On The Way UP in 2007!

Going Up

I hate to write two God-themed posts in such a short time, but bear with me. What I write here today could be very important to you sooner than you think. I’m sure many Pipeline People have seen the recent Associated Press poll that shows 25% of Americans believe Christ will return in 2007. That’s right. The Rapture comes in 2007!

Full disclosure: I was going to write a column making fun of the Rapture and everyone who believes in it. You know, standard stuff like, if you believe He is coming in 2007, then why are you still going to work? Or how the way you’ll know the Rapture is at hand is you’ll hear Blondie’s “Rapture” on every radio station at the same time, including country stations, which themselves are a sign of End Times.

But I figured if I was going to make fun of the Rapture I ought to have at least a bare minimum of knowledge about it. For me, “bare minimum knowledge” about a subject these days means reading the Wikipedia entry. In truth, Wikipedia’s so good on so many topics it’s probably more than “bare minimum knowledge” and may even rise to the level of “conversational knowledge”, but only if I don’t have conversations with anyone who actually believes in the Rapture.

Wikipedia has a lot to say about the Rapture, and in light of the idea we shouldn’t mock what we don’t understand, if you have only a hazy understanding of the Rapture you should make sure to read it to enable continued mockery of the Rapture, because it is deserving of our derision. Why? Well, setting aside all the stuff about God needing to exist, Rapture theory in general is made up of a hodge-podge of disjointed Biblical verses that no scholarly consensus supports, visions by young Irish girls, and self-serving books written by get-rich-quick authors. It almost makes Dianetics sound lucid and plausible. Almost.

Oh, and virtually all Rapture theory has been created in the last 200 years. You’d think Jesus would put something that important front and center in his teachings or the gospels, but no. Jesus wanted Rapture theory to incubate until a large book-buying public and Kirk Cameron emerged. (Don’t miss the Cameron link.)

Even though I’m trained in academic debate, I often find “God debates” tiresome. What’s the point? People either believe or they don’t, and I don’t. So I’m going to skip past the whole “There is no Rapture” position and just go along for a moment with the idea of a Rapture happening.

So, let’s say the Rapture happens. What that means, specifically, depends on whether it’s a Pre-Trib or Post-Trib rapture, plus many other variables depending on which movies, books or churches happen to be right. I mean, they can’t all be right, can they? But let’s just say it’s the one where He comes back, and all His posse literally ascends to Heaven in their physical forms. Maybe there’s a flash of light and maybe there’s a pile of clothing left on the ground, or maybe they leave behind a pile of Ghostbusters ectoplasma, but one way or another the God Squad has left the building, and the rest of us are…”Left Behind”.

What happens next?

On the one hand, I’m not at all bothered by not ascending to Heaven, because I was never down with God anyway. I didn’t expect to be called, so I can’t have hard feelings about being jilted. Plus, nearly all my friends are still here, my parents are still here, and there are a lot of extra cars, houses, and church gymnasiums that are going to be available now. Plus, the Rapture at least resolves some ambiguities for me about the nature of the universe, and it’s nice to have that clarity if for no other reason than I don’t have to get into any more discussions about whether God exists. And anybody who would play the “I told you so” card isn’t around to do it!

But there is, of course, a flipside: The God Squad vacates, but the Beast is now in the house. This will most likely be a rude awakening for me and everybody else, because we didn’t believe in the Beast and what the Beast represents.

But what, exactly, does the Beast represent? Eternal Damnation is the reputation, but what’s that? Damnation to Hell? Denial of entry to the Kingdom of Heaven? Well, first thing, I had already given up on entry to the Kingdom of Heaven, so that’s like being told you didn’t win a lottery you never bought a ticket for. And damnation to Hell sounds bad, until you realize most of the people who ascended believed Earth already was Hell. Yes, this Earth I’m loving so much right now.

So, it seems reasonable to me the Beast might show up and say, “Listen, everybody. More of the same, but without the guilt trip, the unwanted pregnancies, or the FCC.. Dig? Oh, and that cure for cancer you’ve all been waiting for? Full steam ahead on the stem cells!”

Finally, speaking of the cure for cancer, I have to admit I was bothered by the AP’s poll showing 25% of Americans thought the Rapture was coming in 2007 until I saw some of the other results from the poll of expected events in 2007:

35 percent predict the military draft will be reinstated

35 percent predict a cure for cancer will be found

19 percent think scientists are likely to find evidence of extraterrestrial life

And then I remembered: Americans will believe anything, especially if they heard someone else believes it.

Oh, and in case of Rapture, this blog will still be operating, and you’ll still be reading it. See you in Hell.

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17 Responses to On The Way UP in 2007!

  1. brent says:

    Awesome, very funny stuff.

  2. Jim says:

    First of all, you have to read http://www.raptureready.com to really get a sense of this. The Rapture Index is one of the single greatest things on the internet. Also, I’ll tell you this much: if the Rapture does happen, I’m going to be one praying motherfucker during the whole Tribulation.

  3. pipelineblog says:

    It’s hard to admit I’ve been wrong about something, and I just assumed once it all started there were no second chances, but according to some Rapture theories that’s not true, and there will be a time for the non-believers to come to terms with God and be saved. Yes, if the Rapture happened, and it was indeed that kind of Rapture, I would probably give prayer a shot. I mean, let’s face it, if it’s a full-on Rapture you’d have to be pretty stubborn not to. Probably nothing engenders faith like the Second Coming.

  4. Sean says:

    I have a feeling the article is being intentionally coy about what people actually believe, or maybe the survey was badly designed. 19% think that scientists will discover evidence of extraterrestrial life in 2007? My guess is that some of these questions were just open-ended “in the future” or “in the next ten years” kinds of things (including the rapture stuff). I mean, I think the people are ignorant swine as much as anybody else does, but how on earth could 35% possibly think that cancer will be cured this year?

