Thursday, May 19, 2011

Your Christianity Is Terrifying

If you haven't heard, there are some people that believe strongly that May 21, 2011 is officially, Judgment Day--the Rapture--as it is known by Christians. Some have gone so far as to spend their entire fortunes (like this guy) on ad campaigns aimed at letting the world know of the impending doom so that they can be "saved". He's part of the somewhat cultish "" group (followers of Harold Camping who falsely predicted an apocalypse in 1994) doing an "ad campaign" nationwide to get sinners to realize that the end is near. Roguemutt has blogged about all the billboards going up in Detroit. Well they are also here in Salt Lake City. However, what I wanted to say here is that I find the people taking this stuff so seriously to be of incredible interest.

I'm atheist which essentially means, I've no faith in any religion at all. I don't believe in the existence of a being in a place called heaven, with a traditional white beard, keeping score on good deeds and bad.  Nor do I believe that he had a son and threw another dude out of heaven who became the devil, etc.

However, what I do find fascinating in particular is how terrifying a world you Christians live in. It's absolutely amazing. It's very liberating to my peace of mind to dismiss it all as fiction because if I truly believed in this stuff, I would want to run and hide at reports of the Queensland floods (biblical perhaps?), fish being washed up on shore, or mass bird die-offs. I would spend a lot of time at church and give away my hard-earned income for the chance at a golden ticket to salvation.
If you were to look at it from a fiction writer's perspective (which I am) and separate yourself for just a moment, I think you might be able to agree with me in some small part (assuming that my words haven't inflamed you to the point that you just stopped reading this post). To elaborate, let's look at some of this stuff. 

Old Testament aside (with its talking snakes, floods, people that can split the Red Sea, etc.) the New Testament is just as scary.  We have resurrections, the son of God and his second coming, Judgment Day, the horsemen of the Apocalypse...and holy crap...the Book of Revelation. All I have to say The New Testament and religions spawned from it (L.D.S. for example believe that Jesus appeared in America)...are interesting. It's kind of like the authors that take old fairy tales like Cinderella and do stories that take place a day later, or who like Gregory Maguire, spin tales like "Wicked" that as you know, tells the story of the wicked witch of the west from The Wizard of Oz.

Basically, all I'm saying in this post is that growing up in a culture like this and believing this stuff must really fire your imagination. It prepares the mind (if you will) in a certain way to be more creative in coming up with stuff that is entertaining, incredible, and brilliant. Thanks to Christianity, we have prophecies, we have angels and demons, we have a son of God, and relics like the magical Holy Grail (used to great effect by Dan Brown ala the Davinci Code). We have the Knights Templar and all sorts of conspiracies involving Masons and secret societies, etc. Just look at Percy Jackson and the one time, people believed in those gods too. Now when I watch the movie, I think, how awesome it was for Rick Riordan to visualize the old Greek gods using the Empire State Building as Mount Olympus. Maybe an overactive imagination is perhaps the greatest boon to a person that aspires to write fiction.

If the Rapture does happen on May 21st, then any of you that are prepared for it have a great time. I'll be watching Saturday Night Live with Lady Gaga as the musical guest. I had my chance to believe from this lady in this video (and she failed to convert me):


  1. I think it takes a lot of faith to pin down an actual date. And even more to find a way to backdown the day after. Looking forward to the 22nd to see what people have to say for themselves.

  2. Throughout history there have always been these people who have predicted the end of the world and they're always wrong. Though maybe it's like "the Simpsons" and it really does happen but someone gets God to change its mind and postpone things.

    I always want to laugh at these people but then I think, "What if this whacko is actually right?" I mean it's bound to happen at some point, right?

    But I'm planning to just do my usual stuff on Saturday: writing and then watching a hockey game if there's one. If it does happen I'll be like Comic Book Guy and say, "I've wasted my life."

    Though it's tough to believe in a theory that suggests the Great Tribulation began in 1988. That seems pretty arbitrary to me. What happened in 1988? I remember there was a drought and an Olympics and a presidential election. That's about it.

    (Damn it, I know Pagel had a post on this subject but I can't remember which blog. Incidentally he has more active blogs than I do! I'm just saying.)

  3. I actually envy people that can believe in the teachings of the Bible. The world is a much nicer place if you think that everyone who has wronged them has a day of reckoning and that any good person that dies will be waiting for us in heaven. I just can't make myself believe in a document with so many provably wrong statements.

    It turns scary when some of them do things like this that turns their mass delusion into something that is potentially dangerous (see Heaven's Gate or the Sarin subway attack in Japan). I'll be hiding in my basement this weekend until it is over.

  4. From a fiction writer's perspective, I think there's a good story in what you would do, as one of these believers, when you wake up on May 22nd (or the day after another well-known apocalypse-date) and the world is still truckin'. In the news, the economy's still in lousy shape, the public at large is still obsessed with some plastic celebrity, and Apple's got a new product coming out... no mention of the apocalypse anywhere. And personally, you've still got a stack of bills to pay, you're absolutely out of groceries, and you suddenly remember all the bridges you burned in town because you honestly thought you'd never see any of the idiotic unbelievers again. What do you do? Who's going to be the first one in your organisation to admit that you made a mistake? Who's going to accept culpability? Will you go back to your job and just try and wear the ridicule and power through the sense of profound disappointment? Or is it time to head for a new city and adopt a new ID? What are you supposed to do with all the "The End Is Nigh" placards that are just cluttering up your living room? Will the date of the apocalypse have to be re-calculated? Is it time to see if one of the other faiths offers taster sessions? Etc.

