By Alex


What? What are all of you doing here? Don’t you know the world is ending at 6 pm tonight?  You East Coasters better get a move on.
Actually, one of the things I love about the Rapture is that there’s really nothing to do about it.  It’s all already decided, you’re either in, or you’re out.  The thing I really love about the idea of the Rapture is that everybody wins.  We would finally get rid of all those people (they are taking Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck with them, right?), and they would finally get rid of us.
No, there’s more than that to love about the Rapture.  The idea that all of these people would just disappear, literally, at the same time, poof!   Or rise up to heaven like balloons.  That’s great science fiction, total eye candy for a writer.   In fact I read a great version of that kind of thing, kind of, when I was a kid, when one day the world suddenly just divided itself into  male and female.  All the men continued to exist in one universe, and all the women continued to exist in another, and they had to rebuild their societies completely without the other sex, and the author was comparing and contrasting the societies that emerged.  Great idea, and disturbing, too.
In this case, I don’t think the world that remained would change much with the Raptured people gone. Since I don’t really believe they’d be taking Limbaugh and Beck, we’d still be stuck with the noisiest.  And their side of things – I’m not all that interested in imagining what they think they’re going off to.  But if people literally disappeared at 6 pm today, what a great disaster movie that would be, right?  I mean, Hollywood will never make it because the town is so weirdly paranoid about offending fundamentalists, but it would beat hell out of the recent 2012, for example.
I guess I’m fixating on all this because – well, the question is, who isn’t fixated on it?  I think it’s fascinating that this particular prediction of the Rapture went viral – it was the most-Googled thing on the planet yesterday. It makes me think that I’m doing something wrong – in a marketing sense, that is.
Why are we so in love with Doomsday?  Besides the fact that it means we can take the day off, I get that part.  Or maybe that’s most of what there is to it.  But maybe what we’re missing is that riotous celebration of death that primitive cultures used to indulge in. Maybe we’re just enjoying the surreal and potentially spectacular quality of this  – concept? Obsession?
Or is it more about self-punishment?  Do we pay the attention we pay to this Rapture thing in some small part because we actually believe in a punishing Universe?   Or God, if you will?
Personally, I don’t believe in a punishing God.  But when I get really honest I have to admit that I still fear random punishment, which is a spiritual belief, or spiritual choice.  Not from God – certainly not from a God of the Bible – but from the Universe.  I don’t believe that rationally or even consciously most of the time, but I have realized that I believe it in expectation.  That sooner or later, something bad is going to happen.
And that’s one of those self-defeating illusions that you can be totally unaware that you have, until you really examine what you’re thinking, what you believe, what you expect.
When writers or artists are blocked, I think it’s usually more about that kind of thing than anything to do with the difficulty of the current project.  It’s more a time bomb of self- sabotage that was set long, long ago that’s suddenly gone off.   “I’m not good enough.”  “Making art is selfish.”  “You don’t get paid for doing something you love.”  “I don’t deserve to be successful.”
Sound familiar?  Seems like we’ve been talking about things like that here for at least a couple of weeks, now.
I’m beginning to realize how important it is to do periodic sweeps for these subconscious landmines.  If you’re not aware that you believe these things, they will eventually blow up in your face.  Self-sabotage can take all kinds of forms, some spectacular, some insidious, but all equally devastating.  But I think – I think – they might all come down to the idea that there is something OUT THERE preventing us from getting our heart’s desires – when really the only thing preventing us is INSIDE.  And generally planted a long, long time ago.
I’ve heard it said that the family is the cradle of theology.   I love that – it seems so exactly true.  We believe we will get from the Universe what we did from our families.  And psychologists generally agree that our core traumas have been inflicted by the time we’re five years old, which means we don’t even usually REMEMBER what those traumas are.
So it’s not an easy thing we’re talking about here – finding the roots of our own Doomsday beliefs and defusing those bombs before they blow up (or at least cleaning up effectively after they do.)  
But that’s what I wish for all of you on this, the last day of the world – that you let the Rapture take away all those demons – just send them on up there with Limbaugh and Beck – and start your fresh new lives.
Six o’clock p.m, and counting.
And if you aren’t out there stocking up on water and propane, how are you spending your last day?  What do you think it is about this Rapture thing?
– Alex


35 thoughts on “Raptured

  1. Reggie Ridgway

    I agree with you that when the rapture happens there will be many irritating people missing and perhaps many equally irritating people remaining to rebuild society. The thing that always gets me as a scientist is it would be more logical for the raptured's physical bodies to remain. What a clean up. Disease and odor not pleasant.