  5. brent says:

    35% still approve of Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq. by comparison a cure for cancer this year seems pretty reasonable.

  6. paul says:

    My understanding is that Revelations, which is the source of much Rapturology, was included in the bible b/c, at the time, they believed it was written by John the Baptist, the religious leader who baptized Jesus. And even then, there was serious debate about whether it should have been included. Now, most scholars believe it was written by a different John altogether.

    What a mess.

  7. Charley says:

    I think Sean’s spot on. If people had an accurate sense of time and the future then home forclosures wouldn’t be up 40% over the past year. We are, laregely, an unrealistic species.

    Doug, what if the Hell we get is more like the Dante or Bosch version?

  8. kelly says:

    Only 18% beleive we’ll find extra-terrestial life? I am pretty sure we’ve found single cell organisms in comet debris….. but maybe I’m paying attention sense I already believe there is extraterrestial life….

    F%% the rapture. If it happens, I’m going demonic in a big way.

  9. chris zewiske says:

    Is that Bruno Kirby or Jesus standing with Kirk Cameron?

  10. pipelineblog says:

    From the top:

    Sean, the Sunday StarTribune broke it down, I think the numbers were 14% believed it would happen “sometime”, and 11% think it’s going to happen in “2007”. I tried to find the link and couldn’t. Even 11% is way, way too high in my book, but it seems generally closer to the general perception I have of how much of a cross-section of our country is batshit-insane about prophecies of that type.

    Paul, one of the things that always confounds me about people whose faith is grounded in the Bible is the complete lack of consensus that surrounds Biblical interpretation, combined with what we know are shaky assumptions based on things that happened (or didn’t) a long time ago. I can only conclude that some people want so badly to believe, or are surrounded by believers and just along for the ride.

    Charley, if you mean Joe Dante, director of Gremlins, then that would be a truly horrifying Hell and I would be forced to reconsider. But if it’s the other Dante’s version or the Hieronymous Bosch version, well, sucks for me. I’ll take my chances, since I don’t see any reason why those guys’ interpretation of Hell should be any more valid than my own. Why should our vision of Hell only be the domain of the talented and published? But I get your larger point, which is that Hell just might suck. But I look around at many of the things that are decried as Satan’s influence (sex, drugs, rock and roll, science, cable TV) and figure it can’t be that bad.

    Actually, the 19% finding ET figure strikes me as fairly reasonable. But I bet most of that 19% isn’t thinking about a little single-cell fossil found on a comet.

    It would be a better website if it was Bruno Kirby. I actually thought it was Dick Enrico from 2nd Wind. (Local joke.)

    Last, and I should have put this in the column, I want to be clear that I’m not calling out people of faith in general in this post. My enmity isn’t towards people of faith so much as it is people who tie too much of their reality to the Bible, and even worse, mangle the Bible to represent some fucked-up scare tactic to freak the ignorant or weak-minded out and sell books. That’s what the Rapture represents to me.

  11. Kelly says:

    My bus driver, the youth minister at “The Liing Water Ranch” and a number of his flock/students were about as fundie as Manhattan Kansas came. The rapture was a very real thing in their world, and they spoke of it often and at length. I was about 11 at the time. In retrospect, its transparent argument for ‘being saved’, especially for the youth ministry. Not worried bout death? Can’t afford to reconcile with your maker later….. as I recall, there were no second chances in their rapture…… making it all the more urgent. Powerful tool….. of course this is tip of the iceberg stuff. Remind me to tell you about the first hand accounts of statanic ritual sacrafice and demons.

  12. brent says:

    rapture dovetails nicely with my own families divorce. when my mom got divorced she took us to a wacky fundamentalist church in Salina, KS. the rapture thinking there was earth would function as a purgatory for 7 years where those who were not immediately saved would chill and have another chance to make up your mind.

    personally i think the branch dividians were the ones who were raptured away, and we are just the suckers that were left. of course this dovetails with my conspiracy theory about the government covering up for the rapture happening in waco in 1993…

  13. Scotch says:

    As goofy as it all sounds…Dude, if it went down that way you are fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked. Somehow extra gym time just doesn’t balance out with being force fed your children’s entrails while a squad demons defecates a partially digested Jane on your face for the next millenium or so. I find it very hard to believe that if it came game time you wouldn’t be going “Yo! Give a brother a second chance here!” I know I would be. I just hope Pat Robertson gets his.

  14. jane says:

    Sean and Doug: to clear up the stats a bit, the Strib article said that 25% of americans believe that the rapture is at least somewhat likely to occur in 2007. Of that 25%, some portion (maybe 11%) thought it was very likely and some other portion (maybe 14%) thought it was somewhat likely. But it was all specific to 2007.

  15. Sean says:

    Thanks, Jane – that’s pretty much what I was thinking of when I said it might be a flawed survey design. I’d think that if you believed in the Rapture at all you’d have to say that it’s at least “somewhat likely” to happen in 2007, since one of the fundamental (ha!) tenets of Christian eschatology is that “for you yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” Even so, thinking that one in ten believe that it’s very likely that we’ll be celebrating next New Year’s Eve without the presence of the devout is the kind of thing that makes you just shake your head.

    I am now seriously considering going into tax law and opening a practice that specializes in representing fundamentalist Christians who didn’t file because they thought their ascension into heaven was imminent.

  16. seth says:

    I gave the first left behind movie to my sister for christmas, in the movie, Kirk gets left behind, but I imagine that was for dramatic reasons. not a bad flick, the production values are quite high. Ironically, she left the DVD behind when she went back to LA.

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