I've never read the Left Behind series (I will NOT link to it; sorry but I draw the line there) but last week I thought a lot about the end of the world. I thought about the people that sacrifice everything in anticipation of the belief that the world will end. I considered the religions that don't believe in the inevitability of a particular rapture day. I thought of the Biblical translations that lead us into different directions; e.g. translation words to "raptured," "carried up," "carried off," "snatched up." I wondered, if the world ended, how would it end? How would we know?
Sunday, May 22, 2011
I don't really believe in a firm rapture date, I don't even know if I believe that the re-gathering with Christ is going to be signaled with a lot of fire and brimstone. Still, I couldn't get it off my mind, as I had a one-day, fly-in-fly-out business trip on Rapture Day (or maybe more accurately, Non-Rapture day). What a day for my first flight since September, right?
I was too tired on the way in to really worry too much about it. I was advised that people can get raptured off planes, but I figured I had until 6 pm and didn't have to worry about that on my out.
While in the meeting, no one really brought it up. We mostly talked about meeting stuff. I really don't know if anyone there was religious, but they were serious and seemed very committed to their work, so I figured they were planning on staying alive and on earth at least long enough to get through the project we were meeting to discuss. Like a real a-hole dummy, I brought it up jokingly after our meeting was over, said something lame like "Guess it's time to go get raptured now" and people laughed half-heartedly.
We almost died on the way to the airport, but that was probably due to the poor signage on the interstate, and hopefully not due to a higher power embarking on some kind of cruel Nelson Muntzian sadism. (I don't know that that's really how God rolls.)
Up in the air, I sat between two very pleasant men on the plane, both of whom seemed to plan to be alive tomorrow. They were kind, and non-intrusive, and more genuine than anyone I had ever been randomly plopped on a plane with before. The guy sitting to my right was very nice and didn't bring it up - we talked about his job offer, his flight tribulations, and our kids. The guy sitting on my left actually ran a bible study group and was Presbyterian, so he was not having the rapture stuff at all. I brought it up jokingly, said something idiotic like "Guess we made it" after we landed and guy on my left said something really interesting about how Revelations ends with something like "Don't add any words to this book" maybe because the author knew that people would go nuts with it.
The only part of my trip that gave me pause, though, was my experience leaving the airport in Philly. We landed around 12:30 midnight on May 22, and were probably the last flight, we just barely made curfew. Shops had closed hours ago, and the 60 or so of us, we who seemed so jam packed on the plane, fanned out to urban isolation once on dry land. Guess we were going to be stuck here on earth.
The airport was clean and bright, the maintenance staff probably having done a sweep before leaving their shifts. The light in the terminal hallways was uniformly white and gentle.
Just before transferring from airside to landside, there are sliding glass doors that take you from the gleaming white of the post-security area to the dark, carpeted part of the terminal that takes you to the noise of ground transportation.
As I crossed over, I shit you not, the terminal was broadcasting, faintly enough that I had to strain to listen, N'Sync's "Bye Bye Bye."
Good one, God.