December 28, 2005

The Rapture.

Writing that last post made me think about about the song "I Pray We'll Be Ready," by the Chicago Mass Choir, which made me stop on one of the religious channels on satellite radio that I normally dial past. I haven't given much thought to the notion of the Rapture, though I'm well aware that there are a lot of books milking its melodramatic possibilities. But the singing was so excellent that I kept listening to the many verses. In one, a husband wakes up one morning and finds his beloved wife gone. That got me wondering about the wife. How is she supposed to enjoy bliss? Oh, I guess Bob wasn't good enough...


Meade said...

Where she's going, she'll find a better husband - someone who puts down the newspaper and listens, really listens, to her when she needs to talk to him about the kids or the in-laws or what she learned on Oprah that day.

Her new husband won't run off to golf with his buddies while letting her attend the church of her choice all by herself Sunday after Sunday.

He'll be washed in the blood of the lamb and she'll forget all about that stupid sinning schlub, Bob.


elliot said...

I was in a church service once where they said that you wouldn't miss your sinning husband, wife, son, daughter, mother, father, etc... because being in the presence of God's love would make any other love you ever felt irrelevant.

They also mentioned that once you ascended to Heaven the suffering of your unsaved loved ones in hell would seem deserved.

Just another reason why I don't belong to any organized religion.

Robert said...
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My Boaz's Ruth said...

In case you are being serious. There is no marriage in heaven. Matthew 22:23-28. There was a lady who had been married multiple times and they wanted to know which would be her husband in heaven.
"28 [Sadduccees] Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. "

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth: Thanks. The Rapture theorizing I heard in that song contained a lot of material about trying to keep families together in the afterworld. It was basically trying to get people to behave better now and to pressure their loved ones to do the same.

I've always worried about the presentation of the afterworld that has people reunited with their families. Not everyone has a family and of those who do, some have bad families. It's not very fair! And those who haven't found a love match in life, they must remain the same forever? Any concrete depiction of the afterlife presents so many problems that it is much better to leave it vague, as Jesus seems to have done there -- although that's left us wondering what angels do with all the time they've got on their hands.

Speaking of angels, I once read a scientific description of how large angel wings would actually need to be if an angel were subject to Earth's gravity. Artistic depictions of angels are far off, according to this analysis.

BrianOfAtlanta said...

Ann, you're just as well off not trying to apply too much analytical thought to the Rapture. For something so central to the faith of many Christians, it has a very thin to nonexistent scriptural basis. It does make for interesting storylines, though.

OddD said...

I once read a scientific description of how large angel wings would actually need to be if an angel were subject to Earth's gravity.

Angels, unburdened by sin, are infinitely lighter than humans. (That's why you can fit so many of them on the head of a pin.)

Sigivald said...

Elliot: Well, according to Lewis (whose views on this I've found most compelling, even as an atheist), "hell" is no more than separation-from-God (if such an everlasting state can be spoken of in such terms as "no more than"), not burning-sulphur-and-being-poked-with-a-pitchfork-by-little-guys-with-horns.

Further, "damnation" or "salvation" are described as the extension into infinity (given immortality of the soul) of the habits of personality and faith while alive; the saved were already on the right track, and are perfected over time. The damned were going bad, and time just finishes the work of corruption started during their lives. (I'm led to believe this is roughly the actual doctrine of the Catholic church on such matters, but I'm too lazy to look it up).

So, thus, from that point of view (but not the cartoonish one too-commonly held), what you were told makes sense. Being in God's immanent presence would tend to make the absence of any specific person less important, and if their separation from God is the product of their own personality grown over time, it might in fact seem not so much just as literally unavoidable. (Someone, after all, who retreats into himself rather than toward God can hardly be expected to be orbiting the Throne for all eternity, can he?)

I've found that while Christianity often doesn't make a lot of sense in terms of the rest of the world, if you bother to track down the underlying theology it is at least self-consistent, and that the common ideas of what the theology says are often utterly wrong. (Which is unsurprising, since it's, well, un-worldly.)

Really, I find it fascinating, even as a non-believer.

Michael Farris said...

Despite a try or two in my younger days I finally decided I just don't have the capacity for religious faith.

The question about what you'll think in heaven about your loved ones in hell is just a contributing factor, though an important one. Somehow just not thinking about them at all gives no comfort and seems extraordinarily non-Christian to my agnostic self.

jinnmabe said...

In the context of that song you mentioned, some Christians believe that the Rapture-thing takes the sinners, not the righteous, so, in that case, it's Bob who's wondering, "Oh, I guess Shelia wasn't good enough."

Alvin Miller said...

My Inaugural Address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions!


Your jaw will drop!