The beginning of this blog and end of the world

Read this post now because we won’t be here tomorrow, at least that’s what Harold Camping of Family Radio Worldwide has persuaded a good many Christians. Jesus will return sometime before midnight, and faithful Christians will join him in the air. Everyone else is in for six months of hard times (we’re talking an apocalypse of Ghostbusters proportions) and then God will wrap it all up in October.

This tattoo expresses the bearer’s faith that he or she will be lifted into the skies to be with Jesus, maybe even sometime today.

Photo and tattoo by Veracious Rey (courtesy of Wikipedia)

It’s tempting to make fun of May 21 predictions. It’s not only tempting, I already have,1 as have David Letterman, Joy Behar and Bill Maher (although I should point out I was making jokes first).

A number of Christians have called Campbell an outright heretic and others have laughed him off as a lunatic. On the other hand, many of Campbell’s followers are no doubt certain that they will comprise the bulk of the saved taken at Rapture. If a Christian doesn’t believe in the Rapture, how can he really be a Christian?

In other words, it’s business as usual for Christians in America. There is an infectious paranoia that seems to run through mainstream Christianity on both sides of the liberal divide. Conservative Christians threaten to rob us of our civil liberties, liberal Christians threaten the survival of the faith.

Conservative Christians tend to be slightly more vocal with their concerns (the wave of “culture war” books started from their side), convinced that if they don’t cry wolf on broadcast television and radio, they will lose the culture war and be driven to extinction. This runs counter to the whole theme of Rapture since it doesn’t matter how the secular world treats us, Jesus is taking us away from the real catastrophe. But that’s how paranoia works.

It doesn’t matter that no one in America can be forced to pray to a God they don’t worship in public meetings and schools. Christians are being persecuted because they can’t force other people and their kids to pray to Jesus. This seems odd, because I grew up with stories lamenting the fact that Hebrews and Christians were forced by foreign empires to pray to Babylonian and pagan Gods.

The lesson was that the faithful should be willing to prove their faith rather than bow to persecution to conform to secular agendas, not that they should impose their faith agendas on others.

The faithful should never bow to pressure to pray to other gods. But the beauty of America is that public schools and institutions can’t force Christians to pray to Allah, or Rama Krishna or God sans Christ. Protestants don’t have to observe Catholic ritual, and Catholics don’t have to observe Protestant ritual.2

No one can legally force Christians to practice safe, premarital sex, oral sex or even watch sexual acts in performance. No one can force Christians to take drugs, profess communism or vote for Democrats. No one can force Christians to swear allegiance to America (although Christians are the first to frown should someone else decline), as believers were forced to do by empires in the Bible.

Personally, I thank God whenever I think about it that I live in a country where Baptists don’t have to behave like Episcopalians and vice-versa. How many other countries do that? Can you imagine being Shia in a Sunni country, or a Palestinian in Israel? Remember what it was like for Moslems under the Taliban in Afghanistan?

How great do we have it? We can carry Bibles in public, and testify to our faith in college classes. This is where the paranoia creeps in, however, because that’s not good enough. As long as another classmate can say being Christian is stupid, we’re being persecuted.

Christians will only truly be free when the debate and culture are one-sided. America won’t be truly Christian until Christians can tell their classmates they’re going to hell and force everybody to pray in class, but their classmates can’t say Christianity is stupid or that they don’t want to pray. I’m not going to mention the Golden Rule here, but….

Oh, I just did.

Too many Christians have declared their righteous indignation. They are appalled that the America that treated them so well treats atheists, agnostics, Moslems and liberals just as well.

Jesus told a parable about laborers who were hired to work his vineyard for the same amount of money even though some started work later (Matthew 20). The employees who worked the longest felt they’d been treated unfairly. The employer had to remind them that he paid them what they agreed to work for. It wasn’t unfair for him to reward others as he saw fit.

It seems to me that what Christians are really suffering is righteous indigestion. God has graced us with more blessings than believers in any other country, but we don’t want to benefit from the fruits of our faith if people who believe differently benefit as well. We forget that many of the revolutionaries and soldiers who fought to earn and maintain those rights weren’t Christians. They deserve those rights as much as we do.

The weird thing is, I get it. I get it because I grew up as a Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK). In a Baptist Preacher’s Family (BPF) you have to make sure everyone is behaving just like you because you don’t want your parents, siblings or children to go to hell. So you don’t even give your BPF the choice. You remind them daily that they’re going to hell if they don’t behave and believe just like you.

Atheists, agnostics, liberals, leftists and even Moslems fought and fight today to secure our rights, but we can’t let them enjoy those rights because it isn’t in their best interest. They need to find the grace of God as we did. We can’t just thank them for our freedom to worship and express our faith, we have to deny them those rights and force them to find salvation.

