June 2, 2011
By Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist
On May 21, 2011, the world was supposed to have ended, according to an evangelical minister. Bless his heart. You probably read something about it since the predicted Armageddon made international headlines for days as did the big letdown when it didn’t occur. One enterprising atheist sold pet care services to the faithful waiting to be swooshed up in the rapture to God only knows where.
Jesus did not show up for a second time at the appointed day and time. He’s supposed to return when the world comes to an end. Although no one was swooshed up to some far, far away galaxy, I did get an out-of-this-world weird buzz after lighting incense from India. The dishes, laundry, and other mundane tasks still had to get done the next day. By the way I refuse to make the bed.
The minister reaffirms the craziness of religion in the minds of many spiritually hungry skeptics. It’s another reason for doubters to stay clear of any flavor of religion. I empathize. Don’t make this minister, however, your spiritual or religious reality.
Should you stop enjoying Elton John’s music because radio talk show entertainer Rush Limbaugh is a big fan? If the person leading the opposition for marriage equality is a Yankees or Red Sox fan would you change teams? What if you and your spouse shared a favorite restaurant with the Catholic Cardinal of Boston? Should you find another?
Some people use books to prop up tables while others read them. Nursing a few glasses of a fine wine enhances a meal. Others will down bottles and then become verbally or physically abusive. You don’t stop using, enjoying, or finding solace in something because a person with whom you dislike or disagree is using, abusing, or misusing it.
I feel sorry for the minister and his followers who expected the world’s end. One follower spent his life savings for posters urging people to repent. It’s funny on one level, but sad on another. Although they did not hurt anyone, these folks wanted to help themselves and others. They will be ridiculed for the rest of their lives. In some cases there are substantial economic consequences.
Why do good-intentioned people believe in outlandish things? What encourages them to act? What drove them to embrace a fire breathing God who throws thunder bolts? It’s more than just ignorance and misunderstanding the Bible. Perhaps it comes down to an absence of love for themselves and others.
On my desk I keep a quotation by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), French priest, geologist, philosopher, and paleontologist. According to Fr. Pierre, _some day after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness … the energies of love. And then, for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire._ Love is fire.
One of the primary teachings of Jesus yet to be realized in the world is to love one another as he unconditionally loves us. Christ brought the fire of love. Hence, in applying this teaching it’s not the world itself that needs to be destroyed with the second coming of Jesus, but the hate, bigotry, homophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism that exists in it. The world’s ugliness will end when we actually learn the lessons of love. If the misguided minister joined with others and loved unconditionally, he could have embraced the spiritual second coming of Jesus. That’s the end of the world I hope for.
* Paul is an author, attorney, and a seminary trained, ordained priest in greater Albany, NY. He is author of _Crucifying Jesus and Secularizing America – the Republic of Faith without Wisdom_, available on Amazon.com. He may be reached at Dilovod@aol.com.