Monday 11 August 2014

No Cosy Apocalypse

So once again a Supermoon passes, as they have for trillennia, and civilisation continues.

A penchant for an apocalypse has always been part of the human psyche. In my lifetime alone we've had the Bomb, a New Ice Age, herpes, AIDS, the ozone layer, Ebola, Global Warming,  assorted flu strains and Harold Camping. Many of which were or are quite serious, none of which wiped out the world. Yet. Give them time, obviously. Apart from Harold Camping.

I remember a Daily Mirror article from the late 70s - my family had an odd choice in reading materials - that announced we had 10 years till the oil ran out. Terrified, I was, at the time. At least if the oil runs out now, we'll have renewable energy sources. So we can all gather around a 7W bulb to keep warm, until we remember the new bulbs don't give off any heat. No, they give off mercury instead.

It's as if we are programmed for apocalypse - the idea that the cosy world we live in might be ripped apart at any moment. We feel we have sinned, and we must pay. Or maybe we can repent?

The modern, post-Christian idea of sin and repentance is different and kind of rubbishy, of course. We have burnt too much petrol; and so we are doomed to see Al Gore, and aging rockers, flying around the world telling us we must not use fossil fuels. My nan, at the age of 94, gave up eating beef in case it gave her CJD. We have punched a hole through the sky and so must repent and use less effective propellants for our antiperspirants!  Actually, that last was relatively sensible.

But alongside the cosy apocalypses there are constant real ones - or one, long-running one that constantly mutates. I've never believed in one, final big apocalypse - John the Divine's vision is replayed endlessly, wherever a brutal oppressor extinguishes life and hope from the people God makes.

There's an endless cry that goes up of "How long?" as the Romans, the Communists, the Puritans, the Islamists, the cattle-herders of America, at times the Catholics, and so many others have crushed life, joy and freedom out of people's lives. Each small apocalypse, each pogrom, each act of oppression a part of the work of the Beast, the Dragon's work as time is short. Part of the rolling apocalypse that goes on to the end.

Maybe we're right. Maybe we have sinned and need to repent. There's some real evil gets oppressing God's people in Iraq right now. It's not hard to see the Beast there. But in squeezing every penny out of cost prices, in the misbegotten adventure to get cheap oil that started what's going on out there, in our keenness to preserve our lifestyles while realising not everyone can have one like ours - maybe we help keep the story rolling in our own times.

There's no cosy apocalypses. There's just one big one. And it rolls on from the start to the End.

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