Well, the end of the world has come and gone and I’m pleased to report that the dead aren’t risen and Game of Thrones is on HBO tonight. But, after all of the jokey links and comments I’ve seen and shared on Twitter and Facebook this week, I got to thinking about why this was such a press-stopper, given that 99.999 percent of the world did not fall for it, nor would we. This was the publicity-grabbing show of a religious freakazoid and we were all happy to oblige him. Why is that?
I think it’s a combination of things. We’re big on disaster lately. Movies like 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow rake it in; shows like The Walking Dead are huge hits. Maybe it’s because disaster is easy to imagine in a world where scientists are all warning us about global warming and the magnitude of natural disasters does seem to be up with all of the recent flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis.
But I think there’s another element to this: The rapture isn’t just about the pious getting their eternal reward. It’s just as much about the sinners getting their earthly torment. How mean-spirited is that? “I’m joining my lord in heaven while that awful next door neighbor dies in an earthquake, hah!”
These are people who can’t just rest assured that Christ will save them — they find the idea of salvation oh so much more delicious if they know that the unsaved will be left with fiery deaths and a zombie apocalypse to contend with while they wait in queue to be assigned their harps. So, maybe a lot of the snarky response to the rapture was spawned by an urge to respond to the insulting premise.
I’ve never taken Jesus in as my lord and savior, and it’s not going to happen, not even on my death bed. I believe that he likely existed, and said lots of good things. like “Judge not, lest ye be judged” and that golden rule of “Do unto others…”. I just stop short of the miracle birth and resurrection stuff — I’m far too good a Unitarian for that. So that makes me all the more dismissive of these people who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus while they snicker at the idea of their fellow humans writhing in a fiery hell. I think that anyone who would condone the mass suffering of others as a fitting counterpoint to their eternal reward as pretty undeserving of that reward in the first place.
So here’s my take: the rapture is a hoot, and those who wish to be raptured are morons who deserve every bit of the ridicule that they received this week. If Christ is their teacher, they’ve never passed the first grade. Here’s my real question for those who would welcome an apocalypse as their reward: