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Apocalypse Without the Beasts
WHEN HIGH SCHOOL students leave English teacher David Dark's classroom at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, they pass under a picture of two pills—one red, the other blue. The picture represents a choice the students must make. It alludes to the decision by Neo (Keanu Reeves) in The Matrix to swallow the red pill so that perhaps he might seek truth and truly live.
Dark presents the same choice to readers of his first book. He begins by telling us we've got apocalypse all wrong. That is, too often we choose the blue pill of settling for the Disneyfied, Ameri-evangelical spiritual fantasy. "God" becomes shorthand for every culturally shaped view we prefer, what one of Dark's colleagues calls "selective fundamentalism."
Dark calls this blue pill a "heretical worldview" that disdains the earthly and human as secular. With Madeleine L'Engle, Dark claims the secular does not exist. Rather, he believes the "secular" is exactly the place to find the sacred.
Seeing the sacred in the mundane requires revelation, the literal meaning of apocalypsis. The punch line to Nathan's story to David is an apocalyptic moment, as is seeing the face of an infant through a hospital glass. Hearing the voice of the earth awaiting redemption is apocalypsis.
This revelation is the red pill. We take it, however, not by opening our mouths but our ears and eyes. We ask with the readers of John's Revelation, "How is it that Jesus is Lord when the violence and exploitation that rule the world suggest otherwise?"
Rather than burying those questions or sermonizing, apocalypse awakens us to the reality that Jesus' testimony is true, and his way will overcome.
We begin noticing and honoring people we hadn't before. The face of a child in the desert ...1