Posts Tagged ‘eschatology’
Needless to say, many evangelicals have since derided the president’s peace proposal as well. Why? For starters, many evangelicals are Republicans who voted for McCain and probably would have a difficult time praising Obama for anything he does right. (I even know some Christians who are covertly upset at the timing of Osama bin Laden’s demise because it means that President Obama will get the credit for it.) Second, American evangelicals, by in large, adore Israel and love its people. As a result, any policy that disadvantages Israel must have its origins in a dark place with fire and lost souls.
Recently I watched two movies back-to-back that dealt with apocalyptic themes (2012, Terminator Salvation). When the closing credits of the last movie began to roll, I was struck by their common thread. As with most apocalpytic works, there was the familiar narrative of an unleashing of destructive forces that then compelled a rebirth, whether these forces were machines or natural disasters. The end of the world is only the end of a world that gives way to the emergence of a new one. In narrating such a transformation, each movie forced its viewers to face a central question. In the words of Marcus: What is it that makes us human? The crumbling of the old compels a kind of questioning as to what we cannot leave behind. The cataclysmic upheaval removes the chaff, so to speak, forcing us to recover who we truly are but may have lost along the way.
From a different perspective, these apocalyptic movies invited viewers to know themselves as human. In the Middle Ages, the Socratic dictum to know thyself formed a basis for Christian humanism. However, to know oneself was not to engage in a kind of Freudian psychoanalysis, but to rediscover one’s common human identity. One might say, it is to recover the original purpose of human existence by destroying (renewing?) that which prevents its realization. It’s funny how healing the world seems so much like killing it, and yet this is part of the beauty of apocalypse. Creation and consummation, beginning and end flow together. God wants us to live authentic human lives that flourish. Judgment is not mere punishment, but the pain of transformation. The cutting away of sanctification forces us to cry out with Isaiah, “woe is me” (Is. 6:5). This is the woe of the day of the Lord, the end, the judgment. At the conclusion of such judgment, the prophet John announces his vision of a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1). I wonder, is this what apocalypse is all about? Recovering the authentically human, that divine image that is fearfully and wonderfully made? Or, maybe I should just quote T.S. Eliot’s “East Coker” on this point:
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.