Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Miss the Rapture?

Copyright © 2011 by Chris R. Glaser. All rights reserved.

I don’t know how long I have, as I am writing this on May 21st, which billboards in my city declare is the day of the rapture, when the saints of God will be caught up in heaven with Jesus and the world will begin its final tribulations.

Of course, writing this is pointless, as there will be no readers to see this post, scheduled for Wednesday, as the God I believe in will leave no one behind.

In honor of this day, last night we watched the film 2012 about the Mayan prophecy of the end of the world. Unfortunately, we were too tired to finish watching it, and now there’s probably not enough time.

Occasionally I have found myself in conversation with others who were taught about the rapture as children. Everyone has their own stories about how they handled this terrifying and traumatizing bit of Christian teaching, sharing them like veterans exchanging war stories. I, for one, feared being cast down into the pit of hell, but at the same time feared being caught up in the skies with Christ because of my fear of heights.

Someone from a small town once told me that, if he or any of his friends discovered their parents gone from the house unexpectedly, they might fear the worst—that their parents had been raptured and they themselves had been left behind. Together these friends came up with a plan in such an event: they would call, say, Mrs. Smith, the most saintly person they knew, and if she answered her phone, they knew the rapture had not occurred.

The “Left Behind” series exploits this fear of God’s eternal abandonment. I have heard that recent books in the series have become slow and plodding—stretching out the publishing viability of additional volumes. My attitude toward those who misconstrue Jesus and the Book of Revelation is “Leave already!”

Truth is, we are more likely to abandon God than the other way around.

Our dog Hobbes could write her own “left behind” series. We leave her behind when we go to work or the store. We leave her behind when we go out to dinner. We left her behind with a friend when we went to Chile for a visit. She is constantly being “left behind,” but she knows that when we return, things will be better. She’ll receive a pat on the head and a rub on the tummy. She’ll be fed and get to climb up on the bed. She’ll walk in the park with us and join me for morning prayers on the deck.

That’s the sort of thing we should be looking forward to. Simone Weil wrote, “Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.” In expectation of the good, I would add.

How Hobbes looks when "left behind."


  1. Having been one of the people who read the entire "Left Behind" series by LaHaye and Jenkins, I was aware that "there's gold in them thar hills" when it comes to apocalyptic predictions. Obviously, those authors have made millions from their popularizing of the peculiar notion that somehow there will be a "Rapture" before the End Times. Actually, scripturally speaking, I see no real reason that any such notion ever got started, but it sure makes for good fiction!

    As I've commented via Kitt Cherry's recent Facebook sharing of the relevant "Wonderella" cartoon on this subject, the publicity garnered by this level of sensationalistic "prophecy" is really distressing. As Jesus emphasized, anxiety about tomorrow is extremely counter productive in terms of living today's opportunities and challenges in a loving and compassionate way. We DO have trouble enough, both in our personal lives and in the horrific disasters around the world, to call us to openness to God's presence here and now, not to concern ourselves with potential futures.

  2. How adorable, that you were frightened of being raptured because of your fear of heights. Your personal reflections and stories continue to make Christian teachings accessible to me.

    But that doggie photo just about wipes everything else off the page. Too cute!