Updated: Jul 14, 2019
I'm the Organizer of the Nashville Interfaith Meetup group. On Friday nights our group has been watching the National Geographic original series, The Story of God with Morgan Freeman. There are nine episodes in the series that explores topics such as: death, evil, miracles, and heaven and hell. Last night the episode was entitled "Apocalypse," and explored the many different views of religion as it relates to the end of the world.
The basic religious idea of apocalypse is that there's a cosmic divine plan unfolding and will ultimately come to a head in a cataclysmic showdown between good and evil when God's judgement will punish the wicked, reward the righteous and wipe the slate clean (insert flames, destruction, meltdown, horror, hideous beasts, lake of fire, etc).
Here are three problems I have with this narrative:
1. The illusion of inevitability leads to passivity.
The idea that the world's apocalyptic ending is certain means that people falsely think that our destiny as humankind is out of our hands. In other words, if it's all going up in flames anyway, why try? It would be futile to work toward building a world of peace, harmony and workability if we already know we are on a collision course with Armageddon.
2. The illusion of divine conflict and intervention leads to lack of ownership and responsibility.
Our world is messed up for only one reason and it has nothing to do with Satan and demons and spiritual warfare and diabolical forces from the netherworld. Our world is messed up because we have messed it up. The pain and suffering of our world we have afflicted upon ourselves. Likewise, the solution and remedy is not God swooping in to save the day. The solution and remedy is you and me... us. The salvation, healing, and transformation of our world is not going to fall down from the sky, but lifted up from our hearts.
3. The illusion of sides is thwarting the only hope we have.
The apocalyptic narratives is all about sides: God versus Satan; the righteous versus the wicked; the saved versus the damned; us versus them, etc... Religion keeps the game of separation, division and discord going, and this will be what kills us all if we don't stop, and realize that we are one human family and either we figure this shit out together or we all sink on the Titanic. Martin Luther King, Jr. got it right, "We either learn to live together as brothers (and sisters) or perish as fools." Religion has made us all fools.
The word "apocalypse" actually means to unveil what is hidden. The answer is not up in the sky and caught up in some grandiose fantastical drama. Everything we need to know to save ourselves is hidden inside our hearts. We don't need divine intervention, we need a human awakening.
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