A Hopeful Apocalypse

Apparently, nothing says “peace on earth, goodwill to men,” like an assault rifle.

So the makers of “The Reliant,” a new-Second Amendment faith-based film are giving away an AR-15 this holiday season.

“How’d you like a chance to win a FREE AR-15 on Christmas Day?!” asks a promotional email for the film—which is sponsored in part by Smith and Wesson, along with the US Concealed Carry Association.

Not the typical sponsors for Christian holiday fare.

The movie—set in a dystopian future—features a family that survives with the help of Jesus and plenty of ammunition. It’s a zombie apocalypse without zombies—where the real monsters are your friends and neighbors.

Here’s how the film’s producers describe “The Reliant”:

The crash of the dollar precipitates widespread rioting and social unrest throughout the nation, leaving a lovesick 20-year-old girl struggling to care for her siblings in a stretch of woods bordered by lawless anarchy, wondering why a good God would let this happen.

There’s lots of shooting –and little Jesus—in the film’s trailer. And the film’s primarily an ad for the Second Amendment, according to some of its sponsors.

Their message seems to be: get a gun, so you can shoot your neighbors when the world goes to hell in a handbasket.

Maybe it’s a realistic message—given the fragile nature of our society.

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny,” Dr. King wrote in his letter from a Birmingham jail cell.

But instead of a garment, these days it feels like we are all cogs in a great machine. And if someone pulls the plug it will all grind to a halt.

And if we are all woven together, we might all go up in flames together.

Perhaps I’ve shouldn’t have read “A World Made By Hand” and “The End of the World Running Club.” Or perhaps I’ve been listening to too much Larry Norman, who wrote surprisingly catchy songs about the end of the world.

And maybe someday soon we’ll wish we’d all been ready.

If the end comes—or the end of the world as we know it, as REM and the preppers put it—I hope some of us have to offer than gunshots.

I hope more of us will be like Jacob, the protagonist in David William’s novel,
“When the English Fall.

”It’s the best book I’ve read this year.

Set in the near future, the novel tells the story of an Amish farmer named Jacob, who keeps a diary of “the crisis” – a catastrophic sun storm that crashes the electrical grid and leaves most of the world in chaos.

The one group mostly unaffected by the crisis: the Amish.

They till the soil, raise their cattle, plant their gardens, harvest their crops, and pray to their God.

When their neighbors need help—even among the “English” or non-Amish—they help. They gather up their extra food and give it away.

It is what God wanted them to do. So they do it.

“The deacons had talked through it, and the word to all of us was that we would help as we can, with what food we can spare and with our skills,” Jacob writes. “That is at is should.”

William’s book—which he wrote during the National novel writing month in 2013 and self-publish before getting a book deal–is part apocalyptic adventure and part commentary about modern society.

Jacob has an English business partner named Mike,  a big man who is angry about everything—the president, the Congress, the price of gas, his ex-wife, and all the chatter on the radio.

Jacob pities his friend, whose life is filled with bitterness and empty of blessing.

“Where we have the Sabbath, and the apples, and the oats, and the wheat, and the corn, he has the fights, and the anger from his radio, and the anger of his sons, and the bitterness of his broken life with Shauna,” writes Jacob.

And where the Amish have peace and order, Mike and the rest of the English have anxiety. Everyone always in a rush to get nowhere.

“Mike says the impatience is because of the internet, because everyone now wants everything the moment they want it. I remember this from when I was jumping around in the world. I remember how people would walk around not even seeing each other, eyes down into their rectangles of light. No one was where they were,” writes Jacob in his diary.

But kindness along won’t get you through the apocalypse. Before long, people figure out that the Amish might have some more food at home.

So the wolf comes to the door with a gun. And not all the Amish survive the encounter.

Still, they don’t shut their doors.

Mike and his ex-wife, Shauna, move in with Jacob and his wife, Hannah. Jacob and Hannah teach Mike and his family survive, sharing all that they have with them.

And their bishop—who had warned Jacob to steer clear of Mike, lest he be tempted to go astray—tells Jacob that opening his hope to Mike was the right to do.

“You must let him stay with you,” the bishop tells Jacob. “And the woman who was his wife, and his children. These are not times like other times, Jacob. Around us, the English are dying. They are dying. We give our food, and we give our skills, but we are so few, Jacob. Whenever the soldiers come, I hear things that tell me this. Every time, and it worsens. There will be so many terrible days ahead.”

When men with guns show up at their door—Jacob and his family don’t resist. They are saved in the end but at a great cost.

The men who robbed them are killed – and it breaks Jacob’s heart. To take another’s life is a betrayal of all he believes—even if it saves his life.

What good it is, he asks, to save your life if it costs you your soul?

Eventually, Jacob and his family have to decide whether to stay and risk being part of more bloodshed—or setting out of the road, in search of a place where they can live their faith without compromise.

Both have risks, Jacob’s daughter Sadie says. If they stay, they may life. But many people will die. And the Amish will no longer be faithful.


““And if we go?” she says. “Then the story of our journey will be told and remembered. Of our setting aside what we have, and not resting in the shadow of the sword. It will be harder. Some of us will not live. More, I think. But it would let us live our plain way, and be a witness.”

How does it turn out? You’ll have to get the book to see.

it’s worth a read—if nothing else, because it offers a Christian alternative to agun fights with our neighbors at the end of the world.