Friday, May 20, 2011

Whose Rapture?

In honor of the coming (or not-coming) Rapture event... may I reprint an article of mine from the last century? It seems even more relevant today. Alas.

A few extreme voices are announcing the impending end of the world. Proclamations of doom are perennial flowers which have sprouted in the garden of human imagination since earliest times. Oracles appeared whenever turmoil caused nations and peoples to feel uncertain about the future. From ancient Sumer, to India, to Iceland, astrological portents used to set off recurring waves of public hysteria.

Ambiguity is the prophet's major stock in trade. King Croesus bribed the Delphic Oracle for good news, so the priests told him what he wanted to hear. If he marched on Persia he would destroy a great empire. He marched, and the empire he destroyed was his own.

Some doom-prophecies proved devastatingly self-fulfilling. When Cortez marched on Tenochtitlan, the Aztecs were paralyzed by similarities between his arrival and the prophesied return of their god, Quetzalcoatl. That paralysis led to the Aztecs' fall. At Troy, Cassandra and Lacöon warned unavailingly against accepting gift horses, showing that all Jeremiads aren't heeded.

We remember each of these foretellings because they came true. Those that fail are seldom noted -- much to the relief of today's tabloid prophets.


Something in human nature seems fascinated by the end of all things. Is it simply an extension of the smaller death each of us faces? Or perhaps a streak of egotism is involved, for out of countless human generations, it would surely mark ours as unique to be the last. Folk myths about humanity's swan song range from the Vikings' awful Ragnarok to universal bliss, and all shades between. Often these myths foresee dividing humankind into an elect, who will experience rapture, and those doomed to eternal punishment for misdeeds in this world.

“Messianism” focuses on an awaited deliverer, who will right wrongs, settle scores, and change the known cosmos more to the liking of those doing the waiting. For example, the Zoroastrians of Persia prophesied a “third savior,” who would purify the land and resurrect the dead. North American plains Indians, inspired by “ghost shirt” magic, believed certain signs augured invincibility to their forlorn cause of driving Europeans from the continent. During the mid nineteenth century, half of China was consumed by the Tai'Ping rebellion, whose charismatic leader claimed to be the younger brother of Jesus.

Larger, more conservative religions also carry notions of divine, overpowering intervention. Buddhism awaits the bodhisattva, Maitreya, to create paradise on Earth. In orthodox Islam a prophesied Mahdi is destined to usher a new age. The celebratory frenzy which accompanied Ayatollah Khomeini's return to Iran may have been amplified by occurring almost exactly 14 centuries after the birth of the Prophet.

Christian millennialists drew inspiration from many sources, such as the promise in the gospels that Jesus would return “...before this generation shall have passed away...” to complete his messianic task. By far the most influential text is the Book of Revelation, which tells in florid, metaphorical detail about the rise and fall of characters such as the “Beast,” and the “Whore of Babylon.” In every generation, tracts have been published which analyzed that mysterious tome, line by line, showing how each obscure phrase and parable connected to events taking place in the author's own region and time. For example, during the approach to year 1800, a zealous flood of printed interpretations correlated the French Revolution and Napoleon's rise to verses of prophecy, proving to the writers' satisfaction that Armageddon was nigh.

Alas for those eagerly expecting Judgment Day, the rumblings heard in the sky were only cannon.

In the run-up to year 1000 of the common era, thousands throughout Europe divested their farms, property, the clothes on their backs, expecting an imminent end. Other episodes occurred at uneven intervals, such as in year 1260, but one could always count on a special surge at each turn of the hundreds column. Popes even proclaimed Roman jubilees, to attract predictable waves of concerned pilgrims whenever round numbers rolled along.

Our own era has seen tabloid oracles, TV evangelists and millennialist politicians, all weighing in to satisfy a seemingly inexhaustible human need for mystic hope mixed liberally with terror. And, in fairness, religion has not been the sole font of apocalyptic scenarios. New-Age spiritualists have joined in, touting everything from Aquarianism and astrology to a fleet of UFOs, due to land just outside San Diego, California. Meanwhile, the past decade saw survivalists stocking private fortresses in eager dread of a coming end to civilization, which, they were certain, would cull the virtuously prepared from the culpably week.


imagesBooks such as Hal Lindsey's runaway best seller, The Late, Great, Planet Earth, revealed to millions the “obvious” identity of the Soviet Union as the Devil's final fortress, foretold in scripture. Ronald Reagan's Interior Secretary, James Watt, declared environmentalism moot for the simple reason that the Earth was scheduled to end soon anyway, so why bother saving trees? In retrospect, these pronouncements may seem quaint, with the USSR fading into archeological dust along with Nineveh and Babylon, but one sees no retractions by Lindsey or others. The armageddon merchants simply re-arrange the details of their prophecies in order to keep up with each geo-political turn.