  2. Neil Nyren

    The front page of today's New York Daily News is:

    Some say the world will end today so…


    …If it's the last thing you do!

  3. Louise Ure

    Interesting post, Alex. I haven't given much thought to our communal fascination with Doomsday, but it does seem to fly in the face of our recognition of individual mortality. Why are we so happy to contemplate a worldwide rapture/destruction but unable to talk about our own upcoming demise?

  4. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    What a great fucking post, Alex! Tying the Doomsday prophesy to our own subconscious self-destructive tendencies. It's funny, but before the chaos of last week I was going to blog about how much more work I was getting done when I had a full-time day job, because at least then I had an identifiable antagonist to fight against (the day job). And fighting that antagonist gave me the push to get my writing done, as in, "I'll show you!" Now, the only antagonist I can identify is myself, so there's no excuse why I can't get the writing done. So, in a sense, I'm fighting that self-destructive time bomb you discuss in your blog.
    I'm always interested in how these Doomsday preachers save face the day AFTER Doomsday. Do they go into hiding? Do they blame someone else? Do they point out problems in the original prophesy? Do they move the date back a bit? Do they pass out the Kool Aid? We have a Doomsday prophesy every decade or so and we're all still here.

  5. Barbie

    I'm waiting! I hope there are Zombies.

    I'm spending my last day in English class. Also, I've had cake! I hope the world doesn't end before the cake I bought yesterday. That's be a waste.

    But… I'm a bit skeptical about the whole thing for some reason. Go figure.

    HAPPY RAPTURE DAY, everyone!!!! 😀

  6. Perry Wilson

    My fear about the rapture – oh wait a minute two fears.
    Fear 1 – there are fireworks planned tonight and the rapture will interfere
    Fear 2 – taken or not, I'll be stuck with the Glenn Beck's of the year.

  7. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Louise, that's exactly what I think the Doomsday fascination is – it's a roundabout way of confronting our own mortality. We can't do it on a small, realistic level so we have to engage in this apocalyptic hype.

  8. Allison Brennan

    Since I'm Catholic, we don't believe in the so-called Rapture (taken from one line in Thessalonians) and since Jesus said we won't know the day or the hour, and John said the time is near 2,000 years ago, I'm thinking God's time is certainly not our time, and there will be no one left behind. Earth will just be … gone.

    Of course, I could be wrong, but I don't worry about doomsday or end times because there's not one thing I can do to stop it. I can't stop meteors or earthquakes or floods or the second coming.

    Best "end of the world" type book I read (other than, of course THE STAND which is still my fave Stephen King book) was LUCIFER'S HAMMER about a meteor hitting earth. Science fiction and very, very cool. We had the San Joaquin Sea and everything in the Valley (where I live) up to 400 ft above sea level was now under water. What I like about disaster stories is that it's about humanity. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly of how we react to what seems to be the end of the world. It's "easy" to be good when times are good, but where do ethics and morals go when the shit hits the fan? Those are the stories I am drawn to.

    Anyway, today I am about to leave for a soccer game, we have a school fair (it's huge–International Food Fair where each classroom K-5 is decorated for a country and the kids have projects representing their country and parents make food so you buy a plate and take a trip around the world. This year, my three little kids have Brazil, Italy and the Philippines. 20+ countries are represented.) Then after the fair it's home to rewrite the ending of this dang book for the sixth time, then prom–at 6 pm I'll have 22 juniors and seniors at my house for pictures before the limo picks them up for prom. And of course I have to wait up for them to get back, make sure no one's been drinking and they can drive home, text the parents that their kids have left my house if they want, and hopefully be in bed by 2 … with the book done.

  9. Louise Ure

    From Alex, who is having trouble posting comments:

    – Steve, that "I did more when I had the day job" is a common complaint of full-time authors. I think it's terror of our limitless creativity. But I'm not worried about you.

    On the Koolaid front – I was being gruesome today but I am hoping like hell the FBI is monitoring this guy and his followers for purchases of that and cyanide-like stuff. I sure don't want anyone to die like that.

    – Barbie, I think zombies and cake would be an awesome way to spend the last day. Okay, well, cake for real and zombies on the screen.

    – Allison, your schedule today is EXACTLY what attracts people to the idea of the world ending. Just to get a break!

    I should read LUCIFER'S HAMMER – I love that kind of thing.

  10. billie

    My son said last night that we should go to the thrift store, buy lots of outfits, and plant them around town this morning so it looked like lots of people had just disappeared right out of their clothing. I have been obsessed with this idea ever since he said it, barely able to keep from going out and DOING it. And making all kinds of cool art installations all over town.

