Thursday, May 26, 2011

Judgment Day

Q&A with Pastor Durrell

Question: I hate to admit it but the recent hoopla about May 21 being "Judgment Day" has really unnerved me. Do you believe that May 21 is Judgment Day? - N.F.

Answer: Life is filled with uncertainty, surprises, and unanswered questions. Part of being sentient beings is to wrestle with the complexities and ambiguities of life. However, some individuals (as well as some political, social, and religious organizations) lack the emotional and spiritual maturity to accept these simple realities. And so they pretend to have answers that can't be known in an attempt to feel more in control than they ever could be. This is one of the symptoms of the pathology known as "fundamentalism."

The problem with treating life as if it were so easily and completely predictable is at least twofold: (1) Such a view is delusional, and; (2) such a view is incredibly selfish. It suggests that in all the vastness of the universe, our sense of power, control, or importance is what matters most. Such a view could hardly help us live into our potential nor could it improve the condition of our world.

I honestly haven't paid much attention to the "Judgment Day" propaganda, but I do know that history is full of doomsday predictions that never came to pass. And I must admit having less than positive regard for ideologies that suggest a special class of people can escape the trials and difficulties of life by being beamed to another world mere hours, days, weeks, or months before the rest of creation is destroyed by some horrific force attributed to divine wrath. I think a more realistic understanding of life could probably be found at any given comic book convention.

Now, we certainly have the capacity to do great harm to our planet. Weapons of mass destruction, environmental neglect, even random natural disasters could possibly cripple our earth home, but none of that is inevitable, nor is any of that predictable. The bible isn't a crystal ball, religion isn't a substitute for living life, and whatever else God is, God must be more than a safety net for those who belong to the "right" club.

So, I fully expect that May 21 will be full of opportunities, challenges, rewards and disappointments much like every other day is for most people. And even if I am wrong, that still doesn't change how I would live my life. There is a legendary story about someone approaching St. Francis while he was gardening. The person asked St. Francis what he would do if he knew the world would end in an hour. St. Francis said, "I would finish my gardening." That is the example of mature faith.

I have no idea what will happen on any given day in the future, but I trust that whatever happens, God is with us and hope and joy will always be available to us no matter what else may be happening. And if you are reading this after May 21, then, well, case closed.

This was from the May 22nd "Sun Burst", the weekly newsletter of the Sunshine Cathedral. The online version of the Sunday newsletter is emailed out on the previous Thursday each week.

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