By Sikivu Hutchinson

 

On the other end of the receiver Lloyd told me that he had wandered for eighteen years through the abyss of drug addiction until he found the Lord. Perhaps it was a revelation made driving one of L.A.’s Olympian freeways, addle-brained in a 3 a.m. pile-up, where thoughts of divine providence, frontier justice, and Armageddon inevitably lurk. Lloyd was the grizzled voice of a Robo-call confessional on the redemptive power of prayer. His vibe was hangdog sweet, elemental, authentically rehab. His mission was no crass megachurch soul grab, but a gentle appeal to the lost, the spiritually challenged. A simple prayer ripped from Matthew would grant entry into the kingdom of God, he insisted. If I pressed the pound key I could join his personal prayer club as well as the fraternity of the saved.

Lloyd’s intervention was timely. For, soon, such random acts of kindness and simple Christian fellowship will be figments of a halcyon past. According to the crusty patriarch of a California-based Christian radio empire, the Rapture will come on May 21st. 200 million-plus God fearing “born agains” will be beamed up to the Promised Land. As for everyone else, the world will become one big giant hibachi grill. Some millenialists believe that scripture foretells a mammoth earthquake erupting in the Pacific. But I prefer to see their biblical charades as a parody of the return of Marvel Comics’ Galactus, the gangsta world devourer, now dispatching his herald the Silver Surfer to scope the sunburned sybarites on Venice Beach. In L.A. County, billboards trumpeting Judgment Day on May 21st are thick as a plague of locusts. They stretch all the way from South L.A. to the porn capital San Fernando Valley to foreclosure glutted Antelope Valley.

Southern California has always been the epicenter of cataclysmic endings. In his 1998 book Ecology of Fear, writer Mike Davis chronicled how Los Angeles has earned a special place in the ranks of literary and cinematic sadism. Over the past few decades L.A. has been done in by a thousand celluloid volcanoes, floods, earthquakes, and chemical plagues, fueling a multi-million dollar disaster porn industry. Yet its schizoid “innocence,” the lure of golden sun, surf, and possibility, still endures for many of the homeless youth I work with, who flee nightmare lives for a moribund Hollywood. Writing during the turbulence of the Vietnam War era, Jim Morrison, L.A.’s adopted poet laureate of apocalypse, lamented the end of laughter, soft lies and “nights we tried to die” in the 1967 song “The End.” It’s a lovelorn rant that has morphed into a call to arms for insomniac frat boys. It has also been interpreted by some as a paean to the end of childhood innocence in the dark descent of lust and mortality. Certainly the Rapture turns on this narrative. Most End Times propaganda evokes the familiar themes of the culture wars, drawing a causal connection between the recent spate of natural disasters and sinning gays, women run amuck, and hijacked freedoms. But the End Times set has merely crystallized the hysteria that birther Confederates and other patriots cultivated after Barack Obama’s election. Their nationalist appeal for racial redemption has always evoked the loss of innocence and the beast stalking the heartland as Eden. MORE @blackfemlens.org


Sikivu Hutchinson is the author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars

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Comment by Shutch on May 23, 2011 at 12:26am
Thanks, the End Times crew will surely ride again, given the hysteria and gullibilility this round exploited
Comment by Antonio Chambers on May 19, 2011 at 10:21pm
Nice post. All I know is, on the 22nd i am going to wake up early to watch the sun rise.

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