The end of the world is nigh? All the more reason to help each other here and now | Jessa Crispin

Christianity has been predicting an imminent apocalypse since its earliest days but the world only burns if we let it

As death was raging across 14th-century Europe, the church gathered the people together. God is mad, they told the people. We must ask for forgiveness so he will stop trying to kill us. The flagellants went on the march, dressed in linen hoods, slapping themselves for God and begging for the absolution of people’s many sins. And, yes, further spreading the plague wherever they went.

The professors at the University of Paris’s school of medicine decreed the plague had been caused by “a disturbance in the skies [that] had caused the sun to overheat the oceans near India, and the waters had begun to give off noxious vapors”, in the words of Otto Friedrich in The End of the World. (As to what would cure it: broth and enemas.) So it’s not like the people at the time had a sophisticated scientific knowledge about disease and contagion. Which makes one wonder, watching all of the US Christians crowd together in their churches both mega and modest as the coronavirus spreads, what’s their excuse?

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