Monthly Archive for May, 2011

End of the World?

Surprisingly (or not) the world is not ending today – probably!  This guy has the right idea:

An atheist and entrepreneur from North Hampshire, Bart Centre, is enjoying a boost in business for Eternal Earth-bound Pets, which he set up to look after the pets of those who believe they will be raptured.

He has more than 250 clients who are paying up to $135 (£83) to have their pets picked up and cared for after the rapture.

They would be disappointed twice, he told the Wall Street Journal. "Once because they weren't raptured and again because I don't do refunds."

The arguments are well-worn: the Bible does not contain hidden 'codes', that's not what Jesus meant when he said he spoke in parables; the Bible tells us no-one knows when Judgement Day will occur, not even Jesus (Matthew 24.6), and that it will come 'like a thief in the night' (1 Thessalonians 5.2-4); similes are not literal statements (2 Peter 3.8).

And, the 'rapture' is a North American conceit, having little to do with what the Bible actually says about the end of the world.  It is founded on half-truths, snippets of verses, and who knows what else.  If you want to read a really careful exploration of the end of the world as the Bible tells it, I recommend Simon Ponsonby's book, 'And the Lamb Wins' (available here).

The 'end of the world' syndrome is not unique to religious nuts – I think it is something to do with being human.  Remember the Millennium bug, or the Large Hadron Collider creating a black hole at the centre of the earth?  Or how about the regular scares about asteroids hitting the earth, or the North and South pole switching polarity and heralding a new ice age?

People are people – crazy, impressionable and gullible.  But also wonderful and beautiful, inquisitive, caring and loving.  Whatever you think, please don't write off all Christians because a few people do crazy things.  Most of us are really quite sensible!

Osama bin Laden is Dead

I woke up this morning to the news that Osama bin Laden has been killed and buried at sea by American forces.  He was found in Pakistan, which is not a surprise, but near Islamabad rather than in a cave, which is a surprise.

He is personally responsible for leading terrorist attacks around the world, and deserved to be brought to justice.  Given al Qaeda's tactics, it is probably better he was captured dead rather than alive, to stop reprisal kidnappings of innocent NGO workers.

However, I'm not comfortable with the scenes outside the White House.  I understand the depth of feeling – this man led one of the largest ever terrorist attacks, on American soil, killing over 3000 innocent civilians.  However, the dancing and cheering is no better than the dancing and cheering seen after 9/11.

Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but that doesn't exclude seeking to bring people to justice, and even punishing them for their crimes.  We must protect the innocent, and we must seek justice, especially against those who kill indiscriminately, but we should never gloat over our enemies, and we should not celebrate the death of anyone, even Osama bin Laden.