We're always waiting for something in this state 

Waiting for the Rapture

If you are reading this, you obviously were not taken up to heaven last Saturday. And as I write this, three days before the big Rapture event, I confess that I am not optimistic about my own chances.

Another confession: For years, I have been lying awake at night worrying about the Mayan Doomsday — you know, Dec. 21, 2012. At least I don't have to sweat that any more. Looks like one fringe Christian group beat them to it by scheduling their Doomsday on May 21. I thought I had dodged a bullet when I survived the Y2K scare on Dec. 31, 1999, but these doomsdays seem to be coming thicker and faster than ever, so you have to wonder what will happen if one of them finally gets it right. You know what they say: Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then.

One of the blessings of living in this great land we call America is that there is a creed, sect, or denomination for just about every taste. There are more kinds of Christianity in this country than there are flavors at Baskin Robbins and more varieties of faith than varieties of Heinz. The good news is that — if you are so inclined — you can find a church with the perfect theology to save your soul and send you to the heaven that is just right for you. The bad news is that sorting out all these brands of Christianity can be a real challenge.

I know the difference between a Presbyterian, a Baptist, and a Catholic. But this doomsday crowd is something else altogether. The group that has been cooking the May 21 Rapture is led by Harold Camping, an 89-year-old radio evangelist in California. His followers are called dispensational premillennialists, not to be confused with postmillennialists, amillennialists, or the historic premillennialists.

According to Camping, about 3 percent of the earth's population — some 200 million believers — were destined to be raptured up to heaven on Saturday. The rest that had been left behind would be in for a bad time. If you are reading this, I assume you are one of them. By the time this issue of City Paper hits the street, you will be wading through lava and floods and running from earthquakes and storms.

And the worst is yet to come. Five months after the Rapture, on October 21, the world comes to an end. Poof! Gone! Just like that.

Let me say that again: The world comes to an end! You. Me. Lady Gaga. The Atlanta Braves. Joe Riley. The Boeing plant. Tina Fey. The Washout. Everything.

But here's another confession: I'm sort of looking forward to a world without the holy rollers. As bad as it will be — even with the floods, fires, earthquakes, and so forth — it can't be any worse than eight years of George W. Bush. It can't be any worse than this Baptist-infested state that gave us Nikki Haley for governor. It can't be any worse than Bob Jones University, which attracts kooks and crazies from around the country to South Carolina, where they are so comfortable they decide to stay and run for the General Assembly.

So I say, Rapture them away. Whoosh them right out of here so the rest of us can enjoy four months of sanity, without the misogyny, gay-bashing, anti-intellectualism, and environmental degradation that are inextricably bound up in the Christian creed. Who knows? Maybe we can even smoke some friendly ganja without constantly looking over our shoulders like criminals.

So bring on the Rapture. I'll stand down on the Battery and wave them off. I'm pretty sure I won't be going with them. Based on the things I hear about Christians and heaven, I don't think I'm Rapture material. I guess that means that I will be stuck down here somewhere around Rutledge Avenue when all the chosen get whooshed up to meet Jesus in the ether.

While the term "the Rapture" does not appear in any Bible translation that I am aware of, I don't think that will discourage any true believer. The idea has been fermenting in Christian theology for nearly 2,000 years. Various prophets have predicted an imminent Rapture dozens of times. Why, even Harold Camping set his first date for the big event in 1994, then had to do some recalculating when things didn't work out. But don't let that discourage you. If you believe in something as crazy as the Rapture, I hope you get your holy ass whooshed out of here like a cruise missile. Stand outside so you don't bump your head on the way up.

As for myself, I will be writing again next week — barring anything unforeseen.


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