by Bil Aulenbach

Silly Season: Part 4

This is the fourth part of a six-part series about the Christian apocalypse, in which a resuscitated Jesus and his angel army will end civilization and maybe even the universe, usher in the messianic age, and take 144,000 of the elect (who the elect are is debatable) someplace where they’ll live eternally. Welcome to silly season.

I am a lifelong member of the Episcopal church, which is considered part of mainstream Christianity. For the past eleven years, my wife and I have attended the Irvine United Congregational Church, also considered mainstream. In neither church is much time spent on studying the book of Revelation or eschatology (the End Times).

However, this summer, because of the importance that End Times have under the Trump administration, I decided to teach a four-session course in eschatology. I believe that we should become familiar with eschatological thinking.

The main adherents of End Times theology are the fundamentalist branches of Christianity, who use apocalyptic imagery as a scare tactic and marketing tool to convince others that they know “secrets” about the end of the world.

Because of the lemming effect, every fundamentalist is forced to subscribe to apocalyptic beliefs or risk expulsion.

This blind obedience carries over into their biblical interpretation, their voting habits, and especially their hostility to the LGBTQUI community. They love to say this bit of silliness: “We love the sinner but not the sin.” This might sound loving, but in essence, it rejects the gay community and states emphatically that practicing gays are not welcome—unless they convert to heterosexuality.

Unconditional love is unconditional. Sorry, fundies, no exceptions!

It mystifies me why any LGBTQUI person, woman, or critical thinker would ever get near these cults that openly reject them. That’s masochism!

Noncompliance in these cults is the kiss of death. I have seen “offenders” made to close their businesses, couples forced to divorce, children disinherited, parents shunned, and families destroyed.

Let’s talk about politicians who join these cults for support and votes. The most blatant offender I know is Donald Trump, the poster boy for narcissism. Once he figured out that his base was primarily fundamentalists, he became their best friend even though his “religion” is himself. He’ll give them anything and everything they want. He even moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem so his vice president can be first on the Second Coming bus.

I also believe that some folks heavily involved in eschatological thinking know that they have so many deep-seated prejudices that they can’t show agape (unconditional love) to the world, so they lose themselves in apocalyptic fantasy. It makes them appear religious.

Others know that they don’t believe this nonsense but are afraid of the consequences of dissent. So why not go along? What’s to lose?

Many fundamentalists are terrified of science because it might destroy the foundation stones of their Sunday-school theology. (Remember, the Roman Catholic church took over 350 years to formally acknowledge that Galileo was right.)

The biggest silly-season devotees are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their entire cult is built on a Second Coming fantasy. That is scary to me!

Next time, let’s look at the horrendous damage silly-season thinking does to our faith, country, and world order.

 

Image courtesy of P. Vasiliadas (CC BY-SA 3.0)

One Response to Silly Season: Part 4

  • Sadly, Bil, many of us listen to the JW banter because of our respect for another, read their handouts and engage in some conversation. I really care for one of my JW neighbours but at best can only listen and ask meaningful questions, because our foundational approach is polar opposite. For her, the bible is “God’s Rule Book,” even more challenging, we are expected to read their comic book drivel, but they won’t read anything that isn’t approved by their leadership. For her, it is all about “measuring up” in order to be one of the 144,000 JWs that make it to “the land of quilt shops, golf courses and pure white clothing.” Sadder is the fact that they leave a lot of unresolved family issues in their wake. Caring and respect for others is the best way to share the gospel, even among those we may not agree with..

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