For anyone who has never been to an old-fashioned tent revival you have missed the best form of entertainment ever invented. Hands down, it beats any Broadway show, epic movie, or sporting event in both showmanship and energy. Only at a tent revival can you see a middle-aged preacher man dressed in a black suit do back flips like a teenage gymnast, old and very prudish women writhe on the floor and openly swoon at the preacher, and see hard-core grown men cry openly who at any other time see weeping as a weakness and less than masculine. Of course the main event at such outings is the sermon where the preacher will lay out coming events that usually consist of years of near apocalyptic disasters that culminate in the Rapture with Jesus taking his people from Earth.
For that, reason a certain amount Doomsday philosophy-that the human situation is hopeless-has always clung to such people even though the actual extent of that belief was very thin except in rare cases. Over the years though, other non-religious inspired end of the world scenarios have surfaced drawing their own devotees eagerly awaiting the chaos. Some expect a total global economic meltdown, pandemic, societal collapse, nuclear war, or the federal government going tyrannical to name a few.
While the actual numbers of such people digging shelters and gathering supplies and weapons are few their collective mood, aided by certain unnamed media people, does seep out to the greater public leading to a general idea that we are seeing the last days. My problem here is that to a certain extent I agree, powerful people do use their money and influence to the detriment of the general public, elected officials are little better than a group of five-dollar whores standing on a street corner, and the demands of a materialistic society threaten to wreck the planet. I freely admit that at times I find myself questioning the very basic nature of our society and government believing that nothing can be done to save a people mired in banal pursuits and a country hopelessly corrupted. Some do try to fight but any effort at reform is quickly shot down by entrenched elites looking to protect their positions at all costs.
I wonder though, when does this sense of impending disaster and hopelessness become a self-fulfilling prophecy edging us closer to the abyss? And at what point am I neglecting my family by not preparing for the worst?
From the outside, Jerry Erwin's home in the northwestern US state of Oregon is a nondescript house with a manicured front lawn and little to differentiate it from those of his neighbors.
"Several years ago I worked on paying off the house, replacing all the windows, and just very recently, I'm proud to say, we've replaced all our exterior doors with more energy-efficient ones, with as much built-in security features as I could get," he told AFP.
"We're hitting on all cylinders as far as symptoms that have led other great powers to decline or collapse: resource depletion, damage to the environment, climate change, those are the same things that affected other great societies," he said.
His pessimism is shared by a wide range of people, from left-wing environmentalists who believe climate change and capitalist greed will doom human society to Christian fundamentalists who think sin will do the same.
But the survivalist movement also includes left-wing community activists, who are devoted to living off the land and have never fired a weapon, and people like Chris Martenson, who quit a job with a six-figure salary that he felt was "an unnecessary diversion from the real tasks at hand."
He began growing his own food and developed a "Crash Course" that urges people to better prepare for societal instability. He also took over management of his investments and boasts of a 166 percent return on his portfolio.