Back when I was a churchgoin’ sort of fellow, there was a pretty catchy hymn I liked that contained the lyric “When we all get to heaven/What a day of rejoicing that will be.”
That sounded pretty good to me at the time: all your old friends and relatives gathered around, praising God, whooping it up, looking forward to an eternity of more praising God and whooping it up. It seemed to me that anyone who had the opportunity to get in on something that sounded like so much fun would be crazy to take a pass on it.
Yes, sir, after praising God for a billion years, you’re just getting warmed up for the next trillion.
Anyway, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but these days I take a more rational view of the world. There are enough solvable problems on this planet that everyone ought to be able to find a niche in one of three categories: (1) people trying to solve the problems, (2) people trying to entertain the people trying to solve the problems, and (3) people who have sense enough to stay out of the way of the people trying to solve the problems.
But the way I see it, there’s a fourth category of people who want you to believe that it doesn’t matter if anyone solves these problems or not, because in just a few years it’ll all be over anyhow and several million people will be taken up to heaven in something called the rapture.
What a day of rejoicing that will be—particularly if you have any inclination toward looting. But I digress.
Sad to say, there’s a lot of energy diverted from problem-solving into rapture-preparedness. I refer you now to a website known as Rapture Letters (www.raptureletters.com), a site for people who are convinced they’ll be among the raptured. These people are encouraged to submit the names and email addresses of people they’re pretty sure won’t be raptured, so that when the big day comes, an automatic email will be sent to these people, explaining that their friends and neighbors have been taken up to heaven and offering them an opportunity to get on the right track, too, for whatever comes next. The post-rapture, maybe, or the rapture wrap-up.
Now, call me a cynic, but I think they’re collecting those email addresses for a whole ‘nother reason. I think they’re just trying to build the world’s largest database of heathens and free thinkers. If you read the site carefully, nowhere does it say “We will not spam the person whose email address you send us.”
If you haven’t checked out the site yet, here’s how it’s supposed to work: You send in the name and email address of your unbelieving buddy. That address is added to the database of people scheduled to get the “rapture letter,” which begins “This message has been sent to you by a friend or a relative who has recently disappeared along with millions and millions of people around the world. The reason they chose to send you this letter is because they cared about you and would like you to know the truth about where they went. This may come as a shock to you, but the one who sent you this has been takenup to heaven,” etc etc.
Now, the superpowered mainframe computer at Rapture Letters Headquarters has been programmed to send the rapture letter to the entire database every Friday—unless the head man in charge manually resets it before then. Naturally, the man in charge has no doubt he’s going to be raptured, so if he’s not around to hit the reset button, there can be no other explanation: It’s rapture time.
(The website says that the mailing list will receive the rapture letter on the first Friday after the rapture. So if the rapture happens on a Saturday, it’ll be six days before you get your letter. You could drop a note in the corner mailbox on your way up to heaven, and it'll get there faster than the email.)
The website doesn’t indicate whose brilliant idea this was, but I just imagine that someday, many years from now, the programmer on his deathbed will call his firstborn son to his side: “Son—I’ve been pressing the reset button on the rapture letters program every Friday for the last 57 years. I’d like you to take over for me, son.”
“I promise, Dad.”
And then two hours after the funeral, delete goes the database and Dad’s old computer gets tossed in the landfill.
It’s free to have a name added to the database, but there’s also a section of the website that says they accept “love offerings.” They assure us that only 10 percent of donations are used for administrative costs, while 90 percent are used to “further the kingdom of God.”
I suspect that furthering the kingdom of God covers about as much ground for these people as it does for charlatans like Pat Robertson.
If you think a rapture is going to occur in your lifetime (and it would pretty much have to, if they don’t want all those emails to bounce back), by all means, send the folks at Rapture Letters a name or two and pat yourself on the back. But once you’re done doing that, take a look around and see if there’s something helpful you can do now.