I’ve been taking a break from doing much blog reading or writing this weekend, in part to give my wrist a rest and a chance to recover from another carpal tunnel flare-up. (Occupational hazard, don’t ya know.) And I’ve spend part of that time reading. After the last three books I finished, my interest was piqued, especially concerning the rapture enthusiasts I’ve written about several times before. So I picked up Pocket Guide To The Apocalypse: The Official Field Manual For The End Of The World as a kind of primer, because though I was brought up baptist (in the south, where people always keep one ear cocked for the distant blast of a trumpet or a pre-rapture shout from heaven) the Book of Revelation was the one book of the bible I never read while I was growing up. It was the stuff of nightmares. I figured if I woke up in the morning and everyone was still there, I hadn’t missed the last flight to heaven. (Though being awakened by a siren in the middle of the night could bring about cold sweat, until I checked to make sure my family was at least still in the house.)
If you’re wondering just what the various people mentioned in the previous posts believe, Pocket Guide is a good place to start. While irreverent in its approach to the various theories and predictions about the apocalypse, it seems to have managed to squeeze in a wealth of useful information. Interestingly enough, the Pocket Guide is published by Relevant Books, a christian publisher that also puts out a Relevant magazine apparently produced by and for 20-something christians who, according to the site, don’t believe in legalism and bigotry. I suppose it’s amusing that while trying to wrap my brain around one christian subculture, I stumble into another one as a resource.
But with Pocket Guide digested, I was ready to tackle Skipping Towards Armageddon: The Politics and Propaganda of the Left Behind Novels and the LaHaye Empire with at least a working understanding of the premillenial dispensatinalism that seems to drive an awful lot of people (including the president, depending on who you ask). I also picked up a copy of A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization, which includes the entire book of Revelations. So now that I’m grown up I might actually read it. (I don’t have a bible in the house, so the only other way I’d read it would be online.)
I got halfway into Skipping Towards Armageddon, then on Friday evening I was getting out of a cab in downtown D.C. and dropped it. It fell open, pages down, on the rain-wet street. So, I stuck it in my backpack and walked into a nearby bookstore, where a stumbled upon Welcome to JesusLand! (Formerly the United States of America): Shocking Tales of Depravity, Sex, and Sin Uncovered by God’s Favorite Church, Landover Baptist in the humor section. Lo and behold, the creators of Landover Bapist Church and Betty Bowers have produced a book. I grabbed a copy and took it to the register, figuring I’ll need a laugh or two while wandering through the world of Tim LaHaye and other apocalypse watchers.
I also stumbled upon this Penn & Teller video, including an interview with author Hal Lindsey whose Late Great Planet Earth could be credited with starting the whole modern rapture craze, that will serve the same purpose. I thought I’d share it here.
Hopefully, by the time I’m finished, I won’t be as crazy as some of these people. But maybe understanding better what they believe and how it drives them will suggest ways of countering them.