Judgment Day is May 21, 2011. This is the day that Jesus will claim his true believers and everyone else will be cast into hell. Don’t believe me? Well the Bible guarantees it.
Quite a few news stories have shown up in several news outlets over the past week about, as the Associated Press says, “a movement of Christians loosely organized by radio broadcasts and websites, independent of churches and convinced by their reading of the Bible that the end of the world will begin May 21, 2011.”
I love the NPR.com article by Barbara Hagerty “Is The End Nigh? We’ll Know Soon Enough.” She interviews several true believers and reports on the mega-million-dollar Family Radio network, one of the many “news” outlets we have to thank for providing us such valuable interpretations of the 2,000-year-old text.
“People need to know,” Kevin Brown says, “and God commands us to share the Gospel about the end of the world. He says if we do not share the Gospel then their blood will be on our hands, whether they believe or not. God’s been moving me to do this.”
Sound the Alarm!
Brown is among a large number of Fundamentalist Christians sounding the alarm. They drive caravans and put up billboards, hand out pamphlets and try to convince people that Judgment Day is upon us. Brown and his peers are convinced this message is laced throughout the Bible, but only some can decode it. They believe it will literally happen as they have interpreted the cryptic religious texts.
Here’s the Scoop:
On May 21, “starting in the Pacific Rim at around the 6 p.m. local time hour, in each time zone, there will be a great earthquake, such as has never been in the history of the Earth,” Brown says. Believers in the “One True Way” will be “raptured” (which means they will literally fly upward to heaven).
“And on top of all that,” Brown reminds anyone who will listen, “there’s no more salvation at that point. And then the Bible says it will be 153 days later that the entire universe and planet Earth will be destroyed forever.”
So, even if you are like Kevin Brown and have a Traditional worldview but happen to be so unlucky as to believe in one of the many other ”One True Ways” (including the fundamentalist versions Islam, Judaism, or any number of other absolutistic belief systems), then you’re out of luck. Of course, it goes without saying that people with a Modern (scientific/rational) Worldview and those long-haired hippie Postmodern Worldview types are definitely going to get a one-way ticket to Hell this month.
News Outlet for Traditional Worldviews – “Fair and Balanced”
No one knows how many people believe Judgment Day is right around the corner. But it appears that many became believers in 2009 after turning on Family Radio, a Christian network worth more than $100 million.
Fundamentalists like Brown get their information, inspiration, and interpretations from authoritarian (traditional) leaders such Harold Camping, the Family Radio network’s 89-year-old founder. Leaders such as Camping have been interpreting the Bible on the air for years.
He says that everyone knows there would be a judgment day at some point. ”We just happen to be in that time in history… And whether we like it or not, we’re here.” Camping’s predictions have inspired other groups to rally behind the May 21 date. Apparently, convinced that Camping’s superior intellect, incontrovertible morality, and self-proclaimed religious righteousness gives him special powers to infallibly interpret the ancient allegorical texts found in the bible, faithful followers have quit their jobs and left their families to alert people of the May 21 deadline for finding salvation.
I frequently write and lecture about worldviews as they hold the key to integral leadership (the topic of my forthcoming book). Worldviews are a primary way people make meaning (interpret information and experiences). The folks highlighted in this article hold what they self-describe as a “Biblical worldview” which is one expression of the Traditional worldview. Worldviews can tell us, with great reliability, which leaders people are most likely to follow. Research shows that people with Traditional worldviews like Scott Brown will reliably follow Authoritarian leaders like Camping.
People with a Traditional worldview believe there is only one right way to think and behave. They believe that the “One Right Way” is commanded by an ultimate authority that must be obeyed to avoid everlasting punishment. They also believe that this higher authority authorizes certain other authorities (like Harold Camping) to interpret the one right way for the true believers. Folks like Kevin Brown (and many of your and my friends and family members) make meaning of their world by looking to these authority figures to interpret information and experiences for them. When these leaders claim that their authority comes form the “highest authority,” their message can become irresistibly compelling to folks with a Traditional worldview.
The World As We Know It Is Coming To An End
One of the things that is most interesting about this particular fundamentalist expression of the Traditional worldview is that their belief that the end of the world is coming is not entirely false. In fact, the world is coming to an end. The world as we know it–the world of the early writers of human society’s religions texts (all religious writers of that time period, not just Christian)–is coming to an end.
Those writers lived at a time when society was moving out of exclusive identification with the Archaic, Tribal and Imperial Worldviews into a new world order. That new world was characterized by a whole new way of seeing and experiencing the world, and entirely new beliefs about the nature of reality, the Earth, humans, spirit, life and death and so on.
That worldview, which we now recognize as the Traditional worldview wasn’t the last one that surfaced. From the 1400s to the 1600s—the period we call the Renaissance—the Modern Worldview came into being and flourished (characterized by scientific-rational thinking). And in the 1960s the Postmodern Worldview became popular replete with its emphasis on relativistic and pluralistic thinking. (And as they say, if you remember the 60s, you didn’t actually experience the 60s.)
While all three of these worldviews (Traditional, Modern, Postmodern) still remain popular with different groups, it is the grandaddy of them all, the Traditional worldview, that was first brought into prominence with the monotheistic religious movements starting around 2000 years ago. This Traditional worldview has remained at the foundation of many cultures’ beliefs despite widely available scientific-rational (Modern) and relativistic-pluralistic (Postmodern) education, philosophy, science, art, and media. Former U.S. President George W. Bush has a Traditional (Biblical) Worldview as do many popular and well-paid authors, thinkers, and television personalities (Fox News has a large payroll of people with the Traditional worldview including Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Glenn Beck).
Their collective fear that the world (as they know it) is coming to an end is not unfounded. It is in fact coming to an end.
It is not the Universe and not Earth (at least not anytime soon). What is coming to an end is the Traditional World. The dominance of the Traditional worldview (now 2000 years old) is, in fact, coming to an end. And according to analysis of the rate of technology/media/innovation and consciousness transformations currently underway, this will most likely occur in the next two decades. Many prominent technologists, futurists and philosophers point to compelling evidence of these major shifts in technology, marketplaces, social systems, and shared cultural belief systems. Their research highlights compelling evidence that even in just 20 years, many aspects of human society will be unrecognizable. This is not hard to see if you do a little research on it. The Biblical interpretation of the “Old World” coming to an end with rapture and smoke, fire and brimstone is simply one imaginative interpretation of the metamorphosis human society is currently undergoing. I don’t suspect that the end of the uncontested dominance of the Traditional worldview will look anything like Armageddon. I certainly don’t expect it to happen abruptly on May 21. Nevertheless, the end of the world as we know it does seem to be coming in the next decade or two.
Between now and then, especially with the magical year 2012 just around the bend, we can expect to see many more news stories like this one. Let’s enjoy the show, shall we?
Do you think the world as we know it is coming to an end? Please share your perspective below!