There’s also the verse to consider, “one bad apple spoils the whole barrel.” If you let a few things slide, let a few people slack off from praying in public, then you’re opening the door for everybody to backslide. Of course, it isn’t a verse, at least not in the Bible, but there are one or two verses that can be made to sound like it.

And that’s where the paranoia returns. These agnostics and atheists may have fought to secure our freedoms, but the freedom they enjoy to not worship God could tempt us to follow suit. If we allow them the right to disbelieve, or watch porn, or vote for Obama, we could be seduced into the same lifestyle. And if not us, our children.

We can’t have that.

It shouldn’t surprise us to realize that belief in the Rapture spread as the the fear of Communism rose. It might have been okay for Christians to believe in a millennium of peace before Christ’s return before the French Revolution and the rise of labor and communism, but not after. Violent public action left people with fears of apocalypse, and suddenly Jesus needed to get here first.

After all, he had already shed his blood. Why should we shed ours?

Christians couldn’t be expected to survive a world where atheist secular powers could rob them of their religious freedoms (freedoms they never had in the time of Christ and the apostles). Once they had a taste of Christian empire, they could not be expected to go back to persecution. And as long as Christians remained in the world they faced the threat of extermination, or worse, co-option.

What better deus ex machina than The Rapture? Before it gets really bad, we opt out.

It’s time for another illustration, whether we need one or not. This is a vision of Jesus rescuing souls from hell on earth.

(courtesy of wikimedia/public domain)

Sooner or later Christians need to realize that we will always face difficulties, even when we have it as good as we do in America. Christians are supposed to suffer. Suffering encourages us to refocus on our faith, and through the practice of our faith we learn to escape suffering. How do we practice our faith? By serving others rather than demanding they cater to us—even if those others don’t believe as we do, and think we are fools to do so.

In short, we don’t need to be Raptured to be at peace with the Lord or in the world. No matter how bad it gets.

And members of the religious right who are so desperate to be Raptured should remember that they will survive eight years of Obama the way they survived eight years of Clinton. The way my friends and fellow believers survived twelve years of Reagan/Bush and another eight, under another Bush, that were even worse.

Maranatha


1Mainly in my reviews of the Crossway ESV Bibleback and Just 1 Wordonline Bibles for iPad Envy. If it strikes you that this footnote is little more than a shameless attempt at self promotion, you might be right. But I also didn’t want to simply copy and paste the jokes into this post without giving credit to whom credit is due. Even if it’s me.

2Many Americans don’t even know that Christians were killed on both sides in wars between Catholic and Protestant political powers prior to the enlightenment and in Ireland as late as the last century. Even during the nineteenth century Protestant missionaries were killed in Mexico, including (my Baptist grandparents never failed to remind me) members of my own family.back


Righteous Indigestion launches May 21

In case you don’t know, the world will end on May 21. This is a fact. It is even reported by reliable news sources like MSNBC.1

I know this is true because it says so on a billboard about a mile from my house.

Okay, not the end of the world, but the genuine, honest to God, rapture. Evidently, the final end of the world is on October 31 when God comes for everybody else. This would mean God would have to move up his timetable because, as I recall, in the good old days of Hal Lindsay everybody would have to suffer a lot longer before God gave them what they really deserve. But since we have such a much shorter attention span than we did in the seventies (which is the last time I took Hal Lindsay seriously because he hadn’t changed the signs of the apocalypse so many times), six months is probably appropriate.

The new timing is also very good for God because that allows him to beat the Mayans (and Satan) to the punch. The godless, idol worshiping Mayans have declared that the world will end in December 2012 (precise date and time may vary), so this gives the Righteous more than a year to make sure there’s no more world to end in when the planetary alignment and solar flares show up.

So there you have it. May 21 is the rapture and that’s the day I will officially launch the blog Righteous Indigestion. I figure that since most of the Tea Party intends to go on that day,2 that will give us a good six months to finally get something useful accomplished.

You see, people who believe in the rapture believe that Jesus will take Christians up into the air so he can punish the rest of the world. By “Christians” they don’t mean Episcopalians or old school Catholics or Presbyterians, half of the Methodists and anyone who voted for Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or other posers who only pretend to be Christians.

Especially not those of us who voted for Obama who will single handedly usher in the end of the world after the 2012 elections. Or would have had God not beaten him to the punch on May 21.

In fact, you have to wonder why the Tea Party cares about slashing the funding to NPR and Planned Parenthood, or wants to decimate Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security when Jesus is going to rapture them anyway?

And now that Obama has made it clear that some of the deficit reduction has to come from raising taxes, they will be up in arms even though it won’t be their taxes he’s raising. After all, they won’t be here.

