Since the beginning of time, one religious leader or another has been predicting the “end of days” or the end of times. We’re still here.
One widely publicized revelation by a California preacher/prophet, that affected hundreds of believers, had “the rapture” set for May 21, 2011. The “seer” has since revised his calculation, which, by the way, was a revision of a previous non-rapture.
How do these “prophets” get followers? How do they convince their followers to sell all of their belongings, tell their extended families goodbye and then wait patiently for the end? Once thrown by the horse of sophism, why do these duped followers climb back on the horse again?
Imagine believing that one’s higher power specifically waited for you to be born so that the higher power could then end the world. Think of the greats that have gone before, DaVinci, Einstein, Ghandhi, et al., and yet, for some reason, the timing was not right until you got here. To me, this is the height of narcissism.
This narcissistic world-view pervades everything for these followers of the “end of times” philosophy. Fortunately, the founding fathers of the United States left us with a document that draws a line strongly between church and state, between belief and government policy. Unfortunately, sometimes that line gets crossed.
During the 1980’s, James G. Watt was the United States Secretary of Interior. While testifying before Congress, Watt said, “I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns, whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations.” While he was speaking of a time of “future generations” he was also suggesting that all 80 million acres of undeveloped land in the United States be opened for drilling and mining. As a Pentecostal, Mr. Watt was a believer in the rapture. If one believes in the scripture that “no one knows the day or hour”, then one could believe the rapture would be in their time. Logically, if the righteous are all about to be called up to heaven, why not leave behind a world stripped of all of its resources?
Uncle Jesse, or I should say the Reverend Jesse Dougal, has a small church near Kingston, Georgia. Uncle Jesse uses poisonous snakes to emphasize the belief that “no one knows the day or hour”, and to this point, the snakes have cooperated. The assorted scars on his hands and face, plus the loss of a finger due to snakebite, provide visual testimony of Jesse’s commitment to the Lord to his congregation.
Uncle Jesse is not about to become a “rapture centric” church, he knows that his congregation is coming for the show, and he wants to keep that show going as long as he can. Ironically, Jesse is concerned about climate change. He feels that the unseasonable weather we’ve been having is making his copperheads fractious. Can I get an amen?