Over at CNN, they’ve compiled a list of predictions by various religious leaders of what will happen as 2011 enfolds. While each prediction seems to be made in good faith, the collection of them read side-by-side unwittingly reveals just how narcissistic each guess really is. Each leader believes the future will bring something good for themselves or their cause. A few examples:
Selena Fox, a minister of a Wiccan community, sees greater acceptance of Wicca:
“More Wiccan ministers and other pagan leaders will be actively involved in interfaith organizations, conferences and initiatives in the United States and internationally. Interfaith endeavors will grow in importance in addressing ongoing needs in the world today as well as in responding to natural disasters and other tragedies.”
Christian author Don Miller sees a growth in his core demographic:
“As religious tensions grow over the coming presidential election and domestic cultural issues involving perceived legislation of morality, the media will find more zealous Christians reacting to the issues of the day whose extreme positions will further divide the evangelical church into radical positions, and turn away seekers looking for a peaceful resolution to the churning in their own souls. In other words, the devil will play a trick on the church, and the church will, like sheep, lose their focus on the grace and love of Christ and wander astray. Those who seek peace, then, will turn to liberal ideologies.”
Muslim playwright Wajahat Ali sees more Muslims becoming playwrights:
“A new generation of Muslims will bust out of their culturally and politically isolated cocoons and passionately reclaim their voice and narratives; one that has been stolen, used, abused and hijacked by extremists, terrorists and fear-mongering propagandists. Watch out for a major cultural renaissance as a new generation of Muslim artists and storytellers grab the mic, enter the arena and speak their voice with a revived passion and purpose.”
Political and religious conservative Ralph Reed sees a return to conservative principals:
“Religious conservatives and Tea Party activists will increasingly work together to keep pressure on the Republican Party to remain true to its fiscal and culturally conservative principles in the new session of Congress and the 2012 presidential nomination.”
All this reveals just how much our beliefs about the future are really projections of ourselves and our beliefs. If apocalyptic movies reflect the belief that there will someday be a final reckoning for all that we’ve done with the world (For example, Wall-e), then these quotes reflect the optimistic and unbearably sunny disposition characteristic of many religious people. In either case, the future becomes the blank slate which we mold and shape according to our beliefs and/or aspirations.
Even more dangerous is when we pull in God to justify these self-delusions. We think God will come and punish everyone else but us, that a failure to “go green” will bring about the end of the world, or the end will be an egalitarian, agrarian utopia.
Perhaps this is why Jesus warned to “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”