Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The World-View Behind End Times Obsession and What We are Supposed to do Instead

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.


cheryl said...

I guess the excitement over 2012 kinda fizzled out. If this world (as we know it) comes to an end this month, tomorrow or in the next hour, then so be it. You would think that for such 'nihilists' the approaching end would be something of a relief. Yet, there seems to be so much fear attached. I look forward, not to this world ending (as I believe it will be resurrected, transformed and made new), but to Jesus coming! His Kingdom is what should be hastened and you're right to point out, that it starts here and it starts now. Jesus said, in Matt 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come". How many have yet to hear-actually hear the Gospel? We ought to be busy buzzing bees. Bees, spreading the pollin of the Gospel from flower to flower; from nation to nation, not chicken little, running around screaming, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"
Besides I haven't finished my game on Facebook yet. I'm only on level 8.

Dymphna said...

Well, the 2012 thing may pick up as we get closer to the day.

As you say, running around screaming "the sky is falling" is not doing any good to anyone.

cheryl said...

It just occured to me, that we should pray for this religious group, that God grants them peace.

Dear Lord, Creator of time and space, You once said that no one knows the moment, but that we should be ready every moment of every day. Enlighten these individuals to this truth and enlighten all who are blinded by similiar dilusions. By Your grace, may they prepare for Your coming with peace, joy and reverent expectation. In Your name, we pray-Amen.

Dymphna said...

Excellent point. We need to pray that they do not lose faith in God.

newguy40 said...

Good comments, too. I am glad you posted this info.

You know, we cover this stuff quite a bit already in the Mass. :)

"Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ."

The operative words for us are "joyful hope".

The millenial and end of world crud means nothing to me. For myself, I ask for God's continued Divine Mercy for myself and all other sinners. Realizing I am in His hands now and forever.

Dymphna said...

"Joyful hope" is the key--absolutely.

Barbara said...

Glad you reported on the video. I agree with newguy40 on the joyful hope phrase. Our Pope is the Pope of Hope and constantly writes about hope in Jesus. The atheistic materialism of our society leads to despair because man can never be the answer to man's difficulties - only God is the answer. In reality, the obsession with "rapture" is a way Satan has of distracting us from living the way Jesus taught us and focusing on Him.

BTW, since I'm still here on May 22, I guess I got "left behind" lol.

Dymphna said...

I think you may have something here, Barbara.

RAnn said...

There aren't very many things I can guarantee will happen to you, but I'm very comfortable predicting that all of our physical bodies will one day die, whether at the end of the world, or at the end of our days, and practically speaking, what's the difference?

Dymphna said...

Exactly. There really is no logical reason to focus on the so-called end times because our own end times will come for all of us--guaranteed.

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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