Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cult of Fear and Entertainment

One learns with a newborn baby that it does not come with an instruction book. Some things you learn on your own. Some things are common sense. Some things are instinctual. Other things you learn from people who have lived through the experience. Life is a 24/7 learning experience.

I will not learn about what happens after I die until I die. As I was told once by someone, the end of the world can also be stated as the end of your world. Death is death. Life after death is another matter.

Of late, I do not hear many TV evangelists talking so much about Jesus these days as they are talking about the end of the world. It all seems to be tied into millennium fever what with Jesus turning 2000 years old and all that. I hear much too much with this new cult of the end of the world consuming and wasting so much Christian energy. The enigmatic Book of Revelation supposedly backs up this current preaching tangent. Last time I looked, that book in terms of a word count only represents 6% of the New Testament.

I don't know what you think you are preaching inside the tent. I seem to have a different perspective looking in from the outside.

Christianity is not about a Saturday matinee at a horror flick. XPistianity should be about the spiritual welfare of people both inside and outside the faith.

The Iranians overthrew the Shah of Iran’s government in the year 1400 of the Islamic calendar. There is an element of expectation and that can turn into self fulfilling prophecy as you approach a rounded off number like 1400 or even 2000. Throw in a little religious fervor and you have a revolution.

Does anybody remember all the hype about Y2K? The old time computer programs were never geared to numbers or date change to 2000 at the turn of a century. Talk, hype, fear had us on the verse of seeing power plants shutting down, losing data on hard drives, society failing and on and on and on. Guess what? Nothing major happened. The secular world did not come to an end or even to a temporary grinding halt.

One of my earliest remembrances, as a child, of a reading of the gospels, had to do with signs in the sun and the end of the world. It is a fascinating subject. It gave me goose bumps.

Like so much in the gospels, what is said in the beginning of a chapter doesn’t always get tied together with the end of the same chapter. Over the centuries, the Sunday gospel reading got chopped up into sound bites. This modern day cult business, or whatever it is, is a tangent that emphasizes fear and talking about extraordinary events to thrill and entertain.

What starts out as a prediction about the destruction of the Temple turns into a discussion about apocalyptic events and then the return of the Son of Man to earth. What I find most important in the twenty fourth chapter of Matthew is that both Jesus and the angels do not know when the end of the world happens along with the return of the Messiah. Only God the Father, knows that date. Christians, don’t sweat the small stuff or the things you have no control over.

If this end of the world cult is about fear, I don’t think that the faith is about fear. The rest of these end times tangents, as they preach it, are not faith to me. This passing historic phase of the faith seems like a sideshow, like carnie entertainment and or some sort of weird mental head game seeking some sort of thrill – the power in knowing what only God knows. Wow! That’s real power dude.

The year 2000 has come and gone. In a secular sense, get a life. In a religious sense, get back to basics. To paraphrase Freud – sometimes a calendar date is just a calendar date.