This World is Not My Home

Last week I posted a video of the old gospel song, This World is Not My Home I’m Just a Passin’ Through.

This week I feel like singing it. Maybe it’s the gospel readings on Sunday about the end of the world, but I’m feeling mighty apocalyptical these days.

I grew up with a heavy dose of apocalyptic preaching. It was all dispensationalism stuff –reading the Bible prophecies in the light of yesterday’s headline. Dr Jack van Impe would come and tell us about the anti Christ, the European Union and the big computer in Brussels named ‘the Beast’ which already back then in the 1970s had the names and addresses of all Christians on a database…This was the stuff of the Left Behind movies and The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. Jesus was coming soon, morning or night or noon! Crooned the gospel singers!

What I find curious is that everybody has their favorite apocalypse. Fundamentalists have the rapture and the Great Tribulation and the return of the Lord. Catholic extremists have the Great Chastisement, the three dark days and the prophecies of St Malachy. Liberals worry about overpopulation or global warming or the nuclear bomb.  New Agers look for the Mayan Calendar end of time, solar flares or the coming of Maitreya and the Shift of Consciousness. I think we all have our own version of the end the world because there’s this nagging awareness not only that the world will end, but that my world will end.

What’s it called–transference? We don’t want to think about Mr Death knocking at our door so we shift our attention away from our own inevitable demise to the end of the world. The Mayan calendar may not end, but my calendar will end, and I don’t like to think about it so I talk about Doomsday instead.  In fact, maybe there’s a creepy and ironical personal connection between everyone’s preferred Doomsday. People who are contracepting and aborting babies dream of a population explosion. People who are greedily sucking up the world’s resources with their Hummer and their boat and their private airplane like to moan and groan about global warming. Rich bankers and stockbrokers have nightmares about financial collapse…

I don’t have much time for any Doomsday and conspiracy theories, and maybe because I was brought up in a highly charged apocalyptic atmosphere I tend to disregard all the warnings. I bought an extra flashlight and a cook stove for the year 2000 but not much more. I’m not a prepper and I haven’t bought a pistol and a shotgun or taught Mrs Longenecker to shoot first and ask questions later.

Nevertheless, I’m grateful for apocalyptic preaching. I’d rather have a preacher scare me into heaven than lull me into hell. Apocalyptic preaching is well, what you’d expect from religion. The sun dying, the moon not giving its light and the stars falling from the sky? That’s the way I like my religion–jalapeno hot and mouth watering. It reminds me that this world is not my home–that the things that are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal.

Apocalyptic preaching reminds me that the end is always nigh. The lights are always about to be turned out, the curtains drawn and the great drama ended.

This stark truth helps me to see more clearly. It helps me not just to see through everything but to see into everything. There is more there than meets the eye, and I want to dig deeper. I want to ask why we all need our Doomsdays and what it means and how it might make me more reliant on the Divine Mercy.

  • Melia

    I don’t know, I don’t like being scared into following God – I’d rather follow Him because I love Him and find joy in Him, and would not want anything else. That being said, I love the old-world apocalyptic prophecies in the Bible, and their mystical depiction of the subversion of the natural order.

    My ideal apocalypse would us being drowned in a sea of Bounty bars. But that might be because I’ve just eaten one.

    • James

      Fear of Hell is enough for me. A relationship with Jesus will come but for now the fear of spending eternity in Hell is sufficient. An imperfect contrition for sure but contrite just the same.

      • SteveD

        A wise confessor once told me, (in my youth) when I said that I was obedient because I was afraid of hell, that it was a great start and, as I came to know Jesus better and to understand how He pines for my love, my motives would change. They have.

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  • flyingvic

    So you haven’t “taught Mrs Longenecker to shoot first and ask questions later”? I don’t know, of course, EXACTLY what you get up to; but do I detect just a hint of self-interest here?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      The fact of the matter is that she didn’t need teaching. She’s a crack shot. A virtual English Annie Oakley…

  • FW Ken

    Mother died last week, followed 3 hours later by my favorite uncle. All that day, I kept singing “This World is Not My Home”. They were both Baptists, so I got a double dose of Southern gospel. “It is well with my soul” and, of close, “Amazing Grace”. Sadness and joy seem to mingle so easily in this world.