This morning an article with the above subject line appeared in the Dallas Morning News Editorial Section. Beneath the subject line in smaller fonts was the clarifying line: “Conservative evangelicals’ faith is why they don’t worry”. The article is taken from a book entitled “Existential Threats: American Apocalyptic Beliefs in the Technological Era”, by Lisa Vox, (Vox in Latin means Voice) a historian and teacher at the University of Massachusetts.
Vox Book Review
A review of the book appeared in the University of Pennsylvania Press, stating:
Americans have long been enthralled by visions of the apocalypse. Will the world end through nuclear war, environmental degradation, and declining biodiversity? Or, perhaps, through the second coming of Christ, rapture of the faithful, and arrival of the Antichrist—a set of beliefs known as dispensationalist premillennialism? These seemingly competing apocalyptic fantasies are not as dissimilar as we might think. In fact, Lisa Vox argues, although these secular and religious visions of the end of the world developed independently, they have converged to create the landscape of our current apocalyptic imagination.
An full excerpt of the book is available on the UPenn site.What she has written struck a deep cord within me and helped to confirm some of my thoughts and impressions about why so many people are climate deniers, among them friends and relatives and people I think who ‘should know better’. They deny, without any knowledge or training in meteorology/climatology, what is a nearly unanimous consensus among those who have.
The Exxon connection
It has been known since the 1970s that the climate is changing in unusual ways. Strange as it seems Exon/Mobile was one of the first corporations during that period to begin to compile weather data. That activity ceased, of course, when Rex Tillerson took over the reins of the company in the mid-90s and the research was put under lock and key and stashed in the deepest recesses of the corporate basement.
They deny, without any knowledge or training in meteorology/climatology, what is a nearly unanimous consensus among those who have. It has been known since the 1970s that the climate is changing in unusual ways.
Strange as it seems Exxon/Mobil was one of the first corporations during that period to begin to compile weather data. That activity ceased, of course, when Rex Tillerson took over the reins of the company in the mid-90s and the research was put under lock and key and stashed in the deepest recesses of the corporate basement. But, the secret got out and now some of its big-time shareholders are suing Exon for failure to fully disclose what it knows about the impact of climate change on their investments.
Over the years since the 1970s, there have been many, many climate studies, which all point to the same conclusion, the climate is changing and the ‘human footprint’ is the primary causative agent. What is also clear as day is that stating the ‘facts’, or attempting to engage in a rational argument does not penetrate the minds of a lot of folks. Words about this ‘run off them like water over a duck’s back’. So, what gives?
The ‘economic thing’ is obviously huge. We will certainly have to change our lifestyles a bit if we are going to lighten the footprint on the planet’s ecology. The ‘climate deniers’ wail that the whole thing is a conspiracy to destroy capitalism, and point to Al Gore and his documentary An Inconvenient Truth as evidence for this assertion. The Republican political mouth-pieces repeat ad nauseam that ‘jobs are at stake’ if America continues on the course set by the Obama administration.
Candidate Trump said that “climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to destroy our economy.” He has not changed that assertion even though he has been asked to clarify his position on climate change several times by journalists. Likewise, his sycophants have also refused to deny this assertion or clarify Trump’s Chinese conspiracy theory.
I will ‘cut to the chase’ here and get the real point I want to make. I could go on and on ad nauseam on how outrageous and stupid I think the ‘climate deniers’ are.
The first time I heard anyone say that “God was on it, don’t worry” (paraphrasing) was from one James Watt the erstwhile Secretary of the Interior in the Reagan Administration. I don’t recall the precise circumstances that prompted Mr. Watt to utter his assessment of things divine but this is a quote in a reply he made to a concerned environmentalist during a trip to California.
It was about this time that I discovered the book by Hal Lindsey that made him a millionaire, entitled, The Late Great Planet Earth. Some of my relatives are great devotees of the “Left Behind” series which has probably done more to advance the dispensationalist premillennialism/Rapture doctrines than anything else.
I invite you if you want to get a feel for what is happening at this moment in the ‘Rapture Weather’ click here for their index.
This site was created in 1987 and there you can read ‘all about it’. BTW the current ‘Rapture Index’ is 182. This is an extremely high. Get this, the Index on September 24, 2001, was also 182! interestingly the lowest low was recorded on December 12, 1993. This during one of the most hated, decadent US President’s of all time ( by the Republicans/Evangelicals) our Mr. William Jefferson Clinton. Go figure folks. Despite numerous references to ‘steward/stewardship’ in Genesis, the Gospels and the Epistles, the notion that we are called by God to care for and respect His creation is selectively ignored by many Republicans/Evangelicals.
