What does apocalypse truly mean – global destruction, inner revelation – or both? Do you think that people are hard-wired to believe in some sort of apocalypse? Some sort of end to this age?
Morgan Freeman will be tackling these questions and more in Sunday’s new episode of The Story of God with Morgan Freeman – but with so much to cover, we wanted to get the discussion started sooner and asked several faith-based bloggers to weigh in on the end of days. Read on to hear their thoughts, and be sure to click over to their blogs to explore further.
Chris Williams of Chrisicisms discusses his evangelical experiences with the apocalypse. In a post called “Leaving Rapture Culture Behind,” Williams points out, “In a culture that peddles fear and tension, end times theology has taken on a grim tone…what gets lost in the Rapture hysteria is that the promise of Christ’s return is not one of destruction, but of renewal.” He goes on to share his perspective on the end times, saying, “For the Christian, the apocalypse isn’t the war to end all wars. It’s the wedding to end all weddings, and the start of the true story we’ve been preparing for all of our lives. It’s not an end; it’s the beginning of forever.”
Lori Erickson of Holy Rover believes that this “universal human fascination with the end-of-days springs from the recognition that everything we have is at risk. It’s all temporary and vulnerable, a fact that becomes blindingly obvious when we are sleepless at 3 o’clock in the morning.” Although a Christian, Erickson finds herself drawn to the Buddhist perspective on the end of days, stating, “There are profound lessons to be found in disintegration, failure, and sadness. We can approach the turmoil with curiosity, asking what it can teach us. This process can awaken us to our true natures—for the word Buddhism comes from the Sanskrit budhi, which simply means to ‘wake up.’”
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Justin Whitaker of American Buddhist Perspectives has been “fascinated by religion and its associated mythologies, philosophies, and practices” for most of his life. Though raised Catholic, he currently studies a variety of religions, including Buddhism. He points out, “there is sort of a vision of apocalypse in Buddhism, and it was taken very seriously in some Buddhist cultures at certain times. The idea seems out of favor now though and, as the Karmapa instructs Freeman, the important thing for many Buddhists is meditation as a process of ‘personal revelation’ or enlightenment.”
Nancy Rockwell of Bite in the Apple shares her thoughts on Sunday’s episode, as well as the apocalypse, noting, “I’m still working at understanding darkness, and especially, endings. There is so much pain in loss, especially when cultures, cities, dreams, die. The Mayans are gone, though their calendar did not predict it. Time may be endless, but we are mortal, and we all live through cataclysmic times. As Jesus did. ‘What then?’ remains a question, more important to us than ‘When?’”
Kate O’Hare of Pax Culturati notes, “The Apocalypse is both inevitable and inspirational. In a strictly scientific sense, each of us will end, the planet will end, the solar system will end, and the universe will end.” In the Christian view, “Christ will return in His glory…if we keep the Faith, no matter how it all comes out or when, we’ll wind up in a world that never ends.” O’Hare goes on to advise, “Live every day you are given, and believe as if the world will end in a moment, so that you may have life for all eternity.”
Padma Kuppa of the Hindu blog Seeking Shanti, discusses the Hindu belief in rebirth: “Hindus commonly refer to Hinduism as Sanatana Dharma, or the Eternal Truth, and believe in the concept of reincarnation. Hence, the concept of global destruction with an end to the physical and cosmic world, is a foreign one. The cycle of rebirth does not indicate an end, but a continuum of life and death.”
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Farouk A. Peru of Person Al-Islam shares his views on the apocalypse, and how they evolved from childhood through adulthood. He discusses how his views shifted as his journey into Quranist Islam progressed, seeing that “The Quran has a vision for judgement day. Phrases like ‘every nation’ (kullu ummah) and ‘every soul’ (kullu nafs) are associated with this vision. It will be a time when all nations are judged according to God’s eternal law. Our very souls will bear witness to our deeds. According to this, we will either progress to the state of infinite being (symbolized by heaven) or remain stagnant (symbolized by hell).” He goes on to say, “The apocalypse is a lot deeper and a lot closer than we think. It is a momentous event of destruction and renewal.”
Kyle Roberts of Unsystematic Theology discusses the fascination with doomsday scenarios and the pros and cons of apocalyptic terror, noting, “The apocalyptic imagination is most appealing to those who are oppressed, violated, knocked-down. To those on the underside of history, a vision of an apocalyptic transformation–turning the world and its unjust systems upside down–has great appeal.” While he understands the impulse behind the apocalyptic, he cautions, “the often violent imagery contained within apocalyptic language must be reckoned with. It needs to be interpreted alongside what we can know of God’s character: A God of love, mercy, forgiveness–a God who died on the cross in Jesus. Christians should interpret the apocalypse through the cross–not through the crusaders.”
Paul Asay of Watching God takes a look at some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, sharing, “Hollywood knows our thirst for apocalyptic stories. We literally can’t get enough of them. We don’t want to be told that everything’s going to be all right. We want to know the horrible truth—even if, in the case of movies, someone has to make it up.” Although, he goes on to point out what may be so appealing in such a depressing topic stating, “even in the apocalypse, there’s often the hope, and sometimes the promise, of a happy ending. And perhaps that’s part of the fascination, too. Even when things are at their absolute darkness, there’s a light coming. Each night brings a new dawn.”
Thanks to each of the bloggers for joining in the discussion! We’ll be back each Friday to share thoughts from these bloggers as they tackle a variety of topics explored on The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.
The Story of God with Morgan Freeman “Apocalypse” airs Sunday at 9/8c. Check it out and start your own conversation with the help of our Apocalypse Discussion Guide.