What I am about to say is just a thinking exercise.
In the book The Body of God, author Sallie McFague opens by recalling a childhood memory of dying, imagining that she would not be here any longer. The thought no doubt frightened her. As an adult recalling this experience she realized that it wasn’t the thought of death that scared her, it was the thought of extinction, of no longer being in existence, a thought of annihilation. Upon reading her childhood memory I immediately connected with the author because I too often reflected upon that very thought. I had to. It was part of our religious teachings. Armageddon!
Growing up we were constantly reminded that we are in the last days and that Armageddon is no longer around the corner, it was at the corner. Armageddon this and Armageddon that. You have to live your life a certain way because Armageddon is coming and if you want to survive and live forever in a utopian paradise, then you must be a member of this particular religion and follow God’s ways as outlined in the Bible. Armageddon this, Armageddon that – bugga-wugga –wugga Armageddon is a comin’! Now, as a child I used to cry alone at night thinking that I will not survive Armageddon and I too am going to die with everyone else. It’s not that I thought I was a bad person but all this talk about the end of the world really scared me.
You never know the effects of what you learned as a child will have on you when you grow into adulthood. This is why it is important that as an adult one must revisit what was taught as a child because these things stay with you and operates in your subconscious (or unconscious) and unknowingly affects your decision-making until you challenge it and mature those ideals – or get rid of it. So in reading The Body of God I’ve spent the last couple of months reflecting on my childhood thoughts about Armageddon and realized just how much these thoughts had unknowingly affected my actions as an adult. The feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. Why should I do this and why should I do that – it’s no use because (bugga-wugga-wugga) Armageddon is coming and since I’m no longer a member of this particular religion, well I guess, I’m going to die with everyone else, so what’s the use of doing anything. I know, it’s pretty silly…
Yet looking at Armageddon from a metaphysical perspective, Armageddon can serve as blueprint for surviving a personal crisis where the self sabotaging, self-destructive energies exist that needs to be purged from our minds, hearts and body. It’s a blueprint of the negative energies that do a battle with the goodness, harmony and the light within you and hopefully, if you survive it, love will prevail. So one may go through this battle, and assuming that love prevailed and you’ve become a better, wiser person for it, however externally we are still left with the threat of extinction that some call Armageddon.
Just like Noah, don’t you have the feeling that something major and global is brewing right under our nose? Something that we humans have no control over – it will just happen. The story of Noah is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Why? Because it’s the only global catastrophic event that mankind had ever faced and serves as a reminder that the next global catastrophic event that we will face will be, you go it – bugga-wugga-wugga – Armageddon! I don’t know about you but seeing the movie Noah shot electrical currents up my spine, and brought me right back to what I was taught as a child. Reading the story of Noah was very different from seeing it dramatized in the movie theater. Wow! I finally get it!
What is Armageddon? When will it happen? How will it come about? With laser beams from alien ships from the sky, will we see angels descending the earth with bows shooting cosmic arrows or will it be earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis and volcano eruptions occurring simultaneously mixing with nuclear waste and other man-made toxic chemicals resulting in this catastrophic global disaster? What does it mean for us humans here on earth? More importantly, is Armageddon a God send event or will it occur as a result of our own undoing? No doubt it will occur because of our own doing because God is a loving God and he wouldn’t obliterate mankind if we did nothing to deserve such actions.
However, I am now able to re-imagine how this might all play out. I’m sure you too feel that some global catastrophic event is about to happen whether it’s a World War involving nuclear weapons or a natural disaster. This ecological crisis that McFague talks about is something that is very real. In re-imaging the universe and the earth as God’s body, Armageddon and how it will come to pass now seems to make perfect sense to me. Mathew 24:4-12 Jesus talks about the signs of the end times. Famines, earthquakes, nations rising against nations, betrayal and hate for one another and so on. Well this can be recognized in just about every generation that came after Jesus uttering those words, the only difference is the severity is worsening with each passing generation. Especially since the Industrial Revolution, weapons are deadlier, people are more greedy and we’ve become more disrespectful and ignorant towards one another and to the earth.
We are at a critical point in human history and many believe that our generation will determine the future events that will affect the quality of life for our children and the planet. Yes, no doubt we’ve reached a critical level however, some believe that if we act wisely we can by-pass this global catastrophic event that some call Armageddon. This idea may not sit well with some religious people because Armageddon is a cornerstone teaching and if we have the power to bypass Armageddon, well where does that leave things in their religious beliefs. I sincerely mean no disrespect, like McFague, I am merely trying introduce another perspective, another way of thinking and approach to our present problem and in doing so I’d like to point out another biblical story and that is the story of Jonah.