Will Japan or China replace Russia as the next arch-foe of Heaven's host? Will we soon hear political candidates, accusing each other of being the Antichrist?

Nearly all millennialists share an interesting premise, that the entire vast universe was fashioned by a creator with a penchant for brief experiments, foregone conclusions, petty vengeance, and mysterious riddles. During most of human history, this might have seemed a reasonable model of the world, since life appeared so capricious, so instantly and inexplicably revocable. To some extent, that age-old sense of helplessness and enigma remains. Only under a conceited gloss of modernity do we dare step forward and (without meaning any deliberate offense) attempt to pose a question or two.

For instance, even granting the aforementioned godly premise, why would a creator of universes base his doomsday timetable on a human dating system? Might He not use ticks of an atomic clock, marking off radium half-lives until -- phhht? Or, going by certain biblical passages, should we estimate how many sparrows, or shooting stars, have fallen since the Earth began?

For that matter, why count down in decimal? Why not base six, used by the Babylonian inventors of the calendar? Or binary notation? In the code native to computers, this year, 1994 of the common era, translates as 011111001010. It will be a much rounder 10000000000 on the date 2048 a.d., and a symmetrical, mysterious-looking 11111011111 in 2015. On the other hand, if prime numbers are His thing, then both 1997 and 1999 fit the bill in any notation.

Assuming the Omnipotent simply cannot resist round multiples of ten, and conveniently chose Earth's orbital period as the unit of measure, what date shall we figure He is counting from? To Hindus, a three billion year cycle of creation and destruction passes through multiple “Yugas,” of which the present is but one of the more threadbare. The Mayans believe in cycles of 256 years, based on motions of moon and planets. The most recent major shift occurred in 1954.

To certain Christian fundamentalists, the answer is plain. Obviously, the countdown began at the pivot point of the common era calendar, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

Unfortunately, that postulate presents problems. Regarding the actual date of nativity, biblical scholars disagree over a range of five years or more. Nor is there good evidence that the month and day assigned to Christmas under the Gregorian Calendar have anything to do with the celebrated event. (Eastern Orthodoxy commemorates Christmas weeks later.) Early church leaders may have meant to match the popular solstice festivals of the Mithraic Cult, followed by their patron, Emperor Constantine, thus making conversion of pagans easier.


And yet, every date of prophecied devastation has passed without event. No matter. Doom-seers are well-practiced at the art of recalculation. In the Nineteenth Century, one mid-western preacher managed to hold onto his flock through six successive failures of the skies to open, until at last he was abandoned by all but the most fervent and forgiving.

Here is just one of the excuses we are bound to hear --

“Of course the countdown shouldn't date from the birth of Jesus. After all, the chief event of his life, the promise of redemption and resurrection, came at the end of his earthly span.”

If so -- assuming the clock has been ticking from Calvary to Armageddon -- we would seem in for a slight reprieve, and yet another wave of millennial fever set to strike some time in the mid 2030s. Again, the lack of any specific written record in Roman or Judean archives will let enthusiasts proclaim dates spread across five or six years, but at least the season won't be vague -- sometime around Easter, or during the Passover holiday.

We've only begun to plumb the options available to millennial prophets. While some sects focus on two thousand Christmases, and others on as many Easters, there will certainly be those who consider such thinking small-scale and altogether too New Testament. After all, why should the Creator terminate His universe on the anniversary of some event which took place midway through its span? Why not start counting from its origin?

Revelations-pagelsRemember Archbishop Ussher of Armagh? He's the fellow who carefully logged every begat in the Bible, then declared that the creation of the world must have occurred at 9 o'clock in the morning, on October 25 of the year 4004 B.C.

Now, there has been a considerable amount of teasing directed at poor Ussher, since he made this sincere calculation back in 1654. His results don't jibe too well with the testimony of rocks, fossils, stars, or the scientists who study such things. Still, he has followers even today, folk who believe that all physical evidence for a vastly older Earth (four and a half billion years) was planted to “test our faith.” (One might ask in reply, if the Lord went to so much effort to convince us the world is billions of years old, who are we to doubt it?)

If Ussher fixated on time's origin, the famed founder of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, had something to say about its end. Luther took into account that “...a day is as a thousand years to the Lord...” (Psalms 90:4), and that genesis itself took six days. He then concluded that the Earth's duration would thus be 6,000 years from first light to the trump of doom. Further, this span would be symmetrically divided into three 2,000 year stretches, from Origin to the time of Abraham, from Abraham to Jesus, and a final two millennia rounding things off at Judgment Day. While this speculation drew little attention back in Luther's day, it is sure to appeal to modern millennialists, hoping for the good luck of witnessing the end in their own time.