This lack of care by a majority of this group for the environment is verified by Vox, she writes: ” Among conservative evangelicals…88 percent, according to the Pew Research Center on Religion & Public Life – believe in miracles, suggesting a faith in a proactive God. And only 28 percent of evangelicals believe human activity is causing climate change.”
From Genesis to Revelations
Another date for The End Times is currently circulating. It is based on a selective reading of Revelations, Chapter 12. By the creative manipulations of the deep symbolism of that chapter that are correlated with contemporaneous astrological configurations, September 23, 2017, “they say” will be ‘the day’. We’ll keep our eye out for that and our options open.
The Book of Revelations is the ‘basic text’ for the end time prophets, along with passages from the Book of Daniel. I wonder how closely these would-be prophets have read Revelations. If they did read it closely they would notice that in the Prologue, Chapter 1, it reads: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show his servants what must happen soon…Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near”.
John states unambiguously that he is writing his prophetic message for an event “what must happen soon!” If this is a truthful statement then John’s prophecy can not apply to people more than 2000 years later, can it? If the counter-argument is that “well the prophecy, for some reason is known only to the Almighty, has not yet come into manifestation yet”, is proffered, then the counter question arises about what else is incorrect in the book besides John erroneous statement of the timing. And so on…… You can not have both ways.
What are we to make of the Book of Revelation? Of what use is it? From an ‘exoteric’ perspective the obscure symbolism is well nigh indecipherable, hence it lends itself readily to easy manipulation at the hands of narrow-minded end time prophets. BTW many end time dates have been given since 1590 ( the earliest date we can find for this theology) when Francisco Ribera, a Catholic priest, taught ‘futurism’, the idea that most of Revelation was about the future. He also taught that the rapture would happen 45 days before the end of a 3.5 year tribulation. So far, none of the end time prophets have got it right.
Back to the question of what to make of Revelations? Well according to esoteric teaching the Book is essentially a manual of self-transformation. I will give you three references that I am familiar with if you are interested in looking more deeply into this; one is Theosophical Astrology, 1931, a lesson set written by Marc Edmund Jones and can be purchased from the Sabian Assembly. Another is by James Pryse, The Apocalypse Unsealed, 1910,1997, Kessinger Publications, and another, and an excellent read, The Revelation of Saint John, The Path to Soul Initiation, 2006, by Zachary Lansdowne. And there are several other books on this subject which you may find enlightening, but I can’t recommend them personally.
The theological perspective of all the cited authors, and indeed, of any contemplative, mystic, esoteric student, or enlightened Christian ‘worth his salt’, is one diametrically opposite from that of the devotees of one of the many varieties of dispensationalist premillennialism/end time prophecy/rapture, or what have you.
Who knows the Mind of God? I think anyone who claims such knowledge is probably deceiving himself or you. But, maybe it is ‘the plan’ that God had at the beginning to put humanity ‘through the wringer’, then select 144,000 that make it through in one piece, then whisk them away in His aerial vehicle, meanwhile the rest of us will be squirming down here below in tribulation. I don’t buy into that one.
Or, or, just maybe, there is a different kind of plan, made by a different kind of God who is thrilled by his creation, most of the time, and revels in the achievement of his human flock, always loves us, warts and all, and will stay with us till the end of time, and never give up on us – we have to give up on ourselves first. From this point of view, we are responsible individuals. What we do and how we behave is important. If we mess it up, we have to clean it up and suffer the consequences of our actions. This is karma.
I believe that End Time Theology, dispensationalist millennialism, or whatever you want to call it is a “mind parasite” because it is very seductive; it has a powerful fascination that draws ones attention away from the central thing which is, I think, ‘personal transformation’. It distracts us from the hard job of “working on oneself”. This what the Book of Revelation is actually about. A manual for “working on oneself”. Our ego/false self/ordinary mind, whatever you want to call it, resists our efforts to transform ourselves psychologically. Our small self wants us to stay in the rut where we are, hooked by our negative habits, mind manacles. It resists our efforts to grow and free ourselves from our addictions to “externals”, the world of “stuff”, distractions and diversions of all kinds. Our technological world is perfectly designed to keep us distracted from our essential task of spiritual transformation.
This to me this rapture notion is a very negative, self-indulgent attitude. So, what happens if the Apocalypse/Rapture does not happen on September 23, 2017? What if it does not happen for another 100 years? What if it never happens, in the way we expect. Doesn’t Jesus say “that no man knows the hour of return”? Meanwhile everyone on the planet will have to live in a rapidly deteriorating environment, if our collective carbon footprint continues to get heavier. The end time scenario, in that case, will not end with a bang, but a whimper, the last gasp for clean, cool air.