Ohdamn. Did everybody in the world know about this except me? Chris D. casually mentions that The Rapture is scheduled for May 21. Yes, this May 21. And here I am, not ready once again.
I missed the ones in 1844, 1914,1918, 1925, and 1942. But for those, I had the excuse of not being born. I also completely blew past the Raptures of 1975, 1981, 1988, 1989, 1992 (both of them), 1993, 1994 (both of them), and 1995. I had far less excuse for missing all those, especially since they were coming at a pretty regular clip, there toward the (you’ll pardon the expression) end.
Now next month there’s another opportunity to watch all the chosen people float blissfully into the sky while we rejects get stuck here on Earth. I’ll probably end up forgetting to watch that one, too. Ah well, at least I won’t have long to regret. The same guy who says The Rapture’s due on May 21 says the world will be destroyed by fire on October 21. Hm. Maybe there’s really something to that global warming theory, after all.
But wait. Wasn’t there supposed to be a Tribulation first? Or does that come after? I get so confused, and rightly so according to Wikipedia’s Rapture entry. Turns out there are Raptures set for pretribulation, mid-tribulation, post-tribulation, and (gulp!) pre-wrath. Not to mention partial Raptures in which only certain Christians get to go while those who don’t make the cut have to stay here with us rascals. No wonder I can’t keep track!
It’s a wonder I’ve become so cavalier about The Latest Rapture. I remember the first time I ever heard of the concept. It was just about the most horrifying Truth any adult had ever told me.
My mother made me go to Sunday School every week when I was a kid. Neither she nor my father were churchgoers. Once a year on Easter for her; only once in my memory for him. But they knew how to use their bible when it came to child-rearing. I heard The One Commandment — “Honor thy Father and thy Mother” — thousands of times. I was aware that God was watching every move I made and filling an enormous book with black marks that would eventually Seal My Doom. And Mom, like millions of other parents, thought it was comforting to lead me through an every-bedtime prayer predicting I would die in my sleep.
And every Sunday morning she sent me off to serve what (she made unintentionally clear) amounted to a sentence every child had to serve. (As if 12 years in
public government school weren’t enough!) Mostly I’d just walk to whatever standard-brand Protestant church was nearby — Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, no matter. All were equally dull.
Then the year I was seven, the nice Beall family down the block offered to drive me every week to their church across town. And for the next two years, Sunday School and church ceased to be boring — and became terrifying.
If I was pretty sure I was Doomed By a Wrathful God before, between seven and nine it became A Fact. I won’t go into all that church taught. But that’s where I first learned that soon — very soon, could be any day now — all the good people would suddenly disappear, leaving only us rotters.
This was scarier than monsters in the closet. Scarier even than that book with all the black marks in it. People — including probably my own mother and father — were just going to disappear, leaving the rest of us not knowing what the heck was going on. There’s nothing more terrifying to a little kid than the thought of parents dying. Or so I thought. The notion of parents simply disappearing was way, way worse.
And God was going to do it. He couldn’t even wait until us bad people were dead before punishing us. He was going to start while we were still alive.
The day the Sunday School teacher gave us that cheery news, I felt desperate to get home. I was relieved to find my family still intact. But for years I kept expecting it to happen at any moment — whosh! — all the good ones gone. Me and the rest of the bad people left waiting for Wrath. (The concept of pre-Wrath would never have occurred to me, though; I assumed Wrath was God’s permanent state of being and he was just busy smiting elsewhere at any given moment.)
I’m sure I never told my mother what I was learning at that church or how it scared and confused me. She always thought I was “too imaginative” (as if I could simply slice my imagination out if it became inconvenient) and she usually laughed at my fears. So I just kept the constant assault of strange and scary “truths” to myself.
The torment finally ended one Sunday when the Bealls, without saying anything to my parents, decided to stay after church for a special speaker. So following Sunday School, I trooped into the sanctuary with them and sat through two hours of pure weirdness. I don’t recall the topic, but the speaker was a woman (from the mission field, I believe), and I do recall — vividly — that she ran up and down the aisles of the church screaming, screaming, screaming and literally tearing at her hair as I cowered in a pew. (I specifically remember the hair-tearing because it’s the only time in my life I ever saw anybody actually enact that old expression. And that broad did it with vigor.)
