In the weeks leading up to May 21, 2011, young filmmaker Zeke Piestrup asked radio-show host and apocalypse predictor Harold Camping if he could accompany him in the final days of the world. Piestrup was not a believer, and he planned to make a film about Camping’s apocalyptic prediction. Still, Camping welcomed him as a companion.
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?"
A hundred years ago many Christians envisioned Christianity winning acceptance among every country and people of the world. As it turned out, this century has seen a drastic erosion of Christianity in the very centers from which it launched its missionary activity—namely, in Europe and North America.
Are we there yet?” my son Andy cries just as we are pulling out of the driveway. “Are we there yet?’ when we drive up to the McDonald’s take-away window. “Are we there yet?” when we stop at a traffic light. No, not yet. Unable to grasp any estimate I might give him (is an hour short? is a day long?), he fusses, then falls asleep, only to wake up surprised upon our arrival.
Summer: A Spiritual Biography of the Season
Gary Schmidt and Susan M. Felch
Left Behind? What the Bible Really Says About the End Times
James M. Efird
Travelers on the Journey: Pastors Talk About Their Lives and Commitments
Schmidt and Felch, both of whom teach literature at Calvin College, have produced anthologies of writings—including both prose and poetry—about each of the seasons of the year. Summer includes writers as disparate as Anne Lamott, Walt Whitman, N. Scott Momaday and Madeleine L’Engle.
If I could tell when the end times were on their way by the number of wars, famines, earthquakes and plagues that are afflicting our world, I’d say, “Wow! Here they come!” The Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America—you name it, atrocities are taking place. Even in the United States of America, the home of the free, the hope of the huddled masses, the place where no one really has to go hungry, human-caused disaster is everywhere.
Jesus calls us to live with the intensity of last days while living our regular lives. He reminds us that we are not ultimately invested in this world, and he liberates us to work with courage, with hope. End times call for tall towers of hope. They call for a lightning-speed reordering of priorities. End times call for alertness, sharpness. They tingle with expectation.
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