The End Is Near!

The End Is NearI was thinking about Elvis Costello’s “Waiting for the End of the World” this morning. With the government shutdown coming and all, it just seems natural. But I’m especially focused on the lines, “Dear lord, I sincerely hope your coming; ’cause you really started something.”

Christianity is an apocalyptic religion. It is all about the destruction of the world and how God will then reward the good little girls and boys who believed in him. So it isn’t surprising that Republicans, who would be better named the Christian Conservative Party, are interested in other apocalyptic visions. Government shutdown! Debt default!! Nuclear war!!! It all brings us closer to the time when Jesus comes back to kick some unbeliever ass.

On a smaller scale, I do hope that the Republican elites are going to show up to these two (shutdown and default) fights. It is clear that the elites don’t want these fights, but they did start something. Ed Kilgore suggests that the conservative movement reached a critical mass of craziness during the Bush administration and we are still living with the consequences. But this just puts a history on top of the general observation that this is the Republican base getting out of the control of the elite’s power.

The main thing is what I harp on here: that the Republican base believes the exact same things that the elites have claimed to believe for many decades. As Kilgore puts it: “the same old torch of resistance to the New Deal and Great Society and the decline of the patriarchal family, passed on from generation to generation.” The conflict we are seeing in the Republican Party is just one of tactics. The base is tired of waiting and the elites know that the conservatives do not have the power to get their utopia qua hellscape.

But let’s be clear: the elites don’t actually want what they’ve been agitating for all these decades. In fact, the base doesn’t want it either. The same was true of the Democrats when they truly were a liberal party. Extremists push for ultimate solutions, but what they really want is just to push society in their ideological direction. Both the libertarian and socialist extremes would be terrible places to live—even for the “winners.” In general, I think the elites know this. The base voters, unfortunately, have deluded themselves into thinking they would love a world where everyone protects their own property with their own guns and there are no public parks or public roads. But just like the conservatives who only support gay rights once they find out their children are gay, these conservatives would change their minds in the cold light of reality.

So I imagine there are a lot of Republicans sitting around anxiously awaiting the government shutdown just as they await the second coming of Jesus. It appears to be a conservative thing.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “The End Is Near!

  1. This reminds me of a theological debate I recently engaged in. I had been having a bad day, and I had been getting increasingly irritated by fundamentalist faiths (and I’m not just talking about religions.) On this particular day, anyone who got in my way was bound to get steamrolled. And the unfortunate soul who crossed me on this particular day was a young Christian conservative.

    He basically made the argument (and I’m paraphrasing here; he didn’t used these exact words) that since God created the Earth for humans and gave us dominion over it, and because Jesus is returning soon to take all the True Believers to paradise, we don’t need to worry about the environment. Normally I would’ve just rolled my eyes and moved on, but on this day it cut the last thread holding together my already dwindling patience.

    I pointed out how childish the notion is that we don’t need to clean up our messes and protect the environment because God is going to fix it eventually. I asked him this: if your parents were to buy you a house, how do you think they would feel if you were to take advantage of it, ruin it, and expect them to foot the bill and fix everything? I pointed out that even if Jesus is actually going to return soon, it doesn’t mean we should make countless people and animals suffer and die while we wait.

    I wiped the floor each of his arguments, and whenever I dismantled a point he made, all I got was a lot of stuttering and stammering and personal attacks. In the end, it just came down to him saying that I’m wrong because Jesus said so. Then he gave me the extremely condescending "I’ll pray for you" bullshit. I took him to task for that, too.

    Now, I might give you the impression that I was being mean, but I wasn’t. I’m actually proud of how civil I was during the exchange. I was certainly strident and forceful, but I didn’t let my anger boil over and lead to personal attacks. I didn’t even challenge the validity of his religion, just his "God will fix everything" notion. I can’t say that he was as civil as I was, though. I’ve always hated how religious people feel that they are entitled to make hateful and personal attacks, especially on secular people. But God forbid if an atheist is even a little bit strident! That means we’re attacking religious freedom!

    I know that his "God will fix everything" idea came straight from the Christian Right. It’s really scary that there are a sizable number of people in positions of power that hold this view. Government shouldn’t be a matter of faith, yet there are too many politicians that have ideologies, and make policy decisions, based entirely in faith, religious or otherwise.

    Anyway, the two major takeaways I got from the debate are as follows: one, dominion theology is going to be a major impediment to getting anything done in regard to global warming and other major environmental and societal issues, and two, I wish I could debate that effectively all the time, not just when I’m really steamed!

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