Vail Valley Voices: Is the world ending?
Vail, CO, Colorado
Tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados, wars everywhere, particularly in the Middle East. Unchecked violence, even in America. The populace would rather shoot a video of the crime than actually step in and do something about it. Soaring oil prices. New levels of political vehemence.
Those were the headlines scrolling across the screen while an attractive newscaster spun the latest story. At their favorite table the teacher and the student soberly sipped, quenching their thirst and calming their thoughts. “Do you think the world is coming to an end?” the student asked.
“What do you mean by ‘world’?”
The student forgave the teacher’s penchant for answering a question with a question. Besides, the teacher was buying. “You know, the world.”
“If by ‘world’ you mean the biblical definition of that organized system that is headed and run by Satan which is contrary to God and leaves Him out, then, yes, I believe the world is coming to an end. It’s been coming to an end since it started.”
The student rolled his eyes. The teacher was quickly using up his allotted “forgivings.” Still, the Stella tasted good.
“By the way,” the teacher looked sharply at the student, “how many times should one forgive another.”
Instantly pale, the student shrugged defensively. The teacher’s discernment was uncanny.
“Four hundred and ninety, I think. Or, however many that is.”
“But what about the world?”
“I think this is only the beginning. It will get worse.”
“Is that what William Godwin would say?”
“No.” The teacher frowned. “Godwin thinks it will get better.”
“Haven’t there always been wars and natural disasters?”
“Not always, but nearly so. You didn’t answer my question. What do you mean by ‘world’?”
The student turned his head, watching his favorite waitress cross the room. World indeed, the teacher thought.
“Well,” the student blustered, attempting to hide his shame, “you know, the way things are. The world as we know it, so to speak. Something apocalyptic.”
“Remember our lesson on definition of terms? Do you know what ‘apocalyptic’ means?”
The student pulled out his pocket dictionary as the teacher had instructed him to do and began to look it up. He hoped the waitress wasn’t noticing.
Seeing the student’s obedience, the teacher began to speak clearly, “Yes, the world is coming to an end. However, no one knows when. These are signs. But they are of a general sort. They will increase. Personally, I think the time is near.”
“But maybe Godwin’s right. Why can’t mankind figure out how to stop these things, especially the wars? We might even learn how to control or even eliminate the natural disasters some day. We sent a man to the moon. We’re going to cure cancer. We’re even going to create life.”
Yes! The student rejoiced. For the first time he had stumped the teacher. Look at him, silently staring at me with that blank expression. He motioned for the waitress to fill his glass and was ignored.
Returning his eyes to the teacher, he reassessed the stare. Maybe it was more of a glare. He remembered a time in class when a student had asked a silly question and the teacher had wordlessly debated for a long time before offering a gentle rebuke that was, at the same time, scathing. Perhaps he should look for the waitress again.
“No. Godwin is wrong and the world will end.” When he set his merlot down it clinked harder than usual.
The student knew he had never earned it, but that he always had an unlimited supply of grace from the teacher, so he continued, “How? How do you think you know that?”
“Because, worldly one, some people actually do build their pyramid with integrity. For some people facts do matter. Some people adjust their core beliefs based on truth, rather than on the dogma of the age. Some people can see. And there is one ultimate fact that Godwin never recognized and so continued ever more radically to defend his base, his belief that man is good.”
He stopped, pausing to see if the student really wanted to know this one fact.
“What is it?”
“Someone is resurrected.”
“Someday, in the future, you’re gonna come back, you’re come back,” sang the soulish voice.
Bob Branden is host of the podcast http://twomenandabible.podomatic.com/