Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The End of the World

First I want to assure a good friend I've been planning this post for some time now. It has little to do with a recent discussion and I want to profess my respect for her as well. This is not an attack, a declaration, or me stating fact. These are just thoughts I've had in the past months.

It seems everyone is worried about the economy. And with businesses like AIG, why not, right?

(don't even get me started)

Something I've noticed, though, are the reborn cries to get our food storage ready. Others in Christendom remind us all the second coming is near.

And this is what I have to say:

I'm certain the same cries occurred back in 1929, and again with the Cuban Missile Crisis...and Vietnam. World War I, World War II. The Cold War. The Crusades. The almost incessant fighting between Christians and Muslims which led to the Crusades. The American Revolution. The Civil War. Hell, people: Joseph Smith once suspected he would live to see Christ.

Surely the Pilgrims thought their world was spiraling to the end days while they tried so many immoral dissenters. Surely they believed anyone who engaged themselves in the gospel of the Enlightenment/Renaissance were turning away from God, and isn't that a sign?

We seem to think the end of the world comes with WWIII. And we're always looking for it, too. We're waiting with baited breath for the war to end all wars so we, the righteous, can be taken while the wicked receive their just reward.

I seem to remember hearing of those who believed any war after WWI would be the end all.

Every generation has a crisis which leads its people to point out the end is near. Everyone points to the signs discussed in the Bible, 2 Timothy 3 and Matthew 24, specifically. Some OT prophets. And Revelation, of course.

And let's face it: many believe President Monson and those before him to be false prophets in sheeps' clothing. And why not? To them it's perfectly reasonable. Look at the millions they believe the prophets of the Church have led away from the one and true Christ. Look at the scriptures. I'm hardly saying they're right, but we have to acknowledge the rationale in their thinking.

To the signs so many point to there is historical precedence. Instead of pointing at famines (the Europeans/Spaniards introduced epidemics so horrific to the Native Americans their populations were literally decimated, not to mention the Bubonic Plague, etc), rampant homosexuality (again, don't get me started), unbelievers and those who call evil good and good evil, I suggest we take a look at ourselves.

The Catholics think their truth is the only truth.
The Muslims believe their truth is the only truth.
The Buddhists...don't care.
The Pilgrims thought they were the only truth.
The list can go on.

And of course we will stand here and say "Yes, but we really, really, really do have the truth!"

So did they.

It's really easy to stand on one side of a line, point and tell other people they're wrong because we're right. It's easy to accuse others of havng immoral morals and values and virtues because to suggest otherwise would be to admit, even in part, that we are or could be wrong.

We just don't know. We have some guidelines, but nothing so specific that we can say "Look, that's never happened before" because it has.

These signs, however, are harder to ignore: The rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem (let's face it though, could this be self-fulfilling? Perhaps. Perhaps not), Jerusalem will come under the control of Israel, a new leader named David (a descendant of the ancient King David) will become a great leader in Israel, etc. But these have yet to come to pass.

Don't tell me the end is near because there is much wickedness and wars. These sorts of events are hardly new.

And really, is today's society that much worse than that of the Middle Ages, the times of slavery (horrendous what I have learned - and that racism stemmed from Christian people. Perhaps another post), etc? Some will suggest evil has found it necessary to be subtle these days, and surely I can see that argument as well.

But again.

I'm not saying evil doesn't exist or that it is somehow lessened now from before. It has only changed. It hasn't gotten worse, hasn't gotten better. Where once we called something evil good (slavery, for example) we no longer do so. Our forebears burned women at the stake for suspicion of being witches and called that "good" - better safe than sorry, right? Best to send a message to keep in line. Much like those who beheaded their enemies and placed said head on a stake as a message.

But even now we ignore the subtle evils that occur in otherwise good institutions. The stifling of freedom of speech. The turning away those who don't conform. The spiritual murders some of us and our churches perform in the name of Christ is just as bad as those physical atrocities performed in the name of Christ. So many have killed themselves. So many have found justification in killing others. We're told that a good true can't bear evil fruit and vice-versa, but I could never help but think: we're human. We're going to have a bit of both in our systems, right? Else what is the purpose?

