Sunday, May 22, 2011

Post Rapture Sympathies

So The Rapture didn't happen yesterday, much to the surprise of no one that I know. Unfortunately, though, there were some folks who really believed that it was going to occur. And as the light dawns on the day after I have to say that I feel honest sympathy and pity for them. There are going to be some people who are having very serious crises of faith, and that is never an easy thing.

I've heard some people say, "Well, they shouldn't have listened to one man. They shouldn't have let him dupe them, they should have read their Bible themselves and they would have known better."

It's easy to say that, to be sanctimonious and smug, but that doesn't make that kind of attitude any more right than those who are sanctimonious and smug when an earthquake hits Japan (remember the girl whose YouTube video said that the earthquake was because she had started praying and it was God's judgement on the heathens?) or when a disease runs rampant through gay society (the school board member who said that he's happy that the gays run around and give each other AIDS and die).

I understand that faith is a personal thing. I really do. Considering that my faith is rarely expressed in a public setting (I talk about the theories and belief sets, but I rarely attend any form of public service.), I totally get how faith is so very dependent on who and what we are. But that is really my point in a way. We don't know what is going on in these people's lives, or why they feel that they need a more tangible shepherd than the one in the Bible, but they do. It is totally understandable to me, really. Some people need a more obvious presence in their lives for a while, until they find the path that leads them to have the strength to develop their own solid foundation. Sadly, some never find that strength in this life and it may take many lives for it to develop.

But speaking of the here and now, there will always be some people who need a physical touch on their shoulder, a voice that they can hear outside of the heart, and someone that is more real to them than a person who lived 2,000 years ago. I don't think that this makes them less of a person. I don't believe that such a stage in development is a strange thing. We all go through it in one form or another, whether it is a case of following our parents' religion until we learn enough to make our own decision, or having a crisis of faith that leads us to explore theologies and thoughts that we'd never realized existed before.

The people who went to extremes about The Rapture's supposed occurrence yesterday needed to believe something. Yes, some of them needed to believe that they were better than others, but I really do think that most of them just have something in their lives that makes them desperately want confirmation of a good end for themselves, they need the hope that despite everything they are good people and will not have to suffer eternally for doing what they have done in their lives. They're scared. They are scared of what happens after we die, and this man offered them a solid answer, he gave them the reassurance that everything would be fine for them, and that they wouldn't have to face hell or the horror of watching the world fall apart, or even the dark nothingness of forever.

And now that answer, that reassurance, is gone. Now they have to face the fact that he didn't know any better than they did and they have to decide whether to continue to listen to him and to make excuses for him because they aren't ready to lose that paternal figure in their lives, or whether they move on and try to find something else to comfort them, someone else to believe in, and if so...who and what that will be.

I hope that they find themselves, and learn to believe in their own heart and mind. I think that if they learn from this and move on, they will be the stronger for it. But I think that it is going to be a rough road for them. Especially for the ones who took drastic acts, like getting rid of everything that they own, or even the ones I heard about who put their pets to sleep so that they would meet them in Heaven. Families will be split over this (did you see the article on the family whose parents believed and kids didn't?) and it will cause immense amounts of pain.

So while I am still amused at the variety of Rapture jokes going around (because, yeah, some of 'em are pretty darned funny), I have to take a moment to send out my heartfelt sympathy for the people whose lives are going to be dramatically shaken up by this whole thing. I hope that they find themselves, and their beliefs in Good and a Higher Power survive their disillusionment about one man's belief that he knew more than anyone else.

All in all, I wish them well, and I hope that they come out of this better people than they were when it all started. It is going to be hard. Very hard.

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