Saturday, May 21, 2011

the rapture

My son Alex told me today that the last time we had a serious prediction about the end of the world (if there is such a thing) was in 1994. He concluded that every time the Vancouver Canucks have a chance of winning the Stanley Cup, the world threatens to come to an end.

My understanding of the story of the rapture is that all good believers are lifted off of this miserable earth just ahead of a sea of fire and destruction that will liquefy all those who do not deserve to be lifted. My imaginary painting has people with halos smiling in delight and surprise (like they just won a gigantic prize) jolting off the ground and ascending a sunbeam to heaven, which is in the sky of course. This being my imagination, it is a fantasy, and not my actual belief or understanding of things.

I am a Christian. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I don't believe in the rapture or many other literal interpretations of the stories in the Bible. The God I know just wouldn't do that. The God I know doesn't live in the sky, either. Nor does is this God diametrically opposed to science or the truths of the natural world. The God I know is more like a marinade than a gold crown, more of an organizing principle and unifying experience than a puppet master, exalter of some, destroyer of others. Many Christians would read this and say that means I'm not Christian. That's okay with me. If that's their definition, then maybe I'm not. I think I am, however, and conclude this from my own learning, experience and faith.

I think everyone needs a way (or ways) to understand the world, life, him or herself in relation to it all. I think that some people honestly and truly believe in the rapture as God's will and the way that the world's problems will be resolved. I don't subscribe to that thinking. But neither do I refute God, nor do I believe in intelligent design. I think that science and faith and God and evolution all exist, and that the explanation for how they all do is part of the mystery that we ponder in our own hearts every day. If there was an easy answer, we'd have found it and found a way to agree on it by now. Like everything big and real and important, it's complicated.

When I said God was a marinade, I didn't mean to belittle God or the idea of God. I meant to say that God is someone or something inside of us, just like DNA is inside of us, except that most people recognize and agree that DNA is real, and not everyone feels the same way about God. I also think that heaven is here and now. It's not in the sky. It's everywhere. When we die, if we go to heaven, we might not even notice the difference. Heaven is ours during our living days as well as beyond them. It's our own creation and ours to care for or damage, not just physically. Just like we can wreck the earth with pollution and over-use, we can wreck heaven by pouring out every bad thought and feeling into it, denying ourselves enjoyment of it, being jealous of others' enjoyment of it, hogging the good seats and failing to notice that it is here in the first place.

So like most atheists (which I am not), I was not surprised when the rapture failed to happen at 6pm this evening. But like many Christians and many more believers-in-something-or-more-than-one-thing, I think that there are great truths to be known, and felt, and shared. Life and life beyond life is mysterious and wonderful, and real - not a comic book, not an action movie, just ordinary days with extra-ordinary meaning trickling through the cracks and joining us all together.

I am glad to be here, and glad that everyone else (who I know, anyway) is also still here. I am glad that God and Jesus and Darwin are here and right, simultaneously.

question: so, what do you think?

mompoet - yup, I'm back all right


Lynn Valley Girl said...

An incredible well written piece MP.

mompoet said...

Thanks LVG.

Carol said...

I believe it will happen as the Bible says it will happen. I hope to be one of those smiling faces joining Jesus in the sky someday.
No one knows when though and it is foolish for any person to try to predict when this will happen.