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The End of the World?

by David Yeagley · March 14, 2011 · 62 Comments ·

It is an age of earthquakes. Upon us now is a terribly troubled time.

The recent Japanese earthquake is particulary alarming, not only because of its size and effects, but because Japan is a very sophisticated country. This speaks to the vulnerability of other advanced, industrial nations. It wasn’t like the tsunami that struck Sumatra (Indonesia) in 2004 and killed more than 300,000 people. Those third world southeast Asian environs are characterized by massive populations concentrated in areas of poverty, inadequate infrastructure, careless governments, and general ignorance and abuse. Such a catastrophe, there, is not so terrifying to the West as is this current disaster in Japan.


Tide of 1,000 bodies overwhelms Japan. By JAY ALABASTER and TODD PITMAN, Associated Press TAKAJO, Japan – A tide of bodies washed up along Japan’s coastline Monday, overwhelming crematoriums, exhausting supplies of body bags and adding to the spiraling humanitarian, economic and nuclear crisis after the massive earthquake and tsunami.

It seems devastation is closing in on the world like a long awaited enemy. Human government is powerless before Nature. This is a most unsettling prospect. It is proper to say, nonetheless, that the strength and scope of disaster, both human and natural, are increasing–in their impact and in their frequency. An age of anxiety is upon us, even a time of terror.

In ancient Hebrew cosmology, of course, the concept of sudden creation is accompanied by the counterpart of sudden destruction. The cataclysmic end of the world seems to have been in the vision of the prophets since the world’s beginning. Just consider these few verses:

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
For he spake and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. Psalm 33: 6, 9.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the hight; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with a fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. II Peter 3: 10.

It is a recurring theme throughout the Bible, Old and New Testament. There is no denying this apsect of scripture, whether one is disposed to interpret it literally, metaphorically, or otherwise.

Hollywood has certainly taken full advantage of the entertainment value of global terror, human or natural. mass disaster is a box office winner almost everytime. Movies like Independence Day (1996), Volcano (1997), the current blox office killer Battle Los Angeles 2011, and The Day After Tomorrow (2004) bring home the remarkable tragedy of cataclysmic ending to all we know.

Religion is certainly a benefactor of disaster as well. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between religion and entertainment. End of the world notions have always been the most profound of religious sentiments. Even the children’s move The Dark Crystal (1982) was able to combine religion and entertainment in a most convincing albeit mystical manoeuver. In the 19th century, literature had its take on the subject, but, unlike other writers, Edgar Allan Poe actually believed it. He took the religious basis of cataclysm completely seriously. My research as a Harvard graduate student resulted in a text, The End of the World in Poe (2009), (which, for the moment, is open to some online reading).

Notice, today, however, that these great disasters are occurring at centers of mass, concentrated population. This is perhaps the most compelling factor to consider. Has anyone heard of 8.9 earthquakes in the Gobi Desert of western China? No. Instead there was an 7.1 earthquake in Quinghai Province (2010) killing hundreds, injuring thousands. And the Haitian quake (2010) which killed over 300,000, leaving millions homeless and in dire want.

Disaster seems aimed at mass populations. Something about masses of humanity tempts nature to destory. What is the proper way to describe these circumstances?

Again, the ancient Hebrew account is pertinent. Mass concentration of humanity seems improprietous. The metropolis has a bad name, from the beginning. The command given to humanity at creation was simple enough: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” Genesis 1:28. But, after the Flood, man again manifest he aversion to his Creator, and concentrate his efforts in a metropolis called the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). The Lord intervened, and broke up the rebellion, scattering man “upon the face of all the earth.”

In Jewish orthodox lore, even today, there is the thought that concentrated iniquity draws fire, either from man or from HaShem (the Lord). These things are difficult to determine or to evaluate, but, the sentiment is alive today. What is the cause of disaster? Dare we ask Job? Or Jesus? Can it in any way be diverted? Is there anything man can do to avoid it, or protect himself from it?

We can look to one intense verse of scripture, Psalm 91: 7-10:

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at they right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou has made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee…

An irresistable appeal, indeed. Yet, as we consider it more carefully, we have to realize that “evil” may not mean exemption from pain or disaster, but from simply from the reward of the wicked.

These things are deeply troubling, but it is more than appropriate to ponder them. Not only do we have incredible media coverage today, but, disaster is indeed more frequent, and larger, and more and more lives are lost. The most basic reaction should be one of grave concern.

The Lord through Moses warned the Israelites as they came to inherit the land of Cana’an. They were not to behave like the heathen before them, “that the land spue you not out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.” Leviticus 18:28. No, we cannot judge our fellowman. But, we are given a divine “heads up.” I think we should really take a second look at what’s happening in our world.

Posted by David Yeagley · March 14, 2011 · 10:24 am CT · ·

Tags: Bad Eagle Journal · Politics · Religion




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62 responses so far ↓

  • 1 David Yeagley // Mar 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm   

    Ha!

  • 2 BlackBart // Mar 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm   

    Asaph,

    On the other hand I’ve heard Christian apologists argue from the opposite position: The frequency of earthquakes, being necessary for life to exist, is part of God design.

    Dr. David Rogstad, an evangelical scientist, explains the essentials of earthquakes and life:
    http://www.reasons.org/another-benefit-life-earthquakes

    I suppose some young-earth creationists, not aware of the connection between earthquakes and life essentials, would make the error of supposing our planet is being “whacked out.”

