I ran across this YouTube video over at Meridian. I can’t embed it here, but it’s worth taking a few minutes to go over and watch it.

I grew up in an era where the nuclear threat was massive and real, when the long and bloody Vietnam war was going on (I nearly became part of it myself), and when the former USSR was growing in influence. In the same General Conference talk (April 1979) excerpted in the video above, Elder Bruce R. McConkie spoke of “the atomic holocausts that surely shall be.”

But that was 30 years ago. The USSR has collapsed, and while Russia under Putin has been trying to regain some its power and influence, it has profound economic, civil, and demographic challenges at home. The odds of a full-scale nuclear exchange have been very low for the past 20 or so years, and they will likely continue to stay low. After the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, things went so smoothly (relatively speaking) in the early 1990s that Francis Fujiyama famously wrote of “the end of history“, a choice of phrase that he likely privately regrets now.

There has certainly been a lot of history over the past 20 years, but pretty mild compared to the 70 years before it (World War I, Great Depression, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, race riots throughout America, assassinations of Pres. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, and, of course the Cold War). The current economic troubles are serious, but nothing like the Great Depression (I strongly recommend reading The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes for some perspective), which I grew up hearing about from my parents. For that matter, I was in the job market and trying to support my own family in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when we had double-digit inflation (approaching 15%), followed by double-digit Federal interest rates (approaching 20%) and double-digit employment (breaking 10%).

As per Elder McConkie’s reference to “atomic holocausts”, we tend to see the last days in terms of current threats. Generally, we appear to have moved on from a US/Russia full-blown nuclear exchange scenario to a more mixed one involving economic collapse, terrorist attacks (nuclear and/or biological), natural pandemics (e.g., Avian bird flu) and a few natural disasters thrown in there, which of course are the things that we are currently facing.

However, I suspect that those events prophesied for the last days may well come in a manner that we don’t particularly expect.  Back in the late 1970s when I first read Lucifer’s Hammer — a great novel by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle about a comet hitting the earth — I was struck by how many of the events and consequences echoed scriptures about the last days, particularly those found in the D&C. Some sort of celestial impact (comet or asteriod) remains one of my top choices for a “last days” event, but I readily acknowledge that I could be dead wrong. Maybe it will be something like the Yellowstone caldera having another massive eruption; maybe the Large Hadron Collider really will produce something nasty.

Or maybe we’ll just do it all to ourselves.

What are your thoughts?  ..bruce..