Archive for September 30th, 2008

30
Sep
08

Two-fer Tuesday: Rapture by Deacon Blue

It seems like every critic of Sarah Palin on blog posts these days has to pop in a comment at some point about her or her supporters “waiting for the Rapture.” Geez, I hate to be left out. Except I’m not going to rail on Palin at the moment. Miz Pink tells me that’s her job with this week’s Two-fer Tuesday topic. So, I’ll just rail on the folks who obsess about the following things and all things related to them:

The Rapture, the End Times, the End of Days, Armageddon, the Book of Revelation, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

It’s not that I think we shouldn’t ever think of such things or cogitate on them a bit. Hell, let’s even get some entertainment from them. Enough movies and books have played off the end of the world and the Rapture, right? I liked the Left Behind series well enough for the first five books or so, until it became clear that not only was the plot getting kind of silly, but the authors were dragging things out to write as many books (and get as much money) as possible.

The problem is that there are Bible scholars—and pseudo-intellectual blowhard hacks a-plenty, too, to be honest—who make their living theorizing about the “end times.” Who try to figure out what, if anything, in modern day ties into prophecies about the second coming of Jesus and the road to Armageddon. And I ask you: Why the hell are you spending so much time on this?

Jesus himself said, “no one knows the time but my Father in Heaven.”

No one.

Jesus said “no one.”

That means him, too.

God the Father is the only one who knows what the day and time will be that He starts wrapping up things here on Earth and moving us on to whatever it is that is far more important for us to do for the rest of eternity in the spiritual realm and perhaps elsewhere in the physical universe.

Only God.

If Jesus wasn’t fretting over the time and was willing to wait…if Jesus doesn’t know the precise signs that will tell us the day is nigh…if Jesus said only the Father knows…

…how in hell do you expect, as a measly mortal, that you are going to figure it out?

Are you smarter than Jesus? More connected than Jesus? If you think so, you need to re-examine whether you’re born again, because if you think you’re better than your Messiah, Lord and Savior, then you haven’t submitted yourself to God.

There are too many millions upon millions of things going on amongst us billions on this planet—even if you focus just on the movers and shakers and political dealings—to tie anything to the Book of Revelation. I might get a bit worried if I hear about a seven-year peace agreement between the Arabs and the Jews, but even then, it wouldn’t prove anything. It would be about the clearest warning sign, but it still could just be a false start. If it ever happens in my lifetime or yours, which it probably won’t.

No matter how bad Christians may think the world is, this isn’t the worst it’s ever been and it isn’t as bad as it could still get. I suspect this planet has plenty of life left in it. Yes, the end days could come tomorrow. The Rapture could happen a few minutes from now. But is that likely?

No.

And frankly, I have bigger things to worry about, both in terms of my worldly/family obligations and Jesus’ Great Commission, than to fret about when the end times are coming.

So should you.

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30
Sep
08

Two-fer Tuesday: Rapture by Miz Pink

Sarah Palin worries me. She worries me on so many levels my head hurts to think about her. I know so many of my fellow left-wingers have really harped on how unprepared this woman is for the job, how ignorant she is of world affairs, how she brings things down to the lowest base crap and adds nothing of value.

What worries me is what I read in an article on Salon:

Munger also asked Palin if she truly believed in the End of Days, the doomsday scenario when the Messiah will return. “She looked in my eyes and said, ‘Yes, I think I will see Jesus come back to earth in my lifetime.'”

Deke is talking today about why the fascination with the Rapture and End of Days is so wrong but I’m gonna take a different path. I don’t think that someone who is convinced the end of the world is near should be in charge of our nuclear (or as Sarah would say, “Nuke-yoo-lar”) arsenal. And make no mistake she very well could be if McCain and her get elected. McCain is old. Acturial tables say he stands a good one in three chance of dying in office. His father and grandfather checked out early. He’s had cancer before. He has anger issues, and stress often leads to early death.

I’m not afraid that the end times are near. They might be they might not be but it doesn’t matter in my life. I’m already living under Jesus’ grace so whenever they come, I’m ready.

But there are scary people in the end times crowd who think it might be their duty to help usher along the end of days. They seem to think that if we can help push things along and get the kingdom of heaven here on earth sooner all will be well.

