When I was but a lad, growing up in Nottinghamshire, I watched this film…
We attended a local Anglican church, and things started swinging with a bit of Holy Spirit revival. We sang choruses rather than hymns, I learnt to play the guitar, we had healing services and people ‘spoke in tongues’. All in a C-of-E church in small town Kirkby-in-Ashfield.
And there are memories that I cherish.
And some that I do not. Some still make me twist inside with that old faithful adolescent companion- pervasive raging cringing embarrassment.
Some of the memories that I shelved as just plain dysfunctional I have in recent times reached down, dusted off, and managed to look at through the eyes of the 41 year old man that now I am. And some of it, I can now even laugh at.
One of these things is the aforementioned film.
You see, there was a lot of fuss about the ‘end times’ in the 1970’s and 80’s. I suppose there always is a section of people somewhere in every generation, in some part of the planet, who are proclaiming the imminent return of Jesus, and the time of judgment and tribulation.
So in our church- the chick cartoons were circulating. If you have never had the pleasure- check them out here- you can still buy them. There was one spelling out the ‘truth’ about the second coming, along with rapture, tribulation, and most memorably, the lake of fire in which sinners (like I surely was- I was a teenage boy after all) would burn for eternity. Here is a sample;
There was also Chuck Smith, who I believe still is a big cheese in Evangelical circles, who told the world that Jesus was coming again in, I think, 1980. Jesus did not, but Chuck seems to have been able to recalibrate. We watched a film that came from Calvary Chapel in those days all about the end times, and the signs of the coming age that could be seen in the world around us- particularly in the re-birth of the Jewish nation. Compelling stuff- most of which was nonsense, and this is not the film that I am talking about.
We were also taken to see a film in a church hall. Where this was, I have no idea- because I remember having to travel in the church mini-bus to get there.
And this too gave me nightmares.
The film began with a song by the late great Larry Norman. Should have got him to sing it…
…and then the terrifying story unfolded. All ‘biblical’ and straight from the pages of the book of Revelation, or so we were told.
A woman wakes up, and her husband has gone. Rapturously raised up to heaven by (as my friend Janet described it) God’s Dyson.
And so came the rise of the beast, and the time of tribulation. All in cheesecloth.
Quite why people thought this was good material for kids, I have no idea.
There are still many who would use versions of this story to frighten people into the pews. Babylon is built anew each time they do, say I.