Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rapture Ready

I called my senile former-cult-leader grandmother today, to wish her a happy Mother's Day. We spoke about the weather, about my son, and a few other neutral topics for about ten minutes. Then she let me know she had to get off the phone to go attend a discussion group in her nursing home - an Armageddon Preparedness Group. I was rather crushed.

My childhood was colored by her obsession with the End Times. She firmly believes that Jesus will return - Rapture, Tribulation, and all - during her life. Since she is in her late 70s now, it seems like it must be just around the corner. Having studied American history, I know that even just in this one, relatively young country, apocalypse predictions have prevailed time and again, without the event itself ever showing up. It is some sort of extreme arrogance to believe we, the individuals alive in a given generation, are so important that the end of life itself will occur for our viewing pleasure.

I also think that intense focus on the destruction of humanity - often a gleeful focus - is inherently "soul-crushing". It's what reminds me that Christianity is, in the end, a death cult. We can all agree that the Heavens Gate cult members were odd in their anticipation of leaving their "containers" (bodies) behind, and their mass suicide. We can probably all agree that they had mental problems, and that their beliefs were irrational and unhealthy. So why is rapture readiness considered okay? How is it any less ludicrous to hope for the end of your life because you're a Christian? It's the opposite of life-affirming; it's suicidal ideation.


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