How Did “Doom and Gloom” Get Such a Bad Reputation?

Gustave Dore, “Inferno”

When was the last time your priest talked about the fires of hell and gave you a good scare, or compared America to Sodom and Gomorrah and suggest that it’s headed for the same fate? The Church today is too nice. God must have gone through anger management classes because He might be all nice and warm today, but He could be very angry and vengeful in biblical times. The phrase “doom and gloom” is used to deride those who tell you unpleasant things you’d rather not hear; it is a decidedly pejorative phrase. Purveyors of gloom are also scorned because they often use it to make a lot of money.

lindseyWhat comes to my mind is Hal Lindsey’s 1970 book with the ominous title, The Late Great Planet Earth. It’s an interpretation of biblical prophecies about the end times, but heavily influenced by dispensationalist theology. Dispensationalism is a common belief among evangelical protestants which holds that God interacts with man in different ways during different dispensations (periods of time in history). From Abraham to Noah was a dispensation, as is the time from the birth of the Church to the Rapture, (the point in time when Christ takes all Christians to heaven before all hell breaks loose–Armageddon). For Lindsey, the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 triggered the beginning of the end times, it fulfilled the prophecy of the return of the Jews to Palestine and he took it from there. The biblical basis for all this is, in my view, scant, and in conflict with Catholic eschatology (the study of end times). The problem has been, needless to say, Lindsey’s predictions, which were specific scenarios of the future geopolitical events which turned out to be hit and miss (more miss than hit), and often readjusted. Continue reading “How Did “Doom and Gloom” Get Such a Bad Reputation?”