In praise of the first coming

Sunday, November 19

Mark 13:1-8

Whenever the text turns apocalyptic, as it does this week, there would seem to be only two choices: either take it literally and join the lucrative doomsday machine of late-night, splendidly coifed Christian psychics, or begin your best apologetic backpedaling—cheered on by Bishop John Spong. If you choose the first option, to be a player in the apocalyptic game, then you too can help frightened people “read the signs.” There is big money in the “End-Times Game,” and what’s more, the deeply satisfying prospect of “Gotcha!”

If you choose the second option, and claim that it’s all just an allegory for the tenacity of hope in the midst of a world gone mad, then what becomes of history’s arc? Of human progress? Of the possibility that suffering itself will one day be redeemed?


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