Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Rapture of Disrespect

Originally published at Absentminded Author, v1.

As I was sitting down eating breakfast and looking over my things to do for the day, my Twitter stream was abuzz with cheerful chirping about the #Rapture. Although I have met many respectful atheists in real life, the kind that crawl around the social networks of the Internet are not so much.

Comedian and actor, Stephen Fry had a popular tweet:

Marvellous news! #rapture doesn't mean end of world: apparently all the plantet's imbeciles disappear in one go #dreamcometrue

Ironic that his poor spelling and punctuation went unmocked by the thousands who retweeted him. His disclaimer afterwards was not nearly as popular.

Comments on Rapture articles on news sites were no different. Many avowed atheists called for celebrations, but many others labelled the Rapturites as idiots deserving to be wiped off the face of the Earth. (Read the comments here: Apocalypse not now; The Rapture fails to materialise)

Such openminded people. How very enlightened of them.

Unfortunately, even Christians, including some Mormons I know personally, mocked the Rapture. The word was out. The Rapture was a joke. I found it hypocritical, though, that people who supposedly look forward to the Second Coming of Christ would feel comfortable mocking others who happened to pencil the Event in on their calendar.

All of the sniggering made me feel sad for them. Sad for an 89 year old man who predicted the end of the world 15 years ago after his last prediction failed to pan out. Sad for people who placed faith in this man, even (reportedly) selling their belongings to prepare for the event. Sad for the teeming scads of doubters who found a new reason to despise others that they disagreed with. Sad for the erudite few who pithily coined new ways to dismiss the belief systems of others, easily shared on social networks with clever hashtags like #myraptureplaylist, helping others take glee in the anticipated disillusionment of the delusioned.

Human beings can be so ugly.

With the Mayan calendar's End of Days upon us on December 21st, we will see more mocking revelry. Will New Agers feel the shame of the Internet's collective wagging finger? Who knows? I'm not currently a prophet; I can't predict what will happen tomorrow, never mind what will happen in seven months.

Here's what I do believe. I believe in Jesus the Christ and in his eventual Second Coming. I believe this world is part of a bigger plan and that our mortal life is cosmically insignificant outside of how we conduct ourselves with other human beings. I know that I have been ugly towards others I disagreed with in my past, but I believe I have learned to be better than that. I can only hope for consistency going forward.

If you believed that today was the day you met Christ in rapture, I am sorry for your probable disappointment. It is 1:04pm and there have been no rolling earthquakes moving across the Earth from New Zealand. It is still five hours away from the doomsday moment, but considering France escaped unscathed, I'm guessing little Midvale, Utah is going to pass through the fire without being singed. I suspect this Rapture prediction will not pan out, just as Harold Camping's previous prediction in 1994. However, I will not fault you for your enthusiasm. I will not mock you for your, in my opinion, misplaced faith in this moment. Continue to live well, and you will earn your reward.

To those of you who believe that Rapturites, or Christians of any form or flavor, are idiots and beneath your contempt, I feel sorry for you. You have lifted yourselves up today as erudite and superior, yet have displayed such lowly, vulgar manners. I'm hardly converted to your way of thinking. I find it tragic.

However, I can faithfully predict that you will have helped me become a better writer.

You have given me grist for the writing mill, providing character studies in educated ignorance and openminded intolerance for me to pull from. The antagonists in my future stories will be more realistic now, and far more colorful in their grand arrogance. Self-righteousness is not a character trait reserved just for the religious. My antagonists will be smug, snide, mocking, disrespectful, and full of themselves. They will use the power of consensus as authority for contempt. They will be truly ugly. There is no room for this new knowledge in my current story, but my next story will be all the better for it. Thank you.

And now I have written enough on this subject. Better yet to spend more time writing in my own world, than commenting further on a world I have little control over. If I can just leave one word of advice: The world would be a far nicer place to live in if we all learned to agree to disagree instead of pouncing on the flaws we perceive in others.