Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Preppers! Many Americans are getting ready for the end of the world!

A little while back I mentioned a "rapture inspired blog" that had recipes for powdered egg. At that stage I had only just begun to find out about the practice of 'preparedness' and it's connection to some American churches. I felt it prudent not to question religious practices though it's clear that 'the rapture' and other forms of human disaster are the prime motivation. I did do a little research into the history of 'preparedness' doctrine in one significant Christian church and found a repeated directive from a modern church leader rather than a biblical reference.
While I have been aware of the enduring popularity of survivalism in the USA it is clear that 'prepping' or as Paul Harris in his article Americans stock up to be ready for end of the world noted it had been dubbed "Survivalism Lite" is an entirely new and rather more populous phenomenon. I have had a look at a fair few of the many preparedness sites online, not all are religiously inspired, many offer useful information about food preparation and good old fashioned skills, but there is very little discussion about the deeper questions.
To me the 'prepping' movement (if it can be called a movement) seems to be driven by a sense of self preservation and fear of death and suffering. Preppers clearly are preparing to hunker down in their homes with supplies of food, medicine, and weapons to help them weather the storms of violence and other horrible happenings that the rapture or one of many forecast disasters may bring. This strikes me as being not inspired by empathy and a sense of rebuilding community, but by individualism and the desire to live the most comfortable possible life.
As someone who was raised a catholic and who still values the principles of selflessness that Christianity shares with many of the values of secular-post-enlightenment philosophies, I find it hard to reconcile myself with preparedness as a practice. When the Western world enters the post-civilisation period ie The Age of Warlords, the bigger questions will be the same but the noise and fog of politics and power will have shifted and reveal an immediate need for community. The true Christian values that informed the enlightenment and subsequent democratic development will be as relevant as ever. I question the rightness of using increase and privileged now to protect ourselves from a possible future.

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