    May 22nd is going to be an interesting day for some people. It's the day after the big day.

    Of course, if they're right, then there'll be no time to explore this subject in fiction anyway -- at least not on this plane of existence...

  5. My stepson told me about this world ending rumor.
    Michael, if I win the lottery on Friday, then I'll believe it.

    I honestly don't have a firm belief in anything. I figure if a person who believes in God behaves properly out of fear of punishment, then that behavior is fear. It's phony goodness. If God wants obedient yes-men, then he/she is not for me.

  6. I don't believe that the world is going to end on the 21st at all. However I AM a Christian, and the truth is that it's a personal relationship with God, not a religion. There was never a time when Jesus referred to having a relationship with God as a religion. Religion is man's attempt to try and earn God's love by doing what they believe will please God.

    No need, God loves everyone, always has, always wil, no matter our background or what we have or haven't done.

    Christianity isn't a set of rules based on doing this and not doing that. The Bible's meant to be read from the perspective of what God wants to do for us, not what we think he wants us to do for him.

    To believe in God is to take a step of faith only then will you be able to experience what having a relationship with him is like, which is freaking awesome, actually. Not always easy and smooth sailing in life, but awesome because he's got your back.

    A relationship, like all relationships, is a two-way thing. I know that I couldn't keep believing if I didn't see constant evidence of God's love in my life. who wants empty unsatisfactory relationships, right?

  7. If you doubt though that the lore of the religion as a whole is scary, you should really watch that first video. It's short and there are hundreds of people that are SCARED WITLESS by this thing. They are weeping and crying and you name it. I think that what these May 21st Judgment Day people are doing is downright cruel.

  8. Yeah I thinkk they're trying to warn people (rather passionately I'd say) but it's scaring people. Say it once and leave it, me thinks.

  9. No one would take every word of Fox 'news' seriously, so I have always found it hilarious (and more than a little scary) that so many people seem to believe that no one in the distant past had any sort of agenda of their own. Oh no, those who collected the various tales from a bunch of other tribes and called it The Bible had absolutely no agenda whatsoever.

    If heaven did exist, who would want to go there when its creator is such a vain, evil dude and all the interesting people weren't allowed in? I'd rather go hang out in the flames with Einstein and Mark Twain and all the other cool folks.

  10. Damn - does this mean no 4th of July barbecue this year?

    If the end of the world is coming in a few days - I'm seriously bummed...I had stuff I wanted to DO!

    In all seriousness, people are way too serious about this subject. If the end of the world is coming, sitting around whining about it won't change a thing.

    Though it's possible that Obummer is the Anti-Christ. (I'm sure that'll be voted least popular comment!)

    If you think the bible is scary, ponder this - the amount of material that DIDN'T make it into the bible would fill a small house. We only get to read what the Catholic Church (original publisher of the "good book") allowed us to read.

    Religion is scary - people have been killing in the name of it for centuries now. Eeek!

    Great post!

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. If they're wrong, they can always claim they made a mistake in the calculations and issue a new date or say that divine intervention saved the day. It was God's Will to postpone the zombie apocalypse for however many months or years.

  13. Paul had the same problem 2000 years ago. Although Paul believed in the imminent return of Christ, he also believed that we couldn't stop living our lives to wait for Him. There was a movement of people, however, that were doing just that. They all quit their jobs and sat around on their rooftops waiting for Jesus to come down out of the clouds. Their friends and relatives enabled this behavior by feeding them and taking care of them. Paul's response was to say, "Let them starve." Basically, when they get hungry enough, they'll come down on their own and go back to working. Even though Paul believed it would be soon, he also believed no one could know when and that it was foolish to just sit around waiting.

    My point is this, we should all live our lives the best way we know how -every-day. No one knows what will happen tomorrow. Not on a global level or on a personal level. We can plan for the future, but we can't stake everything on one day or one investment or one anything.

  14. I can sympathize with those poor folks living in fear of impending judgement. When I was a kid in middle school, I used to get in trouble all the time. I wasn't a bad kid, I wasn't trying to get in trouble, I wasn't getting in fights or anything like that. But I'd always do something that got me punished - usually I would be paddled for some minor offense. Like talking out of turn in class or not completing my homework, something stupid.

    I didn't want to be paddled, it would just end up that way. Every. Damn. Day.

    Sigh. I forgot, what was I talking about? Oh yes, God. I really don't know what to say about the whole 'rapture' thing, aside from ask if anyone believes it enough to give me their excess money that they won't be needing after they're gone.

  15. In good news...screw the mortgage repayments.

    As a Queenslander, this year we've had devastating floods, a massive cyclone, and a minor earthquake. Happily, I'm not seeing too many people wandering around declaring that the end is near. Sometimes shit just happens.