When the Bealls dropped me off at home, it was midafternoon. I had a terrible headache and an upset stomach. I don’t know whether Mom finally realized the church wasn’t quite what she imagined. Maybe she was just mad at the Bealls for not getting me home at the usual time. But after that I never had to go to the Bealls’ church again, and pretty soon Mom quit caring whether I went at all.
So that was to the good. But later I wondered, if there’s a God of Love as my more enlightened Christian friends claim, why is it perfectly okay with Him that His followers use Him to crush the spirits of little children? Well, considering some of the other things adults do to children, turning God into a boogyman is surely one of the lesser offenses — but it’s one that leaves the poor child with nowhere to turn for comfort. If adults are hostile and God a trillion times moreso, one has only the cold comfort of one’s own small self.
But that was a long time ago. Raptures now come and go without me even noticing. That’s a relief. And learning to trust myself and distrust even the Highest Authorities did turn out to be one of life’s most valuable lessons.
LOL, Claire, there were some deja vu moments in there….
Except I would have been ok with my parents disappearing, even when little…..and Sunday School was a bit boring and didn’t make alot of sense to me (simply from a logical kid’s view)….I don’t look for Raptures, don’t expect them, or miss them, either…..
If anything, I learned real early in life how people like to use intimidation and fear to try and control other people…and how to work around those roadblocks 😉
It’s all in the perspective, us rascals and rotters left here have more room….we get to stay in familiar and known-for-a-fact environments, rotten and evil or not….
Everyone’s entitled to their beliefs, however they’ve arrived at believing them….as long as they aren’t forcing them on other people, or condemning those who are different, that is…..
Damn, does that bring back (bad) memories! I didn’t have the exact same experiences, but the end result was the same in my childish mind.
And it’s all so far removed from the concept of a Benevolent God, that I could never reconcile the scary with the good. So I went out and discovered my own truths.
“If anything, I learned real early in life how people like to use intimidation and fear to try and control other people…and how to work around those roadblocks ;)”
Right. And in attempting to intimidate, they lost this one “disciple.”
Were you watching the Bible Movies Marathon on one of those “family” channels, again? ; )
Did check out the very hippie “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Godspell”? Both are very interesting “interpretation” of Jesus’ time. Very abstract.
Maybe this is one of those good examples of “don’t shoot the messengers” – – or maybe it’s the perfect example of shooting the messengers……sometimes it’s hard to tell which (message or the representation) went wrong……
When I became interested in finding out more about prepping I was quite surprised at how much religion was woven into it…..I think I expected the believers to be ok with leaving the earth when the end of times came, rather than all prepared to stay here….or was it that the believers were the ones to get to stay, and the rest would perish in some nasty disaster of some sort…..– but then, I’m still not entirely convinced I want to live thru whatever big crash (or multiples of them) happen if it ends up looking like a Mad Max or Soylent Green world….I do take the end part of TEOTW*AWKI* part literally, but I’m not sure if that should apply to the sad way it’s become or if it’s going to entirely vanish and be unrecognizable as ANYTHING known in my lifetime…..
And I’ve probably wandered way off topic, so I’ll stop now, LOL…..
You would think it would be pretty clear to the hucksters…
There might be an exception to know the year or the month, but other than that the only way scriptures could be more clear is to repeat the same words three times.
I must have had the Catholic cafeteria plan. A whole childhood of indocteration an not one quote from Revelations.
Wow. All I took home from from Sunday school at the same types of churches was basic morality: Don’t murder your neighbor or steal his stuff. Jesus loves the little children. Old women are nice and give me cookies before nap time. Later (in Jr High and High School) the message was “Leave the girls alone”. I should have listened!
Thankfully, not all followers of Christ think, act, and teach what you were exposed to. I’ve studied Christian theology, and I don’t force my beliefs on anyone. I don’t believe in the Rapture, and I think that the book of Revelation is allegorical and its ideas can be applied to much of history, and perhaps future history.
There are many other Christians like me who are devoted to Christ, (and are Libertarian,) who teach theology the way it is supposed to be taught – not with fear, and who quietly live their lives, trying to be an example to others. You don’t run into them, or hear about them much, as they’re not the ones who are shouting the loudest and grabbing all the media attention, writing silly rapture novels, or scaring kids to death in Sunday school. Sorry you had such a bad experience. It didn’t have to be that way. 🙂
“Wow. All I took home from from Sunday school at the same types of churches was basic morality:”
Depends on the denomination, A.G., and the particular church/pastor in that denomination. Some churches teach hell, fire, and brimstone, while others go after souls in more tolerant fashion. Some emphasize Original Sin, while others emphasize living more kindly, finding grace through Good Works.
