A relative of mine—we’ll call her Aunt Ida—like much of my family is a fundamentalist Christian and regular churchgoer. A former Baptist, she now attends one of those non-denominational mega- churches. Her Sunday school teacher there--we’ll call him Mr. Jimmy—is an educated man, somewhat handsome, whom she idolizes.
Mr. Jimmy has lately been teaching from the book of Revelations. He told the class that John the Revelator says that when the Rapture occurs the chosen ones will be taken up to heaven and that will be followed by seven years of terrible turmoil before, I assume, those left behind will be sent to the lake of fire and brimstone.
Mr. Jimmy says that the signs are in place and this should come to pass any day now.
This is all news to me—not the end is near part—we’ve been hearing that regularly since 33 A.D.—but the part about the seven years of turmoil, and I went to church an average of five times per week for the first seventeen years of my life. My father was a Baptist preacher but he didn’t have much truck with Revelations. I think he considered it pretty much symbolic mumbo jumbo.
Anyway I’ve always been under the impression that all this shit was supposed to come down at once.
But Aunt Ida puts any proclamation of Mr. Jimmy on a par with scripture and believes she’s heaven bound any day now. As a consequence she’s told my wife that she is putting money aside at a hidden location in her house.
This money is for Cynthia and me after the Rapture comes, because she’s certain that we won’t make the cut.
My reaction to this was to tell Aunt Ida the Rapture had already happened. They took Mr. Rogers, Mother Theresa, and a few thousand others, but she and Mr. Jimmy didn’t make the cut. Witness the turmoil the world is in now.
I know many people, and again, much if not most of my family, who believe, or claim to, that this second coming thing is going to happen. I say claim to, because I don’t believe that many people who say they believe this actually do. They say they do because the rest of the clique in which they move say they do.
It’s kind of like the old preacher’s joke—I heard a lot of them growing up—where the preacher asks the congregation to raise their hand if they want to go to heaven. All do but one man.
After the service the preacher asks him, “Brother Jones, don’t you want to go to heaven when you die?”
Brother Jones answers, “Oh yeah, when I die. I thought you were getting up a load to go now.”
I have no problem believing that Jesus Christ died for my sins. There’s considerable evidence to support that and there’s nothing illogical about the premise, but to believe that a supposedly loving god is going to send to hell everybody who’s not down with the program is absurd. And his dropping in out of the blue to make up or down calls for every human to heaven or hell—surely no sane person actually believes that.
The Catholics at least allow for some middle ground on the up or down call.
People in the Middle Ages, I think, actually believed this nonsense. Many Muslims today are still living in the middle ages and believe similar folderol. How many neo-Christians do you think would be a suicide bomber for their cause. I mean if you really believe you’re going to heaven, why wait?
This claimed belief that the Rapture is imminent is apparently widespread on the religious right. I have read that higher ups in the Bush administration justified not taxing the rich or controlling pollution by their supposed belief that the end is near and you might as well get it while you can.
And if you claim to believe this malarkey, why recycle? Aunt Ida doesn’t, and I’d be willing to believe that most of these other “believers” don’t either, because they don’t seem to share another basic religious tenet, one given lip service at least by all your major religions, that being that one should sacrifice for the common good even without direct benefit for oneself. Like recycling and energy conservation say.
Even though I’m sometimes guilty of riding around in my car just to listen to the stereo—why is it that music sounds best riding in a car at night—I’m something of a fanatic in other ways. For example, I won’t take an elevator unless I have to go over say six floors, and I refuse to go through automatic doors if a normal one is available. In both instances I’m saving fossil fuel and getting exercise.
I don’t, as you see, subscribe to the Machiavellian philosophy of these so called believers.
One other thing and I’ll stop this rant. I’m willing to bet that on a circle graph, the circle representing “idiots who have our car remotes set to honk the horn when we lock the car” is almost totally contained within the circle of self-proclaimed fundamentalist Christians. I’m also willing to bet that none of the idiots contained in the smaller circle recycle. Having the horn honk when you lock the car so the rest of us have to hear it is the same “it’s all about me” attitude demonstrated by putting glass in the garbage.