devastating world wars to fulfill the death and destruction requirement? Am I denying the faith if I look to the future with hope and optimism? I don’t mean the kind of hope that says, “At least Christ will come after life on earth has been made into a living hell.” I mean a hope that believes my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren will marry and eat three meals a day and take hot showers and vote. Or, on the other hand, should I start developing a taste for canned wheat?