Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The End of All Kinds of Nigh

OK. Now, I don't rather like posting other people's material. I say that, NOT because I think that only I have something important to say, but because I want to work on my writing and not always rely on the previously blogged or published material of others. Trust me -- I read plenty; hence, many of my posts come about through the book(s) that I've been reading as well as from the (often turbluent) rumblings in my brain/soul/spirit. But there are times when I just can't help but reference the work of others, mostly because I think they have something to say and, since they've already blogged or published it, I don't want to rehash their material. Besides, I studied Political Science, History, and Economics in college -- I know how easy it is to plagarize and how readily available that temptation can be when constructing papers and theses days & hours before the due date.

((And besides that -- look at how many articles in your local newspapers are BORROWED from the AP wire or some other larger newspaper's own work. If your local paper is anything like my town's, you think that the only local reporting that goes on deals with wrecks, sports, and cheesy special interest-type pieces. Blah....))

THUS, my thoughts today come courtesy of Jason Boyett and his masterful piece of research and satire entitled Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse: The Official Field Manual for the End of the World. Along with the introduction to the book which I will be (most likely illegally) typing here for your reading enjoyment, I'm also giving you the link to the online posting of Boyett's First Chapter. Please read both and enjoy. I simply think that this fine gentleman has grasped the spirit in which we all should be regarding the endtimes -- with humor, satire, and a healthy dose of "the Church has spent the last 2000 years trying to figure out the end of the world and we haven't gotten it right YET!!" This guy should be writing pieces for the Wittenberg Door, a great satire magazine that you should all check out. Run, don't walk, to my right sidebar and the link that I've posted to THEIR material. Anyways.... Read on....


Introduction:

Beginning of the End

The End is Near.
Not to get all Chicken Little on you, but global catastrophe is pretty much inevitable. Could be an act of God. Could be a collision with an asteroid. Nuclear holocaust is a familiar candidate, as is global warming. And even if those options fall through, we're still looking at the spectacular flameout of our sun when it runs out of fuel in five billion years - give or take - at which point it will start swelling up like a flaming cosmic beach ball until it swallows the earth in a spectacular blaze of cataclysmic glory.
So you'd better start getting ready, kids, because the end of the world as we know it could happen this week. It could happen today. It could happen before you even finish this senten....
Still here? Whew. Good thing you're reading this book.
People are more fascinated with apocalyptic prophecy than ever before. This may be due to the dire events happening around the world on a daily basis, especially in the Middle East. But, more likely, this fascination owes itself to the kajillions who have been waiting with sweaty, trembling hands for each new installment of Left Behind. Which, for those of you living in caves, is the best selling series of apocalyptic novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. They detail the Rapture (the insta-snatching of faithful Christians into Heaven), the ascension of the Antichrist, and the glorious Second Coming of Jesus. Good stuff. End-times publishing hasn't been this hot since Hal Lindsey sold 35 million copies of The Late, Great Planet Earth back in the 1970's.
Want numbers? A Barna Research Group survey in 2001 found that 40 percent of Americans believe that the world will end someday thanks to some sort of "supernatural intervention." An Associate Press survey released in 1997 revealed that a quarter of American adults expect this "intervention" to involve the return of Christ - and figure they'll still be around when he shows up. A 2001 Newsweek poll found that 52 percent expected Jesus to come back at some point during the next millennium (between the years 2001 and 3000). And four out of five of those familiar with the Left Behind books said it was possible that the fictional events they describe could happen in real life.
Which is probably why, despite a historical success rate over the past two thousand years of, um, exactly zero, theologians and preachers and delusional cultists still insist on making end-of-the-world predictions. And why biblical prophecy seminars are all the rage amongst conservative Christian churches in the South. And why we continue to see the coming Apocalypse in everything from Y2K to WMD to implantable microchip identification devices (Mark of the Beast alert!). And why everyone - besides Tim LaHaye, of course - is still struggling to understand what the book of Revelation is talking about with all of its horsemen and trumpets and seals and multi-eyed, dragon-headed creatures.
Thank heaven you've got your own sweaty, trembling hands wrapped around The Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse. Consider it your personal tour director for the swan song of Old Blue. A jargon decoder. A history professor. An Antichrist identifier. At the least, it may provide some entertaining reading during that blasted Tribulation.
Which is probably right around the corner. Don't get too comfortable.

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