Mormon “prepper” group says the end is coming this month. Oh boy howdy.

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It's the end of the world as we know it . . .

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It's the end of the world as we know it . . .

It's the end of the world as we know it . . .

It’s the end of the world as we know it . . .

So apparently the world is going to end, like, this week. Or maybe next.

An apocalyptic Mormon movement has taken hold, preaching that yesterday, September 13, was the beginning of the end.

The details are still a bit sketchy, but apparently these folks, led by author Julie Rowe, believe that there will be a major financial crisis this month, followed by the tribulation associated with the return of Christ.

Lots of blood and death will ensue, with only a small band of committed Mormons left to save the United States, because the Constitution will be hanging by a thread, and everyone knows that it’s the Mormons’ job to intervene and pass out pinto bean fudge when the world reaches that crisis point.

So. I am in agreement about an impending financial crisis. When Robert Shiller, the Nobel prize-winning economist from Yale, says that stocks are way overvalued and we are due for a major retrenchment, I believe him. He was right about the housing debacle in 2008. He has been right about an awful lot of things.

But I am 99.9% sure that whatever financial calamity is about to befall us will be only the latest in a series of financial calamities that have taken root ever since a stock market existed — no, ever since people were greedy, which is pretty much the entirety of human history — and will not be the last.

Booms, busts, rises, falls: there is nothing new under the sun.

I fully expect that Jesus is not coming tomorrow, or next week, except in the sense that he is always coming, seeking to enter our hearts.

But I also see some value in these periodic doomsday scenarios, which can teach us a thing or two.

I’ll tell you something it did for me. I decided yesterday that I would try to live the day as though the end really had begun while I ate my Cap’n Crunch yesterday morning. What would I do differently?

At church I attempted to be a better listener and a little more charitable (which sort of/kind of/almost worked). To have that extra dose of fun in Primary. Then, at home, to be more patient with my teenager, and to have friends over for dinner and for board games. To go on a long walk with my husband, enjoying the perfect early autumn day.

I also did all the laundry over the weekend, because really, who wants to rise up to meet Jesus in dirty underwear?

Nothing I did differently was earth-shattering. None of it will either delay or engender the apocalypse. Just a little attempt to be more grateful for the sweet things in life while I have them.

As I have been researching a book on gratitude this year, one of the themes that keeps coming up is summed up well by the old Joni Mitchell song: we don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone.

Maybe the silver lining of all of these Armageddon movements is that they make us appreciate life on earth that little bit extra. I don’t think most of these preppers are truly longing for the end of the world; in fact, most of their actions in preparing for it seem driven by stark fear (and no small amount of smugness at being among the few in the know).

And regarding the second coming of Jesus, yes, I do think it’s out there. Someday. We’re Christians, after all, and parousia is part of the deal.

But I steadfastly don’t believe that God wanted us to worry quite this much about it. Jesus said he’s going to be coming like a thief in the night. People, I don’t know that all the Potato Pearl food storage in the world can help us prepare for that.

I think sometimes of a talk I heard by Max Lucado, the folksy evangelical Christian author. He mentioned that he and his wife had dropped off their daughters at summer camp just before coming to the conference we all attended. He hoped that while they were at camp, they were thoroughly enjoying everything on offer there: that they were swimming, hiking, laughing, and making friends. He also hoped that when he and his wife returned at the end of their expected time away, their daughters would be thrilled to see them, and ready to come home.

This kind of parental dream, Lucado said, is not that different from what our heavenly father wants for us. We are here on earth to live abundantly, richly. We are here that we might have joy—and to serve others, that they can find joy too.

We are not here to cower in terror and stockpile all of the grain and ammunition our basements can hold.

So . . . what am I going to do today, possibly my last on earth?

Go to work. Plant some autumn flowers in my window box. Eat bacon. Eat some more bacon.

And thank God for this beautiful world I’ve been given to enjoy, however long I get to hang out here.

  • Anon

    Amen, Amen! Beautifully said. Especially the part about the bacon!!

  • Kevin Black

    Um … interesting except for calling this a Mormon thing. Even the Tribune was a little more balanced, in the article you reference:
    “For the past year, the popular writer [Julie Rowe, who’s behind this eschatological panic] has been sharing her experience and visions at Mormon venues nationwide, drawing crowds of eager — and worried — listeners. …
    “In a rare move, officials with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent a memo to administrators and teachers in the Church Educational System, saying, ‘Although Sister Rowe is an active member of the [LDS Church], her book is not endorsed by the church and should not be recommended to students or used as a resource in teaching them. The experiences … do not necessarily reflect church doctrine, or they may distort doctrine.'”

  • Kevin, yes, the LDS Church has in the last week taken pains to distance itself from the teachings of Julie Rowe. I’m glad the Church made that clarification.

    This unofficial status does not, however, make those beliefs no longer worthy of the word “Mormon.” The word “Mormon” is a pretty big tent — much bigger than what the LDS Church headquarters recognizes as official teaching.

