Signs of the Apocalypse

Signs of the Apocalypse July 19, 2018

Matt sent me this to read yesterday, because he hates me and is trying to ruin my life. Go on, take a glance at it. Anne with, and it hurts me to say this, an “E” (the scare quotes are there to indicate that the letter “E,” as it were, is an unusual inclusion in the name “Ann” and that character’s desire to have it, poignantly illustrated early on in the book, must be beaten into the head of the viewer of the tv program with condescension and a bad font) is back for a third season.

As I said before, I didn’t watch the first season, but I did read reviews that warned me away from it. And then I didn’t watch the second season wherein the original plot was thrown away like a millstone into the bottom of the sea. Who needs that? Not Netflix. And I won’t watch the third season which will feature some gender-queer scenes and characters. Because someone read the book and thought those categories were there in the original…that Montgomery had feminism and other modern shibboleths in her mind when she was writing and that they came through subtly somewhere in the text.* Go on, read the whole article. That astonishing bit is toward the end.

So, just to sum up, this is the end of the world. I’m launching a new category called Signs of the Apocalypse. I should have started it long ago when some officious person with a thimbleful of brain declared that Huckleberry Finn, obviously a racist book, should no longer be included in the canon of literature read by American school children. And then I should have rallied, screaming and crying, a month ago when the name Laura Ingles Wilder was removed from an award given yearly for children’s books in her, you know, honor. But I was out of the country so I feel you can forgive me.

Why are these three incidents signs of the end of the world—that moment when Jesus begins gathering up his bowls and handing them out to all the heavenly hosts standing around waiting for that auspicious moment, that time when the Father and the Spirit join him and say This is Ridiculous, that sign of God’s deep displeasure manifested in the removal of Common Grace, that kind restraining charity poured out on all human society that keeps us from destroying ourselves?

Because the accumulating Philistine grade cultural myopia amounts to a catastrophe. If you read a paragraph in a book, but your mind is so cloudy and your categories so distorted that you can’t understand what is on the page, neither from the plain meaning, nor the context, nor the authorial voice, nor sense, nor intelligence, you can’t engage properly in human society. Also, and I think this is the devil’s point, you can’t be a Christian.

Because the text that God gave to humanity by which they would know him and understand who he is, is filled with subtly, humor, reversal, irony, metaphor, layers of meaning, truth, beauty—everything, in fact, that makes a book readable and good. But if you can’t figure out that Mark Twain, by use of literary device, was actually overturning the very racist categories of his own time, you will not be able to figure out that God, in the face of the sickening mire of human violence and ugliness, is good. You will wrongly conclude that human people are good and God is bad. That’s a reading problem.

Fortunately there’s a book coming out in September that will fix this problem for you if you have it. And I’m here to help. And since we’re all still breathing there’s still time. But don’t wait around. Nobody expects the apocalypse, but you should, because the good and the beautiful are being trampled into the dust.

*I wish Montgomery could rise from the dead and sue Netflix for slander.

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