Mississippi gave us Jesus, Elvis and Oprah

I’m at work on a new book. I’ve been talking to a bunch of different folks about their thoughts on Eschatology, which is just a high-flutin word for do you think that fella who irritates you so badly is going to be left behind when the Rapture takes place?  Or maybe you don’t believe in the Rapture at all. Maybe you believe in The Lord’s Prayer version of Eschatology — “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done here on earth as it is in Heaven.” 

While considering these matters I wrote the following:  

“Mississippi is God’s answer to any question an atheist asks. I don’t know a person who can drive through that state without uttering a prayer of some sort – be it in praise of the magnolias and the live oaks, or Square Books and Ole Miss football, Charlie Musselwhite and Muddy Waters, or be it in fear of the snakes sunning on the river’s edge or the tornadoes swirling overhead, or for the words that have risen up out of that country: William Faulkner, Barry Hannah, Larry Brown, John Grisham, Tom Franklin, Ralph Eubanks, Miz Welty, Mark Childress, Julia Reed, Kathryn Stockett, the list goes on.  

Mississippi gave us Jesus, Elvis and Oprah. There are no unbelievers in all of Mississippi. Anyone who says otherwise is a bald-face liar, most assuredly from out-of-state.” 


What about it? Do you think geography shapes Eschatology? If so, how does it shape yours? How do you categorize your own beliefs about the End Times? Do you think some states and their populations are more prepared for a Second-Coming than others?

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  • Growing up Pentecostal in TX in the 70’s sure shaped mine. But it might be just as much about your denomination as geography.
    That said, while I am convinced that Left Behind has some bad theology, there will be some sort of End Times stuff sometime. It will get bad before it gets good. And I hate that those of us who think so are derided so.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      James: Don’t most folks believe in some sort of End Time stuff sometime?

      • I have a cold and didn’t sleep well. Could have worded it better.

        • Karen Spears Zacharias

          Sorry about the cold.

  • Timothy Dalrymple

    I just wanted to be the first person to leave a comment, Karen. Jesus, Elvis, and Oprah: The Lord of Lords, the King of Rock and Roll, and the Queen of Daytime Talk. That’s a lot of royalty.

    Can’t say that I’ve ever driven through Mississippi. But I’m sure that if I did, my faith would be reaffirmed.

  • Timothy Dalrymple

    Whoops – C & C Admin 1 is otherwise known as Timothy Dalrymple.

  • Last month I was in Mexico, on a kind of church-related “fact-finding mission.” People in the arid Oaxaca state, who knew a little about the South, told me that Mississippi is “very rich” because we have so much rain. In Chiapas I would explain that Mississippi is the Chiapas of los Estados Unidos: very beautiful, very friendly, and very poor. Not, of course, that we hold a candle to Chiapas on that third one!

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Robert: A lovely sentiment of shared landscape. And yes, one fellow asked me, given the history of MS, how could I see it this way. I thought about it for a moment and decided that even in the midst of its violent racist past, MS is God’s example of people redeemed.

  • I would say culture is the most influential piece of the eschatology puzzle. To me, culture is a bit broader than geography. By culture I mean the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group. In my own opinion, most bad theology and judgmental practices come from the cultural, not from a reasoned examination of the facts of Scripture. End time views are severely strained toward the teaching and training of one’s religious culture. That’s why every preacher/teacher has to pray hard to avoid the desire to judge the religious experiences of others, especially when you haven’t engaged them in conversation or spent time in their culture.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      I agree that culture-influences play a part but I wonder if perhaps the actual geographical landscape contributes to those cultural teachings. I mean if you live in a place where tornadoes and floods are rampant, are you more likely to be a person who believes in the rapture than say someone who lives in a place free of any natural disasters? Does the presence and fear of snakes make one more prone to believe in Satan, than say the person who only encounters them in the zoo?