Raznor's Rants

Costarring Raznor's reality-based friends!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

LEFT BEHIND: A Clever Conceit Even If It Pisses Liberals Off

Posted by Ross

Like many secular Americans, without having actually read a word of any of them, I have marveled at the mind-blowing success generated by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkin’s Evangelical Christian sci-fi series Left Behind.
In addition, like many secular Americans, I have not read the Bible, though this is something I am remedying, currently working my way through The Schocken Bible: Volume 1, the Five Books of Moses.
In partial response to a January 12 editorial in The LA Times by Stephen Prothero entitled “A Nation of Faith and Religious Illiterates”, it is an academic goal of mine to make it through the Old and New Testaments as well as the Koran.
But back to Left Behind. The conceit, from what I understand, is that, the end times are upon us, and all those who have been “saved” are called up to Heaven, leaving all the sinners behind to either get saved or wait for the Apocalypse.
Say what you will about the artistic merits of such an endeavor, personally, I cannot deny the provocative nature of the material. And so here is another perspective inspired by Left Behind, a short story I call…

Staying Behind
It was foretold in the Book of Revelations, so those who were in the know weren’t all that surprised. I, on the other hand -- as well the handful of billions who were a bit behind on our New Testament reading -- was surprised by the turn of events.
I was actually asleep for most of it, but, from what I saw on the news, or heard from people who’d seen it, what happened was, the sky opened up and all the believers were taken to heaven to be in the presence of the Lord.
It was all over in about half an hour and it took Evangelical and Catholic alike, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist. Well, at least the practicing ones, you know, not the ones who’d been sinning on a daily basis.
And the rest of us, we were left behind, as the saying goes.
What happened next wasn’t chaos or wanton destruction or Armageddon. This, even though the President, Vice President and two thirds of the Congress were all gone.
But people sure were talking about it a lot. Especially the lapsed Christians. They were the worst. “I was just about to start going to church again,” was a common refrain. So was, “I know I shouldn’t’ve missed the last confessional.”
A lot of people took their own lives, but there were others, like me, who just kept going.
Time kind of got weird after that. Mostly because people stopped keeping track of those kinds of things. But sometime later, a month we’ll say, agents were sent down, and a message was sent far and wide that the Almighty was merciful, and those remaining would have another chance.
This is when the chaos began. Hitherto unused and empty churches were looted. Bibles became a scarce commodity. People would take any holy sacrament they could find in hopes it would give them an advantage, desperate to become good Christians so that the next time, they wouldn’t be left behind, as the saying goes.
The agents of the Almighty took up residency in the vacated places of government, and went about the tremendous undertaking of saving immortal souls.
From my vantage point at the end of the four-mile line leading to City Hall, you could see a stream of ethereal light shining down upon the edifice of our salvation. It was a stunning sight… at least for the first hour or two. Try waiting in line for three weeks, and even the divine becomes mundane.
We waited and waited. And no one pushed or fought or stole from each other. No one lost their place in line if they had to eat or go to the bathroom. We just did unto others, as the saying goes.
The following is the transcript of my interview once I finally got to the front of the line:

Me: What does one have to do to not be left behind?
They: Well, first you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior.
Me: Okay. What’s next?
They: Read the Ten Commandments. Follow them to the letter.
Me: Done and done.
They: Baby killing won’t make you any friends up there, so you’ve gotta oppose abortion.
Me: Sure thing.
They: And under no circumstances will there be any talk of evolution.
Me: Seriously?
They: Seriously.
Me: Even in the context of “God’s divine plan”?
They: Even in the context of “God’s divine plan”. Also, no premarital sex.
Me: What if I’ve already…
They: Don’t worry. You’ll be purified.
Me: Thanks. But no evolution, right?
They: Right.
Me: It’s just… I’m pretty sure there is more than enough proof that evolution has been happening since the…
They: Look, you wanna be left behind again or not?
Me: What if I am? What happens? Fire? Brimstone?
They: Yes.
Me: When?
They: You know that one joke about how a guy that asks God what a million years is to Him, and God responds that it is as a second.
Me: I know that joke. And then the guy asks him what a million dollars is to God, to which God replies, a penny.
They: And then the guy asks God for a million dollars, and God says, I’ll give it to you… In a second.
Me: I used to think that joke was kinda funny. You guys tell a lot of jokes up there?
They: Not really. Just that one.
Me: So, what you’re saying is that the timeframe for the apocalypse isn’t exactly clearly defined.
They: Exactly.
Me: So the apocalypse probably won’t happen tomorrow or the next day?
They: Probably not… but you never know.
Me: So what do you guys do up there?
They: We sing a lot. Feel holier than thou. Close to God and all.
Me: Is it… fun?
They: It’s Heaven.
Me: But… do you guys have a good time up there?
They: It’s HEAVEN.

So what happened was, I decided not to go. And They left. So did a lot of other people. Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Sikh, Atheist, Anarchist, Transcendentalist, Marxist and Secularist.
And the rest of us, we stayed. The world quieted down. It was peaceful. The sun still rose in the east, set in the west. The polluted air and rivers and oceans started to clear up.
And that was life. We lived. We died. We evolved.

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