End-of-the-worldUnfortunately, combining Luther's logic with Ussher's date (4004 b.c.) shows that the end should have arrived in 1996! Hell. It hardly leaves any time for me to collect royalties on the paperback edition of this book!

Perhaps we won a little breather on a technicality. Since there was no Year Zero in the common era calendar (One b.c. was followed immediately by One a.d.), the Ussher-Luther deadline shifts to autumn, 1997! Yet that date passed as well.

Fortunately, old Bishop Ussher wasn't the only one counting off from Adam and Eve. The Jews have been at it much longer, and by the Hebrew Calender it is only year number 5753, which seems special to no one but mathematicians.

What of Jewish millennialists, then? Back in the 1640s, followers of Sabbatai Zevi believed passionately that the end had come, but neither that “false messiah,” nor Jacob Frank in the 1720s, brought any New Kingdom, only disappointment. Since then, most Jewish scholars have put less faith in vague riddles of a single manifestation than in a growing maturity of human culture, or a “messianic age”... an attitude which baffles some Christian evangelists no end.

 ====   =====   ====

As with UFO cults, there is no such thing as “disproof” to those who can always find convenient explanations for each failed prophecy. It is useless citing scientific data to refute the supernatural. There are methods for dealing with doomsday cant however. One is to turn things around, and confront millennialists on their own turf. In the end, the entire question revolves around symbols.

In Judeo-Christian mythology, two chief metaphors are used to describe the relationship between the creator and humankind. The first of these depicts a “shepherd-and-his-flock.” The second describes a “father-and-his-children.” These parables are used interchangeably, but they aren't equivalent. Rather, to modern eyes they are polar opposites, as irreconcilable as the tiny, closed cosmos of Ussher and the vast universe of Galileo.

A shepherd protects his flocks, guiding them to green pastures, as the psalms so poignantly portray. All the shepherd expects in return is unquestioning obedience... and everything else the sheep possess. Lucky ones are merely shorn, but that reprieve is brief. None escapes its ultimate fate. None has any right to complain.

Everybody also knows about fathers. Young sons and daughters are expected to obey, when discipline is tight for their own good. Nevertheless, with time, offspring learn to think for themselves. Even in patriarchal societies, a good father takes pride in the accomplishments of his children, even -- especially -- when they exceed his own. If there is a fore-ordained plan, it is for those children to become good mothers and fathers, in turn.

To the perennial, millennial oracles, with their message of looming destruction, here is a head-on response. Ask them this. “Are we children of a Father, or a Shepherd's sheep? You can't have it both ways.

“You preach a tale of violent harvest,” the challenge continues. “Of judgment without debate or appeal, fatal and permanent. A shepherd might so dispose of lambs, but what sane father does thus to his offspring? Would you stand by, if a neighbor down the street commenced such a program on his flesh and blood?

“Anyway, you choose an odd time to proclaim the adventure over, just when we've begun picking up creation's tools, learning, as apprentices do, the methods of a great Designer. Those techniques now lay before us, almost as if someone placed blueprints to the universe to be pored over by eager minds. By those perhaps ready soon to leave childhood and begin adult work.”

The latest crop of millennial prophets might be asked, what do sheep owe the shepherd of a cramped pasture, a cheap, expendable world just 6,000 years old, limited to one ball of dirt, one sentient race?

Personally, I prefer a universe countless billions of parsecs wide, vast and old enough for a hundred million vivid, exciting creations. An evolving, growing cosmos. One worthy of respect.


Time will tell. We, humanity, may yet thrive or fry by dint of our own wisdom or folly. The macrocosm may be, as secularists say, indifferent to our fate.

NewOthernesscoverOr, perhaps some great mind out there does see, does care. If so, that spirit may be more patient than doomsayers credit, with a design far subtler, yet more honest. A truly creative Creator would surely be disappointed in an experiment which ended so trivially, or soon.

(Published in my short story collection, Otherness.

77 comments:

Lorraine said...

Hal Lindsey's Planet Earth trilogy was an interesting read. He predicted Iran would be the model "moderate state" while Egypt would emerge as the "Islamic fundamentalist state." I read a 1970's paperback edition put out by Bantam Books, whose address at the time was 666 Fifth Avenue...

AlphaOmega said...

As an enlightened modern person, I'm partial to the robot apocalypse/Singularity scenarios in which a techno-elect is uploaded into the Matrix while the rest are left to face the Rise of the Machines...

sociotard said...

The latest crop of millennial prophets might be asked, what do sheep owe the shepherd of a cramped pasture, a cheap, expendable world just 6,000 years old, limited to one ball of dirt, one sentient race?