Some denominations were founded on strict accordance with specific laws and obedience to those laws, while some churches (even in that denomination) might allow for more wiggle-room in interpreting what one believes or how one should live. Often the bigger churches in large cities can’t afford to antagonze their more affluent congregations, so they’re more lax in interpretation; while smaller churches in outlying areas are more conservative/strict about how their congregations should behave.
As a kid, we moved around quite a bit, and I lived in both city and backwater community. Believe me, Comparative Religion is not as confusing as Presbyterianism in its many guises.
I still like Ghandi’s “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
I’m certainly one of the minority Christians; I’ve embraced libertarianism and would call myself a An-Cap/Voluntarist/etc. Maybe that makes me not a “true” Christian, I’m sure loads of others would say so, I just fail to see how “thou shall not steal” doesn’t apply to The State and other examples like that.
Great post Claire and I think your experience was not unique. There are still many churches around that teach and expound just like that. They are more interested in telling people what to do, making them feel bad and extorting donations from them than pretty much the state of one’s soul. Fortunately there are many true and loving Christians in our world, many of whom do not attend church on a regular basis. They occupy their time doing thier best to live the Christian ideal and minister to those around them.
On the rapture, yes I missed all of those since I am still here. The one scripture about the rapture (or second coming) I remember best, is Jesus telling his disciples that nobody knows when God will decree the rapture, not even Jesus himself. So at that point I decided to stop worrying about the rapture and live for today. If Jesus wasn’t worried about it, why should I?
“I still like Ghandi’s “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.””
WOW, that’s brilliant… or is it?
As for the Rapture, as a young Pentecostal I spent my 15th and 16th years trying to convince tender young women that the Rapture was within their grasp. It works better than feminist or Libertarian ideology. Mixing powerful religious symbolism and brutish hormonal energy has an alluring and satisfying effect on young woman. It’s even better than treating them badly. That’s the real problem with feminism. It’s dry and ham handed manipulation and the end game is cats, a lack of prosciutto, and a lot of former compainions who’ve had their best assets nuetered. Just some random thoughts on a beautiful morning. 😉
Waaaay back in grade school, I had a friend that insisted I must attend church with her. We were taught about the Rapture and all, and I always figured, being a happy little Pagan, that I was going to be left behind anyways. After attending the Sunday School for a few months, I was asked to not come back, because in the midst of a class I stood up and asked “Are y’all leaving anytime soon for your rapture party, because I want this room as my bedroom”. At 10 I thought if all the good people were going to be taken away by God, I was gonna *rule* this place! 😉
Sounds like it’s time fire up the stereo and queue up “Getting Raptured” by Camille West…;-)
More seriously, I think this whole concept has gotten out of hand. John Nelson Darby must have been smoking something back in the 1830’s while reading 1 Thessalonians 4:17. I have a hard time believing that Paul meant all the Christians get a free ride on the Heavenly Electrolux before things get bad, particularly given that Revelation 20:4 bit about the martyrs and the beheading. As for the May 21st thing, Harold Camping really needs to re-read Matthew 24:36 a few more times.
Claire — sorry to hear about your Sunday school torment. Christians do seem to have trouble doing right by children — right back to the disciples in Matthew 19:14. I have a lot of sympathy for the Anabaptist concept of Rumspringa and *adult* baptism in the church. Seems like there’s a lot more free will and informed consent about the alternatives going on.
I think there was another Rapture in 1978-I vaguely remember something about it when I was in high school. I used to work for a methodist college,and one of the first things I learned is that a lot of the other “Christian” things I’d been taught were wrong! Far too many people who claim to be Christians haven’t read-or don’t understand(or don’t want to)-their own instruction manual. Or pick through it for the parts that suit their beliefs/needs/desires. Mostly the latter,it seems. The song that comes to mind for me is Blondie’s “Rapture”.
My relatives usually started waxing Christian when the were trying to con you out of something,or into doing something for them they didn’t want to do.
