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30.06.2017

The End of the World is Nigh? | Connecting with Culture

Would you rather be turned into a zombie, or watch everyone you love get turned into one? Would you rather share supplies with someone and risk running out, or hoard your supplies and be alone?

Those were just two of several ‘would you rather’ questions posed about the apocalypse in what BuzzFeed last week designated ‘DisasterWeek’. Also featured were polls on ‘design a luxury bunker and we’ll tell you if you would survive the apocalypse’ and ‘what actor should be your survival partner when the world ends?’

It’s not too difficult to detect behind the humour an anxiety that things feel worse now than they’ve ever been. Yes, we’re aware that history is littered with doomsday warnings, but there’s something about the speed at which current events are moving which heightens concern. Our fears are increasingly shaped and intensified by the threat of global disaster – climate change, nuclear threats, cyber attacks, terrorism, pandemics – all reinforced by nonstop media.

In popular culture, we see end-time angst most pointedly in films, TV programmes, and games which portray the apocalypse or life in its dystopian aftermath. Sometimes the end is brought about by our own stupidity, and sometimes it’s imposed by outside forces like monsters or zombies, asteroids or aliens. Such cultural products expose human anxieties and reveal our yearnings for a better, more secure hope. Indeed, while the threat of the end is inevitable, hope that the final destruction of humanity is avoidable – or in some sense survivable – runs through virtually all apocalyptic tales.

We are hope-shaped creatures, in need not just of a sense of hopefulness, but a hope-filled story, one which leads somewhere.

For Christians, hope is not an optimistic belief in our capacity to meet every eventuality. Rather, hope derives its shape from trust in the God who has acted in Jesus Christ, who is working out his plan of redemption, and who will one day inaugurate a world free from ‘the old order of things’. Christians believe not in the end of the world, but in the beginning of a renewed world.

That hope frees us up to live expectantly and confidently, though realistically and wisely, in ways that seek to transform the here and now of our bit of the world, in line with what will be – not out of fear, but as a response to God’s gracious promise.

Antony Billington

If you want to reflect further on what depictions of the end of the world reveal about our anxieties and aspirations, join us for our evening event – Apocalypse Now? Popular Culture and the End of the World – on Monday 24 July, 6.30-8.30.

Author

Antony Billington

Comments

  1. Hi Anthony

    In a world where hope is often portrayed as something fading away, your writings often put a different perspective and worldview on things.

    So it is with this message because God created mankind with a capacity to always hope for something better, even when we ‘walk through the valley of the shadow of death’ during the times and seasons in our lives.

    The ultimate hope is for the glory of God to be manifest in our lives as we are transformed at the end of our life on planet earth.

    In the meantime, we are called to be witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ and His power to redeem all of humanity through His precious blood shed on the cross of Calvary.

    It is true that although many are called, the reality is that few will choose the pathway of life…in the same way that Isaiah prophesied that ‘only the remnant of Israel would be saved’.

    Nonetheless, all Christians are called to be salt and light to this world, and to speak of that which we have ‘seen and heard’ in our lives, that reflects the outworking of our faith.

    The challenge to all Christians is to literally ‘go into all our world and make a difference’ by sharing the gospel message through our lives, our words, our faith, our values, our beliefs, our work ethic, our integrity, and the list goes on.

    We need to literally become the gospel message because many we cross paths with will never step foot into a church, but we have the opportunity to present Jesus Christ,… in the same way that Jesus said ‘If you have seen me, then you have seen the Father’.

    This is a high calling, but as living sacrifices, we should devote our lives to nothing less.

    We have been redeemed through the precious blood of Jesus, which was heaven’s best.

    So I encourage all to devote our lives to the high calling that we have to honor God with every part of our lives.

    Thanks for you encouragement, Antony!

    By Ross Walker - 30th June 2017
  2. Thought-provoking as ever!

    By Janet Walch - 1st July 2017
  3. Thanks Ross and Janet – grateful for your encouragement!

    By Antony Billington - 3rd July 2017

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