Personally, I prefer a universe countless billions of parsecs wide, vast and old enough for a hundred million vivid, exciting creations. An evolving, growing cosmos. One worthy of respect.


I don't know. If I actually had to pick of those two to live in (as opposed to figure out which I already live in) I might choose the one posited by the bible literalists. Their Earth may only be 6000 years old, but their existence is unending. Heaven and Hell never stop existing.

All the real world offers is the cold oblivion of proton decay and heat death.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

The Christians will call you on this, so you might as well know...

It's "The Book of Revelation". Singular.

Gilmoure said...

Zonker Harris said... Matthew 24:36? Just asking.

rewinn said...

If you DO get Raptured, please keep your legs together. No-one wants to look up as the eternal agonies begin and see your hoo-hah!

(Top Five Tips On How To Dress For The Rapture.

Jon said...

Related to getting people involved in CERT realted activities: http://emergency.cdc.gov/socialmedia/zombies_blog.asp

Robert said...

I would love to see a television network with the balls to put out an unbiased, scientific and accurate examination of the End of the World prophecies. Because I'm fairly certain that they could debunk pretty much all of them. Better yet, by not giving the nihilistic religious types their moment in the spotlight and pointing out every single fallacy of theirs without letting them try to talk their way through it, maybe those who are ambiguous in their belief might go "you know, they're right. (&^%$ this Armageddon bulls##t!"

Rob H.

Patricia Mathews said...

You mean you all don't find this sort of thing as funny as all get-out? Actually, it's a pity some of these believers aren't being taken bodily into their afterlife - and leave this wicked world to those of us who know how to enjoy it.

And don't forget the enterprising fellow who has promised to rescue their pets after the Rapture and see to it they're properly adopted - for a truly modest fee.

Sorry --- in these times we could use some laughs.

Robert said...

I don't find it funny because there are idiots out there who want to make it happen. All we need is some nut who hid his nuttery long enough to get into the White House or some other nation with nukes to decide "it's time to bring about the Time of Judgment!" and launch all those nukes and start World War III.

Remember Cortez and that self-fulfilling prophecy thing? Yeah. I'd like to avoid that.

Rob H.

Jim Wright said...

I find it hysterically funny and here's why.

Great write-up, Mr. Brin. As always.

Paul said...

"In the run-up to year 1000 of the common era, thousands throughout Europe divested their farms, property, the clothes on their backs, expecting an imminent end."

I thought that was a debunked myth. Your average peasant was largely unaware of the approaching "Year 1000" (year M), calendars being the stuff of priests and philosophers.

Moreso, fin de siècle excitement is a more modern phenomenon (hence the post-16th century assumption that 1000AD must have caused panic.)

The impression I get is that 900-1400AD was full of apocalyptic panics and predictions (and crusades and vikings), but only a handful of philosophers thought those magic three zeros were significant (and then only in hindsight.)

Of course, those of us aware of the truth, know that "1000AD" wasn't actually 1000AD .... it was actully 703AD .... the real 1000AD occurred in the PHONY Year "1297AD" .... Phantom Time, people!!! GOOGLE IT!!1! Don't believe the LIE!!!!11une!

(potless: avec de la pisse, sans un pot)

Paul said...

Patricia,
"And don't forget the enterprising fellow who has promised to rescue their pets after the Rapture and see to it they're properly adopted - for a truly modest fee."

I'm surprised no one set up a human equivalent. Ie, you sign over your assets to the service, if you get Raptured but one of your kids gets Left Behind, the service uses your estate to support them. (With the fine print that if you get Left Behind, the service keeps the assets.) After all, if you are Raptured, is that legally a "death" or a "disappearance"?

Anonymous said...

All the millennials are right. The earth has ended over and over; and each time our data has had to be fetched, downloaded, and patched up to wipe out any unpleasant memories and streamline our collective experiences.

One of the clues to this is that the number of the beast has changed. Everyone knows it used to be 666. Now they are telling us it's 616. Someone in the editing room goofed, and they're trying to pass it off as a new scholarly finding. They'll probably fix it in the next go-round.

Paul said...

Jim Wright suggested,

http://www.stonekettle.com/2011/05/ten-reasons-doomsday-will-be-awesome.html

"Buy a couple of those blow-up dolls. Fill them with helium. Saturday evening about 6PM, let them go."

"[...] sneak outside, start your car and leave it running with the sunroof open and the radio tuned to the Gospel Channel. Arrange a couple of suits of empty clothing on the front lawn. All the believers will think they got left behind."


(diatro: Indeed.)

Duncan Cairncross said...

Well
Qualifying has finished (Weber on pole) its now 1am on the 22nd
I am still here, the lights are still on in the metropolis of Gore below me, Nothing new on our news, my lights are not swaying (earthquake detectors), the dog is asleep,

The 21st was a lovely day, blue skies, not much wind

I think its a bust!

