'There’s a major limitation of groups that embrace apocalypticism: They lose their appeal when their predictions fail to materialize.'
We are at war!
No, I'm not speaking of the War on Terror that many Americans are blindly fighting against an almost unassailable foe; I'm not even speaking of the War on Islam that seems to be fomenting in the hearts & minds of these & other Americans! I'm speaking rather of the War that the U. S. Inc. is waging, with the help of the Religious Right ( Moral Majority, etc. ) on the Hearts & Minds of all Americans!
A large part of the reason ( and anyone may correct me here ) that we are embroiled in the wars of our neighbors in the Middle-East, is based in apocolypticism, the belief that such cataclysmic events are leading up to the end of history & the world as we know it! We can enumerate numerous examples ( The Waco Incident ( David Koresh ), 'Don't Drink the Kool-aid' ( Jim Jones ), etc ) of where such beliefs have lead, not to the end of the world ( although it was definitely the end of their 'world' ) but simply to death & destruction for all or many of those involved.
An anachronistic reading of the Story of Scripture has lead to much unnecessary pain & suffering on several accounts, not least of which is a false understanding of eschatology, or apocalyptic literature. The belief that we are entering upon or living in the time of the end as described in the pages of Scripture ( particularly in the latter half ) has led many, if not most Americans & Christians in general to bear witness to many crimes against humanity, all in the name of 'freedom'!
Apocalypticism appeals to many different groups of people, but especially to those who view themselves as 'downtrodden'! It offers the hope of escape from the rigors of this life & an entrance into realms of pleasure. For Muslims, it means the sexual pleasures of '70 virgins' ( or so we hear ), while to many Christians it means anything from playing on the harp all day to never having to worry about doing taxes again! To hasten 'The End'; many people ( including, strangely enough, mostly Muslims & Christians ) have committed acts of barbarism that would almost make the Holocaust seem like a Sunday School Picnic!
Why has it been so easy for 'the powers that be' to manipulate & control the hearts & minds of so many of its constituents; can the average citizen of this country not see that they've been 'hood-winked' by these great deceivers? Especially after so many predictions of 'the end of time' have proven to be simply the end of an era ( or their credibility ), one would think that Americans would note this ( false ) 'apocalypticism' for what it is & address the issues at hand! To their credit, many Americans ( this is a growing number ) have realized the 'fear & fairy-tales' that have captivated them for so long; it is as if they are awaking from a long sleep, like Rip Van Winkle, if you will!
Because most Christians in particular & Americans in general have fallen prey to this false ideology, the world has born witness to much that is not very Christ-like; it is no wonder that Christianity in general & America in particular have become such a joke to so many! By reading ourselves into the Story of Scripture, we have not not only failed to understand the True Meaning of Jesus' Death, Burial & Resurrection, we have born witness to almost irreparable harm all over the world! It is only through a correct understanding of this Story that we will be able to rise up out of this morass that we have created!
When Americans throw off these chains of bondage & come blinking into the Light, we may see a gradual lessening of the wars ( of all sorts ) that we have seen over the past number of centuries! 'Apocalypticism', though it may have lost much of it relative appeal, is still very much alive, but it's steadily losing steam. The damage has been done & it's not over yet; 'apocalypticism' no doubt has much more havoc to wreak on our world!
If we want to win this war, we must determine not to be manipulated any longer by these ( false ) religious fears & fairy-tales! We can & must indeed learn from the trials & tribulations we read in the Story of Scripture, but we must realize too that these events took place in the past; though they hold many truths for us today, in our world, they were fulfilled in the first century. The biggest Truth, maybe, is the realization that the End did come; everything else will 'snowball' from there!
Charles Haddon Shank