Sunday, November 6, 2022

La Nuit de Temps, and Other Types of Apocalypse

I have had apocalypse on the brain for many reasons.  In part, because it's the week where we've had Halloween, All Saints and All Souls.  I've seen the faces of collapsed jack-o-lanterns and wilting Halloween decorations.  The wind blows many of the remaining leaves off the trees, and the mist obscures the moon.

Our Foundations of Preaching class has moved to preaching from Hebrew Scripture texts, and I chose the Isaiah 2:  1-5 text, beating swords into ploughshares.  Of course, it doesn't seem like we'll be doing that anytime soon.

Last night, I found myself at various nuclear war sites, and I watched the first chunk of Threads, the scariest nuclear war movie ever.  And then I had the best night of sleep that I had all week--what does that mean?  Am I just exhausted or is there something about a worst case scenario that lulls me to sleep?

My Church History I class has arrived at the fall of Rome, which was really more of a slow motion collapse than a quick fall.  On Thursday night we talked about Augustine, who was alive for much of the end times.  Our professor talked about Augustine being able to see what was coming and asked if we had ever thought about what that might be like.   I wanted to say, “Every single day.” I feel like we’re at a hinge point of history where things could go terribly wrong, but there’s a slender chance that we might shape a better future. I wonder if Augustine had similar thoughts, a hope that he knew was naïve, but he still wanted to cling to it.

Our teacher gave us the French term for the Dark Ages: La Nuit de Temps.  I know why many historians don't use the term "Dark Ages."  I wonder if the French term is equally problematic.  The ancient prophets remind us that we've had many a dark age.

Thursday night my professor referenced the book One Second After. I could hardly believe it. I read the whole trilogy in August after a college friend mentioned that he had taken a side trip to Black Mountain during a vacation to Asheville because the book had so impacted him. He described it to me, and I couldn’t resist. What a great book! I have thought of it often as Putin has made his nuclear threats throughout this autumn. I want to believe that he wouldn’t attempt something like a high level EMP, or any other kind of nuclear explosion, but I know enough about war (and life) to know that things can go wrong/escalate, especially when rulers think they’ve got the whole situation under control. We have certainly seen evidence of that in the history we’ve covered in Church History I.

As my professor talked about an EMP, I thought about the age of my classmates and how they had probably never thought about all the ways that electronics rule our lives.  Your car won't start (and may come to a sudden stop) without electronics.  I think about my first car, the mighty Monte Carlo, a 1974 model that I kept a few years longer than perhaps I should have, because it didn't have an electronic ignition.

This week's big possibility for apocalypse:  election day on Tuesday.  What's more likely is that we won't know much this week.  I voted weeks ago, as did many people in this country.  I know many people who claim that there is voter suppression, but it's much easier to vote now than it was when I first applied for an absentee ballot, back in 1984.  I had to prove that I was out of town and couldn't get back to my polling place.  It was easy enough to do, since I was a college student.  But it took more effort to get an absentee ballot in 1984 than it did this year.

Are we in a night of time or just a hinge point--or both?  As an old boss of mine used to say, "More will be revealed."  These days, I find myself thinking, or it won't be revealed.

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