Tim H. said...

If the blessed don't go wingin' off to the pearly gates, will Harold Camping use his resources to help the people he deceived? What he does Monday will tell us all we need to know about him.

Tony Fisk said...

-ll, well, well.

It's not a bust. The rapture has happened, but not on Earth. See the last report from Opportunity:

Last drive cut short (~ 30m) by a very rare Single-Event Upset (SEU) -- a cosmic ray flipped a bit in the FPGAs.

Releasing helium filled pet balloons would cause a bit of consternation

LarryHart said...

Patricia Mathews:

Actually, it's a pity some of these believers aren't being taken bodily into their afterlife - and leave this wicked world to those of us who know how to enjoy it.


I've been saying that the Rapture might be the biggest win-win scenario ever. They get what THEY want, and we get to live without them bothering us.

An even bigger win would be if all of the House Republicans get taken up. Or have to hide and pretend they were taken up rather than explain to their constituents why they weren't.

LarryHart said...

And only tangentially related to the whole Rapture thing:

That's another word I wonder about. "Rapture" as in reaping of a harvest and "rapture" as in ecstasy. Both senses seem applicable to the Biblical version, and yet I have a hard time beleving that either of those two senses of the word derives from the other. Which came first?

LarryHart said...

Lorraine:

I read a 1970's paperback edition put out by Bantam Books, whose address at the time was 666 Fifth Avenue...


For a time there, that was the address of...I want to say DC Comics, but it might have been Marvel instead. Anyway, it was one of them.

Jonathan S. said...

Larry: The former street address of Marvel was 616 (can't remember which street it was on), which is why in the Marvel multiverse, the main comic timeline is Earth-616.

Tim H: One of Camping's followers was on the news last night, saying that even if the Rapture doesn't happen this evening, Camping is still right, "because the world will end one day, and this means we're one day closer to that day!"

Well, yes, even if you go with 10^10^76 years (the time needed for iron stars to decay to neutronium via quantum-tunneling-driven cold fusion), each day that passes brings us one day closer to this scenario. How this is supposed to make Camping right is beyond me, however...

LarryHart said...

Johnathan S:

Larry: The former street address of Marvel was 616 (can't remember which street it was on), which is why in the Marvel multiverse, the main comic timeline is Earth-616.


Then that's even funnier, since I'm pretty sure that 666 Fifth Avenue was DC Comics, and both are said to be numbers of the Beast.

('Course Marvel actually has a character CALLED The Beast)

That's only one address, though. In the late 70s, Marvel was 575 Madison Avenue, and that's the one that always feels like Marvel's "real" address to me.

On the Rapture...

What if they held a Rapture and no one showed up? In other words, what if it really HAS come, but no one qualified?

Or only a few people on a remote island that no one else has contact with?

Say...what if one of the space shuttle astronauts is meant to be Raptured? How exactly would that work? And in what time zone?

Come to think of it, how DOES that work, even for earthbound humans? Say I'm meant to be taken up, and I'm driving east on Interstate 80. At 5pm, I'm still in Central Time, but well before 6PM, I cross a time zone, which means it's now (say) 6:45. Did I miss my shot?

Contrarily, what if I'm driving west, and cross time zones shortly BEFORE 6pm, and before 6pm in the new time zone, I do something evil? Do I lose my shot on a technicality?

Tim H. said...

You're not asking them to do math are you? ;)

Nicholas said...

understand that the SON does not know the exact date on which the following prophesy will occur—"only the FATHER". so, anyone who claims to know the exact date has been misled.

yes, HE will come to snatch up all who are "in CHRIST", but first all who have passed away. "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the LORD in the air. And so we will be with the LORD forever."(1Th 4:16-17 NIV)

so that you will not be misled today, study the Bible today.(Mat 24:36; Mar 13:32)

Tacitus2 said...

I am not sure if I should express pleasure or condolences on our apparently continuing acquantaince!

I wandered back from overseas a few days ago, and while afield I picked up a copy of Magician by Raymond Feist out of a box of dogeared take-and-leave books at a country inn. Good to have something for long plane rides.

A passage caught my eye:

"Near there, they had been informed, a reputable trader in horses would sell them mounts and tack at a fair price. They found the man, a thin hawk faced fellow by the name of Brin.....They left him expressing concern over their ability to sleep nights after cheating an honest businessman out of the money he needed to feed his starving children."

David, is this a fellow-author tribute? Or just a linquistic coincidence?

Tacitus
Detritus of Empire

ell said...

A happy person wants the world to continue.

Jonathan S. said...

