Thank you, British friends: Here is the most fun eclipse story I've read (and most lacking in context)

I'm on a Southwest Airlines flight to Los Angeles as I type this.

So if something wacky happens and the world ends during the much-ballyhooed eclipse, let me just say that it's been a whole lot of fun writing for GetReligion.

Speaking of fun, The Daily Expressaccording to Wikipedia, that's a "daily national middle market tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom" — has an, um, interesting story on Christians and the eclipse.

I mean, this was news to me:

TODAY'S total solar eclipse will be the first for 99 years to cross the US from coast to coast.

Many fundamentalist Christians see this as a significant warning of the impending apocalypse, the second coming of Christ and the rapture.

The “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” as it is called is said to be a warning sign from God, as it allegedly fulfils a Bible prophecy.

Pastor Paul Begley, host of the Coming Apocalypse radio show, said the eclipse could possibly fulfil a prophecy recorded in the book of Joel.

This states: “The sun shall be turned to darkness before the Day of the Lord come.”

Mr Begley said “somebody sound the trumpet” because the eclipse may mean “we are living in the last days.”

The (tabloid) newspaper proceeds to quote a few more sources fitting with the general theme.

What's missing? Well, this is probably not a major surprise given the media source, but no context at all is offered to judge the assertion that many see this as a significant warning of the impending apocalypse. (My wife, who is sitting beside me on the plane and apparently fashions British newspapers, takes issue with my "given the media source" statement. She says "tabloid" is the size of the paper.)

But hey, as I said earlier, it makes for fun reading.

For better insight however, I recommend you check out Ed Stetzer's Christianity Today column that has this highly appropriate headline:

No, Christians Don’t See the Eclipse as a Sign of an Immediate Apocalypse (Except for a Few Odd Ones)

Some more good stuff from Stetzer:

Contrary to the hyped-up news stories you might have seen concerning how Christians are reacting to the eclipse, there is no concern amongst any Christian leaders I know that the eclipse is a sign of an immediate Armageddon. And it certainly isn’t anything for us to fear.

The media often attempts to find fringe people that claim to be Christian, but often have little more platform than a badly-arranged blog and a few Twitter followers to ‘represent Christianity’ to the masses, via an often-hyperbolized segment designed to make Christians look stupid.

We’ve seen this before: the blood moons, planets aligning, 2012, and other events that are adopted as signs to serve a political point or send a message of God’s impending judgement. Often the message isn’t directly contradictory to Scripture (judgement is real), but the method of communicating and proving it (i.e., God’s judgement is on America because of X event) becomes harmful, embarrassing Christians every time it is proved to be untrue.

One of Stetzer's key points:

2. To journalists who seek to highlight Christians who see the eclipse as a sign of the end: it’s not honest reporting.

Go ahead and read it all. Also, feel free to share links to mainstream stories that got religion related to the eclipse.

Finally, if anything strange happens before I land, please leave a comment and let me know.

 

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