On Sunday, October 23, 2022 Rev. Tony Ponticello gave a talk for the Community Miracles Center's Sunday Gathering. A lightly edited transcription of the talk is presented here.
Title of my talk today, "The End is Near — The Happy Ending." Apocalyptic soothsayers have been saying, "The End Is Near" for multiple millennia. Whenever I think about that, I have the image of somebody walking around with a big sandwich sign, which just has on it, "The End Is Near." I wanted to get an image of that to put on the Sunday program, and the only one I really could find was this one. (see image bottom of page) So I'm going to do a little screen share here and show you.
"Yes," it's Homer Simpson. He was the soothsayer I found with a sandwich sign saying "The End Is Near." I thought that was kind of amusing, and it actually fit into what I want to talk about perfectly. Homer Simpson, in one of his many episodes, went around with a sandwich sign saying "The End Is Near." **1
The Simpsons is an amazing phenomena for a television show. The Simpsons, I believe, is still active and there are still new episodes of The Simpsons being produced. It actually started in 1987 as a segment of The Tracey Ullman Show, and then they had their own series spun off in 1989, which means that they had been continually producing The Simpsons episodes for 33 years, 35 years, if you count the years that they were on The Tracey Ullman Show. It's the longest running, American, scripted, prime time television series — and it's all the same actors, all the same voices for all these years. So it's a true cultural phenomena.
I used to be a big Simpsons fan. I don't watch it much anymore, but I always loved the Simpsons, it always gave me a laugh and some insight. They're very, very clever, and enlightened sometimes in some of their perspectives. In that episode Homer Simpson became the harbinger of the apocalypse, which of course is just perfect for Homer Simpson.
The inspiration for the talk today was this particular passage in the Text. It says, "We have frequently noted that the miracle is a device for shortening but not abolishing time. If a sufficient number of people become truly miracle-minded quickly, the shortening process can be almost immeasurable." (OrEd.Tx.2.17) That was in the reading that Rev. Peter read. It's very important, I think, for us to remember this.
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I've been getting the guidance lately that we are coming much closer to that sufficient number. When a sufficient number become miracle-minded, or when a sufficient number, let's say, start tuning into the Holy Spirit, start tuning into their own wisdom instead of relying on external authorities, the time shortening, the miracles, the healing, get accelerated very, very profoundly. Actually, this particular quote teaches it becomes immeasurable how fast things will speed up. It's saying that when there's a critical number, when a critical number of the Holy Children of God who believed they were separate start learning that they have a connection with each other, that they have a connection to the Voice for God, that they can receive their own wisdom, that they don't have to rely on external authorities any more, something amazing will happen.
When a critical number of people get that, then something exponential takes off. It's not just a linear progression, it's an exponential progression. So at certain point, we're going along, we're going along, things are slowly increasing, things are slowly increasing, but then all of a sudden this critical number get it (Rev. Tony is using his hand to track the path of a rising exponential curve) and then it just takes off. I have gotten the feeling and the message that we're approaching that. We're approaching that critical mass. There's another way of looking at this, like the 100th monkey thing. When the 100th monkey learns how to wash his pear, all the monkeys suddenly know how to wash their pears. There's a cascade of increased healing that I believe could be right around the corner.
One of the teachings that I got many, many years ago was remembering that until that critical mass takes off, things look pretty much the same, because again, it's not a linear progression. It's not like things are going to get a little bit better, and a little bit better, and a little bit better, and a little bit better (Rev. Tony show the linear progression with his hand again). They're going to be sort of cruising along the way they are, and then all of a sudden, exponentially they get better much faster. Until you get to that exponential rise, everything looks pretty much the same. We can't expect to have some massive change in the world before the critical mass. We don't know when it's coming, but I feel that a cascade of healing could be right around the corner.
