Oh, do mark your calendars on the day that Dr. Richard Loren Held launched his Sunday discussion by referencing Rev. Pat Robertson.
Now, I say this because, for those who may not know me, I teach a notably different Christianity from that of Mr. Roberts and I espouse a radically different ethic from that of Mr. Roberts.
Nonetheless, this televangelist alarmed no small number of people when he informed his 700 Club audience that there would be a judgement on the world by the end of 1982.
Imagine that - just in time for Thriller! Not fair, I say.
Now, Mr. Roberts was neither the first nor the last to make such a prediction. Nor are such predictions the sole property of religious voices.
It was in Leeds in 1806 that a hen began laying eggs, each bearing the phrase, “Christ is coming.” Of course, countless people travelled far to observe this rather obvious miracle until, in the end the owner was discovered writing, “Christ is coming” on eggs and inserting them into one of his presumably irritable hens.
Following a New England farmer named William Miller, thousands of (they were known as Millerites) gave or sold all their possessions in preparation for a very specific April 23rd, 1843 end-of-days event – a date calculated from Mr. Miller’s study of scripture.
Of course, they disbanded, I assume beginning as early as April 24th.
Now, I can understand why I would give my stuff and things in preparation for an end-of-days reckoning. After all, we’ve all been taught that regardless of where we’re going, we won’t need stuff and things. I admit some curiosity, however, about why I might sell my stuff and things. I won’t need stuff and things, but will I need money?
It was Joseph Smith who prophesized an end-of-days event for the late 1800’s and The New York Times among others who speculated that the entire planet would be bathed in deadly gas after sailing through the tail of Haley’s Comet in 1910.
I imagine a number of you remember rumors that an alien spacecraft was cloaked in the tail debris of the Hale-Bopp comet in 1997 as publicized by Art Bell on his talk show Coast to Coast AM. This “visitation” of sorts - thought to be covered up by NASA - gave rise to the Heaven’s Gate cult whose members sadly committed suicide in the same year.
So, from irritable hens to comet gas to intergalactic visitations, it seems that the media has a history of predicting disaster and provoking fear. Don’t you just wish you could go back in time and say, “People, people, people. You would do well to consider that some of your media might be driven by people committed to matters such as financial gain over matters such as factual reporting?”
Don’t you just wish you could go back in time and say that?
Don’t you think that would have been helpful for them to know?
I like to play the game, that if someone from 100 years in the future were to return in time to speak to us today, starting with, “People, people, people,” what advice would they give to help us live more sanely? To see the truth? To help us heal?
My experience has been that when we play that game sincerely, we realize we already know the answers.
But I digress.
The writings of Nostradamus have been translated and retranslated dozens of times, arguably climaxing with a famous verse reading, “The year 1999, seventh month, from the sky will come great king of terror.”
I have to wonder if the artist formerly known as Prince had tuned into the same frequency when he penned his equally profound encouragement that humanity dedicate 1999 as “the year of the party.”
The Y2K predictions spanned from global blackouts to nuclear winters. And while there were a few glitches when the giant ball dropped, the sun did rise and the survivalists gradually emerged from their bunkers.
At least a lot of them did. I mean, if they didn’t, how would we know?
And predictably, there are a lot of religious leaders today who believe we’re in the midst of an end-of-days event today citing wars, conflicts, expanding evil and increasing catastrophe, the emergence of a global economy as signs.
And, in a broad sense, I don’t disagree.
And yet as you’ve come to expect from me, I simply don’t think an end-of-days event is what so many other religious leaders think it is. I think we are in the midst of a time of staggering change marked by seismic tensions and dated paradigms crumbling just beneath the surface of our shared incarnation. It’s a time of staggering change marked by new possibilities and evolutionary leaps rising in their place, eager to flame forth into expression.
So yes, I believe we’re in the midst of an end-of-days event, but it really would be better to call it an end-of-ways event.
I believe we’re in the midst of an end-of-ways event in which the voices of men will no longer ring in the chambers of our institutions of leadership without an equal echo reverberating from the voices of women; an end-of-ways event in which the unequal privilege assigned by patriarchal history will no longer be overlooked at worst and celebrated at best.
