I received a disturbing letter from an elderly female relative the other day. At first, she seemed depressed, and I interpreted her letter as hinting at suicide, but after some thought, I realized that she believes that she is about to participate in the rapture.
For those who missed the memo, the world is scheduled to end on June 6, 2006, or 6/6/06, at least for “believers.” The facts that the logic is flawed, calendar dates are essentially arbitrary, and that the Holy Scriptures of Christianity specifically state that “no one knows the day or the hour” (Matt 24:36) are not enough to refute what self-appointed prophets Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins have proved by assertion to millions of consumers of pulp fiction.
LaHaye and Jenkins have made millions with their Left Behind novels. Sadly, there is a large segment of society whose critical thinking skills are in disrepair, who read these books and give them the force of scripture. LaHaye and Jenkins are members of a group who believe in a doctrine called premillennial dispensation. They teach that a terrible tribulation will descend on the earth and its inhabitants for seven years before the second coming of Christ, but that Christian believers will be lifted out of the world, and not have to experience the terrible happenings of those last years (see Matt 24:37-41). Some might argue that we are six years into the tribulation.
As a religious belief, disputation in terms of logic is not allowed unless one holds a degree in theology. Sadly, those who have gone to the trouble to obtain such degrees seem to find people like LaHaye and Jenkins harmless. But how harmless is the belief that the world will effectively end at time certain?
If one talks to their followers and points out that their plan involves God making a U-turn from basic operating procedures, their sad smiles let the speaker know how sorry they are that he is lost. Believers tell how sad it is that non-believers can be good people who will burn in hell because they failed to take the leap of faith.
My relative told me to come and take any belongings of hers I wanted. She made it clear that in short order she would not need them anymore. I can only imagine what other measures she is taking to get her affairs in order. Since she is not going to be here to pay the bills, what obligations have become moot? What future needs no longer have to be considered?
If this relative finds herself homeless or otherwise unable to take care of her own needs, I will feel obligated to take up the slack. Americans have been spending like there was no tomorrow for a number of years. It will be interesting to see if the number of bankruptcy filings spikes during the third quarter of this year, when 6/7/06 rolls around and many surprised people discover that LaHaye’s predictions are fiction. Considering the new bankruptcy laws, many people are apt to be in trouble, since consumer credit card companies now have more muscle to recover from filers than ever before.
When the rapture does not happen as predicted, we will have a 60-year reprieve from a numerically predicted expiration date on earth (6/6/66), but LaHaye’s income stream is in no danger. He will still send a complete 14-volume set of his novels with autographed first and last volumes for something under $200. As a cynical side note, his newest book, The Rapture is due out in June, just before the big day.
- ▼ May (5)