Mr. wOw: Apocalpyse Now? Oh, Please.

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Mr. wOw knows a lot of different kinds of people – Democrats, Republicans, religious, agnostic, atheist, straight, gay, tolerant, intolerant, highly intelligent, not so swift. I tend to like them all, love many of them and can find always a common ground; an in-between place where differences can be put aside, and we can enjoy one another as human beings in a confounding world.

Recently, however, Mr. wOw’s deeply evangelical acquaintance has been working his last nerve. The earthquakes in Haiti and Chile and now the Icelandic volcano, with its harrowing ash cloud, have convinced my friend that The End Is Near. She believes in The Rapture and the Armageddon that will happen in the mid-east, and Final Days and all that. Generally, we steer clear of those subjects. In other ways, she is a delightful luncheon companion and not at all alarming. (Quite sophisticated, worldly and funny, in fact. I don’t think she’s your typical evangelical.)

Now, we’ve been down this road before – the last time was after the great tsunami of 2004. My friend was certain a disaster of such global proportions had to signal The Beginning of The End, and more or less told me to prepare, “within a year, you’ll see.” Well, a year came and went, and then a few more. When we met for a bite in 2006, I said, “OK, if you suddenly vanish before dessert, I’ll know you’ve been taken and I’ve been left behind. Can I have your ice cream?” She laughed. (We’ve also discussed the Antichrist. She does not believe it is Barack Obama, she says. I didn’t wish to press on this.)

But she’s not feeling humorous these days. The volcanic ash cloud has truly convinced her that The Four Horsemen are galloping our way. She believes she is saved, but worries about friends who aren’t. Like Mr. wOw.

When we first met, and I learned of her convictions, I gently tried to point out that there have been earthquakes and volcanoes and floods and terrible disease from the beginning of recorded history. “You know, during the Middle Ages, everybody thought the End of Times was at hand because of the plague. The Chilean quake in 1960 generated seismic waves that shook the world for a week. Really, this is nothing new; we are given more information these days, that’s all.”

Of course that didn’t work — and I didn’t expect it to. Nor even did I want to convince her. Her faith gives her a great deal of comfort and, having it, she is able to deal with some of the tragedies she has suffered in life. I would never really try to dissuade her. What if I succeeded? With what would she replace her faith? The shallow musings of Mr. wOw?

Still, Mr. wOw is perplexed by religion that foments such fearsome images and terrible punishments for those who don’t believe in Christ as the Son of God. “What about your Jewish friends?” I asked her once. “They believe in God, what happens to them?” She said, “I hope all the signs will convince them to accept Christ. Then they’ll be saved.” She said this sadly, but with certainty. Like most evangelicals, she has sent funds to support Israel. They believe only when the Jews possess their own country in the Holy Land, will Jesus return. They’re just supporting the geography, not the Jews.

Mr. wOw knows a lot of different kinds of people – Democrats, Republicans, religious, agnostic, atheist, straight, gay, tolerant, intolerant, highly intelligent, not so swift. I tend to like them all, love many of them and can find always a common ground; an in-between place where differences can be put aside, and we can enjoy one another as human beings in a confounding world.

Recently, however, Mr. wOw’s deeply evangelical acquaintance has been working his last nerve. The earthquakes in Haiti and Chile and now the Icelandic volcano, with its harrowing ash cloud, have convinced my friend that The End Is Near. She believes in The Rapture and the Armageddon that will happen in the mid-east, and Final Days and all that. Generally, we steer clear of those subjects. In other ways, she is a delightful luncheon companion and not at all alarming. (Quite sophisticated, worldly and funny, in fact. I don’t think she’s your typical evangelical.)

Now, we’ve been down this road before – the last time was after the great tsunami of 2004. My friend was certain a disaster of such global proportions had to signal The Beginning of The End, and more or less told me to prepare, “within a year, you’ll see.” Well, a year came and went, and then a few more. When we met for a bite in 2006, I said, “OK, if you suddenly vanish before dessert, I’ll know you’ve been taken and I’ve been left behind. Can I have your ice cream?” She laughed. (We’ve also discussed the Antichrist. She does not believe it is Barack Obama, she says. I didn’t wish to press on this.)

But she’s not feeling humorous these days. The volcanic ash cloud has truly convinced her that The Four Horsemen are galloping our way. She believes she is saved, but worries about friends who aren’t. Like Mr. wOw.

When we first met, and I learned of her convictions, I gently tried to point out that there have been earthquakes and volcanoes and floods and terrible disease from the beginning of recorded history. “You know, during the Middle Ages, everybody thought the End of Times was at hand because of the plague. The Chilean quake in 1960 generated seismic waves that shook the world for a week. Really, this is nothing new; we are given more information these days, that’s all.”

Of course that didn’t work — and I didn’t expect it to. Nor even did I want to convince her. Her faith gives her a great deal of comfort and, having it, she is able to deal with some of the tragedies she has suffered in life. I would never really try to dissuade her. What if I succeeded? With what would she replace her faith? The shallow musings of Mr. wOw?

Still, Mr. wOw is perplexed by religion that foments such fearsome images and terrible punishments for those who don’t believe in Christ as the Son of God. “What about your Jewish friends?” I asked her once. “They believe in God, what happens to them?” She said, “I hope all the signs will convince them to accept Christ. Then they’ll be saved.” She said this sadly, but with certainty. Like most evangelicals, she has sent funds to support Israel. They believe only when the Jews possess their own country in the Holy Land, will Jesus return. They’re just supporting the geography, not the Jews.

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