I heard a very interesting and important talk from All Saints Orthodox Monastery in Canada. The talk was about Nihilism and the Apocalypse.
The word nihilism comes from the Latin word nihil which means "nothing". Nihilists believe that life here on earth is without meaning. Those who are religious nihilists believe that only the afterlife has any meaning at all. Taken to its logical extreme, this can lead to such things as suicide bombings and other violent acts which are meant to bring on the afterlife or the next age. According to the tape, the first suicide bombers were communists.
There is a religious group who is currently preaching that the world will end in a few days. There have been many of these groups in the past and I'm sure there will be many in the future. Unfortunately, this interest in the End Times is fueled by the idea that the world as it is now is unlivable. The video pointed out that many of our children are no longer learning about beauty in art, music or poetry in school, not to mention anything religious that might let them know that life has meaning. Our entire world-view in the West is one of nihilism fueled by atheistic consumerism.
There is a connection, apparently, between a kind of philosophical puritanism and intellectual nihilism. There is a Utopian ideal that sometimes goes along with nihilism. Seeing this world as contaminated and impure leads people to want to destroy it instead of learning to see and rejoice in its beauty. It leads people to turn their backs on others who are really the core of the meaning and beauty of life.
Rather than try to improve their own world, beginning with their own church, these groups form off-shoots, either official or unofficial. They form spiritual barricades around themselves, only letting in the chosen few who believe as they do. The rest of the world, they believe, will be destroyed.
What these groups should be doing instead, is living out the message of the Gospel, which is love. Love is not about warning people that God will be coming down to destroy everyone (except, of course, those who are doing the warning).
Love is about relationship. Love is about empathy. The speakers in the video say that evil is having no empathy at all. Satan has no empathy.
In the bible, Jesus says "The Kingdom of God is at hand." If we live the way He taught, we will be living in The Kingdom. The film points out that a better translation of the biblical "world to come" is "the age to come." We are not necessarily waiting for a perfect place where we will not have to put up with any of those annoying people. Those annoying people are here to help us become more and more like God.