As some of our readers know, the beginning of my journey away from Christianity in my early teens had two great catalysts; Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha and a movie called the Seventh Sign. Wow, looking at that sentence makes me laugh. On one end this incredible piece of great literature and on the other a cheesy apocalyptic flick. But alas it is my truth. The movie prompted me to read Revelations. (the first book of the bible I read from beginning to end) which led to a year of not sleeping and being deathly afraid that the apocalypse was going to come at any moment. It was difficult to look upon the impending apocalypse as a happy event, what with the four horsemen, earthquakes, fire and you know death. Death is a difficult concept for most adults, let alone teenagers, to grasp.
The bottom line is, we’ve been here many times before; (Hailey’s Comet – 1910, 1976(Doug Clark), 1982 (Pat Robertson), 1990 (Vladimir Solovyev), 1992 Rapture Movement, 1994 (Harold Camping), 1997 (Heaven’s Gate) 1999 (Nostradamus), Y2K, 2008 (Ronald Weinland) just to name a few) and we will be here again. (I’m personally looking forward to Dec 21st 2012, which is coincidentally my Mother’s birthday! I’ve known for years how special my mom is and its awesome to know that she’s gets to have the last birthday for all of mankind.) So when I first heard about the May 21st Doomsday event a few months back I just laughed. But then I began to read about the nearly 20,000 people who had given up nearly everything because they believed so completely that this upcoming event was true. I remember watching a clip of a girl (almost the same age as I when I had my “Revelation experience”) standing on a street corner handing out these doomsday flyers. I recognized that look of fear masked by the constant need to convince herself that it was a GOOD thing. This is when I began to get a little angry.
One of the many reasons I will never return to the Christian faith is because despite the glimmers of good I do see from time to time there are still tremendous levels of, for lack of a better word, ploys that exist :
Fear: If you don’t believe in Jesus you are going to live an eternity in a lake of fire enduring incredible suffering when you die. Regardless of whatever incredible good you have done in your life. If you don’t believe that Jesus is Lord you will not got to heaven period. Don’t forget about the demons and witches that will come to get you! As my mom says “That doesn’t make a lick of sense”
Monetary: Family Radio brought in 18 million dollars of donations in 2009 alone. If they truly believed that the world was going to end why the hell would they accept that insane amount of money?
Control: Be it by convincing others that they must give away everything and travel the country via RV for a year to stand on street corners waiving signs warning of the apocalypse. Or believing certain morals, ie: Abortion is wrong, Homosexuality is a sin, ect ect because some man that says he understands the bible better than you do tells you so. If you believe a certain way, it should be because it’s a conclusion you reached on your own not because someone behind a pulpit told you to do so.
It goes to show you what one man can do. This man was able to whip over 20,000 Christians into a frenzy. Whether it was all meant to be a scam, or whether he believed it wholeheartedly, only he knows. But for me, as a non-believer, it only validates that that whatever Jesus taught no longer exists in Christianity. Everything has been twisted and re-worked and re-interpreted a thousand times over to meet the needs of either those that wanted to scheme or those who want others to believe as they do. How can any of us say what is true and what isn’t?
But Fear is Universal; it’s not just a product of religion. Regardless of what we believe, we all as humans are connected because we have the ability to feel emotions; Love, Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Peace. It’s a shame that we continue to allow fear to overwhelm us so easily. My heart goes out to the girl in that video and to the thousands of other people who gave up everything; homes, marriages, relationships, jobs because they believed this guy. There is a great post on the No God Blog that articulates best how I feel:
“If you’re reading this, and you donated money to Harold Camping’s campaign, by now you’re pretty depressed. You’ve been taken, and worse than that, you’ve been embarrassed. You may feel stupid, and that’s because you’ve done a stupid thing – you trusted your preacher blindly. You believed without thinking.
But that doesn’t mean you’re stupid. Smart people sometimes do stupid things. A truly stupid person would NOT learn from this mistake. A truly stupid person would keep following Camping as he ‘recalculates’, or says “god has forgiven us because of the prayers we sent up” or some other lame excuse for his rapture not happening. Hopefully, you aren’t one of these people, who are destined to be hurt again. Hopefully, you have learned a lot in the last few days.
I urge you not to hurt yourself. Your shame will pass, and your money will be re-earned. You can lead a normal life if you start leading with your intellect, and not your desperation to see the end of the world… But no matter where you stand right now, YOU have potential. Use it”
Comments have been closed for this post. Aaron will post the Christian perspective tomorrow. Your chance to voice perspective comes on Wednesday.