Maybe it's because I started this silly countdown, but has anyone else noticed how every Sunday the readings at Mass have been about the end of the world? I know the last couple weeks have been the wind down to the end of the liturgical year and that advent readings usually revolve the fulfillment of prophecies, but man! I've been hearing Daniel describe the zombie apocalypse (corpses shall rise from the earth and be abominations). The first reading last Sunday was all about the days of tribulation and this from Jesus himself,
Jesus said to his disciples:
"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.
"Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man."
Now the most striking line to me is that "people will die of fright in anticipation". If anything, I feel like we are in a time where fear is the leading motivator for most people. Have you seen the show Doomsday Preppers? Or listened to any politicians speak in the last, say, 5 years? Or read an article in a newspaper, or on a current events blog? It's like we've gotten to the point that we've moved past the ol' "lesser of two evils" to "the greater of two fears". Now I'm not saying that fear shouldn't be a motivating factor and that it's not useful. Fear keeps us from petting bears or wandering down dark alleys in West Philly. It's this existential fear that I think is keeping us under the thumb of the fear-peddlers: the fear of becoming what we were meant to be, the fear of the unknown the fear of not failing, but trying. I feel like we, as Americans, as Westeners, came from a long pedigree of adventurers. The people that planted the seeds of our society had a restless spirit, consumed with the desire to see what is over that next hill. These were the founders of cities, the originators of cultures, the inventors, the discoverers. Where has that gone? Maybe it's only my perception, but I feel like every generation has become less independent, less questioning. People don't chafe at the yoke anymore. Less and less people struggle to through off the oppressive bonds of cultural mores. Even when people rebel and protest, it is usually to those predetermined as appropriate. You know what I'm scared of? You.