Why Millions of Americans are Looking Forward to the End of the World.
By Nicholas Guyatt.
ISBN : 978 0 09 191087 7
About $10 to $15 at Bargain Bookshops (QBD in Brisbane)
THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH!
Journeying into the heartlands of America*s Bible Belt, Nicholas Guyatt goes in search of the truth behind a startling development : that 50 million Americans have come to believe the apocalypse will take place in their lifetimes.
Guyatt starts his trail in Texas where one of today*s most influential Evangelist, Pastor John Hagee has sold more than 600,000 copies of his book, Jerusalem Countdown, in which (as a staunch Jewish sympathiser), Hagee claims *inside* information from Israel, which proves the fact that, *The coming nuclear showdown with Iran, America and Israel is a certainty!*
Hagee is also the president of John Hagee Ministries, which sells sermons, videos, Israel tours and even high speed internet access that filters out the nasty stuff. He made $1.25 million in 2001 and claims that he earns every penny by working a 80 hour week. The list of his activities and commercial empire not ending there, as he controls his own TV and media outlets, NBA sports teams and all manner of stuff.
From this simple beginning, Guyatt winds his path away from Texas to the White house through a string of powerful Evangelical doomsday preachers including Tim LaHaye, who all share a remarkably consistent view of how the Bible*s prophetic promises from Revelation and beyond, will shape tomorrow*s headlines. Not surprisingly, it isn*t long before Guyatt runs into charismatic speakers like Tom DeLay, the former speaker in the House of Representatives; and Gary Bauer, an adviser to Ronald Reagan, and smack dab into G. Bush himself. Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu all appear too amongst others, many notable movers and shakers of Israeli politics, which seems (to Guyatt) slightly misplaced in San Antonio, Texas?
But, this is not a conspiracy theory book, far from it : just a book of facts. You will take away from it what you want and leave behind the rest, as Guyatt slowly unveils the means by which the second coming of Christ is about to happen, through the careful scrutiny of the scriptures, and as seem through the eyes of Hagee and millions of his followers. You will come to understand intimately this deep obsession that lies in the heart of the world*s only superpower and why.
Guyatt explores the texts in the Bible that today*s evangelists use to make their claims. He opens to plain view and examination the evangelical conclusions drawn by men like Pastor Hagee, and loooks long and hard at the reasons why they are so sure of what they are saying. Concluding that ALL AGREE that the beginning of the apocalypse, will be marked by the Rapture, when all the true believers will be *raptured* by God. The time when all the faithful Christians will instantly vanish from the Earth, creating political and social chaos.
Guyatt writes :
Although this is where things start to sound far fetched, the idea of a massive disappearance of true believers is based on a verse in a letter from St Paul to the Thessalonians. (You can hear Tim LaHaye reading the verse in question from Thessalonians, and admire a Flash animation of the Rapture, at www.timlahaye.com ). The Rapture is absolutely central to the prophetic scheme of most apocalyptic Christians in America. In a Christian superstore like Mardel*s in Littleton, you can buy a bumper sticker that reads:
THIS VEHICLE WILL BE UNMANNED.
Prophecy believers use chat rooms to debate how they can reconcile public safety with the unknowable timing of the Rapture. Some have suggested that true believers should think twice before becoming surgeons or airplane pilots, because they could easily endanger non Christians by disappearing suddenly when God gathers up the faithful.
Guyatt reveals that John Hagee sincerely believes that he will be Raptured. In fact, some of his books contain a rider in which he anticipates this scenario in which he writes : *For those who have missed the Rapture : you may be confused and terrified by the momentous events you are experiencing. You may be in hiding. Take heed to this book, then lift up your heads ~ your redemption draws near.*
As a lapsed Catholic himself, Guyatt admits to being drawn to what he termed ; *the liberal warnings of evangelicals run amok,* adding that the one thing he couldn*t work out is why apocalyptic Christians, who believe that the world is about to be ruined by the Antichrist, would want to get involved in politics? Guyatt*s point of view is that if God is in charge, what*s the point of electing a Republican Congress or an evangelical President?
His confusion is well founded because what makes today*s apocalyptic Christian so intriguing and perplexing is that historically, prophecy believers have been politically marginal, content to withdraw from the public arena whilst awaiting Christ*s return, (interestingly, also totally conditioned to believing that much suffering and terrible times must proceed the Second Coming). But not so today, when apocalyptic Christians are political activists involved in everything from debates on abortion, homosexuality, to the Bill of Rights and all that is politically mainstream, right up to the white house itself; up front and generally to the right of the situation at hand.
So what has changed and why?
Have a Nice Doomsday will read like pure fantasy to some; part fiction to others and even still; absolute gospel and validation to those who already believe. Whichever way you read it, this book will make you stop and think about your mortal soul should an apocalyptic ending be as close as so many now believe it to be. You will be left to wonder just exactly what it will mean to you in a world gone mad with too many choices.
A small paperback of only 307 pages, you will learn how prophecy scholars are focused on spiritual decline in America before God/the ultimate justice turns it into the kind of paradise that people have long prayed for. Guyatt has done his research well and I learned a fair bit more about the Bible and how the mind of the modern Apocalyptic Christian interprets it.
Reading this book helped me look at things in a completely different light to the way I had before, which is always a good thing because it allows us to build on our own beliefs.
There are time too when this book pushed buttons and boundaries within me, and it is for this reason that I recommend that you give your brain a good stretch and bend, and grab a copy. Find out why over 50 million Americans believe our world will end, within our lifetime.
You may just surprise yourself and end up agreeing with them, then again, you may think that the world will become what we believe it will become, as it is our collective belief en masse, which sees us as the co~creators of our own future as a species?
Either way, you decide.