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 Food For Thought

Copyright Ó 1997, Dorian Scott Cole *
Prophecy: Hysteria or Certain Doom?
During the 60's and 70's I was a proponent of the apocalyptic fervor that was sweeping the US and other countries. Many people, including those in high military and government offices, were (are) convinced that we are living in the last days of this world - this world will be destroyed and another more perfect world will emerge.

Hal Lindsay's books in the '70's gained immediate favor among religious fundamentalists and soon became favorites of a wide audience including those of many religious persuasions and even those without religion. Hal Lindsay's books generally delivered the same message: the beast would

enter the world in the form of a political leader, then the world would enter a tribulation period during which horrible wars and destruction would take place.

Finally Jesus Christ would step foot on the earth and restore peace and bring a new age. The root message seems to be that human beings are not capable of living in peace and our doom is inevitable. Is it true?

People have also turned to other prophets - the seers who are somehow able to look into the Cosmos and foretell great events in mankind's future. From Nostradamus to Edgar Cayce, to the more recent proliferation of people gazing into crystal balls, the

message seems to be the same. Prophets see major natural and man-made cataclysmic destruction in our future. War. Earthquakes. Ouch! The more recent prophets seem to corroborate the ancient prophets. But is it true?

Well, I'm not a fundamentalist. But I've been a fundamentalist. And I'm not a follower of modern prophets. But I have been a devotee of the more modern prophets - particularly Cayce, whose accuracy has been uncanny and who didn't leave his work in the mess that Nostradamus did, although Nostradamus seems equally accurate. I'm sure I don't have any magic answers. (I'm a Pisces, which according to astrologers, if you can believe any of that stuff, it's my lot to be "spiritual.")

What I have struggled to know is the "truth," at least so far as prophecy is concerned. My foray into the fields of both religious and non-sectarian prophecy made me deeply motivated to ferret out the truth and not be misled. Using the holy writings of the Israelites (Bible Old Testament), I studied and researched the role of the prophet and prophecy. I studied and researched the role of symbolism. I studied and researched the basic messages of the old and new testaments and asked how prophecy fit into those basic messages. "Hmmm," concludes I, "it ain't all what it appears."

Briefly, I concluded that prophecies are wake up calls. The events foretold are not empty threats - they can happen.

The foretelling creates a crisis during which we can either decide to address the problems or we can continue to ignore problems and bring about our inevitable demise.

This is best exemplified by one of the later prophets in Ancient Israel - Jonah. God told Jonah to go and tell a city that God would destroy it. But Jonah, a prophet to the King, had caught on to God's ways - Jonah knew if the city changed its ways God would not destroy it. But a prophet's word was supposed to be absolutely right or the prophet was discredited.

So rather than face the humiliation of being wrong, Jonah went to sea. But

finding that running from your duties only brings greater trouble for everyone, Jonah finally went to Nineveh and delivered the message. Of course the people changed their ways and the city wasn't destroyed. Jonah got over it.

The basics of prophecy and of God's messages are encompassed in this one little story. You can substitute any evil person, group, city, or nation for Nineveh. You can substitute any person, group, city, or nation for Jonah. You can substitute any evil in place of the evil. Hitler and Musolini are perfect examples of an evil that reached apocalyptic proportions but was countered by a group of vigilant nations which ultimately had to stop the cancer of hate and murder from

growing. God has established both the messengers and the means of stopping evil. (Not that the opposing nations were holy or that this was a holy war - not any more than a snake or an earthquake is "holy." God can work through any means.)

What I derived from my study of prophecy is that every person, group, city, or nation, must be eternally vigilant (always watching) for evil and

must take responsibility for opposing it. If we run from our responsibilities, we bring trouble on everyone and the problem gets worse. If we hide from our responsibilities for too long, then the worst will happen - even the end may come.

What I fear most is evil disguised as holiness. That is, individuals, groups, or nations that do evil while masquerading as agents of God. For example, small groups of terrorists in Northern Ireland who continue one hate crime after another, drawing not just the region into conflict, but people from all over the world are drawn into it and finance it. Yet over 90% of the people who live in Northern Ireland want an end to the violence and want to live together in peace. You can trace back to who threw the first bomb and who conquered who - there is no end to the reasons to hate. But people are organized in the name of religion (Protestants and Catholics) - hating each other.

In Bosnia it's the Christians and Moslems - different cultures and religions. In Nazi Germany it was a government against the Jews. In the Middle-East it's Jews against Muslims and Muslim fundamentalists against Muslim non-fundamentalists. In the Middle-East, hate has continued from antiquity.

And in the last 1000 years, Christians wiped out native peoples on several continents... in the name of God. Crusades to conquer and convert soon turned internal - the Inquisition - people killed for not believing quite correctly. Holy war.

Holy war. The Israelites, the Christians, and the Muslims are all guilty of declaring war on others in the name of

God. So which one is right? Crusades. Is the desire to colonize others and make them just as we are so strong that it can't be overcome? Are we any less guilty of colonizing now than in the past? Whose flag is on the moon?

Do the Americans own the moon any more than the Spanish, French, English, Italians, or Portuguese owned the Americas when they first stepped foot on them and raised their flags? We all march around waving our flags and singing God is on our side - regardless of nationality or culture or religion. But in reality, God is on all of our sides.

What is this holy war business really about? Self protection. Protecting a way of life and declaring God is the author of it. It's the natural withdrawal that people do when confronted with differences and change.