Nicholas, don't forget about Acts 1:6-7! LOTS of references to nobody knowing about the Return. Sometimes I wonder if it's all the predictions that are stopping it - "They're saying Monday? It was going to be Monday! Dang - now I have to change it, so My Word can't be disproved!"

So if we can just keep preachers predicting Doomsday, we could hold this sucker off indefinitely... :)

proplarr: the opposite of anti-plarr

Tim H. said...

PZ Myers hits the rapture scare about right:
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/05/while_harold_camping_sits_safe.php

I suspect even the original writers might be aghast at such a use of their work, it would make as much sense to derive prophecy from romance novels, or the postures and accelerations imposed on the body parts of the cast of "Behind the Green Door" I shudder to imagine what idiocy will break on the world next.
"Vilingam", small town with a large population of retired criminals.

Paul said...

Well, the Sun has scorched the other side of the world and come back again, still no sign of the Son. It's the 22nd here and in Jerusalem, and after 6pm in California, no tribulations yet.

(although it is windy as hell outside...)

LarryHart,
"how DOES that work... Say I'm meant to be taken up, and I'm driving ... Did I miss my shot? ... Do I lose my shot on a technicality?"

Well, yeah. My not-only-atheist-but-not-even-raised-Christian understanding is that to be Taken Up you have to be in a state of religious rapture at the moment of Religious Rapture. So no driving.

Nicholas,
"the SON does not know the exact date on which the following prophesy will occur ... so, anyone who claims to know the exact date has been misled."

Mislead? Doesn't BoR talk about there being many False Prophets in the end-days? Doesn't that make Harold Camping evil? How loudly do fundamentalist Christians of your ilk condemn the end-times crowd of his?

(grarmac: Chief of the grammar trolls.)

LarryHart said...

Paul said:

LarryHart,
"how DOES that work... Say I'm meant to be taken up, and I'm driving ... Did I miss my shot? ... Do I lose my shot on a technicality?"

Well, yeah. My not-only-atheist-but-not-even-raised-Christian understanding is that to be Taken Up you have to be in a state of religious rapture at the moment of Religious Rapture. So no driving.


So if I'm getting...shall we say, orally gratified...while I'm driving?

(I'm not a lawyer, but it's in my genes)

I still wonder at the confaltion of the two different "rapture" terms. The bibliclal Rapture almost certainly refers to God reaping a harvest, and yet, as you imply, the ecstatic meaning of "rapture" also seems appropriate. Are the two related, or is that complete coincidence?

I did have a moment this evening at my daughter's dance recital when I realized I was missing my cell-phone, and couldn't remember taking it off of my belt. It wasn't too long after 6pm either. It did occur to me that the phone might have been taken up. But no, it was waiting for me at home.

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

LarryHart said,
"Say...what if one of the space shuttle astronauts is meant to be Raptured? How exactly would that work? And in what time zone?"
And Nicholas said,
"After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the LORD in the air. And so we will be with the LORD forever."(1Th 4:16-17 NIV)

A lot of the BoR language could be applied to astronauts and the space program in general.

"Rising up", "pillars of fire", living with Christ forever in the sky/clouds/heavens. Perhaps Christ doesn't return until humans are colonising space, and then there will be an independence war between the colonists and Earth (those Left Behind.)

The 6000th year on the Jewish calandar is 2240AD. I'm just sayin', seems obvious to me.

Paul said...

Meanwhile... Life goes on.

"Paraplegic Man Walks After Medical Breakthrough."
http://news.discovery.com/tech/paraplegic-man-walks-after-medical-breakthrough-110521.html

(Or "Paralysed man regains control of his legs.")
http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/nstv/2011/05/paralysed-man-regains-control-of-his-legs.html

"Vaccine protects against monkey version of HIV."
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20468-vaccine-protects-against-monkey-version-of-hiv.html

And, an "Austrian man has voluntarily had his hand amputated so he can be fitted with a bionic limb."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13273348

(mysidiat: Because You Know Who works in You Know What.)

Paul said...

Endeavour launch from an aircraft:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62971413@N05/

Very sprouty.

Tacitus2 said...

David

I am sorry to hear that. Scifi feuds are not uncommon it seems.

Ah well, it was still a fine image of you presumably decked out in D and D robes, enthusiastically trying to swindle people over horses.

I thought his writing was, mmm, a bit broad on the brush strokes but not a bad way to cross the Atlantic when the in flight movies were all Angelina Jolie B flicks.

Tacitus

Stefan Jones said...

WHEW! Just spent an exhausting day at Maker Faire. Nine hours! Most of them spent finding photo-ops for my stereographic camera.

I'll eventually post a link to a stereo pair of Dr. Brin holding up a copy of his Tinkerers comic. Not high quality due to the lighting. But 3-D!

