Talk of THE END TIMES (as one recently tried to engage me in. Also, it sounds like a good news paper: The End Times: $1.50 on Sundays) used to freak me out. And I heard plenty of it. The "Left Behind" series was a classic teen lock-in Christian horror flick that stuck with me, causing panic attacks for eons. Even though I was supposedly one of the saved who would rise above it all and endure in grace and glory, I still didn't look forward to this totally freakish transformation and saying good bye to all the fabulous, eternally hell-bound people I love.
It turns out that most religions and groups have an END TIMES scenario fantasy. For each group the END TIMES is terrible, horrible, hell, for everyone but them. If you stay with that group, follow their rules, and believe in their god, you won't just survive it, you'll thrive. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Back-to-the-Landers, even remote tribes of Colombia. All entertain this phantasmagoria of flames and annihilation for everyone else.
If someone could come up with an END TIMES prediction in which everyone is destroyed equally and without regard to race, creed, sexual orientation, or hobbies, then it might sound like something more than just pure manipulation. But all of them promise that if you stay with their half-rate religion (which is apparently not good enough to lure or retain you for long on it's own merits, but needs a fear-monger crutch to seal the deal) then you'll be saved. They create a worst case scenario and then save you from it. How nice!
But the result of such psychological manipulation is that we've now got a planet chock-a-block full of groups who hanker for the end, for the tables to turn on everyone, and leave them standing, victorious and right. So... basically, if we do the math, we find we've got, roughly, 6 billion people excitedly trying to bring about the end of the world. And they're going to drag the remainder of us into their hell.
And this is why Universalism must take root. Because we will all perish miserably if salvation, if god's love, if compassion and care are not lavished equally upon all, regardless of where you were born, what cultural religion you were born in to, regardless of who you are, your interests, your path in life, your essential self. God's love is for everyone. The banquet is open and free, no RSVP necessary. If you didn't get the invite, that's okay, there's a place for you anyway.
There are Christians who believe that Christ did die for our sins, must have died for the sins of human kind, and that the forgiveness earned in that death is universal, for all, not just for a few pre-destined souls, not just for those who hear and accept, but for all humankind, for all time, for ever. Although I'm just a human with my flawed human ethics, I cannot stand a version of God who pumps out souls who aren't pre-destined for union with him. I mean, a god like that just needs therapy, not devotees. I'm not a Christian, but if I were, I'd be one of those Universalist Christians.
This Universalism is absolutely necessary. Without universalism, each little group will play their part in turning the oceans red, in suiting up their four horsemen, in stock piling nuclear holocaust fantasies, in saving themselves and making sure everyone else is damned.
Yes, I do believe we humans could, and have locally, create the end of the world. I do believe we can drop nuclear bombs, cover the seven seas with red oil, genocide the whole planet. And the hell I believe in is one that happens here on earth, when love is denied to anyone, even ourselves: Auschwitz, Hiroshima, drug addiction, child abuse, et al. But that's humans, not god. And an end we bring about is euthanasia of a planet that's just approaching midlife. And that, my friends, is NOT pro-life.
But I will admit to a feeling that I am experiencing the END of the WORLD right now. Every moment is the end. And every moment is the Beginning, the birth of something un-pre-destined, something innocent and new. Every moment is the beginning of the world. And aren't I lucky to be here after all, experiencing this, the birth of a moment that hasn't gone horribly wrong yet. We are the only captains this ship has got and if we want to run it into the ground, we can. If we want to set sail for a new world, we will. And we will all go together.
So that's my soap box of the day. Love your neighbor, love yourself. Love and salvation from whatever assails us is for everyone, equally. Or this is really going to suck, equally.