”…And the Other on a Banana Peel”
By Jack Kinsella
As far back as 1970, humanist writer Alvin Toffler chronicled the development of a social phenomenon that he called ‘Future Shock’ in a book by the same name.
Toffler’s book addressed the speed with which technology was changing, back in the age of microwave ovens and beta VCRs.
He defined the social response to the shattering speed of 1970’s technological and social advancement this way:
“Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.”
“Man has a limited biological capacity for change. When this capacity is overwhelmed, the capacity is in future shock.”
It is interesting to note that Toffler’s book was published the same year as Hal Lindsey’s “Late, Great Planet Earth“. Toffler’s book explained a social ‘symptom’ — Hal’s book explained what future shock was a symptom OF.
The prevailing feeling of impending doom that existed in the early 1970s was real enough that both books were instant runaway best-sellers. In those days, that sense of ‘something’ was vague and undefined, but it was there.
Toffler tried to define it, Lindsey tried to explain it, movie franchises like ‘The Omen’ and ‘Mad Max’ tried to capitalize on it, but one thing is certain:
Whatever ‘it’ is, ‘it’ made it’s presence known with enough impact to make “The Late, Great Planet Earth” the best-selling Christian-themed book in history (excluding the Bible), it embraced Toffler’s term, ‘future shock’ so completely it is now part of our vocabulary, and made ‘The Omen’ and ‘Mad Max’ franchises among the most successful of their time.
There was a sudden awakening to the fact the Bible gave certain signs for the last days; discernible, chartable, undeniable and precise signs.
The 1967 Six Days War awakened the world to Israel’s existence and thrust her onto the world’s stage. Jerusalem, a city which most people thought of more in mystical than bricks-and-mortar terms, was suddenly the most important city on earth.
Although Bible prophecy was seldom discussed among Christians, suddenly, people started to connect some of the dots. Some ran to guys like Toffler for answers. Others ‘whistled past the graveyard’, turning their fears into entertainment.
When Hal Lindsey connected the dots for the secular world through Scripture, millions turned to the Bible for the answers, instead.
That was more than forty years ago, and many of you remember when it began. That spiritual awareness of ‘it’. Hal’s book created a firestorm within the mainstream churches, fanning the movement away from mainstream denominationalism and toward small, independent Bible churches that taught Dispensationalism and Israel’s role in the last days.
In the early 1970’s in my home town, there were little front yard signs all over town. They looked like political signs; you know — “Vote I. Cheatum for Treasurer” but, on closer inspection, all they said was, “I Found It”. The phrase was on bumper stickers, signs and even buttons.
I found out was ‘it’ was from my older sister when I was twenty-four. She had one of those signs in her front yard, and when I asked her what ‘it’ was, she gave me a copy of Hal’s Late, Great, Planet Earth.
To shorten the story, I found out what ‘it’ was that everybody else had found. ‘It’ wasn’t finding out about Jesus. I had been raised Catholic, as had my sister (and most of those sporting the “I Found It” signs) and we already knew a lot about Jesus.
What we ‘found’ was salvation through Jesus — but what made us all start looking at the same time in the first place, was that sense of what Toffler called ‘future shock.’
The point is, as already noted, that was more than forty years ago. An entire generation has grown up in a world where everything they learned yesterday is obsolete information tomorrow.
If you were born in 1970 and went to college and majored in geography, for example, when you graduated at 22 in 1992, everything you spent the last four years learning was wrong. There was no Soviet Union, and there were about forty extra countries that didn’t used to be there.
Technology changes so fast last year’s TV is as obsolete as last year’s computer. Last year’s car let you talk on an integrated cell phone through your car’s stereo speakers — this year’s car gives you GPS-guided verbal directions to any destination on the globe.
As all this takes place, that sense of an impending ‘something’ continues to build, as we look for ways to explain it.
It sits somewhere at the back of the consciousness; — like wondering whether or not you turned off the iron before leaving for church.
Consequently, there has been an explosion in interest in things spiritual, extra-terrestrial, occultic, and scientific as people look for an explanation for what amounts to a global ‘nagging’ feeling. Apocalyptic-themed movies like “The Omen” and “Mad Max” broke new ground in the 1970’s — today they are their own genre. Every third movie deals, in some fashion, with the end of the world.
The most popular Christian literature today is Tim LaHaye’s ‘Left Behind’ series. The most popular Christian books are books dealing with Bible prophecy.
The most popular forms of entertainment are movies that deal with apocalyptic themes. (As evidence, I offer the success of “The Matrix” Trilogy).
The Bible predicted the rise of a revived form of the Roman Empire, led by ‘ten kings’ that will eventually fall under the spell of the coming antichrist.
(The newly-expanded European Union is fighting over the wording of their new Constitution. Leading the fight against the inclusion of any mention of Christianity are the leaders of the ten-nation WEU).
It predicted the restoration of Israel, and said that Israel would be in a constant state of war with her surrounding neighbors, necessitating a peace treaty to be confirmed the leader of revived Rome.
Daniel said all this would take place in the midst of an explosion of knowledge and a sense of disorientation (future shock?), writing;
“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4)
At about the same time that Alvin Toffler wrote of the ‘to and fro’ nature of exploding knowledge and gave us the term, ‘future shock’, Christians like Hal Lindsey, Dwight Pentecost and others were taking note of the fact that the words of Daniel were starting to unseal themselves.
As Israel took her place among the nations, the Arab-Israeli conflict took global center stage, and Daniel’s ten toes began to wiggle as old Europe began to pull itself together, Daniel and Revelation became less about symbols than literal truths beginning to reveal themselves.
The world has one foot on this side of the Tribulation, and the other foot is on a banana peel. The secular world knows that instinctively– it can’t help itself. Everything in our culture since about 1970 testifies to that awareness.
But it would prefer to believe the lie. And so it does.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient…” (Romans 1:28)
“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:” (2nd Thessalonians 2:1)
“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22)
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)
“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4)
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on June 2, 2004.