Traditionally, when apocalyptic soothsayers or messianic predictors talked about "The End Is Near," they were talking about the fiery destruction of the world. That was why they always called sinners to repent. "Sinners repent! The end is near!" Even in traditional evangelical theology, they emphasize this fiery destruction of the world. Some say that 144,000 humans will get assumed, bodily, into Heaven during what they call the rapture. But if you think about 8 billion people on the planet and only 144,000 getting saved, what are the odds that it's going to be me or you? Those aren't very good odds. When I think about the end being near, I don't think about any of those things. I don't think we should be repenting because the end is near. I think we should be rejoicing. We should be rejoicing. Actually, A Course In Miracles tells us exactly that. There's a great line from the Course, that says, "Why are you not rejoicing?" (OrEd.Tx.29.12)
That's a really good question. And I don't think it's merely I rhetorical question. I think we should truly be asking ourselves, "Why are we not rejoicing?" No good reason. There is no good reason why we should not be rejoicing. That's why I put my party hat on today, and I put on my Mardi Gras beads, because I'm rejoicing today. I think the end is near and it's a happy time. I am here to rejoice. A Course in Miracles tells us this over and over again. It says, "The end of the world is not its destruction ..." It's not the fiery destruction of the world, "... but its translation into Heaven." (OrEd.Tx.10.75) Let's really get this, "The end of the world is not its destruction, but its translation into Heaven." (OrEd.Tx.10.75) Earth becomes Heaven. In the reading that Rev. Peter read, "The world will end in joy because it is a place of sorrow. — The world will end in peace because it is a place of war. — The world will end in laughter because it is a place of tears." (OrEd.Mn.14.5) Considering that the world is going to end in joy and laughter, I guess Homer Simpson is the perfect messianic messenger for the end of the world. Just remember, "A happy outcome to all things is sure." (OrEd.WkBk.292) A happy outcome to the world is sure. Sometimes people are quite upset about the world. There's a lot of people very upset about the state of the world today. As I said, the world isn't going to be perceived as much different, even right up until the moment before that great cascade of healing, "the celestial speed-up" is going on, and only then healing cascades in an unstoppable manner.
There is this idea in A Course in Miracles about the "celestial speed-up." I've always really connected to this idea, and there's a little interesting history about this idea too. A Course in Miracles says, "The ‘chosen ones' are merely those who choose right sooner. ..." Well, we want to be "the chosen ones." We want to choose right sooner. "... This is the real meaning of the celestial speed-up. Strong wills can do this now, and you will find rest for your Souls." (OrEd.Tx.3.50) So "strong wills" ... Well, we're all strong-willed, aren't we? Let's affirm that we are at least. We can do this now. We can be an integral part of "the celestial speed-up," which I think is just another way of talking about being part of the critical mass that's going to kick start and initiate the end of times, which is a happy, joyful, laughter filled time.
The reason why "the celestial speed-up" is an interesting A Course in Miracles idea dates back to before we knew there were other editions of the Course, because the words "the celestial speed-up" do not appear in the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) edition of A Course in Miracles. This was intriguing because the Foundation for Inner Peace themselves made a documentary about A Course in Miracles named The Story of A Course in Miracles. In The Story of A Course in Miracles, they have some interviews with people. One of the final interviews in the movie is with a woman, religious person. She's a nun of some kind, but kind of a high level nun in England. She's having a discussion with Judy Skutch-Whitson and Bill Thetford, and this British nun talks about how this idea of "the celestial speed-up" is very interesting. She talks a bit about how meaningful the idea of "the celestial speed-up" is for her.
That was very interesting at the time because "the celestial speed-up" wasn't in the Course book. That was in the time when there was only the FIP edition of the book. I remember thinking, "Well, where is ‘the celestial speed-up?' I've read the book about five times. I haven't discovered that phrase." That was before we had good searching software for A Course in Miracles, and I just thought, "Well, somehow I missed it. I'm going to look for it as I read the Course again and see if I find the phrase "the celestial speed-up." I never did find it. It's not in the FIP book. Then when suddenly we had these new editions of A Course in Miracles around 1998 or 1999, when the Hugh Lynn Casey version of A Course In Miracles was uncovered, I looked for "the celestial speed-up" and lo and behold, there it was. So the words "the celestial speed-up" existed in earlier editions of A Course in Miracles. Apparently, this religious nun in England had an earlier version of A Course in Miracles, and that's why she could connect with "the celestial speed-up" concept.
"The celestial speed-up," it certainly was significant for this woman, this religious woman in England. I've always really connected to the idea too since I first heard the British nun mention it. That's what we're supposed to be doing. We're supposed to be part of "the celestial speed-up." Again, not a linear progression of things, but an exponential progression of things. I'm strong-willed, and I affirm that you're all strong-willed. We can do this now. In fact, the only way that we will find rest for our souls, is by doing it now.