I go back tomorrow to actually look at things with my own eyes, and buy some gadgets and tools.

rewinn said...

1. The Rapture happened. As a kindness to those Left Behind, all memory of those Taken Up has been erased. That way, their parents, friends etc won't suffer. Does not this PROVE the Mercy of the Almighty?

2. If the Rapture didn't happen as predicted, this only proves that the Rapturists are correct by the following irrefutable logic:

A: Believers are right (and unBelievers are wrong)
B: If you offer a fact tending to show that what Believers believe is wrong, then you are an Unbeliever and are therefore wrong.

THEREFORE:
The more times people offer "facts" contradicting the Believer, the more it is proven that the Believer is correct.

(NOTE: this is a most efficient argument; you may replace "Beliver" by terms such as "Marxist", "Ayn Randist", "Rapturist" or "Red Sox fan")

LarryHart said...

rewinn:

2. If the Rapture didn't happen as predicted, this only proves that the Rapturists are correct by the following irrefutable logic...


I realize there will be no convincing the True Believers, but for third parties who read their arguments, I have to say that when you post an "irrefutable proof", and the facts refute it five days later, then even being charitable, you have lost major credibility points.

And taking down the website with the "irrefutable proof" doesn't strengthen your case either.

(And by "you" above, I mean familyradio.org, not anyone here)


A: Believers are right (and unBelievers are wrong)
B: If you offer a fact tending to show that what Believers believe is wrong, then you are an Unbeliever and are therefore wrong.


Back in the Reagan years, when CNN's "Crossfire" was fairly new and almost always featured Tom Braden vs Bob Novak, there was some dispute in the news I don't even remember the details of where President Reagan and Fidel Castro had conflicting stories. Novak actaully advanced the argument "Who do you believe? The President of the communist?", as if the argument "Patriotism implies A" was sound logic. To me at the time, "Sophistry is unAmerican" was a better argument, and I wasn't used to its opposite being advanced as axiomatic. Today, I wouldn't be surprsed, but back then I was.


(NOTE: this is a most efficient argument; you may replace "Beliver" by terms such as "Marxist", "Ayn Randist", "Rapturist" or "Red Sox fan")


With all due respect, while I would expect Randroids to USE such an argument, I've rarely (if ever) heard it used against them. I'm one of the biggest Rand-bashers who regularly posts here, and I think she did as much as anybody to ruin the America I grew up in, but I'd never simply claim that "If Rand said X, then X is wrong." A stopped clock IS wrong twice a day, after all. Also, It's so much more fun to prove her wrong line by line.

LarryHart said...

A stopped clock is RIGHT twice a day.

Gotta stop posting at 3am.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus:

Ah well, it was still a fine image of you presumably decked out in D and D robes, enthusiastically trying to swindle people over horses.


Hmmmm...even reading only your own description of the passage, that wasn't how I interpreted the scene.

On first reading, I thought the travelers had swindled "Brin", and were feeling a touch of guilt.

After the real Dr Brin posted his own commment, I looked back at yours, and this time, thought the travelers sought advice from "Brin" and were annoyed at his rebuking them for swindling someone else.

Here's your earlier quote btw, for reference:

"Near there, they had been informed, a reputable trader in horses would sell them mounts and tack at a fair price. They found the man, a thin hawk faced fellow by the name of Brin.....They left him expressing concern over their ability to sleep nights after cheating an honest businessman out of the money he needed to feed his starving children."


And NOW, good night all.

Tacitus2 said...

Sorry. Edited out a bit for length.

Tactitus

François Marcadé said...

Yesterday driving back home from having bought a cell phone and to have an interesting subject of conversation, I told my daughter about the potentially end of the world scheduled for 6:00pm local time. She was pretty upset for two reasons, (1) I had already told her about the sun engulfing the Earth in 4 billions Year, she had found a pretty reasonable end of the world and, now, I was changing my story, (2) more importantly, her mother and I had just agree to offer her first telephone and the world would end before the battery was full. I assured her that I was just telling her so that she knew about in case somebody talked about it, but I did not believe a word of it. And worst come to worst as we are Roman Catholics, the people making this prediction would insists that we were going to be left behind and she could use her new telephone for at east the next 6 months. She expressed her opinion about a cult that would condemn little girl to hell for not going to the right church and I could only agree.
When at 6:01 pm I came to her room to inform her that the end of the world had been postponed sine die, she was barely registered. The inability of LG to correctly document that the “End Call” button also serves as “On/Off” button was to blame for her lack of attention to matters of Life and Death on a planetary scale.

Robert said...

The funny thing is, I stopped collecting and reading Riftwar novels after the sixth novel, I believe (though I did get the Empire trilogy). I never quite knew why; something inevitably pushed me away from the series... probably due to the events in the last novels I read (dealing with snakeman conspiracies to bring about the End of the World via insane proto-deities that had created their own divine version of The Wild Hunt to kill off the Gods).