It’s scary first of all that they think God needs or wants their help. It’s also pretty arrogant to think that they can push up God’s schedule. It’s also scary to think that they think its their destiny to play a role and whatever they do consciously to help move civilization to the brink is okay because it was probably part of God’s plan for them to do that anyway.

Sarah Palin, thinking in the back of her mind that she will see Jesus return in her lifetime means that she stands a good chance, consciously or subconsciously, of doing stuff to piss off world leaders, start wars and do other stuff to rock the boat with the notion that she can help move along the timetable and get the Antichrist to show up so that Jesus can show up so we believers can all be raptured up to heaven (even though the Bible is pretty unclear on what exactly the rapture is. I don’t really want it rushed because maybe it doesn’t mean we believers get whisked away. Maybe we have to live through the hell one earth scenario with everyone else).

Sarah is convinced that an event people have been predicting will happen really soon for the past 2,000 years will really finally happen in her lifetime. She could be in a position to try to “help” that come to pass. More so than any of the other wackos who follow her line of thought.

I don’t want that. You see, Sarah’s been pregnant a few times, just like me. She should know about false labor. You feel like you’re going to give birth, you head to the hospital and they shake their heads and say go back home.

False labor is bad enough.

I don’t want a false apocalypse before the real scheduled one arrives.

30
Sep
08

Jesus the Grifter

So, it was brought to my attention recently through the comment thread at another blog that Jesus was the ultimate con-man.

Imagine my surprise. Well, that’s it. I’m going to stop doing this blog and renounce Jesus.

Or not.

Look, I understand a lot of folks don’t buy into Jesus’ divinity. But as much as I can see how they come to their views, I find the notion that Jesus was a kook—who gathered around himself 12 easily led automatons who mass-hallucinated his return from the dead—far, far more believable than Jesus as con-man.

But hey, let’s entertain the notion for a moment. For Jesus to have been the ultimate con-man, here’s what he had to pull off (mind you, this mixes the skills sets of a grandmaster stage magician, con artist, orator, community organizer and master manipulator):

  • Jesus had to convince not only his followers, but also a priesthood and government (both of which were predisposed to think him a fraud), that he could cure obvious ailments (blindness, leprosy and paralysis).
  • He had to convince his immediate followers that he was able to calm storms in pretty much an instant, as well as cause food to multiply.
  • He had to convince a lot of Hebrews that he was the messiah and that a healer and teacher would be the messiah, at a time when the kind of messiah people wanted was a leg-breaker and sword-swinger who would get rid of the Romans.
  • He had to survive a brutal beating after being condemned to death but before being crucified, without once giving into the temptation to save himself possibly by recanting the notion that he had declared himself the son of God.
  • He had to fake his death on the cross, arrange to be buried alive, and then be spirited away before he died wrapped up in his tomb.
  • He had to convince his apostles that he could walk through a wall, after they thought he was dead, and perform other tricks and convince them they were real miracles.
  • He had to fake his ascension into heaven.
  • He had to do all of this so convincingly that his remaining 11 apostles would risk their lives for years to preach that he was the risen son of God.

Wow!

That’s a lot of risk for a guy to go through for a con, don’t you think? And pretty hard to pull all that off without slipping up over a three-year period. And let’s see, for all that effort and risk to life and limb, his ultimate goal was, um…hold on…whoa…yeah.

Folks, the only reason to pull off a deliberate con that elaborate is to get something fantastic out of the deal. Power. Money. Prestige.

By being dead, Jesus couldn’t enjoy any of those things. And if he was “fake dead,” then how was he profiting or going to cash in? From the loads of money that the early church was raking in? Oh, that’s right, the early church was mostly struggling not to get wiped out by the Romans and the Jews, and it wasn’t anywhere near the fabulously wealthy thing we see with Protestant mega-churches and the Roman-Catholic Vatican.

Yeah, ultimate con-man indeed.

Don’t be fooled folks. If you want to believe Jesus was a nut (rude, but I’ll forgive you) or that he didn’t exist (doubtful, given the historical record), fine.

But con-man?

Give me a break. It sounds good as a soundbite from a non-believer and it might sound good to another non-believer who doesn’t bother to think things through.

Me, I’m not conned.

(Image: “Christ in Profile” by Georges Rouault)




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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