But it strikes me, after listening to the religious right’s spin machine for more years than I can count, that these Christians are the stingiest people I have ever met. And so willing to rush to judgment. It’s almost as though they took the New Testament and the Jefferson version (which they hate) and then cut out all the passages Jefferson kept and clutched what was left to their breasts as though these were the real words of Jesus without the liberal Democratic bullshit that got added by the liberal Democrats over the past two thousand years.

For instance, that verse, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” was liberal crap spliced in after the fact. And remember, this was supposed to be a summary of the most important commandments anyway. So here are the real commandments the liberals so completely rewrote with the “golden rule.”

  • Expect the government to give you everything you want without paying taxes in return.
  • If you don’t think it’s important, nobody else should get it from the government either
  • The poor don’t deserve shit and they’re using the government to steal from you.3
  • Keep everything you earned for yourself because, by God, you earned it.
  • Resist tax increases for the rich because Jesus wants you to be one of them one day.
  • If anyone disagrees with you, they’re wrong, unChristian and totally unAmerican.

Nor should we forget that when Jesus said “render unto Caesar” and Paul said that God gave us government to serve our best interests, they were just kidding. Especially in America where we actually are Caesar and the government. This means our support ultimately is support we’re giving to ourselves.

Now I’m not going to quote chapter and verse to you because being raised a Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK), I’ve heard chapter and verse cited by advocates of both sides of any argument (sometimes the same chapter and same verse by both sides of an argument) only to be used to support why those same people changed their minds a few years later (all the while insisting they would never have believed something as stupid as what they used to believe).

But here’s the Gospel I always read. God cares about what’s in our hearts, and giving (willing and glad giving I might add) shows your heart’s in the right place. Even if you don’t personally benefit.

In fact, it’s better if you don’t benefit because gracious giving with no hope of material reward adds to eternal reward.

It bothers me most when Christians say they shouldn’t have to pay taxes to support education, Social Security or health care because they aren’t paying for their own health care. Jesus taught me that (yes, me personally) that it doesn’t matter if my taxes don’t pay for my son’s education because someone else’s taxes did.

My taxes did pay for my niece’s educations since they went to school in our district. Joy ended up becoming a counselor and Kelly (who’s Catholic) a law student at Baptist Baylor. My nephews got great educations and graduated from A&M. Thanks to taxes. One’s a physicist and another a software engineer. So I’m grateful to the people who paid for their educations and am perfectly willing to pay for someone else’s education in return.

And even though I’m a pacifist (because I’m a Christian) I don’t mind paying taxes to support a military because those taxes helped pay for my son’s years in the Marines and continue to pay for the benefits from disabilities he suffered.

Do I want to pay for fighter planes that never fly, troops in every country and three wars I don’t support? No, I don’t. But I also know that when you give, you immediately lose control over how that money is spent. It’s part of giving. If you give with the expectation that the money will be spent exactly the way you spend it, it’s no longer a gift but a purchase. And that requires a contract.

Whenever the person you give to becomes obligated, it ceases to be a gift.4

Jesus made this pretty clear when Mary took money that had been given to support his ministry and the poor and spent it on oils to pamper him.

So, guess what? It isn’t just Obama who’s telling me to give tax money to help get America out of debt without dismantling Social Security, Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and NPR. It’s Jesus, and he’s telling me to give willingly and gladly.

And I will continue to do so even after May 21.


Key topics

It seems the search engine bots aren’t that smart. They look for exact matches to key words in the text. If you look for words that would direct you to the topic but aren’t actually included in the text (because the actual keywords don’t really fit the text being written), the bots kick you out of the search and refuse to list your page. I know this because I used to write for web sites and had to skew the text by including every possible variation of the key words, even when adding them created bizarre, banal or just plain bad prose. So I’m including them here. If you feel I’ve misrepresented the post with these key words, please complain to WordPress, Google and Bing.

Tea Party, rapture, May 21, taxes, Obama, Barach Obama,Social Security, Planned Parenthood, NPR, National Public Radio, Medicare, Obamacare, religious right, golden rule, search engine bots, generosity, giving


1If it was Fox, you might have cause to doubt it, at least according to the liberal elite. But this comes straight from the liberal press itself.back
2It is a proven fact, proven by the same sources that Rush and Glenn Beck use to fuel their fantasies, that Tea Party members are the primary readers of the Left Behind series. back
2 …even though you’re probably one of them, or will be if the Republicans have their way. Okay, I added that part.back
2Derrida wrote an entire book on the subject, but since he’s French, which means not a Christian by definition, I’m going to bury this fact in the footnotes where only people who would read writers like Derrida would be looking anyway.back

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