    Lime green Jell-O is pretty darn Mormon, but not LDS.

    And while I may not agree with Rowe’s apocalypticism, it arises from her interpretations of the LDS scriptures and the teachings of Mormon leaders past and present. She’s an active Mormon.

  • I always appreciate your perspective. The only take away I have from the perpetual end of the days apocalyptic speculation/beliefs is to live each day as if it is the last as best as I can.
    I remember Hugh Nibley writing that the last days is the last day of your life and therein in an timeless truth.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Smith called his followers “latter-day” Saints because he thought the millennium was near; Smith’s followers expected the second coming before the end of the century. Not that long ago church patriarchs (who claimed to be inspired by the Holy Ghost) were promising individual Mormons like me that we would live to see the second coming, and be “caught up in the first resurrection.”

    Today’s Mormons represent a shell of what Mormonism used to be, and used to teach. But if the church was true to its roots, the leadership would be leading the preppers, not distancing themselves, and promoting Smith’s doctrine that Jesus’ return is imminent.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Kevin Black wrote: “Um … interesting except for calling this a Mormon thing.”

    The key people involved are virtually all Mormons; the movement is centered in a state with a super majority of Mormons; the businesses making money off the hysteria are mostly owned by Mormons; the movement is predicated heavily on the teaching and predictions of Mormon prophets.

    Even the denials about it being a “Mormon thing,” are a “Mormon thing.”

    How can anyone (without laughing out loud) say this isn’t a “Mormon thing?”

    Kevin Black wrote: “… her book is not endorsed…”

    The church certainly doesn’t need to endorse something before that something can be considered a “Mormon thing.”

  • Bret S.

    It’s more than Julie Rowe. Glenn Beck had Jewish author, Jonathan Cahn, on recently, who also thinks something will happen this September, as evidenced by some secret biblical calendar. His book apparently discusses this theory in depth: http://www.amazon.com/The-Mystery-Shemitah-000-Year-Old-Americas/dp/1629981931?tag=ldsbookloers=20. I think the buzz from multiple sources has rattled some people.

  • Ronnie

    Topical article though financial crisis is but one sign of the time. There is a big difference between the “catching away” aka the rapture of believers and the second coming of Christ. Also, Jesus Will only come as a thief in the night to those who aren’t spiritually attuned to the signs of his return. That’s why he advised us to “watch and pray ” and to keep our “lamps full” as described in the book of Matthew.

  • Harold

    I rarely agree with you, Jana, but this time you nailed it.

  • Larry

    Its not a religious hysteria unless there is a book deal involved. 🙂

    The biggest crime for these doomsayers is that they have not given themselves time to get to the publishers and make some real money off of this.

  • W

    Well, apparently Julie Rowe now agrees we are not here to cower in terror:

    “Happiness always was righteousness. Let’s have fun. Let’s have joy. Let’s all relax and realize God is in control… There is no end of the world. There is no doomsday. But a change is coming. Not the end of the world, but the end of the world as we know it. These are exciting days! Exciting times! And we get to be here to see it!!!”

    http://julieroweprepare.com/happiness-always-was-righteousness-lets-have-fun/

  • Paul

    Did you know?

    In the original bogus article located at http://www.ibtimes.com the article states: “Officials with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they do not endorse the books or their teachings. The late Mormon apostle Boyd K. Packer said in a 2011 LDS General Conference that the end was not near and called on young Mormons to plan for long, productive lives.”

    I am LDS and have heard no such Apocalypse hearsay. The uninformed leading the less informed.

    Anyone can generate rumors… Visit Lds.org or Mormon.org to hear what Mormon’s REALLY believe. lol

    Cheers!

  • Teresa

    And I’m sorry to say, but when something does go down and you guys have no food and supplies will you be mocking then? Probably not. This is how I see it. Better safe than sorry. If tribulations don’t start, well I have an insurance of food. If they do, we’ll let’s just say…you won’t have food. Although, good Christians like myself will share;)

  • Jack

    Uh, Debbie, I hate to break it to you but……

    It’s not an exclusively or primarily “Mormon thing.”

    As an evangelical, I have seen many examples of exactly the same thing. Fellow evangelicals can be just as fanatical on the preparedness front.

    But most evangelicals aren’t preppers either. “Prepping” can also mean being shipped off to boarding school….and where you come out looking something like this:

    https://youtu.be/PTU2He2BIc0

  • Jack

    I think most apocalyptic speculations are absolute garbage, but Cahn’s first book, “The Harbinger,” was an exception. The tawdry, sensationalist cover to that book is a real turn-off, probably the decision of the publisher, but it’s the only book of its kind that I know of which was actually thought-provoking and even brilliant at times. I would quibble with certain aspects, but the most powerful part, where he cites the nation’s then-Senate majority leader mangling the meaning of a seemingly obscure Bible verse in the Book of Isaiah, and then draws out the meaning, is astounding.

