“They believe . . . that in the life to come there will also be white people and black people; but then the white people will be slaves, and they shall have dominion over them. I never saw a negro a Universalist; for they all believe in a future retribution for their masters, from the hand of a just God.”
Emily P. Burke, Reminiscences of Georgia (1850)
Doomsday in the secular imagination is a day of universal catastrophe, the end of everything, a hecatomb that propitiates nothing and destroys everything. To the Christian imagination, it is Judgement Day. An end, but also a beginning. Doom means judgement, and Doomsday is therefore the day on which Creation is once again brought under the Word, or Law, or Logos of God. And when Doomsday comes, many tears will be dried and many smirks wiped off faces that will never smirk again.
“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats . . . . Then shall he say also unto [the goats]: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25: 32, 41)
Jesus appears to have agreed with the negros of old Savannah, Georgia, on the whole Universalist question. When Doomsday comes, there will be goats.
Doomsday is also called the Day of Reckoning, which is literally synonymous with the Day for Settling of Scores. To reckon is to estimate or judge, but the root of the word means to count, so an ordinary day of reckoning is a day on which debts are tallied and bills are paid. In the days before spreadsheets, a record of debits was kept by scoring notches on a “tally stick,” so what happened on an ordinary day of reckoning was “a settling of scores.” If my tally stick has ten notches and your tally stick has nine, you must give me a beaver pelt or there is going to be hell to pay.
“O my soul (saieth St. Bernard) what a terrible day shall that be, when thou shalt enter all alone into that unknown region, where those hellish monsters that are so horrible and ugly to behold, shall encounter and assault thee in the way? Who will then take thy part? Who will then defend thee? Who will then deliver thee from those ramping lions, which being raging mad for hunger, do lie there in wait to devour thee?” (Luis de Granada, Of Prayer and Meditation )
And who, I wonder, has had custody of the tally stick?
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The secular imagination may conceive Doomsday as a universal catastrophe in which the internet goes down forever, but it has not forgotten the Day of Reckoning, and it has not lost the certainty that there will be goats. The Progressives’ Doomsday is the day on which Creation is finally brought under the Word, or Law, or Logos of Progressives. And on that day many tears will be dried and many smirks wiped off faces that will never smirk again.
The Progressives’ Doomsday is the day on which Progressives finally settle all of their scores.
“Who will then take thy part? Who will then defend thee? Who will then deliver thee from those ramping lions, which being raging mad for hunger, do lie there in wait to devour thee?”
And who, I wonder, will have had custody of the tally stick?