Blondie Was My Favorite Group At One Time…

Posted: May 23, 2011 in critique, spiritual
Tags: , , , , ,

So, we’re all still here, apparently. At any rate, there were no worldwide earthquakes, no sun turning black and moon turning red like blood. Yet. Those who knew, I mean, really knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the rapture was upon us, now stand baffled and disappointed. Bitterly so, I would imagine. The Internet snarkerati have spoken, and pronounced them to be deluded fools, worthy of our scorn and derision. Some scattered voices pipe up, reminding us that the Bible says that even Jesus Himself hasn’t a clue as to when the big end o’ the world shindig is, and that Mr. Camping was, at best, foolish for thinking he could divine the secret timetable of the cosmos. Homes have been sold, life savings depleted, families split like uranium. (What’s that say about our much vaunted nuclear family setup?) and, one of my favorite new memes is a picture of a billboard with a verse of scripture and the words “well, that was awkward…”

I had my part in the mockalypse, as well: a Facebook post describing my scooter ride in a post- Armageddon wasteland and subsequent encounters with mutants and zombies at the 7-11. Ha ha. But, truth be told, I spent Friday night transfixed by an internet live feed from Tonga, the first place on earth said to experience the Rapture, rolling across all timezones at 6:00 pm. I confess that I’ve been through several of these ends of the world, from the 70s with Skylab and the “two sevens clash” the year my nephew (Damian, of all names!) was born, to the nuclear holocausts of the 80s, the partying like it was 1999 and y2k. And, even though in my mind, I know better, I still get antsy about the whole thing. I hate to admit it, but I’ll probably be freaking out a little bit on December 20, 2012 too. Something about the end of the world as we know it bypasses the logical part of my mind, and zeroes in on my lizard pre-brain. It spooks me, no matter how much I reason out that it’s not going to happen yet.

My best friend has a very zen take on the whole matter. “Can you go someplace where God isn’t?” she says. “We are all a part of God, so how’s He gonna lose a part of Himself? Is God’s big brother gonna come along and take His stuff from Him? No? Then why worry?” My wife is less metaphysical about it. “Is there somewhere in the bible that says we’re going to be able to know when the end of the world is? No? So what’s the problem?” And here’s the thing: I’m no idiot. I can see the very same thing my wife sees in the Bible, I can take my mind through the same mathematical gymnastics my friend does. I can come up with the very same conclusions. And yet, and yet. I find it hard to belittle those people who truly believed, who staked their families, their homes, their lives, on a belief. Under slightly different circumstances, I might’ve been one of those people driving the vans. Lemme tell you a little story…

Back in the day, I was a member of an organization. It was a quasi religious group with military overtones, it was concerned with social justice and community empowerment (whatever that means) and I threw myself into it, wholeheartedly. There are still some concepts that this organization championed that I strongly adhere to. I was convinced that the world, as we knew it then, was finished. That soon, a new era would be ushered in, and while there would be pain and deprivations and hardship and maybe even death, in the end it would all be worth it. I dropped out of school, because, why not? School wasn’t going well for me anyway at the time, and really, there were more important things going on. I didn’t really have a job then, either, apparently because my full-time gig was community organizing. (Maybe, I coulda become President some day.) My family and most of my friends thought I’d lost my mind, and they were probably right.

And then, one day, in the fall, we were in Detroit. I remember it like it was yesterday. Suddenly, without warning….
Nothing happened.
We were all gathered for a meeting, a council concerning one of our members who’d gone rogue. By-laws had been broken, people (self included) had been used, trust was demolished, various member’s standing in the community were tarnished. As a result, this rogue member was…promoted.
There ain’t no justice.
The world, for me at least, had ended. Just not the way I had thought it would. Demoralized, disillusioned, disgusted and dead broke, I struggled to mend relationships with my family and friends, bull-shitted my way back into school, and got a job piercing ears at the mall.

Flash-forward to the present day. A compelling voice on the radio convinces followers that the time is NOW. Stop what you’re doing. Get ready. You’ve been let in on The Secret, so you’re special. Anyone who isn’t with us, is against us. It’s a story I’m all too familiar with, unfortunately. Meanwhile, Joplin, MO was hit by its own apocalypse, when tornadoes tore through the town, bringing the end of the world for some hundred or so people. Earthquakes and volcanoes, not quite book-o-revelations in intensity but brutal nonetheless, strike Iceland and Turkey. What do we do for these people? Does it help them to indulge in speculations about how much time we’ve got left? I wonder if God hasn’t told us when he’s coming back so that we could busy ourselves with helping others who are faced with their own end of the world.

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

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