Recurrent themes emerge

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It seems to be an all-too-common theme.

Any number of books and movies have made fortunes peddling this fascinating subject, painting a variety of scenarios each depicting the end of the world.

In fact, the subject is so prevalent and is presented in so many venues, that the once-familiar sandwich board man, ringing his bell and crying "the end is near, the end is near," is looking for a new job.

I don't know which contemporary author hit the bookstands first, Robert R. McCammon with "Swan Song" or Stephen King with "The Stand," but both deal with the end of the world as we know it.

King's Stand is probably more familiar to most readers, especially since it was made into a mini-series several years ago. It brings about the near annihilation of mankind through the spreading of the Super Flu.

McCammon's work is perhaps less well known, though it is certainly as well-written as King's 900-plus pages. (I must confess to having read both more than once.)

McCammon capitalizes on the latent fears of those who participated in the "duck and cover" exercises in the early '60s and sends the world into a seven-year nuclear winter.

Present in both tomes are two primary groups of people, one good, one evil. As the pages turn, these two groups, while trying to survive in a world completely foreign to the one they knew before catastrophe stuck, are inexorably drawn together for a final showdown. You'll be relieved to learn that evil is defeated, good prevails.

A new series by Christian author Terri Blackstock introduces a world where the electricity is suddenly gone, the power grids instantly wiped out by an enormous solar storm, and people suddenly plunged into a world where nothing that worked works now. Communications gone. Refrigeration gone. Water pressure gone. I've only read the first in the series, but Blackstock is an excellent writer and I'm looking forward to reading the rest.

Movies are getting on the bandwagon as well, most recently with the movie aptly named "Armageddon." In it, a giant asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and all are doomed. It doesn't look good.

Although there isn't time to draw the lines between good and evil in Armageddon, the two camps make their presence known when a rough talking, rough living crew from an offshore drilling rig are pressed into service to accompany NASA's finest in space shuttles to deal with the approaching behemoth.

Just in the nick of time man, and his technology, prevails, the asteroid is utterly destroyed, and earth is spared, interestingly enough by the selfless act of one man's death.

The theme is common. Destruction, however it may come, is nigh.

What is our fascination with this subject matter? Could it be instinctive? Could our secret hearts be marking time in ways unknown to our forebears?

Evidence, even apart from books and screen, seems to indicate that this may be so. People are hungry. Hungry for success.

Hungry for possessions. Hungry for recognition. We are relentless in our pursuits of money, houses, cars, lovers and the ever elusive happiness we crave.

Science fiction and fantasy aside, there is another commonality found in these entertaining offerings.

It seems each of these scenarios is possible.

Nuclear weaponry is a given. Who knows who has what where aimed at whom?

Asteroids fly through space all the time. Scientists tell us they've hit before, they'll hit again. No one knows the when of it.

Bird flu is making headlines daily. Will it mutate? Will it bring about massive death and illness worldwide?

Even our precious electrical power is at risk. We were watching a documentary on Discovery earlier this year that detailed the perfect solar storm and the resultant years of darkness as power grids had to be rebuilt.

And yet one more commonality.

In each of these fictional accounts, man prevails. Through sheer grit and determination, through innovative thinking, through the victory of good over evil, man prevails and lives to fight another day.

Good for us.

I am not a student of endtimes, nor do I address the issue with any frequency.

Of these things, however, I am sure and certain.

This world is not our home.

Life does not end at Memorial Park Cemetery -- six feet of dirt, a concrete vault and headstone notwithstanding.

Jesus is the Son of God.

He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin.

He lived as a man, eating, drinking, breathing and bleeding.

He did no sin. Not once, not ever, though he was sorely tempted.

He died a cruel death, one reserved for the most heinous of criminals, without one word of protest, spending his last breaths to pray, "Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing."

He rose on the third day, defeating every man's final foe, and is, even now, seated at the right hand of God, continuing to intercede for all who call upon his name.

And, he's coming back.

"'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:8 (NIV)

Things you won't see in heaven: escape hatches

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