Monday, November 1, 2010

The End Is Here

I grew up in a Baptist church and was born again at an early age.

When I was in high school there was a lot of talk of "the end time," and there would be again in coming years. (Then, it was spurred by a book called The Late Great Planet Earth; I don't know what spurred it later on.)

I grew up hearing about Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Their scandals were an embarrassment. So were the pronouncements of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

These people did not speak for me.

That was the end time for me.

It was a time when ministers asked their congregations to write letters to Congress — letters decrying legislation that, as it turns out, had never been written or proposed.

My minister. My congregation.

Some said the peace sign was actually satanic, as if peace were a bad thing. (I kid you not; I heard that in church.) There was even a period when kids like me were encouraged to use a different sign — to point an index finger to heaven indicating "One way."

It never really caught on.

I remember arguing with classmates that organized religion could be still be salvaged. There were still good people doing good things, after all. And there still are.

I studied religion in college and had professors who were good and wise examples. They helped me hold on to my faith awhile longer.

But I no longer believe there is one way (and haven't for a long time). One way is a mistake with disasterous consequences.

One way is wedded to intolerance and gives birth to tyranny.

I'm so done with that.


Rachel Canon said...

Bravo. Great post.

Katherine Adams said...

Good for you, Al. "One way is wedded to intolerance.." So true.

Terry said...

Thank you, Al. You spoke for many of us.

Mark Richardson said...

Great post. Religion and politics can be such tricky things to talk about.

John Nihen said...

Excellent, very thought-provoking post, Al. As a teenager I was also involved in an evangelical church in the same era, early to mid 1970s, the “One Way” sign, etc. I also experienced some of the same disappointments when the leaders of that movement were revealed to be all-too-human and flawed like the rest of us.

Probably like most people, my thirst for spiritual knowledge has been a lifelong pursuit. Our mutual friend, JJB, and I used to spend hours discussing different approaches to try and identify which was the one, true way. My own take these days?

1.Arriving at an answer is not as important as the search.
2.The search begins with seeking to understand and know myself.
3.I learn more about myself by my relationships with others, and
4.That kindness and tolerance towards others and towards myself is the best way to achieve 2 and 3.

By the way, I took a class in Jr. College called “The Bible as Literature.” The professor was a former Jesuit and a heck of a teacher. His take on references to “the end times” from the Bible and other apocalyptic literature are really references to the death of Self.

Just my two pence. Thanks again.