Add a few zealots and fanatics and you have an out of control mob. I think even the US involvement in the Vietnam war was to some extent a holy war. I don't believe communism works, and it should have been opposed.

But when troops went in and fought the communists in Vietnam, it was to protect the US way of life for others. Some called it protecting freedom.

I think freedom is valuable and should be protected - people shouldn't own slaves

and men shouldn't own wives and kids. But I'm not sure it is a God-given right for every nation and something we should impose at gun-point.

I think freedom is earned. Communism fell from within and is almost extinct, but not because of the US crusade against communism in Vietnam. The US has been much smarter about which wars it has gotten involved in since Vietnam, and in the war against Sadam, the entire world was against the takeover and extermination of a nation - something worth opposing. But only Sadam was thinking holy war.

How close are we to the apocalypse - the end of all things? We are always standing on the brink. Hate always has a foothold, and the moment we let down our guard and let evil take over, that's when it will blow up in our face.

Hate and evil have always masqueraded as holiness. People who hate do it in the name of God - fooling everyone who will listen. The Spirit of God is in many peoples in this world. When we fail to oppose evil, that's when the Spirit of God will be gone, and when the Spirit of God has left the world then evil will reign.

What do you think?

If you found this an interesting topic and would like to read more about the meaning of prophecy, watch this site for my book,The Last Prophet. It will be put up in chapters as I get time, as a free download. I wrote this book in 1980.

Story ideas - Concepts for plots and subplots:

People immersed in hate have all the reason in the world to hate. It's usually because of some injustice done to them, so they are going to have an eye for an eye. Sometimes there are thousands of years of distrust and hate. At a gut level, it makes sense. You have to show them they can't get away with it. You can even point to holy writings - the "Law of God." But what really happens is in inflicting the repraisal kind of justice even more people get hurt, and they have to retaliate to even the score. Retaliation can only escalate. And when different cultures are involved, suspicion is already high and hatred can easily be generalized to encompass everyone in the other culture. Terrorists thrive on polarizing people with this kind of tactic.

What is it that makes people stop retaliating, lay down their weapons, accept each other, and stop hating? Following are several ideas for stories:

¤ Two opposing groups are forced by a common enemy, possibly a natural disaster, to temporarily work together in order to survive. They discover ways they are alike, but the bonds of hate are not broken. Both sides have leaders and strong groups who push them to remain separate because of past injustices.

One person in the opposition makes some self-sacrificing act to save someone on the other side. The bond of hate is broken for a few more. Then something extremely valuable to each party (like water in the desert) becomes hostage between the two warring parties. If the fighting continues to escalate, the "water" may be destroyed. At the climax, both parties are face to face ready to destroy the "water" rather than make peace. They remember working together, and the sacrifice of one man, and consider what they are about to lose so they can continue hating each other. One by one individuals leave the quarrel until only the opposing leaders are left. When the two leaders begin to fight, putting them all at risk, the people return, take the two away, and throw them in prison.

¤ !People are tired of the hatred and killing in their community. Two brothers stand at opposite extremes of the problem, but they are best of friends and love each other. One campaigns for peace and tries to bring people together. The other campaigns for never surrender until the enemy is gone. The warring brother starts a terror campaign that causes the murder of his brother. He realizes that he could have prevented his brother's death, so he is the cause of his murder. Both brothers are well known on both sides.

The warring brother takes two friends into the enemies community and enters a tavern. The tavern is occupied by several men from the enemy faction. Believing the brother is on a suicide revenge mission for his brother's death, they prepare to battle. The warring brother buys a round of drinks for all. The enemy stares at the drinks, then pours them on the floor. He buys another, then another, until the floor is covered in brew, then the enemy leader screams at him, telling him to stop and asking for what insane reason he is covering their floor with brew. He replies, that he has lost his brother and he wants to drink in his honor with men who are truly able to share his grief.

Several of the men start to leave, but the leader stops them. They have a drink, and make passionate speeches remembering their brothers and the friends they have lost, and talk about the dreams of those people and what they could have done with their lives. And when one person accuses another of doing the killing, the brother orders another round, but only for those who have taken a life, or caused a life to be taken. And they all drink again. Then another drink. And the bonds of hate begin to crumble.

¤ A community (or group) once known for its tolerance and progressiveness is now building a reputation for its intolerance. People are becoming reclusive. Outsiders are no longer welcome. They have cut themselves off from other communities. People rally around "family values" when any different value is expressed. People wrap themselves in the flag and wear it to religious services. Anything different is examined in the light of "religious" teachings (actually only excerpts that suit their way of life) and "different" is usually found unfit. The local librarian and her friends frequently sneak "bad" books from the library and schools to get rid of them, and a "committee" oversees the books and videos that the local stores can carry without causing a protest line outside. A young reporter comes to town whose ideas are "different." He is rejected, beaten, thrown out of town, and almost killed. The people who beat the young man, on learning that he is fighting for life, make big sacrifices to keep him alive. Then they realize that their attitudes were the same as his when they were younger. Instead of wisdom focusing their vision, ignorance and fear has narrowed it to self serving interests. They have ceased to enjoy life and instead have become slaves to incessant demands on them for "social values" they thought would protect them.

* Ideas can't be copyrighted, but if you use afully developed idea from these pages it is customary to give credit - you won't get sued if you don't, or charged if you do. This page is copyrighted - that means you can't copy the text from this page and post it anonymously or give authoring credit to another person. Fully developed ideas are marked with a !. Credit for an idea is usually in the form: From an idea by (name).

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