Sunday, July 13, 2008

end of days?

recently, someone i genuinely respect asked me: “with everything that is happening in the world, according to the bible, do you think these are the last days?” an interesting question that many would find easy to answer with both dogmatism and proof texts. 

after some awkward silence (awkward for me if not for the other), i said, “if it is end of time it will be we who have done the deed and not the lord.”

even now this answer feels far short of where i wanted it to go. i used to be more sure of things, more sure of what the lord was doing. now i am less so. now i find myself sure about a few things and puzzled about so many more.

anyway, the point of the answer is that i see less the cosmic hand of the lord behind this current mess in government and in culture and the in the world, than i see the human hand of greed, hatred in the heart and a malignant use of religion.

put differently, i find myself moving more and more toward a point of view that neither blames the lord for this mess nor expects some sort of intervention by his hand.

romans chapter 1 is instructive here. using the kjv version of the text, st. paul asserts in 3 different places that, as a result of that culture's choices: “...god gave them over,” then, “...god gave them over,” then finally, “god gave them up.”

the idea here is that the lord has given us the choice, or better said the freedom to choose what kind of world we will create. and with this freedom the lord has also given us the responsibility for our choices. the liability is ours. if the world is in a mess, then it is our mess. if the world sets about to destroy itself, then it we we who have decided to do this either through omission or commission.

said another way, we might well ask just what has been the life-choices of the west, at least consistently if not exclusively? the answer is simple, really: greed, material things and personal peace.

and these choices have been going on for so long that this greed-mentality is now, deeply, the way of the world. it is the given. it is embedded in the soul. it is what it means to be a human being in the west. in fact, we cannot even imagine a different way to be.

or, said still another way, what we do in the world really matters.