THE END OF APOCALYPSE
Many people alive today are convinced that our civilization is in a dark age, cut off from divine favor, and on the verge of collapse. But it’s healthy to note that similar beliefs have been common throughout history.
As far back as 2800 BC, an unknown prophet wrote on an Assyrian clay tablet, “Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end.” In the seventh century BC, many Romans believed Rome would suffer a cataclysm in 634 BC.
Around 300 BC, Hindus were convinced they lived in an “unfortunate time” known as the Kali Yuga—the lowest point in the great cosmic cycle. In 426 AD, the Christian writer Augustine mourned that this evil world was in its last days. According to the Lotharingian panic-mongers who lived more than a 1,000 years ago, human life on earth would end on March 25, 970.
Astrologers in 16th-century London calculated that the city would be destroyed by a great flood on February 1, 1524. American minister William Miller proclaimed the planet’s “purification by fire” would occur in 1844. Anglican minister Michael Baxter assured his followers that the Battle of Armageddon would take place in 1868. The Jehovah’s Witnesses anticipated the End of Days in 1910, then 1914, then 1918, then 1925. John Ballou Newbrough (“America’s Greatest Prophet”) promised mass annihilation and global anarchy for 1947.
The website “A Brief History of the Apocalypse” lists over 200 visions of doom that have spilled from the hysterical imaginations of various prophets in the last two millennia.
Our age may have more of these doomsayers per capita than previous eras, although the proportion of religious extremists among them has declined as more scientists, journalists, and storytellers have taken up the
singing of humanity’s predicted swan song.
In her book *For the Time Being,* Annie Dillard says, “It is a weakening and discoloring idea that rustic people knew God personally once upon a time but that it is too late for us. There never was a more holy age than
ours, and never a less. There is no whit less enlightenment under the tree by your street than there was under the Buddha’s bo tree.”
“There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now;
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.”
I invite you to go sit under that tree by your street.
—- Robert Breszny