Monday, June 16, 2008

Beam Me Up Jesus!

I received an e-mail yesterday from a friend with a link to a web page. At first, I thought it was a joke, but at closer inspection, I realized it was real. How many times have you thought that when you have seen it all, another surprise is just around the corner to upset your perceived harmony among irrational impulses?

Well, here it is: Post Rapture Pets.

Those who are taken up in the rapture (this is when Jesus beams you up) will be safe in the arms of God; but what about the pets we love and care for?

The web page tells you that, by buying their book, you too can make sure that little Fluffy won’t be plagued by the demonic savages of the post-rapture. This apparently is another, in a long line of Rapture books, and we know how many millions of people and millions of dollars have been made by Tim LeHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

In the fundamentalist Christian eschatology, the Rapture is the moment in which they believe that Jesus will descend from Heaven, accompanied by his posse, whose bodies (rotting corpses I presume) are reunited with their spirits in a resurrection. Just imagine bodies popping out of the ground. Does that remind you of anything? How about- Night of the Living Dead. Immediately after this all “true” Christians (meaning fundamentalist Protestants, not Catholics, etc.) alive on the earth are simultaneously transported to meet the Lord.

The Left Behind books are popular apocalyptic thrillers in which Jesus returns to slaughter everyone who is not a born-again Christian. The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof said, “If Saudi Arabians wrote an Islamic version of this series, we would furiously demand that sensible Muslims repudiate such hatemongering.” Even the conservative theologian Barbara R. Rossing, an associate professor of New Testament studies at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, and who received her doctorate from the Harvard Divinity School, said “Today’s Christian fixation on Armageddon and war is a sickness even while it may be thrilling and entertaining.”

What this fear mongering really does, is to control people through fear- plain and simple. And don’t forget, that societies (this includes religious societies) living in fear are no longer functioning to their full potential. Fear is crippling to productivity, confidence and mental serenity. So the “Flock” is best managed through fear. There will always be some cause for fear created by those in power to keep followers in line.

This is why, rather than confidently laying out a positive program of beliefs (like traditional denominations do); fundamentalism is more concerned with raising alarm over putative dangers lying in wait.

Now my family has a rich spiritual history that includes The Catholic Church, Protestantism, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Buddhism and Atheism. Perhaps my spiritual view of the world has amalgamated positions from all of these and more, which is why my wife and I are about to start attending the Universalist-Unitarian Church here in Athens. My spiritual enlightenment can also come from a variety of other sources. In fact, I relish what Yoda of Star Wars says about this issue, “Fear is the path to the dark side: fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”

Oh, and by the way, if you buy anything from links on the Post Rapture Pets page, Enoch will get a small percentage of the price. I just hope that a portion of these proceeds are going into a Trust for Fluffy.

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