    Otherwise, I went to the local farmer's market this morning, got all the usual yummy food plus two pints of just-picked sour cherries (one of my favorite things on earth to eat), went over to the neighbor's to talk about riding trails, and now I'm going to settle in for a few hours of writing time. Life is good on this day of the rapture. 🙂

    I love the thought of people rising up like balloons – like in Chagall paintings with the women floating up off the earth.

  11. Shizuka

    Since I somehow managed to forget about the end of the world, I'm terribly unprepared.
    I guess I'll just go to Tai Chi class, finish a translation on info overload, write, and drink wine.
    Maybe I'll have champagne instead to celebrate either the world ending or not ending.

  12. Reine

    Great one Alex!

    Oh Happy Day!!! They're gone, right? No? They weren't Saved? I am stunned.

    I'm with Allison on this one and would only add that The Rapture, as ultimate suckfest, is like the Calvinist reward for fundamentalists giving up the Holy Assumption, meaning we'd all get to avoid death like the Virgin Mary, if we'd only give her up . . . okay so my senior divinity paper advisor was Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, but even so . . . .

  13. KDJames

    I think you're giving most of us (myself included) too much credit for harbouring deep thoughts on this topic, Alex. We're all so connected now with social media and the internet, but we're BORED — with each other and the same old topics. So something different comes along and we jump on the chance for fresh entertainment or to show how jaded and sarcastic we are and we make jokes about filling blow-up sex dolls with helium and releasing them (which I think would actually be pretty funny to see).

    But you make a good point about that little monologue going on in the back of the brain, the one that says you're not good enough or that you're not the smart or creative one in the family, you're the pretty one or the funny one or that you probably won't succeed anyway . . . or whatever else those voices tell you. It's good to look that voice right in the eye, so to speak, and say, "Sorry, but you're wrong."

  14. Fran

    Love the idea of internal doomsday bombs. That resonates with me, and now I have much to think about. Thank you!

    LUCIFER'S HAMMER is a fabulous book! Niven and Pournelle do some excellent studies on how people react, and parts of it have stayed with me for decades.

    In all the previous Rapture warnings, the effect was mitigated by the fact that it got small play. This time it has swept the internet, made the 24-hour news cycle, and what saddens me is that tomorrow I suspect a lot of very depressed and angry (and, seriously sadly, destitute) people are going to be trying to make sense of their lives. I wouldn't be surprised to hear about numerous suicides, and that's a true waste.

    However for today, I'm doing laundry, Lilian's about to take a nap cuddled up with the cat, and we're enjoying each other's company. It's darned near perfect, actually.

  15. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Reine and Fran, that's what I'm wondering, too – what happens to the people who thought they were going up, and didn't?

    And Reine, so, it is ALL about avoiding death. Hmm.

  16. Alexandra Sokoloff

    KD, I wasn't really thinking that most people are having DEEP thoughts on the topic! You're totally right that we latch on to these bizarre news bytes out of boredom (and an excuse to eat cake). News was more meaningful when it wasn't 24/7. Now it's mostly filler.

    Then again, we're all talking about the same thing for a day, which is kind of unifying, if you think about it.

  17. Reine

    Well, death is such a harsh word . . . but this is Murderati after all, and I am hopeless regarding interest in practical and impractical or improbable theology. Catholic theology teaches that the assumption of Mary's body and spirit to heaven is the binding pledge that Jesus' promise of everlasting life will be fulfilled in the faithful.

  18. KDJames

    LOL! But Alex, your posts always prompt deep thought. I mean, c'mon, look what you've done with this one.

    Just an hour left. I'm going to call my mom. She's one of the truly good people I know.

    Then back to reading non-fic. And later, writing.

  19. Catherine

    Stuff has been a little stranger than normal here. My parameters of weird keep expanding. So when I spent a morning talking with a friend, we used all sorts of nature based analogies about the work we put into creating lives where good things grow. It was easy to spin all sorts of ideas along the lines of your periodic sweeps Alex. As in looking at behaviours and wondering is this a weed, or is it just an undiscovered salad leaf that will lift my meal if I find the right dressing (attitude)?

    Then in the afternoon I talked with another friend and the conversation became about endings.

    Somehow this lead to who would you want at your death bed. If we knew the end was nigh health wise would this be a time where it's about what we want, or about what the people we leave behind need to manage better?

    This in turn lead to my friend saying that one of her childhood friends would be at the door managing who got in or not. Which lead me to think of the term deathbed door bitch. Which amused us greatly.

