Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ooh Heaven is a Place on Earth

When Pat Robertson claimed that America would fall victim to a large-scale terrorist attack this year, I argued that “end times” theology was a deadly threat because it leads people to uncritical support for war in the middle east and to cheer every time there is a natural disaster because, according to the fanciful chronology they have worked out by stringing unrelated fragments of scripture together, each catastrophe brings us closer to the return of Jesus. Some Christians who believe we are living the final days/weeks/years before the Second Coming and Armageddon even think we can speed up Christ’s return by pushing the Earth and its inhabitants over the brink of disaster.

For these people, Global Warming is just such a sign and cause. They do not deny that Global Warming is happening, but they react with horror to the suggestion that we should do anything to stop it, because the sooner we have pillaged every last natural resource, harvested every rainforest, poisoned every ocean and dried up the third world’s water supply while flooding the world’s lifeless coastal regions, Jesus will come back, and they will leave this used up hulk of a planet behind and go live in “heaven.”

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported this week on a fundamentalist Christian family in Federal Way, Washington who managed to thwart the local school district’s attempt to show the popular documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

"The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is,” said parent Frosty Hardison. “The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD." Hardison doesn’t want to deny Global Warming, he wants to promote it.

Does the Bible really say that? True, Revelation is chock full of natural disasters, from earthquakes to hundred pound hailstones. There is a great deal of destructive imagery, but nowhere does it encourage us to incite war and rejoice at disaster, a suggestion that is as far away from the message of the Gospel as anything possibly could be.

Fundamentalists talk about the “Rapture,” a made-up event where Christians will suddenly disappear from the world and be “taken up” to heaven. But Revelation – the book they claim to take so literally – very clearly says in Chapter 21 that the Holy City, “a new Jerusalem,” comes down to us. Revelation, for all its gory imagery, isn’t about death and destruction, but hope and healing. The world isn’t going to be incinerated, but rather made whole.

The Gospels don’t present us with a Jesus who left violent instructions to encourage his return, but rather a Messiah who taught us to pray, “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

We don’t tend to think of 80s pop songs in terms of their apocalyptic theology, but Belinda Carlisle, in her 1987 #1 hit “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” got a lot closer to the message of Revelation than end-times fanatics ever have:

Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth?
Ooh heaven is a place on earth
They say in heaven love comes first
We'll make heaven a place on earth
Ooh heaven is a place on earth

Hat tip: Towleroad

17 comments:

Secret Rapture said...

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Read My Inaugural Address
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Your jaw will drop!

Jeff said...

OK, I've just read the article.

(First of all: Frosty Hardison is a man? And second, will he be melting when the Rapture comes?)

A teacher should never just show a movie without discussing it with the class afterward. And it's not like the movie is racist or would offend a group of people. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I don't think it even touches on religion.

The quote from school board member Larson, who proposed the moratorium on the film, flummoxes me. "Somebody could say you're killing free speech, and my retort to them would be we're encouraging free speech." Whaaaa?

Would Frosty Hardison be making a big issue of this is the film was by someone other than Al Gore?

Gino said...

the film should not be shown because it is pushing a political agenda.

who cares what the fundies think.
since they dont think much at all.

DJRainDog said...

gino: Have you seen the film in question?

kr said...

hey djr, give gino some credit for the being-on-your-side part of his comment, too ; )

Andy, this was brilliant:
But Revelation – the book they claim to take so literally – very clearly says in Chapter 21 that the Holy City, “a new Jerusalem,” comes down to us.

Your whole entry is great, anyhow, and your song choice reminds me of when someone in my husband's non-Catholic family tried to get my goat by asking me what I thought of "What If God Were One of Us?" He was a little fazed when I told him I thought it was one of the best pieces of theological music I'd heard in a while, and that wasn't that the entire point of the whole Jesus thing?

Your observation the other day that you had only recently realized you couldn't find the Rapture in the Bible because it wasn't _there_, I also found reflected in my experience ... and you KNOW I was brought up "Catholic," complete with grades1-6 Catholic education ... it was also a revelation (I use the term on purpose) to me, around age 18, that
1) prophecy was--and is--about now now now, and only because of the interwoven truth of all things about the future (and the past)
and that
2) all that rapture stuff was invented by self-appointed prophet-y types in 1800s America.

Since the Left Behind series came out, there has been a more and more concerted effort by the Catholic Church to point out that Jesus preached a here-and-now Kingdom ...

We need to bring our existence in line with the good, not the bad.

Besides, I can't imagine God thinking we are such great children for encouraging the destruction of all he worked to create.

"And God saw that it was Good."

Pity more Christians don't grok that if God is Truth they shouldn't fear the study of truth.

Jeff said...

the film should not be shown because it is pushing a political agenda.

I haven't seen it, but (1) from what I hear, it's pushing a save-the-planet agenda, not a political agenda, and (2) isn't anything issue-oriented already part of politics anyway?

