Monday, November 04, 2013
I'm not sure how the technology works, but what shows up on my Facebook page constantly these days is an ad pushing whatever's on sale at a place called Duluth Traders, where I think I'd like to buy clothes, if I were in the market. I think I went to their website once when they advertised sort of no-nonsense underwear or something--but I bought nothing. Still, their advertising is edgy and sharp, which makes me think they know more about me than they should.
I don't always understand why the rest of the ads form a line on the right hand side of the page--how those ads relate to me, that is. An ad for learning a new language has featured young women whose cups are rather daringly running over. How bountiful bosoms relate to learning Spanish isn't at all clear, but the images are. I suppose they're meant for me too.
Lately, there's been another--an ad for Final: the Rapture, which touts itself as the most terrifying Christian movie ever, a movie in the Left Behind genre about the rapture's hideous consequences, yet another flick that seems to do what no human has ever done--put a ballpark date on Jesus's second coming. Last night, I watched the trailer. I think I'll pass. The ad names Phillip Yancey as someone who has helped them out or something. I know Phillip Yancey--I'm quite sure that's hype.
This morning the ad has an additional line where an ex-student of mine has "liked" Final. Makes me sad, really. I remember the kid from class years ago, but I don't understand why a man with his theological background would buy into all that sillyness.
Another ex-student, a smart kid who's spent much of his young life, post-college, in the Middle East, features a series of stories on his blog, stories about Islamic people he's met who can't really place him once he tells them he's an evangelical Christian, don't understand him because he isn't what, to them, he's supposed to be.
You can read his blog here if you'd like, but I'll summarize. On a plane to Cairo, he meets an Egyptian businessman, a Muslim, who is well-traveled in the U. S., a man who claims his only other exposure to an evangelical was to another businessman who claimed, at the time of Israel's war in Gaza in 2008 and 2009, that he was happy the war was going on, happy people were dying, because it meant Jesus was coming again.
There's more. In Kenya, this ex-student is in a motel room, when he turns on the TV and listens to a sermon by a man named John Hagee, who's all about the same kind of "end-times" theology. Hagee has it all figured out by scripture reference because he knows that Old Testament prophets were really talking about 2013. Interesting but nutty.
All of my ex-students will forever be kids, so I apologize to him for using the word, but this kid ends his blog post with his own Jeremiad, ". . .for for too many of us, foreign countries exist only as props in our dreams about the Rapture. That has to change."
This kid's right. The other is wrong. That's my call.
I understand how people in Nebraska and South Dakota can believe it's end times when the sky is coal-black with dust, mid-Depression. I even get it when people get scared that a specific tick of the clock, on December 31, 1999, is coming. I also understand how some may believe that abortion incurs God's judgment and gay marriage is a tip of God's hat that he's not pleased and ready once again to end it all.
I understand fear because it's in me too, fear which is opposite of trust, of hope, and of love. But I get it. I too am human.
But I don't understand how people can read the Bible in such a fashion as to make them believe they can call the shots, a la Harold Camping. Just about a half century ago, Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth tried too and sold hundreds of thousands of copies to cowering Christians convinced that he was right, because of Comet Kahotek or whatever phenomenon was worrying them then into believing that this round globe was bouncing off into a chaos, a nihilistic horror only Jesus would and could end.
The ad for Final: The Rapture on my Facebook page features a candid of an African-American man with bulging eyes that could well have come from Amos and Andy. I won't call it racist, but I'm sure that particular shot was chosen to gather our attention for reasons that are many, one of which is the guy whose pictured is an all-pro NFL cornerback who makes 3.6 million a year (strange ad copy, I think)--well, has, because it's coming, you know, the rapture and all of that. It's gotta--just look at the state of the world.
Our old pastor used to say--I've not done the math--that the most repeated commandment in the Bible isn't even the first--"Thou shalt have no other gods before me," a commandment which makes us all equally guilty before the law.
It's really the beloved admonition of a choir of angels who showed up out of nowhere in the Judean hills one cold night, something no one had predicted and wouldn't have believed; that commandment, the one they gave the shepherds, goes like this, "Fear not."
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 6:15 AM