A DEVOUT WOMAN'S TAKE ON Y2K:COOL IT, PEOPLE
Why Fret About Doomsday
when there are People To Hug, a God to Worship?
I AM A BELIEVER-- not in magic or even random acts of kindness, but the old-fashioned, washed-in-the-Blood-of-the-Lamb-kind. I can recall the details of my salvation and the day I was baptized. Both moments still cause me to drop to my knees in a spirit of humility and awe.
Some people assign labels to individuals like me -- holyroller, Jesus Freak, right-wing Christian fanatic, intolerant self-righteous bigot. On any given day, one or more of these titles might indeed, sadly, be accurate descriptions of me. However, I prefer people view me as a woman who is compelled by faith to lead a life of hope.
Which is why lately I have been questioning what it means to be a Christian on the eve of the 21st century. And I have to admit, instead of being filled with anticipation, I have been trying to cope with emotions ranging from sheer frustration to anger to disbelief.
The source of these feelings can be summed up in one term -- Y2K.
My first encounter with believers preparing for Y2K with survivalists' fervor happened while I was working in Georgia last fall. A much-respected pastor had bulk-mailed a Y2K guide to every church within the metropolitan area. He urged pastors to help their congregations prepare.
The pamphlet contained shopping lists for a well-stocked pantry, the basic tools needed to build a Crystal Cathedral, and enough ammunition to overtake Mississippi, should one so desire. This determined young pastor had his machete out and was marking a trail, buying land outside of the metro area. I hope somebody cautioned him to watch his step, cause in Georgia the only kind of hills around are typically occupied by fire ants.
On the plane ride back to Oregon, I visited with a computer geek who has been commuting from Boulder to Atlanta over the past two years. He is working on Y2K. I asked if he was hoarding ammunition anywhere. He declared he was storing neither ammunition nor loin cloths.
Recently, in downtown Portland, more than 500 people flocked to a Y2K conference, in anticipation of doomsday.
Speakers offered up the Bible in one hand and a month's supply of toilet paper in another. For only $2,000 you, too, could buy a year's supply of what my father, an Army sergeant, referred to as "dog rations." A few days in the field could make Vienna sausages and pickled pig's feet sound like delicate morsels to a soldier.
Thus far, the Y2K fervor has not motivated me to do anything other than cry out: Where is the voice of reason?
I am certainly willing to concede that disaster may be upon us, but I suspect it will have less to do with computer glitches than the old proverb "of a man stirring up his own waters."
If all the believers in our nation began hoarding food, there is likely to be a food shortage -- at least in Waverly, Ala., and Athena, Ore., where the corner markets are big enough to keep only a week's stock of cigarettes and Campbell's soup.
Now before all you passionate doomsayers prepare to burn me at the stake, consider this.
In 1974, I was a high school senior, anticipating all the joys life had to offer -- furthering my education, finding my gifting, finding a mate, raising a family. Until the Children of God showed up in class, declaring the world was coming to an end. They were preparing for it and they urged us to get ready. They had marked the day on their calendars.
I was a believer then, too, but such talk frightened me. I knew about the day of the locust and the sun turning to blood, but I had never heard of David Moses, the leader of the Children of God. And, while my pastor always gave me sound advice, he'd failed to mention any impending doom.
After a week of worrying, I forgot about doomsday. The date of God's projected return came and went. I was accepted into the college of my choice and eventually discovered both my gifting and a man I love. Should the end of the world be around the corner and the glory of Christ at hand, I embrace it. But I will not commit another minute of my precious life worrying about Y2K. Before I can concern myself with what my family will eat next year, I need to figure out what's for dinner tonight.
I cannot afford to whittle away time focusing on the troubles of tomorrow, which may or may not befall me. I have a life to live; people to hug; stories to be told; books to be read; a God to worship. Scriptures say that's what faith is all about -- "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).
God has always taken care of me, and as a believer, I trust in a hope which assures me He always will.
is a reporter for the
East Oregon newspaper in Pendleton
March 22, 1999