Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Hold On to Your Seat Belts

I ran into this while surfing last night -- the "Rapture Index" is actually quite an old site; it's been around since 1993. As anyone who follows me on email forums knows, I have no use for apocalyptic thought, not even of the Baha'i variety. To my mind, one of the best things about being past the year 2000 is that there has been a significant drop of people running around predicting the Calamity -- except for Peter Khan who thinks it has come in the person of Alison Marshall.

First off, apocalypticism is inevitably cruel -- people who are into that stuff actually look forward to a situation where most of the world's population will die, just so their religious views can be proven right. All the death of 80,000 people means on the index is that the rating goes up a couple of notches, meaning the Rapture is just a little closer at hand than it was before the earthquake. If I hear that this person's church has given a generous donation to help the victims, I might forgive them for that.

Secondly, is that it leads to a some rather alarming prejudices in reading scripture. Most of the "indicators" have no Biblical connection whatsoever, but are just a list of various right-wing bugaboos. Among them is: liberalism, loss of civil rights, and several economic indicators. It loks like the theory is that the worst things get in a general way, making people feel insecure, the more likely it is for a dictator (i.e. the Antichrist) to take over. It actually runs parallel to the Baha'is who feel that the Calamity will force the nations to make peace through a global agreement-- except Baha'is believe that will be a good thing, and the fundamentalist Christians think it's a sign of the end of the world.

Finally, focus on the end of the world, no matter how it is conceived is really a waste of time, and a distraction from real spiritual development. There's a world of difference between those whose first reaction to a disaster is to open their checkbooks, or even themselves go and render aid, and those who say "Yep, I knew it, the end is coming any time now." As far as I'm concerned, God's gonna do what he's gonna do -- in the meantime I have my own row to hoe. When God asks me what I did with my life, he's not going to be interested in how accurately I predicted the future, but in the spiritual qualities and virtues I developed.

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