The end of seasons?

Four-Seasons
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When I was a child, I remember hearing dire warnings during church services about how the seasons would get mixed up in the End Times. These End Times were always discussed as if they were going to start within the next five minutes. We all, children and adults alike, lived in utter fear of the coming apocalypse. Most of our beliefs about The End of the World as We Know It (or TEOTWAWKI) were based on the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. My fear created a fascination that caused me to read the book several times during various church services. Much like watching a scary movie, I was terrified but couldn’t tear my eyes away.

For many years I just took it for granted that Mother Nature would get confused in the end (sort of a global form of dementia), and we would lose our four clearly-defined seasons. What I failed to consider is that many parts of the planet don’t have spring, summer, fall and winter the way we do here.

I, like most people, used to read the Bible as if it were written directly to me without regard for historical or geographical context. You can imagine my surprise recently when I discovered this teaching about the seasons isn’t even in the Bible. Apparently it originated in the prophecies of Padre Pio, a Roman Catholic priest, when he included the following line: “You will know when that time is approaching because the seasons will change so the only way you will know the seasons is by the leaves on the trees.”

As it turns out, such beliefs actually contradict scripture.  Genesis 8:22 states, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  Matthew 24:32-33 explains, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that the end is near, right at the door.”

So, yeah. We might still have to worry about other End Times scenarios like a biblical Armageddon, nuclear holocaust, zombie apocalypse, or even a robot uprising, but we can (hopefully) depend on Mama Earth continuing her various cycles through it all. If she doesn’t, we are probably doomed anyway.

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The book of Revelation, Madonna & ‘The Beast Within’

Quite a combination, huh?

Our pastor, Karen, commented in today’s sermon about how you can ask anyone what their favorite Bible verse is and they will never say it’s anything from The Book of Revelation (or Revelations, as we often incorrectly refer to it). I’d say that’s probably accurate, but it immediately reminded me of the opening to Madonna’s Reinvention Tour, which I had the good fortune to see live in 2004.

Before she took the stage, there were multiple video screens playing a song by her titled “The Beast Within”. It has a rather creepy feel to it with strange, jerky images and Madge reading adaptations of verses from The Book of Revelation over music. However, the segment about the new heaven and earth and God wiping the tears from our eyes is incredibly beautiful and moving.

I’ve always been fascinated by Revelation and have read the book on several occasions, many times devouring it entirely during one church service. I was surprised to learn in today’s sermon that the book was almost not included in the Bible as we know it. Here is the story from Wikipedia:

Revelation is considered one of the most controversial and difficult books of the Bible, with many diverse interpretations of the meanings of the various names and events in the account. Protestant founder Martin Luther at first considered Revelation to be “neither apostolic nor prophetic” and stated that “Christ is neither taught nor known in it”. However, he later changed his mind, believing the book to be divinely inspired. John Calvin believed the book to be canonical, yet it was the only New Testament book on which he did not write a commentary.

In the 4th century, St. John Chrysostom and other bishops argued against including this book in the New Testament canon, chiefly because of the difficulties of interpreting it and the danger for abuse. Christians in Syria also reject it because of the Montanists’ heavy reliance on it. In the 9th century, it was included with the Apocalypse of Peter among “disputed” books in the Stichometry of St. Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople. In the end it was included in the accepted canon, although it remains the only book of the New Testament that is not read within the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Religious skeptics have typically been highly critical of Revelation, often considering it the work of a mentally ill author. Typical in this vein is nineteenth-century agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll, who famously branded Revelation “the insanest of all books”.

Lots to chew on…