It’s a big old world out there, and everyone has their own ideas about how it’s going to end. It would be silly of me to suggest that the Christians have the whole Empty Earth thing wrapped up. And anyway, the concept of The Rapture bothers me. I think the whole idea of a chosen few being whisked away to safety leaving all the non-believers behind is incredibly selfish. There’s an element of that in all religions, of course. Our way is the right way, and the rest of you can (quite literally) go to hell. It also gives a whole new spin on the idea of Christian family values.
Every culture has a view on the apocalypse. The Abrahamic tradition (your Jews, Christians and Islamics) tend to view it as the end of all things. God ringing down the curtain as punishment, or rebooting creation as it’s started going a bit funny and his spreadsheet package has frozen. Buddhist and Hindu philosophy tends to think cyclically. As one age ends, another begins. It’s almost a seasonal thing, the endless cycle of death and rebirth. I can sympathise with this. Every time I think I’ve wrought the End Times on the weeds in my garden, back they come, regular as the new Golden Age.
Most religions seem to agree that we are living, if not in the End Times, then at the corrupted end of a cycle. Hindus call it Kali Yuga. The thinking goes that as we and our world go through time, we devolve from divine beings that know nothing of sin, into the sort of base creatures that can happily watch the X-Factor. According to Buddha, our life spans are also attached to this cycle. In the past, people lived for 80,000 years and were endowed with beauty, grace and strength. Over time, as we took on more worldly habits (organised religion, frozen stuffed crust pizza, Sky Sports) our life span and the gifts that go with it started to decline. Eventually, as the cycle comes to an end, we will live for ten years, become sexually active at five, and hunt each other for sport. Once only a few of us are left to repent that we ever thought Eastenders was any good, we will somehow regain virtue and become again divine. See, much more sensible than this Rapture nonsense.
I’m intrigued by the idea that most religions think that we are living in a time that is significantly more corrupt and evil than any that has gone before. I’ve heard that argument before. From my nans, mostly. Things were so much better when they were kids. There was Hovis for everyone, and there was none of this war stuff, you know apart from the war.
This hearkening back to a mythical Golden Age, and dire warnings for our future if we don’t behave, has been going on for longer than you think. Sumerian cave writings have been found that gloomily document a society grown weak, venal and corrupt – a society that, the grumpy writer predicts, will soon collapse into rubble. These writings, surely the first example of a Daliy Mail editorial, have been conservatively dated to around 2800BC. Which goes to show. If we really are living in Kali Yuga, we have been doing so for a veeeeery long time.