    Turn away vegetarians.

    ….and then I ended my day with a nice glass of wine, steak, mushroom gravy, roast vegetables and lovely fresh greens…finished the latest book by Sophie Hannah and slept soundly. This morning I better clean my house, but maybe I should check if a friend has finished her nursing shift and wants some coffee in the sun first.

  20. JT Ellison

    Really fabulous post today, Alex.

    I've spent the past three days as the guest of the Pagan Unity Festival. It was a blast – highly recommended to anyone who wants to experience a different culture. Needless to say, not terribly worried about all this. Except: I'm always impressed by people's faith. Even if we don't agree, or, for that matter, despise the others' thoughts, it's still their faith. While we're all joking and having fun, they are really experiencing the kind of terror I do my best to avoid. I feel bad for them.

    The wheels in the sky keep on turning. Whatever or whoever those wheels may be.

  21. Allison Davis

    Rapture parties all over the neighborhood. I'm disappointed Barbie that we weren't hte only ones to think of leaving shoes and empty clothes about…

    We've all signed up on the atheist dog watching list (someone I know was even paid $135 to watch his dog….). I decided to continue to struggle with editing th book b/c SJS has been riding me about me (ok, encourging) and otherwise, had a lovely dinner last night and will have another tonight. New Zealand seems to still be intact so another Rapture has passed us by.

    But as an anology, I think evry daty, what is it I want to do because last week disappeared in a nanosecond, the last ten years, where the hell did they go and when did the 80's disappear so far into the past? So Rapture or no, I am now trying to focus on those things that are meaningful to me….making each moment count.

    This certainly has been a thoughtful week on Murderati. Who needs a therapist?

  22. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Reine, I guess I don't even get why everlasting life is desirable. I don't have the slightest interest in going on forever in human form. I've got to think that if there is something after this life, that it's more – energetic. I mean, a body is so HEAVY. Why would we want to take that with us, or keep up this level of existence forever? Really, it mystifies me.

  23. Alexandra Sokoloff

    The garden analogy always works for me, Catherine. It's one you can even put into literal practice – I'm not a big gardener but I can say positively I always feel better after I weed.

    Love the deathbed door bitch!

  24. Reine

    Heh. I just study this stuff. And I have those weird seizures. A professor in NZ emailed me once about my religious feelings as they relate to my concept of god. I told him that Keppra was my current god.

  25. Alexandra Sokoloff

    JT, pagan fest sounds fun. I'm not sure that the Rapture people are terrified, though – seems that the whole thing is about them getting lifted up to heaven and it's the rest of us who are supposed to be terrified.

    Allison, I am going to try to take your lead and make more moments count. That's the real point of contemplating death, isn't it?

  26. JT Ellison

    Sorry, I wasn't clear. Terrified as in everything they've believed in has been proven false. I can't even imagine what that might be like.

  27. Tracy Nicol

    I haven't had time to read through all of the comments, so forgive me if I am repeating something someone else said. I've really only heard about all the Rapture business from people on Facebook, but I have an idea why the idea might appeal to people. It's why it would appeal to me.

    Everyone walks around with their heads filled with worries. Some are small and immediate, some a bit larger and and a little farther into the distance, and some are large and probably many years away. Some of us worry a lot more than others, but I think people would be surprised if they realized just how much they do worry. Sometimes it's not even worry so much as everything we have to remember. In the end, it's responsibility. All of our responsibilities. They weigh on us day in and day out.

    If we actually believed that the world was going to end tomorrow, or we were going to float up to heaven or whatever, that would put an end to everything. Of course, many of us would think of all the things we had wanted to do before the end and might be upset. But once we realized there wasn't a darn thing we could do about it; I think there would be a tremendous sense of relief. Every worry, every responsibility, everything period, you can forget about it! Nothing matters anymore! What's done is done and you can finally let go and breathe. Just relax.

    Does that ring true for anyone? It's something I've thought about before in a sci-fi sort of way. I have spiritual beliefs but am not religious.

    Just my spin on the whole shebang! ; )

  28. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Tracy, I think you couldn't be more right, and you've expressed it perfectly. I think I might actually have resentment about this whole Rapture thing even coming up because I know it's not going to happen and it would be SO GREAT just to let go.

    But as you've pointed out, the problem is in us – and that means any solution has got to come from within, too.

    I need to get back into meditation. Thank you for a great post.

  29. pari noskin taichert

    I planted my garden, Alex. That's how I spent the day.

    As to the landmines, I think you can tell I've been looking for them actively. I've even managed to neutralize a couple of them lately.

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