With all that said, I met a lot of wonderful people at that college(I was there almost a decade)-very few “Bible Thumpers”.
Heh, this one is a stroll down memory lane for me as well. My church growing up was a southern baptist one, and a very odd combination of extreme traditionalism like you’d expect, and “something for everybody” stuff (that turns out to be just as bad as hellfire & brimstone…). Typical sunday school class was a poorly researched bible story, a snack and oh by the way you’re going to hell if you don’t beleive in jesus.
It stared getting interesting by the time I was 9 or 10 when they started sending us to camp and stuff. Long story short, I was the biggest troublemaker, and I got away with 99% of it. When I was in middle school we got this closested-homo youth pastor whose personality was so weak that he’d let anything go without so much as a word. I don’t feel bad about it either…he would give us these “hip hop” sermons…I’m not even kidding. That guy made me lose what little bit of respect I had left for christianity. He earned every bit of trouble that I sent his way.
tl;dr, I hated the crap out of church but between getting away with anything and all the sexually repressed young girls I got to be around constantly, I have somewhat fond memories at the same time.
Claire, I am glad that I was a source for inspiration for a blog post. A thoroughly enjoyable read, I may say.
If ever we both end up in someone else’s hell together, I plan on working my way up to the devil’s right-hand man. That way all my friends will have free A/C.
“That way all my friends will have free A/C.”
And ice water?
I can’t remember who said this: “If you’re sitting around the living room with a bunch of friends and suddenly they’re all gone and there’s nothing left but their clothes, you are so screwed.”
I agree about religion and in particular Christianity being woven into prepping. It is one of the few things that rub me wrong about some of the prepping community.
I can’t remember who said this: “If you’re sitting around the living room with a bunch of friends and suddenly they’re all gone and there’s nothing left but their clothes, you are so screwed.”
That’s when you go through their clothes looking for car keys and money.
Somehow I’ve missed the significance of Christians prepping. Are they prepping for The End Of The World (as they interpret it), or for TEOTWAWKI (politically speaking)?
In any case, shouldn’t they be prepping? Shouldn’t we all, in fact, be ready for whatever we expect to happen?
Seems to be alot of us out here….might be more crowded (left here) than we expected, hehehe…..
By the way, if we’re not sure about the rapture, etc etc, then it’s only right that we don’t have to worry about air conditioning or ice water or sudden excruciating whatever, either…..
Pat, I tried to explain what I thought about the prepping and who does what and why in my second response here…. 🙂
– Sorry, first response….*wishes I could edit*
I figure the time of Tribulation began on election day in November of 2008.
Hey, leave me behind, as long as the Dos Equis brewery stays open.
To naturegirl: Well, exactly HOW is religion “woven into” prepping? I read your second comment three times before, and once again now. Maybe I’m not reading the same websites you are, or thinking about the same prep you’re referring to, religious or political. It sounds like you – or they – are combining the two. If so, *in what specific way* are they doing this?
I’ve missed the connection. Sorry if that makes me dumb.
I’m a regular reader over at SurvivalBlog.com….trot thru places like blogs that have info on how to homestead (there’s a ton of those)…..there’s so many that have a survival prepping theme mixed up with their Christianity & yes, they all do link to each other (which is how I ended up in a loop like that) but even the non-inter promotional ones – sites that show up in articles on prepping, for example- usually have some sort of religious references within them…..
I just read around it, because the rest of the info is usually a must read if ya want to learn anything…..
I should also probably add Gun websites/blogs, too….I’ve found a couple of those get into religious terms often, too, but maybe not quite so blatantly…..
I suspect that there’s a deep strain of religion with many who believe the government is illigitamate. It’s an attempt to bring order to the chaos. Not really surprising.
Ah… I see. Thanks for the explanation.
I have my own websites on survival, “gulching”, self-defense, etc. Better yet, I’m making my own plans. If there’s any religious mention at any website, I usually just ignore it – unless I have something to say about it, like here. But I didn’t know it was so prevalent on the survival blogs.
“why is it perfectly okay with Him that His followers use Him to crush the spirits of little children? ”
Short answer, it isn’t: “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:2
God doesn’t control people the way the government tries to. Some people seem to think he should. Same people often complain when someone gets pushy with them. Humans, go figure!
