Stories inspire, entertain and stimulate - we all understand ourselves as part of stories. What do stories tell us about some of life's biggest questions? A fascinating conversation as we confront the end of the world and discover our own place in an even bigger story.
Our guest: Dr. Greg Clarke is currently a Global Bible Advocacy Consultant at British and Foreign Bible Society. He was formerly CEO of the Bible Society in Australia and also a founding director of the Centre for Public Christianity. His research was in Eschatology, Apocalypse and Modern Fiction.
This conversation was recorded live in Sydney in September 2019 in partnership with the Simeon Network.
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Bigger Questions asked in the conversation
To kick off Bigger Questions we like ask a couple of smaller questions - we do try to have a bit of fun on the show.
Today we’re asking Greg Clarke about how it all ends. So our smaller questions to you are about the 1916 Danish silent film, ‘The End of the World’, possibly the world’s first apocalyptic movie.
Research into the end of fiction
Greg you have a bit of a research interest in the ending of the world, now this started from your honours thesis in English literature. What were you researching?
So why the fascination with death?
What did you discover?
Your research didn’t end there - it progressed more thoroughly into eschatology - or the end times - the ending of reality and the world. Was that a move you were comfortable with?
So tell us about your research for your research was into the end of the world and modern fiction. What did you discover?
This involved reflection on literary theory and the shape of stories - so how does this help us think about how the story ends?
To what extent is fiction an explanation of the ultimate ends of humanity?
Where do you think this sense comes from?
Why would God wire a sense of ending into us?
The story of the end of Bible
The Bible deals with these ultimate questions and the book in the Bible which deals with the end of the world is the book of Revelation. The book describes, using picture language, the end of the world. Now in the middle of the book, in chapter 11, there is a vision of the end which involves seven angels. Then in verse 15 we learn that
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
“The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.”
So Greg you think that this is a summary of biblical eschatology? What does this seventh angel in the book of Revelation say about the future?
End of the story for Greg
How has your research affected you and your personal view of the future?
The Big Question
So Greg, how does the story end?