Sunday, May 22, 2011

This is not the rapture you're looking for

All this rapture talk has been fun. It's fun to joke and laugh about it. But, as my friend Rutherford noted, we aren't entirely ready to dismiss it out of hand as impossible, as a country. Simply improbably on any given saturday.

But millions of people seemed to prepare for the rapture. NPR reported people emptying their checking accounts,selling their possessions, and otherwise preparing to be lifted up. And so I was noodling on what the appeal was of this raptureness. A few things come to mind:

a) There have to be some subset of the population who are truly done with life - but either chicken, ethically-hamstrung, or otherwise unable to commit suicide. The rapture give you a defined, legit exit point. Rapture as assisted suicide.

b) You rarely heard anyone pumped about the rapture because they would be left behind. That was the fate of us snide cynics.Only the self-declared-worthy would be lifted up. So, for them, Rapture as validation or triumph.

c) Faith is hard. Particularly since it isn't like we're being visited by dozens of angels on the evening news every night. The lack of evidence is what makes faith.. well.. faith. The rapture defined a point in time when there would be evidence. Rapture as proof.

d) While not suicidal, there are a group of people who would rather "live like you're dying" out there, and are just looking for the reason. Too responsible to empty their 401K and buy a Harley, they need someone to give them a free pass to live their dream. Rapture as Hall Pass.

e) Human interactions are a series of shades of grey - and grey is hard. Ambiguity is hard. We like order and demarcation. The rapture would act as the omnipotent herdsman, separating the sheep into different, distinct groups. Part of the fun of it all might be to see how the dice fall for everyone you know. Was the guy that cut you off yesterday doomed? Is it true that your ex-bf had a good heard? Rapture as Objective Ratings System.

There are plenty of reasons to buy into this story - and to find it attractive. In fact, I would argue that other non-rapturous mechanisms deliver answers to these same types of angst. Over-hyped self-help books, standardized exams or even fad diet books can all play to these human emotions. The truth is - only you.. not some product, whether tangible or radio-preacher, can quell these concerns. That may involve faith or baking or meditation. But it is on you - and it's hard.

In the immortal word of the Dread Pirate Roberts: Anything who tells you different is selling something.


PD said...

this is definitely best of thongcharm territory... i'm crying

rutherfordl said...

Thanks for the link Lilac ... and a great analysis of the rapture I might add!