The 1975 “Rapture” was predicted by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Witness kids scared a lot of my junior-high classmates, and the day they predicted it for was quieter in school than usual. Over the next couple of weeks, the Witness kids were trickling back into school, looking mighty sheepish.
Funny thing about Prepping and Christianity. Even there is often a religious undertone, or considerations for some of the prep sites I don’t see it as a generic Christian theme. Mormons have always been preppers I think based on the practical nature of traveling across the continent on foot and then setting up to thrive in a relatively hostile environment. They could be considered the first group to move to the “American Redoubt” as Lou Rawles would claim it.
When I talk to christians about Prepping, regardless of particular faith, they generally get a glazed look in their eye and mumble something about living on faith, letting God taker care of them etc. Often it has been indicated that a “good” christain doesn’t need to prep because of the rapture, faith-living etc. I probably won’t help them when they come knocking.
As a rosary-saying, genuflecting, pope-loving Catholic who is in the 2nd of 4 years of a Scripture School sponsored by my diocese, I have to say that this whole Rapture is a new concept – it’s only from the 18th century or so. (‘New’ in terms of the Church’s view of time, I suppose.)
This class is taught by a woman with an MA and presents what modern Biblical scholars think about the writings of the Bible. We learn not only what Catholics think, but also Prot. scholars and Jewish ones as well (albeit more for the OT).
It’s a misunderstanding of Apocalyptic Eschatology (end times writing) and writing style.
John was a prophet, and in the older Jewish understanding of prophet, he was speaking for God, not necessarily foretelling the future. This style of writing was not uncommon in Jewish literature, with books like Daniel and also Enoch (Orthodox Canon). There are snippets of Apoc. writing in the 3 synoptic gospels as well.
So in one sense, the books were a message to the people living at the time. However, we Christians believe that the Bible contains that which speaks to us in all times. So while some of it was referencing Rome, that doesn’t mean that it refers to modern day Rome (as some anti-Catholics will state).
Will these terrible events written in the Book of Rev. actually occur? Well – they occurred in the past, and occur now. Ask the European Jews in the 40s, the Tutsis in the 90s, or the people living during the Black Death. Surely they can be forgiven for thinking the end was near. So, in that vein, I don’t think the book foretells the future. Will Jesus come again? I believe so. But the Bible is quite explicit in saying that no one knows when (as another poster mentioned above). I think that surely within 50-70 years, *I* will be facing Jesus for judgment one way or the other.
People have gotten overly concerned about the writing, IMO, and try to interpret the symbolism. But, too literal of an approach won’t work. These symbols go back to Exodus even, and would be more understood by the ancient Hebrews than by us.
Who said it was perfectly okay with Him to crush the spirits of little children (Not responding to anything other than that comment, maybe someone already did – but that is not the Jesus/God of the Bible I know. He/She is the least crushing of the spirits of little children, women, the downtrodden, etc. I work with just those people, and am one myself, and God is not the one doing the downtrodding.
I’ve met christians who think prepping is a sign of a lack of faith (“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.”) and others who think it’s a sin NOT to prep (such as in the story of Joseph in Egypt). Romans 14 has a lot to say about both sides.
But somehow I doubt it really has much to do about faith or belief, and more to do with the people doing the debating.
Non-practicing Catholic, though loyal and faithful believer nonetheless.
I do believe that at any particular time, all sorts of “ends” are near.
I have an open mind on everything. Allegory? Truth? Dis-jointed timelines?
One Truth I am sure of is, “I come like a thief in the night”.
You shall not know the day, nor hour…….
[Thanks, Claire. Interesting. BTW, I ran into this web piece not so very long ago, for what it’s worth.]
How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He is now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. Since Jesus must personally participate in the rapture, and since He can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends, the rapture therefore cannot take place before the end of the trib! Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) (which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening – Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who would be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54)! (Will death be ended before or during the trib?) If anyone wonders how long pretrib rapturism has been taught, he or she can Google “Pretrib Rapture Diehards.” Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 it was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” [“gathering”] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!). Other Google articles throwing light on long-covered-up facts about the 178-year-old pretrib rapture view include “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “X-Raying Margaret,” “Revisers of Pretrib Rapture History,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Desperados” and “Deceiving and Being Deceived” – all by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” which is available at Armageddon Books online. Just my two cents’ worth.