Carmageddon?

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.

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

  1. The Word does say that He will allow people to be blinded. And how unfortunate indeed that not only has this one particular word been rendered to such a degree of non-belief, but even in general teachings in Churches that call themselves “Bible believing” it’s called “The battle of Armageddon” and taught in such a way that people are left with the impression as if the battle itself is called Armageddon and that “Armageddon” is some world wide thing rather than simply being a major battle that will be at a rather small valley called Megiddo located in the Middle East. With that being the impression people get from the teaching of the end times, it’s no wonder that the general populace is confused and “blinded” to what is really going on in the world and in history.

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  2. Great points, David. It’s sort of like Christmas. The culture has all these renderings of the Nativity showing the wise men and the shepherds gathered around a wooden feeding trough, and we think that’s the way it was, without paying attention to what the Bible actually says.

    Some times it seems like Christians have a better chance of believing the Bible when things aren’t so widely “known.”

    My newest rant is on the “gray” area of eating meat offered to idols. The book of Acts makes it clear that the church leaders by the guidance of the Holy Spirit had determined believers — Jews and Gentiles alike — were not to eat meat offered to idols. Paul, it would seem, was giving an apologetic explanation of this to the churches in Rome and Corinth, but today we treat those passages as if Paul was addressing a subject that had no right and wrong, that was subjective based on whatever the individual thought was right. It’s a clear misuse of what Paul was addressing.

    How easily we are swayed by popular thinking!

    Becky

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  3. BTW, the first reports about “carmageddon” — traffic lite.

    Becky

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  4. I agree with you about Christmas and quite a few other things that are just taken completely out of the context of the Bible. I haven’t done the study on meat sacrificed to idols, so feel free to send me more info on that via Facebook. Although I think I understand that passage of Paul, I may need to look at it further. It would be good to make sure that I am not in error with my outlook on that.

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  5. David, I wrote a long comment about meat offered to idols over at Spec Faith recently. I copied it and will post below. This was in response to something one of the other commenters said about a particular issue being one of those gray areas to be handled like meat offered to idols.

    [Jumping atop my every ready soap box]

    The idea that eating or not eating meat offered to idols is some kind of a gray area that we can do or not do based on our level of maturity is erroneous. Luke clearly stated the truth in Acts 15, specifically Acts 15:28-9. James is writing to the Gentile believers on behalf of the apostles and elders regarding the matter of whether or not they needed to follow the Mosaic Law:

      For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols…

    Notice, abstaining for eating meat offered to idols was something the church leaders agreed on, but they also had reason to believe that this was the standard given to them by the Holy Spirit.

    What, then, was Paul going on about in Romans and again in I Corinthians? I believe he was giving the apologetic for the decision handed down by the church leadership.

    The point is, Paul came at the issue with the understanding, that no, Christians were not to eat meat offered to idols. That was a done decision. What was not “done” was whether or not Christians should turn into meat police and ask ever person and every establishment where they ate if the meat had been offered to idols. If however, someone told them, The meat you are about to eat has been offered to idols, then the decision was made for them: for the sake of the person tattling reporting, they were to refrain from eating.

    Then in Romans, Paul deals with the issue of people not eating meat at all to insure the fact that they wouldn’t accidentally eat meat offered to an idol and therefore disobey the church leaders. Here it was specifically saying, Don’t judge each other. If one eats meat, those who don’t, stop judging. If one doesn’t eat meat, those who do, stop judging.

    The principles contained in the passages can be used today. But I don’t think they have anything to do with deciding to drink or not drink, smoke or not smoke, read fantasy or not read fantasy. Those are personal decisions, things we need to decide based on our own propensity to sin. If drinking is a problem for me, then I must not imbibe. Not because it’s a gray area and I don’t want to bring offense to someone. Rather because for me it is most definitely not a gray area. For me it is taboo.

    At the same time I must not judge someone else who can drink with no problem.

    As I see it, “gray areas” are really those things we are willing to forgo for others. Instead, I see the concept used too often to justify doing something other Christians think is wrong, or as a means to force legalism onto someone else.

    Instead, I believe the passages were meant to foster unity and understanding and patience and sacrifice for one another.

    Regardless, the rule was clear: don’t eat meat offered to an idol. That was not up for debate anywhere in the New Testament. How someone went about obeying was really the issue.

    A comparable issue today might be this: women are to dress modestly. How, then, do we go about obeying that one?

    OK, I’m about ranted out. It took me many times through the book of Acts before I realized, this meat offered to idols issue is not what we in today’s church think. So now I’m on a crusade. 😉

    I guess that last line about sums up why I brought it up to you, doesn’t it. 😆

    Becky

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  6. That’s cool, Becky, no problem. 😉

    Interesting way of putting things. I’ll have to meditate on it some to see how it fits with what all God has shown me before on the matter, not that I’ve done much studying on it. What you said is definitely not an exact viewpoint I’ve seen before concerning this. Personally, I don’t think apologetics even came into play at that time as that was something developed a bit later in the more “established” church to argue for the Faith we have in a more “civilized” way so that things wouldn’t come to a bloody war.

    The main way I’ve always seen the difference between the two passages was that Paul was called to speak to the Gentiles while the other apostles were called to the Jews and the other tribes of Israel. As a result, they said one thing to them and Paul said something a bit different to the Gentiles, but it all works out because of the way God works with things. As such, I always just figured it wasn’t much different than the circumcision thing. If you were a Jew, you probably already had it done, but if you were a Gentile then it wasn’t a big deal because you were saved by grace and it would just be a personal choice for you if you wanted to obey God in that manner, not that you would do it because you were bound by the law but because you wanted to follow the law because of what Christ did for you just as you would choose to follow the 10 Commandments because of what Christ did for you. Some went forward with circumcision, others did not. Same with eating meat sacrificed to idols. Some would do it, while others wouldn’t. But it was a message for the Gentiles coming from Paul whereas what you quoted from Acts would have been a message to the Church that had started with the Jews in Israel.

    That’s how I always saw it anyway. But I do see some good points in your “rant” there, so I will meditate on it and see what God reveals to me on the matter. Thanks for sharing that. It’s always good to expand on the knowledge of God by listening to what He’s revealed to others. 😀

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  7. Paul was called to speak to the Gentiles while the other apostles were called to the Jews and the other tribes of Israel.

    The thing is, David, that letter recorded in Acts is to the Gentiles in the church. So the mandate not to eat meat offered to idols was specifically for them.

    Just the other day I heard a sermon that added another passage to this discussion also. From Revelation 2:

    And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this: I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. (vv12-14) [emphasis mine]

    This from the resurrected Christ! So we have the Spirit and the church leaders and the resurrected Christ saying the church was not to eat meat offered to idols. It just doesn’t sound like a gray area to me.

    Becky

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