    Old earth creationists would spin it the opposite direction, noting that, compared to the planet’s 4.5 million year geological history, our current age is quite tame. That, they suppose, is God’s design; quieting things down allowing for human occupation.

    Spin it however you want, but the earth is no more volatile now than it was during the life of Jesus.

    You are seeing what you believe, not believing what you see.

  • 3 BlackBart // Mar 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm   

    David and Siryako,

    I once read that the Comanche had two beliefs common with Christianity: A belief in an ideal afterlife and a great deluge narrative.

    I did not know the Comanche did not participate in the ghost dance. Interesting!!!

  • 4 Pamela K. // Mar 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm   

    The Comanches might not have had a religion, but they were very attuned to the natural world surrounding them.
    Herman Lehman, the son of German settlers in Texas who was captured by the Comanche and lived with them for many years before being returned to white society, told how the Comanche Indians could forecast the weather by examining the webs of spiders,
    According to the book, “The Mystic Warriors Of The Plains” By Thomas E. Mails, the Comanches knew the weather would be dry if the spider’s web was thin, long, and high. However, just before rain would fall, the web was low, short, and thick. Also, a croaking frog proclaimed a tiny marsh or hidden spring, and at once called for more caution because someone else might already be there. A distant column of dust might reveal an advancing enemy party. Even the black horned beetle, or tumblebug was attentively watched by the Comanche because the two horns on the top of the insect’s head were movable in all directions, yet were invariably pointed and held toward a herd of buffalo, the beetle being attracted in that direction by the noise made by the stamping of the bison’s hooves, which were too distant for human ears to discern.

  • 5 David Yeagley // Mar 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm   

    It is a challenge to say anything about Comanches and be completely accurate. It was a people of many tiny groups, with no central, unifying polity. Autonomous, powerful, independent.

    Lehman says he lived nine years among Indians. Well, if it was Comanche, that would be one group of Comanche. He observed things in that group. Different groups picked up different things from the people (other tribes or white men) they ran into here and there.

    Of course, the dates he gives are curious, 1870-1879. The very last of the free Comanches turned themselves in to Fort Sill in 1875. This was Quanah Parkers group, last hanging out in Palo Duro Canyon. Unless Lehman was with them, I don’t know what group could have held him captive.

    I know that captivity stories were the hottest thing going in the drug stores paper stands. I have a list of all Yale’s holdings.

    Lehman’s is a resource often cited by scholars. You see, Comanches didn’t write anything. A few white people wrote things down about them. These sources have, for the most part, been carefully evaluated.

    I have to say, the Germans were among the first of the non-Spanish sources. Early on they were making their typically careful observations.

  • 6 David Yeagley // Mar 15, 2011 at 9:21 pm   

    BB, there was no uniform concept of afterlife among the free Comanche. Fantasies developed only from exposure to white religion.
    There were plenty of strange stories, however, as told to white writers by the few Comanche willing to talk–about anything to any white person. Comanche had profound disdain for the white man, though a certain fascination with those Germans and their blonde hair and blue eyes.

    Flood stories? Creation stories? (the two usually come as a pair in mythology). Not a staple in Comanche lore.

    Comanche dispensed with fantasy, religion, and things of that nature. It was superfluous.

    I speak of the old days. The free days. Sure, all sorts of ideas came in, in time. But, I take my cues from intuition, from the free days. From the pure days. I think Comanche represented the most advanced natural state man has ever experienced!

    Ethnic chauvinist I am!

  • 7 David Yeagley // Mar 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm   

    Ishatai, of the Quahada Comanche, has an interesting name. Eschiti, pertaining to coyote poop. You can tell what’s going on by checking on what the a top plains preditor’s been eating.

  • 8 Pamela K. // Mar 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm   

    A better account of Herman Lehman’s story is in the book, “The Captured” By Scott Zesch. Like many who were taken captive, Lehman’s “Nine Years Among The Indians” was exaggerated and sensationalized by the publishers for eastern reading audiences. Zesch’s book is about his own quest to find out what happened to his long lost relative, Adolph Korn, another German boy living in Castell, Texas who was taken by the Comanches and later, after being returned to white society, lived as a recluse.

  • 9 Asaph // Mar 16, 2011 at 7:38 am   

    Bart, the article, like most articles by those who are “old earth” proponents and/or Darwinian/ micro- evolutionists, contains, in the author’s quote the dreaded word “Probably.” Along with “maybe” “perhaps” “possibly” “more than likely” “could have” “conceivably” and “if” such dogmatists can’t ever be certain of anything.

    While the article mentions quakes as beneficial, it says nothing of frequency. Unlike David, I take Christ Christs words to contain that element to be a sign of the time of sorrows on earth and His soon return. The numbers are telling us the earth is nearing its end.

  • 10 Asaph // Mar 16, 2011 at 7:43 am   

    We all have a choice, Bart. Either God is God or scientists at odds with Scripture are god. Time will soon tell who is making the right choice for which deity they will bow before and worship.

    I am thankful for those men and women who are finding harmony between Scripture and all branches of science as they look inward and outward.

  • 11 Asaph // Mar 18, 2011 at 8:35 pm   

    Again, if Christ mentioned earthquakes as a sign of His return, and likened these signs to labor pains, everyone knows labor pains become more intense and more frequent until the birth of the child. So, yes, earthquakes will become more frequent and more intense, as will other signs Christ mentioned.

  • 12 nikeairmax // Mar 31, 2011 at 7:31 am   

    http://www.myairmaxstore.com/nike-air-max-87-c-24.html

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