Mary Miller’s The Last Days of California exactly captures an important aspect of the sort of rapture-ready Christianity I was raised and educated in: the unwillingness to face mortality that’s probably at the root of many people’s eager embrace of an imminent apocalyptic eschatology.
In theaters now, Nicholas Cage is taking us to the beginning of the end of time. A time when passengers vanish mid-flight, cars lose their drivers, and those who aren’t raptured face a violent world and a monumental choice: follow the Antichrist toward destruction or follow the righteous and be saved from the world. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and no one’s feeling fine.
Years ago, when the Left Behind series topped the bestseller lists, a friend and colleague of mine was on fire over the books.
Several years ago, I was interviewed by Linda Wertheimer of
National Public Radio about the then extraordinarily popular Left Behind
series. At one point, she asked me if I thought the Left Behind books were
funny. I paused, trying to absorb all the layers of her question, and then came
up with a brilliant answer: "No. Why? Do you?"
The day began with a worship service that was filled with a bittersweet sense of endings and beginnings. There was a procession of joy as seminary graduates were honored and celebrated. There were tables and tables of food, and young people posing for photos with their arms linked. We heard expressions of gratitude and were introduced to families that we'd heard about but never met.
Every few years a fringe Christian leader
or group predicts when Jesus Christ is coming back to earth. The latest date,
announced on billboards in some mid-sized American cities, is May 21 of this
"I heard that when the tribulation comes, China will be one of the few countries with a big enough army to take over the United States.” My parishioner looked at me earnestly, awaiting confirmation of her theological and political obs
In discussing two books on the new apocalypticism, Jason Byassee confesses that he failed as a pastor to know what his people were reading and thinking about the topic. I know what he means. I don’t read this stuff either. But a lot of people are reading it.
The hugely popular “Left Behind” series of novels continues to frustrate mainstream pastors and biblical scholars who object to an “end-times” theology they consider just as fictional as the books’ genre. The readers are real, however. The tenth and most recent volume in the series, The Remnant, picked up 2.4 million orders in the two months before its July release.
“I tell you, that on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.” Luke 17:34-35, NRSV.
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