If there is a Rapture, I'm pretty sure I’m not invited. It’s kind of like those family reunions I didn’t know about until after they took place, only on a larger scale.
Not that I don’t know about the Rapture—this one, anyway. I didn’t know about—nor was I invited to—the previous Rapture this guy predicted. But now, thanks to Facebook and Twitter, it’s impossible not to know that true believers are going to be sucked up to heaven on May 21, 2011, starting at 6 p.m. Eastern time. Does that mean it’ll be 4 p.m. Mountain time, or is this like a rolling thing that happens at 6 p.m. in each time zone? Because I have plans to watch the Preakness. I mean, I’m not going anywhere—I shalt not be Raptured—but if there’s a big Rapturous disruption, maybe NBC shalt not broadcast the race. Maybe scheduled programming will be interrupted by news bulletins with footage of people being whisked out of their clothes and zooming skyward.
I grew up in Mississippi, where things like the Rapture are taken very seriously. It’s not just a matter of life or death. It’s a matter of your eternal life or your eternal damnation. The Rapture was the kind of thing that freaked me out when I was a kid. It was the ultimate horror story.
When I was in my early teens, a friend asked me once, “Are you going to heaven when you die?”
“I hope so,” I said.
“Well, I know I’m going,” she said.
“How can you know something like that?”
“Because I’ve been saved.”
It was the first time I’d heard the expression saved. I had no idea what it meant. We attended the local Methodist church sporadically, but it wasn’t a hellfire-and-brimstone place. There were no theatrical, fist-pounding sermons. There were no threats. There was no mention of saved.
“Have you been saved?” my friend asked.
“Uh . . . I’ve been baptized.”
“It’s not the same thing,” she said.
I think she might have been trying to witness to me, to give me her testimony, and I felt an instinctive resistance, as if she were trying to hustle me down a path that didn’t feel right to me.
So here we are, thirty-odd years later, and tomorrow’s the Rapture, and I still haven’t been saved, and I guess getting sprinkled with some lemon-scented water when I was about ten years old doesn’t count. But these days, I know without a doubt what I believe in: compassion, integrity, and love. That’s pretty much the extent of my belief system. It’s not good enough to qualify me to be Raptured, but it’s good enough for me.
And I have a plan. My childhood friend would probably say that it isn’t God’s plan, but I’ve always been self-reliant. Since I’m staying right where I am, I intend to get a job working for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They’ll need someone who knows how to handle horses. You can’t ride a horse 24/7, even if you are an apocalyptic equestrian and your horse is a terrifying supernatural beast.
I’m not saying they’ll be easy to work for, but I’ve had demanding employers before, and anyway, the post-Rapture period isn’t called the Tribulation for nothing.
I have carrots. I'm ready.