I was a very anxious teenager. Steeped in a deep depression, the entire world seemed pretty bleak and scary to me. Because of that, I was especially susceptible to the mania surrounding the year 1999 — from Y2K speculations about computer-controlled missiles firing to religious fervor predicting that the end times would arrive promptly at 12:00 a.m. (local time?), 2000. I had a friend staying with me over Christmas break that year, and I remember thinking I would never want to be away from home on what was potentially the last day of the world.
But even then, there was healthy doubt within me: I remember mulling this all over in my mind and thinking, “But didn’t Jesus say no one would know the day or the hour?” (Matthew 24:37) Because there sure were a lot of people out there who certainly seemed to think they knew!
This came to my mind again because I’m still working my way through some anonymous fundamentalist literature that was sent to me a while ago, and in that literature were implications that what’s happening in Iraq is a sign of the End Times. Yadda yadda yadda. I take all of this a lot less seriously these days after learning how many times the world has somehow managed to survive despite the most fanatical predictions.
What I am left with is a fascination with people who really believe this, though — not that the end will come, which I also believe, but that they can pinpoint when and how. And I’m curious about why it’s such a big part of their psyche. It feels like a big game of “I told you so,” with those believing themselves righteous just waiting for God to take them and leave their neighbor. Ha, that’ll show them!
Which doesn’t seem very Christian to me. Why obsess over finding the exact time when Jesus has already told us we can’t? Why obsess over who will be taken and who won’t, when we have nothing to do with those decisions, anyway? This hasn’t caused me to dismiss the idea that Jesus will come again, but can’t the knowledge of our own mortality have basically the same effect? Each of us has a finite amount of time to spend on this earth. Any one of us — or all of us — can be taken at any time, and then we’ll find the truth of what lies on the other side of life. Until then, the best we can do is live our lives as if living matters. Because we might be living this life for a long, long time; or we may have very little left.
Lacey Louwagie is a freelance writer and editor, feminist, and cradle Catholic. Her favorite topics of exploration are religion, spirituality, psychology, and sexuality. She’s a member of the CTA blog team and founder of a speculative fiction writers’ group. In addition to blogging here, she blogs about writing at LL Word.