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Fasten Your Seatbelts: The Rapture Index
Published on Friday, February 11, 2005 by San Francisco Chronicle
Fasten Your Seatbelts
The Rapture Index
by Jon Carroll
 

Let us consider the Rapture Index. This is a real thing prepared by serious people. If it makes you laugh, you have not gotten the memo. You probably have not read any of the 12 volumes of the "Left Behind" series, the best-selling books in America today.

Those Left Behind are those who did not experience the Rapture, which is an instant in time when all the truly holy people are taken directly to heaven, leaving their clothes in small neat piles behind them. The rest of the ungodly losers are left to deal with natural disasters and wars and the armies of the Antichrist, after which they die in various colorful ways while the ranks of the saved watch with compassion tempered with an understandable sense of satisfaction.

The Rapture Index, as of this writing, stands at 153. Anything over 145 is labeled by the Rapture Actuaries as "Fasten your seat belts." In other words: Repent for the End Is Near. You may see all this for yourself at www.raptureready.com/rap2.html, should you think I'm making it up.

The Rapture Index is based on 45 prophetic categories, things like drought, plague, floods, liberalism, beast government and mark of the beast. "Beast government" is apparently the European Union; the news that the EU is looking for a new president is seen as a sign that the end time is drawing nearer. The latest "mark of the beast" is a plan by the Antichrist that will result in said mark being implanted in the right hand or forehead of unbelievers. The relatively high number of this indicator is explained thusly: "Wal-Mart is falling behind in its plan to bar code all products with radio tags." There are some parts of this belief system I have not yet grasped.

The Rapture is a good thing, and therefore floods, famine, drought and all that are also good things because they portend the coming of end times. Even liberalism is a good thing, because there need to be a lot of Christ- deniers for the end times to come. (Among the prophesied Christ-deniers: the pope. That part is pretty much played down in the pamphlets.)

The end times begin when Russia (also known as the ancient nation of Gog) and Iran join forces to attack Israel. Before this can happen, however, the old temple must be rebuilt. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is necessary for that to happen, so the Rapture Index sees the peace talks as a good sign. Not as a good as the tsunami, but definitely positive.

I am not the first one to notice this. The environmental Web site www.grist.org has been covering it; Bill Moyers also wrote a column about it. Alas, the quote attributed to James Watt, the secretary of the interior under Ronald Reagan ("after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back"), is not verifiable, although it's been reported many times. Probably the liberal media again, taking time out from promoting the homosexual agenda.

So read the Rapture Index. Consider its implications: One of George Bush's core constituencies is actively praying for environmental degradation. Its members are in fact praying for the end of the world, because the end of the world is the beginning of the fun part of salvation.

Let's look at the new budget through this lens, which is (I emphasize) neither fanciful nor satirical. Money for clean water: down. Money for the cleanup of old nuclear sites, including the massive job at the Hanford (Wash.) Nuclear Reservation: way down. Number of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management acres open for logging: up. Amount of territory in Alaska declared OK for oil drilling: way up.

You might even consider the impact of the Rapture on deficit financing. Who cares how much debt we accrue? Christ will come and forgive it all. Why not borrow against the future to pay for the present? The future is gonna be a whole different deal. We're just placeholders for God's own totalitarian state.

For us secular humanists, us gay-marrying, porn-reading, prayer-mocking harbingers of doom, all this seems incredible. We are still in the reality- based paradigm; we have not yet crossed over into the faith-based paradigm. In the faith-based world, the apparent inconsistencies within the Bush administration fade into nothingness.

Millennial Christians have somehow convinced themselves that the founding fathers would have approved of all this because they were all old-time Christians following that old-time religion. Because Rapture theology was mostly cobbled together in the 19th century based on very selective readings from parts of the New Testament, it is unlikely that the founding fathers believed anything of the sort. Not important: Once again, I'm indulging in reality-based thinking.

Like the prophet said: Fasten your seat belts.

The thing about the Rapture Index is this: If you're part of the problem, you're part of the solution, because it's no good smiting sinners if there are no sinners to smite.

© 2005 San Francisco Chronicle

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