Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Psychology Of The End (1)

A Different Kind of Look at Eschatology

In sports, each team has a game plan. In football it might be to establish the run, then develop the pass, all the while controlling the line of scrimmage, field position and the clock. Following the game plan will result in victory. In baseball it might be to have the starting pitcher go six or seven innings, then turning it over to the bullpen to finish the game. In higher education, the student can have a game plan. Before the semester, he buys all his books. Then he studies hard, does all his homework and uses all of this to become familiar enough with the material to not only pass the midterm and final exams, but to get an "A." Living in a home with a yard might consist of mowing the lawn, painting and general maintenance. A game plan for these things consists of routine, repetition and consistency. But the game plan is best when it is a comprehensive one. One where all the situations are considered and can be addressed when faced. One that will not let small things grow into big problems.

But when the end of a thing is near, game plans and strategies change, sometimes radically. A team that is losing in the last minute of a football game will ditch all of its routine strategies and engage in acts of desperation, doing things it would never do at any other time of the game. With a runner on third early in a baseball game, the defensive team may concede the run to get an out. When it's the winning run in the 9th inning, both the infield and outfield are pulled in in a desperate attempt to get the out at home plate. A basketball team will purposely foul the other team in hopes that it misses the free throws in order to get the ball back. A hockey team will abandon its goalie for an extra offensive player to try to tie the game. A student will suddenly cram for finals. If a house is to be torn down to make way for a bigger project, the lawn won't get mowed. A graphics project with a deadline will result in long hours, plenty of coffee and scraps all over the floor at the last minute. Conversely, a team that is winning at the end of a game will be lazy and slow on purpose, substituting inferior players, etc.

The same things occur in real life with regards to eschatology. If somebody believes the end is really and suddenly near, life will be lived in a completely different manner, even if in desperation or laziness. In my next post, I will deal with this reality.

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