That whole “end of the world” thing

I grew up in a somewhat religious family. Mom and dad were not religious, though. They believe in God and are Christians, but they’re not the types to get fanatical about religion. Mom goes to church every Sunday. Dad doesn’t. Mom is Protestant. Dad is Catholic. Their families are that way, too. My aunts and uncles varied in their approaches to religion as well. Some are very devout Catholics, going to Mexico City on a yearly pilgrimage and having big pictures of the Pope around the house. (Though not as many figurines of saints, interestingly enough.) Others are also very devout Protestants. And, like in every good family, there are those who clamor for the “end of the world.”

I’ve always been interested in understanding why someone would want the world to end. What kind of suffering are they under that they want all this to disappear and be replaced by “paradise.” Don’t get me wrong. If I could snap my fingers and replace it all with a paradise, I would. But, according to Christian scriptures, it’s not as easy as snapping of fingers… Not for us, anyway.

No, according to The Bible, the end times are a time of struggle and suffering. The righteous people will get through it just fine, either because they’re raptured into heaven or protected here on Earth, but the “bad people” will suffer miserably. I don’t like that. I don’t want anyone to suffer, no matter how much they’ve wronged me. I’m not that evil. So I keep wondering why you would want other people to suffer, people who may include people you love. I mean, what if mom trips up and doesn’t get invited to the paradisiacal party? I wouldn’t want her to suffer a hell on Earth, or in Hell for that matter.

But there are people — some in my family, many around me, and this US Representative of questionable credentials — who want the world to end. What gives?

Never mind that the whole letter of Revelations was a letter to the early Christians under Roman persecution. It wasn’t a detailed account of thing to come, not by a long shot. The mark of the beast? It was the name of Nero. The beast? Nero. All those horrible things happening to believers? The Roman persecution. (They were thrown to the Lions, for Christ’s sake. No, really, for Christ’s sake!) And it was written with a lot of allegorical imagery as a “code” to get the message across to the early Christians without the letter raising suspicion among the Romans.

But what do I know? I’m not a Bible scholar.

I do know that there is something odd about calling for the end of the world, even when presented with evidence that you got your prophecy wrong time and time again.

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I'm a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. All opinions posted here are my own, of course, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my school, employers, friends, family, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen

4 thoughts on “That whole “end of the world” thing

  1. The Revelation, the Apocalypse, pick your version name.
    All, as you said, a letter that was written in code to slip under the Roman’s version of the NSA to the faithful under Nero.

    Interestingly enough, the Council of Nicea did not want to include that latter in the new, official bible. Emperor Constantine ordered it included.
    Anything in our modern bible has to be taken with a grain of salt, hell, it has to be taken with an entire salt mine.
    For, in Catholic school I had learned that the bible was thrice mis-transliterated, edited for content and version and resembles nothing whatsoever the original texts.*
    As a small hint, there was no Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic word for unicorn or dragon, but both are in our modern bibles.

    But, it’s no less zany than Scientology, with the space aliens, volcanoes and thermonuclear warheads.

    *For the record, I’m a deist. I do believe in a creator, but I can’t bring myself to believe that any creator that could make an entire operational universe is so horrifically inept as to have to micromanage one seventh rate planet on a ninth rate solar system out of that entire universe.

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