    And I agree with Ted. All the interesting people are going to hell. Reminds me of a minister who used to teach at my school. The way he told it, it'd be just him and Jesus up there. And we all figured Jesus would leave after about ten minutes in Rex's company. We also used to bait him with key words like "evolution" and "gay" just to see how bright red he would go. But it turns out he taught that bunch of fourteen-year-olds an awful lot about tolerance, because none of us wanted to be anything like him!

  16. The rapture has been predicted by some great prophet every ten years or so ever since I can remember. You see how well that's turned out for the christians but I keep hoping...! If only they would go and leave the rest of us here to clean up the mess they've made of things. Maybe we could finally get some meaningful legislation through on climate change or have a bill that protects gay marriage... then maybe I WOULD believe in god!!!

  17. Michael, I'm so pleased to meet other atheists :D I am more of an agnostic really, in that I "don't know and don't care" ;) But still, when put on the spot, I don't believe in God ;)

  18. But Saturday's my sister's birthday party. She'd be so upset. XD

    I'm with Charlie. I want to do good things for other people and be a good person because I want to, not because I'm afraid of burning for all eternity. It's more real that way, more true. It's like comparing someone's happy smile, to their picture taking one.

    Liz, you probably didn't mean any offense, but um yeah, I'm a teenager. -waves- And I really rather think I'm going to be laughing with my friends on the 22nd. Your statement is stereotypical.

    Trisha, I think I'm with you. Leaning slightly more towards agnostic than atheist. But you know, if we're all wrong, and there is a God, I'll kindly apologize to him before he kicks me out.

  19. There's always been these little groups of 'extreme' believers out there, and they aren't going anywhere anytime soon. I read an article somewhere that people have been selling them pet rapture insurance. I kind of feel bad for them. Living in fear is no way to live.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Imagine all the energy put into worrying and crying about this pending doomsday that is not going to happen. The conviction in the belief that the sun will not rise on May 22nd without worldwide destruction is frightening to me. Man, are they going to feel foolish...

    I'll be interested to hear the justification on this one.

  22. Michael, if I listened to that entire clip where that lady tried to prove the existence of God, I'd sway towards unbelief. She is a trip.

    I have read each comment following your blog - interesting. Catholics did not preserve the Bible. Rather, they have quite successfully perverted it and currently practice a religion that predates Christianity by thousands of years. (No offense intended in anything I say towards any particular religion – popular or not) An old and quite angry man with a white beard is not a spiritual or the almighty God. Throughout the bible, God is pictured much differently than that manmade description. Study Greek mythology and see where it may have come from.

    Religion, according to Webster’s, is a belief in a supernatural power governing our lives OR an adherence to conformity. We write religiously every day. (okay....but that was meant to be an example, not a statement of truth)

    To make an argument in the existence of a great Creator against the opposite extreme of all existence being happenstance, a person should become educated in both sides of the argument before debating. Otherwise, tempers eventually rise to a non-communication level leaving behind in its wake nothing but frustrated tempers, resolving nothing.

    For as many arguments for religious beliefs, there are equally as many arguments for the big bang theory and evolution.

    However, if we study science for any length of time, we can’t help but have some spark of doubt ebb its way into our thinking. How can all this wonderful existence just have happened so precisely that even a slight adjustment to the revolving around a big ball of fire could mean the end of all life?

    To believe one way or the other, there must first begin a doubt on one side or the other. (I confess – yes, I have been studying Epictetus and Zen, but that statement is my own Haiku).

    Agnostics have doubts on both sides, which is not entirely unhealthy.

    To base our religion on the movement of stars, planets, or people’s ideas is like living our lives without questioning the validity of it. Physical existence itself creates doubts to both sides of the argument of the existence of a higher power.

    No other animal has the power of the gods – the power of rational thinking. Intellect is a power of only human beings; no animal has such powers. Animals have only instinct, which changes not over successive generations of a species. If evolution is true, why did it stop? Or, why is there such diversity of species existing today without evolving into something else?

    Study science long enough, especially mathematics and the turning of the universe, and doubts begin to form of just how something so magnificent could have happened by happenchance. Study the arts and see the power of creativity – only coming short of creating life itself. Now there’s a whole new argument: Where has life come from if not from some design. Why evolve to this painful physical existence when we could have remained a slimy one-cell in the water having no other meaning to life beyond mere existence?

    I love these types of arguments, but I often get myself into deep waters where most have no desire to swim. Judgment of the human kind often leads to indignation of the beast-of-the-fields kind. Therefore, I will quietly depart before someone throws something at me.

    Good topic, Michael. It reminds me of the time when people packed their suitcases and prepared to catch a comet’s tail. They committed suicide thinking their souls (Greek and Hebrew of that word mean “a living being” and not some mystical spirit ghost) would catch a ride to the ever after. Won’t they be surprised at the second resurrection?

    (oops, I see I have become a hogspot on your blogspot)

  23. Thanks for the comment Lucinda. At least we live in interesting times and have so much information available to us.