I believe we’re in the midst of an end-of-ways event in which religion will no longer be used as a battering ram for political position, personal power and pious preeminence; an end-of-ways event in which all religions will be returned to their rightful places as unique and valid paths toward a shared awareness of such inclusivity that even the religious institutions themselves must ultimately be left behind.
I believe we’re in the midst of an end-of-ways event in which religious identification will no longer be tolerated as yet another club of exclusivity and superiority which one joins by virtue of uttering some ascribed words or parroting some secret gestures but without making some meaningful changes to one’s life whatsoever; an end-of-ways event in which a spirituality broad enough to embrace people of all faith traditions and to love people of all life walks presses itself forth as the new model.
I believe we are in the midst of an end-of-ways event in which blind selfishness cloaked in the garb of noble independence will be revealed for the festering destruction it leaves in its wake. No longer will we purchase without reckoning with our responsibility to the greater life. No longer will we waste without reckoning with our responsibility to the greater life. No longer will we choose without reckoning with our responsibility to the greater life; an end-of-ways event in which me-first gives way to we-first.
I believe we’re in the midst of an end-of-ways event in which the color of one’s skin will no longer be a standard used to define the quality of one’s character, determine the scope of one’s love, predict the breadth of one’s contributions or establish the value of one’s existence; an end-of-days event in which the color of one’s skin will no longer be a standard used to assign one more or less worthy of the rights assigned to all of life simply by being part of life.
I believe we’re in the midst of an end-of-ways event in which the countless fences erected by our grandparents will be demolished by our grandchildren.
I believe we’re in the midst of an end-of-ways event in which a rampant narcissism will no longer self-assign humanity as the wisest among nature, somehow entitled to suck all that nature has to give without regard for the delicacy and balance of her world, without regard for the value and wisdom of each of her creations, without respect for the rather obvious values and mores she demonstrates. If you want to deeply know truth, don’t just open a book and read. Open a window and watch. God is telling you the truth, even today. And it’s still a beautiful truth of life and wisdom and sufficiency.
I believe we’re in the midst of an end-of-ways event in which our rampant addition to too-much-ness will no longer be held as virtue but will be revealed as a vice. As I’ve said so many times before, in our desire to address the malady of not-enough-ness, humanity will be held accountable to the malady of too-much-ness.
I believe we’re in the midst of an end-of-ways event in which we will no longer allow our deepest fears to be sold back to us that the insatiable appetites of a few might be titillated at the high cost of brotherhood, sisterhood and human decency among the many. We won’t finally remember to cherish each other when the world out there comes together. The world out there will come together when we remember to cherish each other.
So yes, I believe we’re in the midst of an end-of-ways event.
It’s just another retelling of that story that began in the smallest fraction of a second (along the lines of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a second), in which space expanded in an unfathomable release of energy, generating temperatures of trillions of degrees at speeds exceeding that of light itself.
And from this initial moment of devastating destruction, life began to reorganize itself in ever-higher ways. Galaxies were born. Planets were formed. And residing at the very pinnacle of this long, evolutionary process is you – reading this Blog.
You’ve come a long way, baby.
And whether you ascribe to this popular theory or one of the other credible theories (and yes, there are several credible theories), let’s understand that in any case, the story inherent in the macrocosm is the story inherent in the microcosm.
This story is our story.
Let us be reminded in our own lives that operating just beyond any destruction is life, reorganizing itself in ever-higher ways; that operating just beyond the death of a loved one, beyond the loss of a relationship, beyond the devastation of a retirement account, beyond the deterioration of a body, and yes beyond the upheaval of a society, is life — reorganizing itself in ever-higher ways.
Let us be reminded that while destruction and construction are enemies from an earthly perspective, they are lovers from a spiritual perspective.
Let us find hope in this. For whatever is ending in life is truly a new beginning.
Yes, I believe we are in the midst of an end-of-ways event. And yet, I don’t think an end-of-ways event is what so many other religious leaders think it is.
I predict that this epoch of unrest, if you will, will end — not with a bang — but with a sunrise. So, let us position ourselves for this second coming (not the return of a personality but the collective awakening to higher ways of being) by rekindling hope in our minds, by renewing love in our hearts and restoring availability in our spirits.
That’s what we can do.