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By Ransom - Posted on 21 February 2010

by Ira at Irritable Reaching
I'm not sure what it is we're not doing any more that's been supplanted by eschatology. Some ancient cultures believed that the world would never end, and this seems as well to have been part of early Hebrew thinking. This changed with the experience of exile, as they cried out that something had to give and implored their God to intervene. They seem to have found some of the mythology of their Persian oppressors useful and appropriated apocalyptic rhetoric to make sense of their own situation. Later, the expressions used by a particular apocalyptic sect (that of one Jesus of Nazareth) would be picked up by the wider culture and combined with Greek teleology, becoming more and more what we would recognize today as eschatology.

We can't escape it. We're locked into thinking that something's gotta give, that there's something waiting just around the corner, that there's a better future waiting to be realized. It may not be the End of the World or even utopia, exactly, but we seem to need something to look forward to, to hope for, something that helps us know how to comport ourselves in the here and now.

On the other hand, it might be possible to miss the here and now because we're obsessed with how things might be. I'm torn on this, not necessarily wanting to endorse the status quo, but not wanting to fall prey to disillusionment, either. Eschatology at its best mediates and modulates this tension; at its worst it exacerbates it. I'm wondering if there's a way to step out of it without becoming complacent. What's that line from The Shawshank Redemption? Something about making a choice to get busy living or get busy dying.

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