On God’s command Jonah very reluctantly goes to Ninevah with the message of destruction from God because of their wicked ways. To Jonah’s surprise the people actually listened to him, they repented and fixed their ways and God in seeing sincerity in their repentance did not destroy Ninevah. Jonah was very angry about this and sat brooding under a tree and I forget the rest of the story but the point is God can change his mind. That is if we course correct. And if he does, then those who’ve taken up the occupation of preaching the end of the world will they be like Jonah brooding under their own trees? Again I don’t mean any disrespect, remember we’re just trying on a thinking exercise.
Yes, we are at a critical point in human history and the spiritual community is pregnant, once again, in bringing about enlightenment and transformation. I say once again because the spiritual community was behind every social movement that brought about change. Abolishment of slavery, women’s suffrage and civil rights movement, all thanks the spiritual community, particularly the Quakers. The spiritual community’s mission today is the emancipation of the earth – our environment.
Mathew 24-36 says that .”..this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” Could it be our generation because we are currently seeing all the things taking place that Jesus spoke about and we are reaching a critical point. And let’s continue to verse 35-39, where no one knows the hour this will take place neither the Son of God nor the angels. This could be because the ecological crisis that we are currently facing is a result of decades upon decades upon decades of degradation. Especially since the Industrial Revolution, we have depleted the earth’s natural resources without allowing enough time for the earth to regenerate, replenish and heal itself. Like a rubber band it can only stretch so far until it snaps. When a system is weak all it takes is on loose screw and the whole system will crumble and break down, that’s why no one knows when this will happen. But if we view the universe and the earth as God’s body, then of course only He will know when it’s time to break down.
In verse 37 Jesus reminds of what happened with who? Noah. And we’re acting just like those people in Noah’s days, “eating and drinking and marrying”, until one day it’s too late. Yes, we are living in a time where we need to pause and give serious reflection on the way we conduct our lives and figure out how we can course correct. We have enough information at our finger tips to do so, the time for data collection is over and it’s time for action. For me, I believe that salvation doesn’t necessarily lie with being a member of a particular religion, it lies within our hearts, thoughts and actions. Again, that is my personal belief.
I realized this when I myself was in dire straights and my father told me to pray. At the time I had a problem with prayer and as difficult as it was for me, I took his advice and within 24hrs I was sitting at a table having lunch with an Anglican Bishop! Whoa! When my girlfriend, who shares the same religious philosophy heard what I was doing, boy did she ever rake me over the coals. “What are you doing?!! They are a false religion!!” I understood where she was coming from yet thanks to the compassion and kindly words of advice from the Anglican Bishop, well if it weren’t for him, I’d probably would have shared the same fate as Robbin Williams. Yes, I was that depressed.
That day I realized religion, for me, is not the way to go and that it is time to seek a personal direct connection with God. Thankfully, I have successfully found that connection and since that day and with each passing day it’s been getting stronger – and I pray! Re -imagining the universe and the earth as God’s body, was an excellent thinking exercise in the sense that suddenly the biblical teachings that were taught to me added another dimension which gave me a clearer understanding of the urgency of this critical point that we are reaching. Religion, I mean all religions – not just the Christians, play a critical role in all of this as well as non-religious people without the dogmatic, us vs them, binary thinking.
This is not an easy task because it requires us to adjust our practices in everything that we do, from education, healthcare, immigration, our legal systems, science, technology, business, to name a few, and our energy consumption. All these facets are controlled through our governments which is why, in the words of President Eisenhower, “…politics should be every citizen’s part-time profession” because it is within governments where policies are made. This ecological crisis is nothing that we in our lifetime can fully stop but hopefully, perhaps we can begin the shift to slow the process down and perhaps leave room for the next generation to do something about it applying new technology and ecological solutions, to slow the process down even further, leaving room for the next generation to add its solutions and so on.
Who knows maybe Armageddon will come anyway as prophesied in Revelations and the Christians were right. I don’t know. This is just another way of looking at our present human condition and if we at least try to do something better, it will make living in the present bearable more enjoyable.
Ok – thinking exercise is over.