US Catholic Faith in Real Life

The end is near

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I admit that I'm a bit obsessed with the end of the world.

I've seen most of the recent doomsday disaster movies--Armageddon, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow--and I am looking forward to seeing 2012, as well, even if Meinrad Scherer-Emunds doesn't give it the best preview in his article, Ready or not, here I come...again.

Most of these movies have interesting, hope-filled themes. The world unites together in Independence Day (under American leadership, and unfortunately, it takes a common enemy, i.e. alien invasion). Mexico welcomes U.S. refugees in The Day After Tomorrow (how ironic).

In my favorite part of that movie, two of the main characters, nerdy teens, don't let the librarian kick out a homeless man and his dog. Later the man teaches them to insulate themselves against the cold with paper, and the college kids fret over burning old books to survive.

Watching Armageddon on the way to a church retreat once, I was struck by what might be the moral of this story: If God brings on the Armageddon, Bruce Willis and friends effectively outsmart God. You can't destroy us, God!  These movies aren't exactly presenting a Catholic view of the end of the world.

Other than that, though, the stories spark interesting hypothetical questions: What if you were one of the last people surviving a major worldwide disaster? What of our current civilization would you preserve? How would you survive? Would you see other survivors as comrades or potential enemies ready to steal your resources?

Thinking about how we would respond to "the" disaster (even if it doesn't come in 2012) can also make us question the way we respond to "ordinary" disasters. The end of the world won't be pretty if we're as unprepared as we were for Hurricane Katrina. Huge parts of the world are becoming deserts. Do we take care of the people who live there or welcome the migrants affected by global warming now? Will they welcome us if the United States becomes uninhabitable?

The Rapture that Meinrad debunks in his story is the easy way out. Disaster of any type isn't easy. But I do think we can prepare for end times by treating each other with compassion and justice now.