It's a matter of relativity, really. I can't be convinced that the end of the world is around the corner when I think of all the times long past where others felt the same. We just don't know. We continue looking for specific dates when none will be given. We're not supposed to know. In the meantime, I believe we ought to follow Christ's core teachings despite whichever religion we profess: Love our neighbor as ourselves and love God. The rest will figure itself out.

It's all about what one believes. And that makes all truth relative until we ourselves come face to face with it.

But that's just what I think.


Amanda said...

"The Buddhists...don't care."

Okay so that's my favorite comment of the day. :D

Actually, I had a discussion with my husband the other day about various religions and their fundamentalist terrorists. (not saying all fundies are terrorists, just talking about the terrorist ones.) Jase and I were discussing it because I recently read a book review from this guy who basically said "not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim." Direct quote. That ticks me off when people think like that. so I started making a list of all the terrorists in various religions, and I had to ask Jason - are there any Buddist terrorists? This is one religion where I've not heard anything about crazies who want to kill everyone that's not like them. He said the closest he could think of was the people in charge of Myanmar who claim their human rights abuses are founded in Buddism. So unfortunately, the bad guys ARE everywhere.

Sorry for the random sidenote, my mind connects things oddly sometimes...

Shadows said...

I'm tired of mortals always waiting. Waiting to eat. Waiting to sleep. Waiting for the truth, when they are capable of thinking for themselves. Most of all, I'm really exhausted of the waiting to be saved, or considering oneself already saved. How pretentious and boring.

If this is all there is, why waste it waiting?

I don't want the world to end, and neither should anyone else. We should try changing instead of waiting.

Lindsay said...

hey Lisa I knew you way back when. You may or may not remember me! Anyways interesting blog your a great writer just wish you could say something positive about mormons.....are we really that bad?!!

Steve M. said...

You've touched on one of my major Mormon pet peeves.

Nearly every single Sunday, we hear the same mantra about how "the world" is getting more and more "wicked." This claim is never questioned; in fact, most of the time it's simply a stated assumption on the way to some other point (i.e., "As the world gets more wicked, we need to . . .").

But I'm not convinced that the world is any more wicked today than it was 50, 100, or 1000 years ago.

If history teaches us anything, it's that people have always done atrocious things to one another. Let's face it, there has always been "wickedness." And I don't think there is a quantitative difference between 21st century wickedness and 1st century wickedness.

Sure, we may be more aware of what's going on around us. With global communication technology and the omnipresence of mass media, we're constantly alerted to the evils of this world. But that doesn't mean that it wasn't there before. We just didn't always know about it.

The "world is getting more wicked" mantra also tends to gloss over the major advances we have made in modern times. Increased attention to human rights, the spread of democracy democracy, modern medicine--all these things are pretty good, if you ask me.

I mean, yeah, the world is still pretty shitty. And there certainly are new dangers and new evils. But I don't think that people are any more evil, on average, today than they were in the past. And in some respects, we've actually managed to stamp out some evils (like slavery).

Oh, and the other thing that bothers me about the "the world is getting more wicked" line is that, more often than not, the speaker is referring not to genocide in Africa, but to the gay dudes down the street who want to get married.

Lisa said...

Amanda: Glad to give you a laugh. And random sidenotes are my speciality :)

Lindsay: Yes I do remember you, hey :) Know I mean nothing of this personally. "You" aren't bad, but the institution/culture can be. This blog is my outlet. My way of speaking out, which I find so incredibly important for anyone. I really have little opportunity to talk about these issues outside the internet (more frightening than most can begin to imagine).

Thank you, though for the "good writer" compliment. It's good to hear from you. Hope you and yours are doing well.

Steve: ahahahahahaha! Your last paragraph KILLED me. So well put!

My admittedly beginning study of history has taught me that we aren't much better or worse than we were hundreds of years ago. Just different. Fascinating, really.

Amanda said...

Going along with what Steve said, I personally can't say we're any more wicked today as when, say, the holocaust occurred, or when the US decided to drop a couple atomic bombs on Japan...

Katie said...

The entire universe is going to be destroyed in a single generation!!!