IVP - Strangely Dim - Get Yer Own Apocalypse!

September 24, 2004

Get Yer Own Apocalypse!

By David A. Zimmerman

OK, really. What’s the big deal with hurricanes? Oh, I suppose I can accept that it’s a big deal to people in Florida and on the Gulf coast, but hurricanes dominate the news from Cincinnati to Seattle as soon as the winds pick up.

My wife and I went on a cruise a couple of weeks ago to celebrate our tenth anniversary, and our itinerary took us from New Orleans through Jamaica and Grand Cayman and back, with a side trip to Cozumel, Mexico. Our travels kept us two days ahead of Hurricane Ivan, a category 5 storm in the middle of the worst hurricane season in recent memory. Ivan decimated Jamaica and Grand Cayman, and it threatened New Orleans as well—enough so that my aunt had to relocate to Mississippi.

I will, therefore, gladly grant that hurricanes are a big deal. But come on now: even the sports coverage on my local Chicago newscasts gets drenched with hurricane reporting.

The net result of Chicago’s grand obsession with Ivan was that my friends and family thought I was a goner for sure; I’m pretty certain there were claims staked on my office. My three-year-old niece--who’s not normally one for talking--left a message of concern on my answering machine: “Hurricanes sure are scary; see you later, alligator!” or something like that.

Nothing so apocalyptic ever hits the Chicagoland area—even though we are, as a coworker gleefully warned me, sitting right on top of the longest fault line in North America. Just because there’s been no earthquake in Chicago since before Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star Spangled Banner," the argument goes, doesn’t mean that we couldn’t be hit with devastation at any given moment. Until the earth shifts beneath our feet, we have to content ourselves with mediocre weather systems like tornadoes and occasional flash flooding. And believe you me, those second-rate storms will get more than their share of press.

I’m not surprised, considering the fascination with natural disasters, that apocalyptic fiction has become such a literary force. No sooner is the Left Behind series wrapped up (I hate to ruin it for you, but the good guys win) than one of its principal authors begins yet another apocalyptic series. Meanwhile, knockoff series litter the landscape like unraptured accoutrements, all titillating their audiences with how bad it might get and how noble the survivors will be. It’s like watching the Milwaukee news during a hurricane: you get to fantasize about how you would bear devastation from the comfort of your own home.

I’ve read portions of one apocalyptic novel—I read it sitting in a bean bag, actually, probably while guzzling a diet soda and chomping on corn chips. Ah, the irony: the closest I get to preparedness is highly processed food chocked full of preservatives, and I’m reading a call to be prepared to meet my Maker, to stare down the Antichrist, to usher in the end of history. I didn’t finish the book, but I’m pretty confident that I finished the corn chips.


Read what others are saying about my book Comic Book Character--coming soon!

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at September 24, 2004 8:01 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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