Armageddon or Har Megiddo (and variant spellings of both) references the final battle leading up to the end of the world and God’s judgment (See Revelation 16). But someone in the gaming world co-opted the term and turned it into “Carmageddon,” the name of a violent vehicular combat video game.

Now that word has been hijacked. Here in Southern California someone in Cal Trans (the transportation arm of state government) or the media used it to describe a condition feared by many: the shut down of a major freeway.

National news services are carrying this story. I just read a Tweet from someone living east of the Mississippi wishing us well. After all, some reports have traffic snarled in gridlock from Los Angeles to San Diego. But hold on. You haven’t heard all of it.

This freeway closure is happening over the weekend, when most people don’t have to go to work. What’s more, the entire 405 freeway isn’t closed. Only a ten mile stretch. Ten miles!

Just to put things in perspective, out here, ten miles is nothing. I drive ten miles to church every week. I used to drive seven miles to work every day (which of course made it a fourteen mile round trip). Places are far apart out west, so ten miles is a short stretch — a mere ten minutes if freeway traffic is flowing somewhere near the speed limit.

And this short stretch of freeway being closed for a short period of time, on a weekend, has been dubbed carmageddon. Car apocalypse! The traffic gridlock to end all traffic for all time (until Monday morning).

Besides the obvious overkill of the phrase, I’m disturbed by this silliness. First, to employ a term that evokes thoughts of the end of the world shows the perspective of our society — it isn’t sin or evil that we’re battling. It’s whatever might inconvenience us for a weekend. That’s what brings the world to an end.

As a corollary, there’s a tongue-in-cheek implication that we don’t have to worry about an actual Armageddon as part of God’s judgment on the world. It’s all myth, and therefore the term is fair game if we want to play with it, tweak it, and make it strike horror of a not-so-horrible nature.

It’s as if the person who coined Carmageddon is saying, God? Judgment? The end of the world? Get real. The serious matter at hand is what threatens our roads. This religious stuff is fodder for us to use to draw a figurative image.

It chills me to realize that God’s Holy Word is being treated by our culture in the same way that we treat Greek mythology — as a book filled with stories about made up people and pretend gods.

I wonder how many Southlanders mouthing concern over “carmaggedon” have the slightest idea that there is a just God who will one day bring judgment on the earth.

We focus our attention on the most ridiculous concerns. Last week it was “the Royals” visiting LA. This week it’s “carmaggedon.” Next week will be something else.

Perhaps it’s all a smokescreen to keep us from looking at the serious business we have with God at some point in the future, either personally or cataclysmically.

Published in: on July 15, 2011 at 5:42 pm  Comments (7)  
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