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.