However some people ... I got some feedback recently, and I've had it before, it's that my position on A Course in Miracles is just too lofty and too extreme. I deal with the world truly like a dream, the world's not real. That's all just too extreme for many. People, I think, are afraid or concerned, that if they really were to adopt this as being literally true, they wouldn't lead a normal life. That their life would ... they'd be so fundamentally different that they wouldn't be normal anymore. I think people are concerned about that. So I got the guidance today to affirm to all of you that I lead a perfectly normal life.
I lead a perfectly normal life. I live in an apartment with two other adults. I drive to an office several times a week. I work there. I drive a car. I go to restaurants. I enjoy doing that. I go to the movies occasionally. I watch movies at home. I have relationships. I have intimate relationships. I am sexually active. I invest in the stock market. I own rental property with my sister Sara in upstate New York. I do bookkeeping. I eat pizza occasionally, and sometimes I even eat ice cream. I am perfectly normal, and I have these so-called extreme views. So having these views about the world, its reality, what it really is, and our mind's relationship to it all do not make you abnormal. They make you really enjoy the world. Generally, I'm a person who truly enjoys life.
The reason why I'm focusing on all of this today, focusing in on the messianic message of A Course in Miracles, is because for me, it increases my motivation to actually practice the Course. If this cascade of healing is about to happen in a really dramatic way, then it might just be the next encounter I have. It might just be the next person I talk to. It might just be the next relationship interaction I have. So, it inspires me to truly approach every one of those interactions like the holy encounter A Course In Miracles tells us it is. The Course says, "When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose sight of yourself." (OrEd.Tx.8.19)
So this is how we're supposed to be, and we need strong motivation to keep that attitude up. For me, feeling and seeing that the end is near, the happy ending is near — and it might just be that next person I make smile — that gives me motivation to actually do it. To have that approach with every interaction that I have.
Some people see the world's situation as worsening,. They cite the divisiveness of politics. We're getting close to a big, critical election here in the United States and people are putting a lot on this election. The different camps are dividing up and arguing with each other. People see that and feel like the world situation is worsening. I don't think the world situation is worsening. What I think it is, is the "false underpinnings" of our societal structures are getting exposed. That's all. The situation has always been bad. It's just we were deluding ourselves into thinking that these institutions were actually going to protect us, and the truth is they're not. So it's causing people to fall back on their own resources, to fall back on their own guidance. People think, "Well, if you can't trust the government, if you can't trust the news, and you can't trust the medical establishment, who can you trust?" Well, the only person you could ever trust was yourself and your connection to the Holy Spirit. That's it.
You never really could trust those others. You thought you could, but the only real trust is in yourself and in your connection to your divine guidance. A Course in Miracles calls those other things "false underpinnings." As these "false underpinnings" are exposed, the situation temporarily looks worse. That's what I think is going on right now. The Course says, "As these false underpinnings are given up, the equilibrium is temporarily experienced as unstable. However, the fact is that nothing is less stable than an orientation that is upside down. Nor can anything which holds it that way be really conducive to greater stability." (OrEd.Tx.1.70) So we're just exposing the "false underpinnings," and this is temporarily experienced as unstable, but it's actually a really good thing because those things never have been the sturdy foundation of anything.
In another place, the Course, quoting the Bible here, says, "The Bible says that the branch that bears no fruit will be cut off and will wither away. Be glad! The light will shine from the true Foundation of Life, and your own thought system will stand corrected." (OrEd.Tx.3.80) We're supposed to be glad when these things are exposed. We're not supposed to be scared and have to repent. We're supposed to be glad. We're supposed to rejoice. So get out your party hat and put your beads on. Love and have fun, because the end, I believe, is way nearer than we think, but it's a happy ending. I call all of you to join me in being that critical mass, being that 100th monkey, being one of the sufficient number to start the exponential cascade of global healing that I see about to happen any moment.
Okay, that's my talk for today. Thank you very much. ♥
** The Simpsons, season 16, episode 19. Originally aired May 8, 2005: Thank God It's Doomsday.
Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20 minister. He currently (01.30.23) serves on the CMC's Executive Minister and is President of CMC's Board of Directors. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 17, 1997.
Rev. Tony Ponticello c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the October 2022 (Vol. 36 No. 8) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.