Untimely Thoughts on the End of Time

end

I have become something akin to a crazed, apocalyptic freak.  But, please, I ask you: don’t give up on me.  I do not intend to ever yell at you, or make you feel bad about yourself, or purposefully insult your beliefs.  But I wanted to share with you my own personal theory.  Because it’s a pretty big deal in my small, puttering life.  And please, I ask you to refrain from comments about me needing to get a pet animal.

A lot of my immediate friends (and coworkers) know about my preoccupation with catastrophic global collapse.  That a short duration but horrifyingly intense orgy of destruction and woe will befall humanity on a planetary scale, that the global economy will topple down, people’s savings and stocks irrevocably lost, nuclear armaments let loose, the failure of staple crops, torment endured by earth’s population: rich, poor, educated and uneducated alike, with myself, of course, in the absolute center of it, is a sort of cherished day-dream-fantasy of mine.  You will perhaps notice this in some of your choleric dads and uncles: an only slightly-veiled secret-longing for a Great Reckoning.

Recently, I found a book by a french theorist (joy!) that makes the argument that the global, escalating arms race is, indeed, the Christian eschaton already underway.  This of course seems to imply the more leftist Great Reckoning: we will blow ourselves up with nukes, shoot one another to death with guns, and burn the planet up with warming.

Girard’s book, “Battling to the End,” tied together my own longed-for atavistic-hope for a global meltdown (which is honestly just a reflection of my interior state), various indicators that the world is really is coming unglued, and then the idea of Christian End Times (please, gentle agnostic or atheist, or non-Christian-Religious, bear with me).

So, I’ve been reading and trying to know what are the major threats that confront humanity, the persons I know and love, the friends I rely on for having a sense of meaning, little as it is.  This is clearly the passion of a diseased mind.  I make no denials that my mental health is at issue.  But, if you look into certain dark and horrifying corners, and you bring to them the penetrating light of human reason, you’re going to inevitably find some dark and horrifying shit.  This is what I’ve been doing with history and the collapse of states, complex societies, civilizations.

But, I’m Catholic (I mean, I’m trying), and being Catholic means that you go with Church Teaching, and you go with Church Teaching even though it may make you uncomfortable and sad and sometimes hate yourself.  But, and here’s the big thing, the most biggest thing: you are called to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.  You are told to cast the first stone only if you’re sinless.  You are told that everyone other than Jesus (and if you’re Catholic, the Blessed Virgin Marry) is with sin.  You are told to know about the beam in your eye before you criticize the mote in somebody else’s eye.  So, bottom line, you have to love people and not judge them.  Bottom line.  I hope I haven’t lost my Catholic or my Non-Catholic Christian or my Non-Christian-Religious or my Agnostic or my Atheist friends.  I hope you’re all still with me.

So, anyway, I wanted to know what Church Teaching said about the apocalypse, because having low-resolution beliefs is essentially ignorance.  I don’t mean to criticize ignorance, though: we are all finite: I am invariably and always already ignorant of more than I am cognizant of.  This is part of the human condition.

But anyway, I’ve been sharpening my understanding of Church Teaching on The End.  And I mean Catholic Church Teaching rather than a generally popular understanding of mainstream American Christian understanding of the end times, which was really cranked-up and instilled into my generation by the “Left Behind” books and their broad cultural impact.

You know, just so there’s no muddling, I’m going to resort to lists for this part.  Because if you’ve bared with me this far, you’re probably interested enough to put up with lists:

Secular Doomsday Events:

•Global Economic Collapse
•Global Increasing Inequality of
Standards of Living (already
happening)
•Militarized and Autocratic Authority l
by Global Elites (paranoids think its
already happening)
•Planetary Nuclear Warfare and
Consequent Nuclear Fallout
•Group-Wars in Civil Societies (already
happening)
•Planetary Ecological Collapse
•Planetary Starvation (happening in
certain areas)
•Perpetual Human Debt Slavery

Generally Mainstream Christian Doomsday Terminology:

•The Rapture
•The Tribulation
•Millennium
•Second Coming (sometimes
equivalent to Rapture)
•Glorious Kingdom of Christ (this one’s actually Catholic; it’s my favorite)

Catholic Church Teaching, according to the pre-Vatican II Catholic Encyclopedia, which is pretty hardcore Catholic without lapsing into embarrassingly condemnatory language, says that there are at least three things that will happen: 1) The Resurrection of the Body and the Parousia; 2) The General Judgement; 3) The Consummation of All Things {I love this phrase}.

So, as a Catholic, me thinking that we are in the End Times is technically correct.  Jesus himself asserts in scripture that the end will come like a thief in the night.  The Encyclopedia emphasizes that Christ refuses to specify a time.  It is generally known that the early Church felt like the The Parousia was just on the verge of happening at any second.

But, hopefully, my Christian and my Non-Christian friends are still with me.  Because this is when the party starts.

Because I believe that there is in all of us a psychological urge for apocalypse.  We don’t necessarily want to die, but we all want the current world-order to end, for one reason or another.  Everybody has at least one reason to wish for a catastrophic overturning.  This doesn’t necessarily have to be horrifyingly sublime, like all mine.  It could be humanistically magnificent: like a revolution, a glorious rebellion of the wretched against their oppressors.  Like what Marx apparently longed for.  I wonder what the North Korean longed-for Event is.

Maybe we’re all just waiting for Friday.  Or whatever “Friday” means to us personally; myself and a lot of my friends have to work Saturdays and/or Sundays.

Man, all I know is that most of the time, I feel like the bottom’s about to fall out.  Possibly because so many times before, it has.  And those times haunt me.  I don’t dwell on the past, but I don’t have a great deal of confidence in my own capacity to make my life any better (that has all tended to fail, too).  I know one specific friend who would say, “then you’ve already defeated yourself.”  My only conceivable response is: “Isn’t marvelous?  I’m destined to die like everyone else.”


Informal Bibliography

Girard’s Battling to the End of Times

The Catholic Encyclopedia’s articles about the apocalypse: “Apocalypse“, “Millennium and Milleniarianism“, “Eschatology.”

This Wikipedia article which has a marvelous diagram on various Christian Eschatological perspectives: “Christian eschatological views.”

Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies
.  I don’t think there’s a school based on Tainter’s thinking, but if there was, I would like to be one of it’s adherents.  (Please, don’t let my personal and humanistic writing blemish Tainter’s credibility as a scientific scholar: he’s legit, not a crackpot.)

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