Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Why I'd Rather Be Left Behind

The word "rapture" is not found in any English translation of the Bible, yet some creative entrepreneurs still manage to sell the concept to the credulous. I read one of the Rapture books once because someone left it in the teacher's lounge as a free giveaway. I read the book with something best described as extreme distaste, especially at the images of Jesus carrying a sword marching at the head of his army, his formerly white robe (symbol of purity), turned red with the blood of his enemies. Now that's a Jesus I can't get behind. Hmm, reminds me of the bloodthirsty priest Amrish Puri pulling the hearts out of the human sacrifices to Kali in the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom before sending them down to a fiery hell. After I finished reading, having searched in vain for anything even vaguely redemptive in the book, I quietly chucked it in the parking lot dumpster, then went and washed my hands, thoroughly.

When it comes to being left behind, I'd just as soon. Here are some reasons. I'm sure there are others I haven't thought of. Feel free to add yours in the comments.

•Because I don't want to miss the next episode of The Middleman
•Because there'll be shorter lines at the gas station, bank, the multiplex . . .
•Because some of the people driving gas guzzling behemoths will be gone . . . easing global warming!
•Because the people who insist on teaching abstinence instead of how to prevent unwanted pregnancies will be gone . . . easing overpopulation
•Because there'll be enough money in the Social Security fund for my retirement
•Because, unlike the potential heavenly floaties, my eyes still focus
•Because all the really interesting, creative people will still be here
•Because all the really annoying people will be gone . . . I think, . . . wait, will there still be Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on my door?
•Because I'll save $40 a year not leaving e-mails to my family and friends, thumbing my nose at them, and explaining what boobs they were for not believing

What I really hope happens? There's a major screw-up at You've Been Left Behind and the e-mail messages get sent out BEFORE the rapture. Oops.
A couple of hypothetical conversations overheard after post-rapture e-mails get sent out pre-rapture:
––You sent one to me? Why, didn't you think I was good enough? Do you think you're better than me?

––What bank account in the Grand Cayman Islands? Any other secrets you've been keeping?
The idea of the rapture is nothing more than the extremely old concept of the "deus ex machina." The phrase is Latin (meaning "god out of a machine") but comes from ancient Greek drama and refers to any hopeless or unresolvable situation in which an improbably contrived ending is engineered. For example, an angel or wizard or magic genie or Jesus appears and "poof" fixes things, or, remember when the whole Who Shot JR? thing on "Dallas" was solved by having the whole season turn out to be just a dream? It worked in the Wizard of Oz, as well. Superman usually flies backwards around the earth real fast and turns back time. Anyway, the idea has been around a long time. It's just being repackaged and sold under a new brand name with a purpose no nobler than to fleece the flock.

The concept of the Rapture is for those who have given up on fixing the earth. Those who see no hope for humanity and themselves and just hope a god/angel/Jesus/deus ex machina will swoop down like Peter Pan and rescue them (and fly them off to Never Never Land?). I suppose it's one way to keep despair away. But the part where they come back, hiding behind Jesus' skirt, er, robe, and kick ass on all their enemies (such as everyone who ever made fun of them in high school?) . . . that's just sick. While it would be nice, not to mention convenient, to be rescued from our financial and personal troubles, most adults understand that the only way out of this boggle is to keep working away to fix the problems we, humanity, have created. It's our mess. We made it. It wouldn't be nice to run off and leave someone else to pick up after us.

Pollution? War? Inequality? The rich too rich, the poor too many? These are fixable, if we only dig deep and find the will, the love, the strength of character and the resolve. Rapture wannafloats? Gutless quitters without the focus and determination needed to succeed in the real world. If their time comes, let them go. But, if you see anyone floating up in the air, perhaps on a beam of light, there might be aliens up there picking up a six-pack at 7Eleven Earth. I suggest hiding under a rock. It might, ironically, turn out to be a rock of salvation.

P.S. Can I have your iphone when you're gone?