    As for The Shemitah, I am less sure of that one. It’s certainly interesting, but less compelling, IMHO.

  • Jack

    Cahn has depth and quality which I respect, and to his credit, unlike the other writers of that ilk, doesn’t seem to pick dates for doomsday. He’s just sharing some extraordinary patterns woven into our time and the result is thought-provoking.

    This is an area of writing which tends to attract bozos and charlatans of various kinds, but he doesn’t come across at all like either.

  • Jack

    Theresa, I agree there’s nothing wrong with “prepping,” be it preparing for emergencies….(or….going to St. Paul’s).

    Everyone should have at least a few weeks of extra essentials in case of a natural or man-made disaster….

    But when it becomes a survivalist obsession, coupled by a countdown to some arbitrarily set doomsday date, it’s wrong because it squeezes real living out of the picture.

  • I find it necessary to point out just a few things here:

    William Miller. Charles Taze Russell. Edgar Whisenant. Herbert W. Armstrong. Elizabeth Clare Prophet. Harold Camping. Gordon-Michael Scallion. Marshall Applewhite. Harold Camping again. The Maya Apocalypse 2012.

    All these and more are FAILED predictions of “the End of the World.” How many more of these cranks, lunatics, and swindlers have to come and go before people finally grow up already and stop listening to all that wingnuttiness?

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  • W

    PsiCop: that’s a really good question. What is it about end of the world prophecies that pulls people in?

    Maybe it’s that we all long to feel the stories our lives trace out are important and meaningful — and large scale high-stakes change and even trauma are one way to heighten the sense that something important is happening and they’re part of it.

    And perhaps it also specifically gives the sense of watching the conflict between good and evil move into the final minutes of the game, which lets people anticipate that a victory is at hand.

    Maybe the cure is focusing on where the gospel and other sources of wisdom teach us that it’s good to matter to our neighbors and people closest to us, and the real battle of good and evil is often much more boringly fought out in individual hearts and choices.

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  • Re: “Maybe the cure is focusing on where the gospel and other sources of wisdom teach us that it’s good to matter to our neighbors and people closest to us …”

    That might work, but beyond that, what would be even better is for people to become mature enough that they don’t see any need to view their lives in terms of any kind of metaphysical-cosmic setting that — they think — gives it greater “meaning” or scope than it has. It ought not be necessary at all. Their lives are what they are, no more and no less, and they should need nothing more.

  • Alison

    How about “this time it is a Mormon thing.” There have been events in the past where it would be an “fundamentalist thing” because most of the proponents have been on the really weird, apocalyptic side of Christian fundamentalism. I tend to think that evangelicals who are for the most part not so extreme tend to stay out of this kind of fracas because, obviously, “no man knows the day or the hour.”

  • Alison

    Jana, Brilliant and funny. (by the way, this is the 3rd comment I’ve made on RNS this morning, because I am at the airport waiting a flight home) I really like your style and I will start appreciating life more. Good quote by Lucado!

  • Kerri

    This is absolutely incredible! How is Julie Rowe any different than Kate Kelly? Why is the church not excommunicating Julie Rowe? Is the church secretly endorsing her? Preaching visions and having a following separate from the church doctrines seems to me the very reason for excommunication!!! Otherwise reinstate Kate Kelly! Or show some integrity and excommunicate Julie Rowe.
    I am also LDS and believe that the church has been so hypocritical in its actions over it’s history!
    It would be so laughable if it didn’t damage so many lives in the process.
    This was a nicey nice article about remembering the important things in life and how to be a better person but the real issues are still present in the Modern LDS church!

  • Shelama

    Back when I was a Mormon I also used to seriously believe Jesus was coming back. My patriarchal blessing told me I’d take part in the preparation.

    But then a funny thing happened. On a lark –– albeit a serious one born of real curiosity –– I actually read the OT, for what it actually said and meant, in context, and not what I’d been told it meant from over the Mormon and Christian pulpits.

    I discovered a lot of things but what stood out plain and obvious, more than anything else, was that neither Yahweh Elohim, nor mankind created in his image, nor those Jewish scriptures themselves, had any need, use or interest in a Jesus sacrifice atonement, nor a messiah or savior anything like the Christian messiah.

    Needless to say, I’m no longer Mormon or Christian. I’m also not Jewish and never will be although the synagogue, to the degree I have one, is now my spiritual home. As much for what it doesn’t teach (and, O, what a breath of fresh and honest air that is) as for what it…

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  • Garson Abuita

    Jonathan Cahn is a Christian. He is an ethnically-Jewish Christian, i.e. a “Messianic Jew.” But his shemitah theories had a lot to do with the September 2015 apocalypticism, and the fact that he was talking to Glenn Beck, a Mormon, about it on the radio just shows the evangelical-LDS overlap on this one.