The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant had a friend in college amused by all the apocalyptic scenarios studied in our theology class. Some argued we would be raptured before the time of tribulation. Others believed the rapture would occur in the middle of the tribulation; still others after the faithful had proven their mettle by surviving the tribulation.1 Our friend created the following theory: you get whatever apocalypse and after-life you believe in now. Rapture before you have to suffer and actually prove you believe in something?2 Done. Rapture in the middle of Nightmare on Armageddon Street? Certainly. Every faith gets into heaven? Say hello to Hindus at the pearly gates. Vegetarians and sundries on the Lido deck.
The Rant enjoyed this Build-an-Apocalypse approach to the end of things (fiery judgement for your enemies sold separately). Lately we have come to the realization this theory actually operates in the present. We get the end we choose, not because of sin or climate change or politics or a conspiracy, but because enough people decide to believe any of those scenarios dictates reality. The Rant isn’t claiming we can overcome the boundaries of the physical laws that rule the natural world, but when it comes to society, we will get the consequences coming to us. If enough people insist you cannot provide healthcare to everyone, people will needlessly suffer and die, not because that notion was the truth, but because we ordered our culture in such a way to make it a reality. If the seas swallow us up, it will occur because a critical mass of decision makers decided to deny science to indulge their greed and power.
There are a million things beyond our control, but the way we treat each other in a community is not one of them. Feeding the hungry is not impossible because a yammering head on television says so; it only becomes impossible when we give our assent to that lie. We choose to let people go hungry. We choose to let people sleep on the street at night. We choose to live in fear of others. We get the society we make. Concocting fanciful explanations of why we can’t, can’t, can’t make the human condition more just and equitable are the excuses that fuel our self-delusion and selfishness.
What The Rant finds most amusing is the conviction we have any say in how the rest of planet does or does not end. The idea marks the height of arrogance. We may choose self-extinction, but the world will keep spinning and other forms of life will not shed a tear at our passing. This beautiful world owes us nothing even as we take everything from it. We only owe each other the best of ourselves, the one responsibility we seem forever reluctant to acknowledge.
- For those heathens with their heads spinning, Baptists believe horrible things occur to end life as we know it on earth. Jesus plans on brining a lot of pain before he loves on us for eternity. Seven years of tribulations, the rise of the anti-christ, blood in the streets, a battle to end all battles, Armageddon, all set to an endless Kenny G soundtrack. It’s in The Book of Revelation, every moody teenager’s favorite book of the Bible, with a bullet. And the Whore of Bablylon. We loved her because you could say “whore” during Sunday School
- The Rant often noted that those convinced they would be long gone before the deal went down also had a fierce attachment to the Prosperity Gospel, with God operating as a giant, transcendent vending machine. Insert prayer, dispense riches.