The hellish and ominous conditions in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami and nuclear power plant crises in Japan, and the incredible uproars in the Middle East with rebels challenging governments throughout the region, have a lot of my prophetically-minded friends wondering if “this is the Big One.” Rumblings of possible nuclear war between Israel and one or more of its neighbors, and the possibility of radiation from Japan drifting across to the US west coast lead to visions of The Apocalypse—now.

One of my Facebook friends noted in recent days that he’d been “watching world conditions” for several decades (prompted by the pontifications of various prophetic prognosticators), and had thought The Big One was right at the door numerous times in those decades. But, boy, maybe this really IS it—there’s really bad and really scary news every day now! Because I have been researching and writing about the careers of prophetic pundits for many years, I’m often asked what I think about the “chances” we are in the very last of the Last Days. http://isitso.org/guide/endtime.html

Whenever the topic comes up, one of the things that often pops into my mind is the lyrics to a song I first heard sung by the Kingston Trio in 1959, when I was 12 years old.

The Merry Minuet

(Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick–Fiddler on the Roof lyricist)

They’re rioting in Africa. They’re starving in Spain.
There’s hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch.
And I don’t like anybody very much!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud,
for man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lovely day, someone will set the spark off…
and we will all be blown away.

They’re rioting in Africa. There’s strife in Iran.
What nature doesn’t do to us… will be done by our fellow man.

At the time Merry Minuet was written, the US was in the midst of a very bad, very scary Cold War. Kids in school were being taught to “duck and cover” under their school desks if they saw an atomic flash.

In some cities children were literally issued metal dog tags with their name—so that their bodies could be identified by survivors in the event ducking and covering didn’t work.  The Merry Minuet song reflected “current conditions” of the time, with an attempt at defusing angst about them by using whimsy. In recent decades, the “point” of the song has changed … the point now when folks refer to it is to emphasize just how “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Each decade since then, many of the aspects of the song have been applicable as written, with the same natural disasters and often the exact same political antagonisms. Yes, there are still hurricanes in Florida and strife in Iran.  And most of the time, only a change in specific names would be necessary to fill out the whole song with current events.

Are we living in the Last of the Last Days? Surely a disaster as big as the 9.0 earthquake, and subsequent tsunami disaster and nuclear reactor threats in Japan, are strong indicators we are. Aren’t they?

I don’t know. But I’m suspicious that the inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the inmates of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, could have made a much better case that they were living in that End Time.

Historical perspective has never been the strong suit of prophetic prognosticators–who make their money by dogmatically and bombastically insisting “now” is the worst of the worst. And if you send a generous offering, they will send you their latest book giving you the Astounding Proof this is so.

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One Response to Apocalypse–Now?

  1. Lynn Koss says:

    When I read “Kingston Trio”, first thing that popped into my head was “Tom Dooley”, lol. I grew up listening to my parents’ vinyl, and for some reason as a kid I’d play that song over and over (yeah I was a strange kid =P) I hadn’t thought of that in I don’t know how many years. Thanks for being the spark to that flashback =)

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