Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why I Still Want To Be Left Behind

Brenda Peterson

Brenda Peterson

Posted: 05/19/11 12:20 PM ET HUFFINGTON POST

Sunset on the Salish Sea, Seattle, spring, 2011                     photo: B. Peterson

When California preacher, Harold Camping, predicted the world would end this Saturday evening, several of my Rapture-ready friends insisted I finish reading theLeft Behind series and make my preparations.
Camping's ubiquitous billboard messages: "Blow the trumpet, warn the people!" were all over Seattle. People were so giddy with anticipation, it recalled the many loopy, no-exit conversations I've had with my righteous neighbor.
"Why are you so ... well, cheerful, about doomsday?" I always asked him.
He gazed at me with the true alarm of deep pity. "I'm afraid you'll have a rough time of it here during the Tribulations."
"Don't you love any of us you believe will suffer so?" I said.
This gave my neighbor a moment's pause. But then he admitted with some chagrin. "You can't blame us born-agains for at last getting our heavenly rewards. We've waited thousands of years for End Times. We've got holy wars, world financial markets crashing, Israel's military power, Middle East uprisings, and even global warming."
This last sign he pronounced brightly, as if our global climate was gleefully graduating into a hot time in the old world.
It struck me that being "raptured" out of this world trumps the insecurity of living and the surrender of dying or staying on. No bodily indignity. No suffering. One will simply be whisked off with the fellowship of the believers -- the Rapture gang -- to a heavenly reward.
In the twinkling of an eye they say, the righteous will ascend, dropping golden dental work, nightgowns, and perhaps some spouses. Unless you count losing the earth and billions of unfortunate sinners who cling to it, getting raptured is a blast. Who wouldn't want to escape prophesied plagues, floods, and nomadic thug-like legions of the unsaved?
This rather pitiless evacuation plan for only the righteous might seem darkly comic, if not for a Timemagazine poll: 56 percent of Americans "believe the prophecies in the Book of Revelation will come true." Perhaps that explains why the Left Behind books are the biggest selling fictional series in the United States.

And enjoy your weekend, especially Sunday's sunshine! And here's one of my favorite quotes: 

"On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree."

    ~ W. S. Merwin, "Place"

Here's a photo I took last month of a 500-year-old tree on the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest where I was Writer-in-Residence. And some video of climbing into its massive canopy with children.

massive ancient cedar HJ Andrews Experimental Forest Long-Term Ecological Research site

Blue River, Oregon. The rapture of the sky and ancient forest

Climbing with brave and monkey-agile 7th graders up this old, generous tree into the canopy, alive with birdsong and a deep, poised silence. Rapture.

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