If you didn’t hear about the “rapture” predictions, you were living under a rock last week. I was on vacation, far away from any workplace water coolers, and it seemed like every time I looked at the Internet, there was some other pithy comment about the predicted event — which led me to ask —
Why was this such a big deal to people?
This wasn’t the first time someone had predicted the rapture, and definitely wasn’t the first time someone predicted something pretty much publicly acknowledged as a joke (similar to those who predict the Cubs will win the world series someday).
My friends; this is the power of the new social network. Sadly, there is no filter for stupid, inane things like this. There is no editorial control, nor is there power to say “make it stop!” You either ride the wave, or get out of the water entirely. Welcome to the future.
My particular group of online associates (OK – “friends” – I guess) had one of two reactions:
1) My more secular friends tended to subtly poke fun at the very idea, wondering why any sensible person would believe that a God-being would descend to earth to burn the wicked and collect the righteous. Gosh, I love being placed in the wholesale “retarded” category by that group…
2) My religious friends tended to just post comments that warmly and half-heartedly defended the idea that Jesus could/should/would/might come, and quoted scriptures about no one knowing when/if/how it would actually happen, and basically calling this guy who infamously predicted it a nutjob – or false prophet – depending on your particular flavor of religionist-on-religionist condemnation. It was a pretty entertaining balance some struck between being part of the fun, and yet not undermining their own beliefs.
I decided to stay above the fray on this one – even though some of the comments got pretty good. Surprisingly, as the week wore on, the comments became more and more telling as to who was actually taking this a little too seriously and a little too far. The most committed secularists pushed harder while the most committed religionists pushed back.
I started asking myself important questions like: “What happens if I’m on a plane when Jesus comes?” (I was on a plane on Saturday) or “In what time zone, exactly, was the prediction made?” You know — the really important details that have never been quite clear or distinct. Instead of worrying too much, however, I chose to roll over and take a nap.
On Saturday, I ended up being in Wal Mart during the appointed hour. I didn’t notice that Wal Mart was any less busy than usual in our Christian town, though I did notice several people were dressed up (for Wal Mart, that doesn’t take much). I’m assuming that was just in case something happened, they would be able to meet Jesus wearing a fresh coat of lipstick and a nice skirt.
Obviously, nothing happened – and I haven’t even bothered to find out what excuse was given by the guy who predicted it all.
As a person of faith, my personal beliefs on this topic are a little hard to describe. Yes, I believe Jesus was really the Son of God and he did promise to return in power and glory. I have to take him at his word, there. However, I also recognize the pattern that, even right after his death and resurrection, Peter, Paul and the other loyal followers were looking for an immediate return. Different religious persuasions have gone through cycles of panic and immediacy when it comes to the Second Coming ever since. My particular religion had a famous period in the early 1900’s where the preaching rhetoric ramped up across the church, and many were whipped up into a pre-Second Coming frenzy.
Looking at these patterns, I choose to believe that it is far liklier that my personal rapture will occur when I go to be judged of God after this life. The chances are very low that a rapture “event” will occur while I’m living, given the clear fact that centuries have past with each subsequent generation sure that it would happen to them and in their lifetime. My choice, then, is to just live my life as if death or rapture could come and it wouldn’t matter either way. I don’t have to get amped up over it at all. In fact, if I get amped up over it, I’ve missed the point of it entirely. I just need to be living in a way that my family, my friends, and my God will all be proud to have known me and called me a friend – no matter how the end comes for me.
You’ll have to pardon me if this application of my beliefs is a bit too practical or uninspiring, it’s just how I choose to live and get by each day, retaining some faith without becoming a crazy, fixated lunatic like the people everyone was talking about on Facebook.