What Will You Believe in the Post-Rapture World
by Debra DeAngelo
So. You’re still here? Yeah, me too. I mean, I’m assuming that I am, as it’s still only Friday morning as I write this column. But I’ll hazard a guess that my clothes aren’t in a little pile on a sidewalk somewhere right about now. Apparently yours aren’t either.
Whew, right? I mean either way — whether Harold Camping and his Family Radio Rapture Everafter came true or not. Because if it did, and all the radical evangelicals were siphoned away by the angels, well, good riddance. All in all, they were a perpetual spiritual “party foul” anyway. Besides, I’m totally down with being one of the meek who will inherit the earth. Why? Meek people don’t force their beliefs and religious practices on others.
Imagine no religion, baby. Works for me.
Which doesn’t imply “imagine no spirituality.” People frequently don’t get that about me (well, the dull ones, anyway) – that not only do I view religion and spirituality as two entirely different things, religion is actually prohibitive to spirituality, if you ask me. But this requires a little abstract thought and contemplation, and it disappoints me no end that so many folks these days lack the interest or ability, or both, to spend a little time and effort between their own ears.
But what if Camping & Co. were wrong? What if he and his ilk are still here? Well, there’s an awful lot of “ilk” out there. And dang, they’ll be REALLY cranky now. Sadly, we’ll still be stuck with those types who only value life before the umbilical cord is cut, and the Westboro Baptist Church folks who protest at soldiers’ funerals, and those jerkwads who stand at the corner of Market and Powell in San Francisco with their towering yellow “God hates gays” signs, peering with fear and loathing at every person walking past. Just as Jesus would.
The yellow sign dudes were stationed near the starting line a couple of Bay to Breakers ago, just oozing silent hatred and disgust at all those sinners in their wacky costumes, reveling in the big, bright mobile party ambling by. My best bud and I were dressed as Thing One and Thing Two from “The Cat in the Hat,” and as I penguined (if you’ve ever done B2B, you’ll totally understand that) past one of the Jerkwads For Jesus guys, I whispered in his ear, “Jesus doesn’t love you when you judge people.” And of course, he stood as still and stoney-faced as a guard at Buckingham Palace, surely thinking, “You’re going to burn in HELL you scumbag lesbian!”
This is exactly what the term “What-EVER” was invented for.
But: What if Harold Camping was right. All these “Christians” (please note the quotation marks – they matter) have all evaporated en masse. Will I miss them? Only slightly less than I missed my appendix after it ruptured and was removed.
So. Are we post-Rapture, right here, right now? Quick – look out your window. Birds still singing? flowers still blooming? Run down to the local creek and see if it’s flowing blood. If not, you can relax. Whether there are little piles of clothing or not. Because either way, we’re all still here (well, the vast majority anyway, if no one can find Harold). Now what? What can we take away from all this Rapture nonsense?
For starters, how about we stop believing in people. I don’t mean stop believing in human potential or the sacred spirit of another person. I mean stop believing in people like we believe in God. Stop valuing other people’s beliefs and opinions above our own. How about we perk up our own self-esteem and internal fortitude, and believe in what we investigate on our own and discover in our own hearts to be true.
Imagine how it would feel to stop BELIEVING IN the toxic things other people say about you – relatives, co-workers, teachers, ex-husbands, whoever. Or “beauty” magazines that prescribe how you should look, and poison your mind against your own body. Or politicians who promise anything and everything, and deliver practically nothing (unless it will get them reelected, of course). How about cleaning up all the negative turds of self-loathing that are stinking up your soul. Beginning today, Post Rapture Day One, how about reclaiming the right to decide what you believe in. Just think about that for a moment. You’ll already feel more powerful.
I came across a great quote from the Buddha while bopping around the ‘net recently: “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
Yes, this passes my own spiritual litmus test. THIS is something I can believe in.
Contradiction notwithstanding, of course. Buddha might say that if I believe what he said, I totally missed the point.
I believe I’ll ponder that for awhile.