Gino said...

no, i havent seen the film.

and yes, i can agree with a fundie for non-fundie reasons, cant i?

basically, i believe there is far too much political/social indoctrination in our schools as it is now.
since we've failed to properly teach our kids how to think,read,do math, and study for themselves... the next step is to teach them what to think, and how to act.

remember: the same failures that allow some to push a agenda, also allow others equal oppertunity to push an opposite agenda.

if you want to 'diefy' the earth, as some think it is their moral imperative to do, dont forget that those who want to teach creationism have the same right to push their agenda, also.

logically, this is the conclusion.

teach the kids to read, and how to discern facts from fictions, and then get out of the way.
delivering one set of facts, or skewing them toward a desired conclusion, isnt education. its indoctrination.

Gino said...

and i've taken this post off its desired path.

great write, andy, and spot on.

Mark G. said...

Funny you mention Pat Robertson and Global Warming in the same post. Several months ago CNN.com ran this:

Yesterday on the 700 Club, evangelical Pat Robertson declared himself “a convert” on global warming. Robertson said that he has “not been one who believed in global warming in the past.” But now, Robertson said, he believes “it is getting hotter and the ice caps are melting and there is a build up of carbon dioxide in the air.” Robertson implored, “we really need to do something on fossil fuels.”

I’m of the opinion that if someone like Robertson can agree with science, then it must be iron clad.

Andy said...

General: Yay, comments! Did anyone click on secret rapture's link? I'm scared to. Let me know if it's safe/sane/hilarious.

TinMan: My reading of the article was that Frosty's gender is not specified. Maybe I missed something.

KR: *blush* thanks. There's more on this subject coming.

Jeff and Gino: Well, we have a President who grew up rich on oil money, whose friends are oil barons, and who went to war to control the mideast oil supply before China and India get to it. The idea that our dependence -- or addiction, as the Preznit correctly termed it -- to finite resources turns out to be a threat not just to global political security but to the very survival of the human race is an inconvenient truth for the people who make money from it as well as for the people that money put into power. (Please, don't think I'm claiming the Democrats aren't part of our national corporatocracy. But I think they are less culpable and showing demonstrably more effort in addressing this issue.) When you guys say "political issue," I think what you really mean is "partisan issue." It is political, but what's sad and tragic is that there is a partisan divide over a scientific fact, where the Republicans tend to come down on the side of protecting corporate profits in the short term rather than the welfare of humanity in the long term.

Full disclosure: I have not seen the film because I assume it is too depressing for me to handle in my present state.

Mark: Thanks for bringing that up! I forgot that Robertson said that, but now I remember it well. Still, I think that fits in with the issue I'm pointing to here: the fundies aren't *denying* global warming, they're celebrating it. I'm scared, Auntie Em.

Andy said...

PS, the issue is political also because "Frosty" -- I want to see his driver's license! -- clearly makes it one. "Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore," argues. "He's not a schoolteacher."

Ermm...no, he's just a Harvard-educated former US Senator who happened to serve two terms as Vice President of the United States. I think what "Frosty" is hinting at is that Gore is unqualified to address students because he is...shhh!...a liberal. (Even though he's a Baptist from Tennessee.) Basically today anyone who doesn't run away in righteous terror from homosexuals is a dirty liberal.

Gino said...

so now andy is calling me a liberal.

will the name calling ever stop?


andy, dont forget, al, and the gore family, are part of the evil oil cabal,as well.
he talks about the evil of petro fueles, while a big portion of his wealth is a direct result of close ties to occidental petroleum. and he still recieves substantial income directly from his family's stake in this same company.

bush, if i recall, doesnt recieve any income from oil company ownership. and hasnt in years.

LeshDogg said...

The film is time well-spent...very interesting and thought-provoking (but, of course, that's because Gore zeroed in on this topic and is on the lecture circuit with it - it had better be interesting and thought-provoking).

Gino is right: the film is blatantly political. Gore calls for creating a change in the political discussion spectrum, referencing the likes of Dr. King and how he changed the political discussion of the time to suit the needs of the Civil Rights Movement and accomplished a great deal in a small span of time by doing so (that last sentence was a doozy...sorry). The film is quite candid about its aim to politicize the environmental movement (rightfully so, in my opinion).

What the film does do that makes it a value to education is cite EVERYTHING. The information is presented at a bias, but the challenge is left to the viewer to not only do something about it, but to research the information yourself and come to your own conclusions (sort of a, "here's the info, if you can come up with another conclusion, then have at it!").

But then again, I believe that American History X should be required viewing in high schools, too.

On topic with Andy's post:
Yeah...don't get the whole reason to be in a rush to end the world. If the world God created "is good," wouldn't it make much more sense to keep it as-is rather than screw it up?

kr said...

especially if you insist on believing that every species here was created as is, specifically by God

of all the people who should be environmentally conservationist!!!, Biblical Creationists are them

which, I suspect, is why the media have been documenting for a couple of years the shift towards evironmentalism in the Evangelical movement

kr said...

PS did anyone besides me read the funny syndicated editorial Dec 31 or Jan 1 about 2006 being the year we turned reasonable?

The best bit went something like this:

In 2006, counter to all established medical literature and decades of respected psychological studies, millions of Americans voluntarily spent $8 and two hours to watch Al Gore lecture them about gloal warming.

; ).

Musicguy said...

Scientists, Christians unite on global warming: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16638277/

Secret Rapture said...

Thank you for leaving my link up. The Secret Rapture soon! Or am I just crazy and wrong? Stay tuned!