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love the Magician Duology, and enjoyed Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethalon... but I don't know where the later books disappeared to and don't particularly care to find them. Those early books had an excellent culmination... and conclusion. I never saw a reason to read further, outside of idle curiosity.

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

Saw a short video at stupidevilbastard.com "And We Had Such High Hopes Too" disrespectful, likely NSFW, and amusing, a fake news piece discussing the benefits of earth without fundies. BTW, Harold Camping has not been seen since before the deadline, maybe he tried to leave this world and demand an explanation?

David Brin said...

Robert those earliest books had an extra helper-editor... me.

Robert said...

How much does it cost to hire your editorial services? ^^;;

LarryHart said...

Tim H:

BTW, Harold Camping has not been seen since before the deadline, maybe he tried to leave this world and demand an explanation?


My guess is he's pretending to have been taken up.

I can only hope that 200-some Republican members of the House of Reprsentatives do the same.

David Brin said...

I am disappointed to hear of so few "empty clothes" stunts. I expected there to hundreds of them, all over America... some in cars with the motors left running....

David Brin said...

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=200267920018198&set=a.163594537018870.33966.139398939438430&type=1

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?
fbid=200267920018198&set=a.
163594537018870.33966.
139398939438430&type=1

David Brin said...

THis youtube is really important:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T69TOuqaqXI&feature=youtu.be


http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=T69TOuqaqXI&feature=youtu.be

Robert said...

The problem, Dr. Brin, is that there is a tendency among some in the scientific community to blindly refuse to even accept the potential of certain theories they refuse to accept. One thing to consider is that we may lack the proper form of detectors/sensors to detect such phenomena as "ghosts" or other "supernatural" aspects. How long did it take before we gained instrumentation needed to visualize individual atoms... or subatomic particles? And scientific calculations are constantly being found inadequate requiring more and more complex math to explain how the universe exists on a nanoscopic scale.

It is possible to believe in paranormal phenomena without being close-minded. I for one am willing to accept that magic, faith-healing, ghosts, and the like exist... but allow for skepticism concerning it. Faith healing, for instance, could literally be a form of the placebo effect that has been documented (showing that even when you know something is a placebo it can still have a benefit in being used). Or there might be some aspect to it that requires belief and ceases to function in the face of disbelief and skepticism, in some twisted variation of the Heisenberg Principle (if I'm getting the principle right - basically that you can alter things on a nanoscopic scale by the mere process of observing it).

The problem with "open-minded" and "close-minded" is that it's bandied about without realizing that ultimately, we all are close-minded when it comes to certain topics. This can be a scientific, sociological, political, economic, or religious topic... but we all will refuse to accept the other side may have validity. Our only true hope is to realize we are close-minded... and to keep an eye out for our own tendencies toward close-mindedness to try and keep it from accepting valid evidence.

Rob H.

Robert said...

By the way, Dr. Brin, one of my conservative friends refuses to take anything you say seriously because he said you claimed on a podcast that you believe in reincarnation and that you remember all of your previous lives and never lived past 16 in any of your previous lives. Is my friend deluded, were you just going off on a lark, or is this an accurate accounting of your beliefs? (I'd love to tell my friend he's mistaken, mind you, or that you were joking around.)

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Of course I was joking around! Only a twit would have believed otherwise. And frankly, I don't care whether such a humorless dingbat ever pays attention to a word I say. Such people are the bane of a pragmatic but fun civilization.

Jesus! The whole METAPHORICAL point of my allegory about past lives was about this civilization's tolerance for relentless skeptics and question askers like me.

SOme people are just proof that we're being messed up by a wave of know-nothings.

Robert said...

Actually, Dr. Brin, this friend of mine is quite intelligent, and while conservative has come to admit that the Republican party is corrupt and not worth voting for. However, he is adamant in his belief that the Democrats are in fact still worse than Republicans. Literally he considers Republicans as they are as still the lesser evil than Obama and the Democratic party. (I've tried to dissuade him from his "gut feeling" about Obama being a president that will cause great harm to this country - I personally suspect this "gut feeling" to be prejudice against Democrats in general, though in his defense he has had to deal with Massachusetts Democrats, who are admittedly one of the more detestable breeds of "liberals" in the nation.)

Whether or not he's pulling my own leg about what you had to say about reincarnation, I have no idea. However, he very much has a sense of humor; he'll indulge in puns on a whim (and has grown to regret that as I've overcome my own aversion to puns enough to smack him upside the head with a couple truly horrific puns in return) and has a tremendous fondness for English Comedy. (Hell, if anything I'm far more humorless than he is.)

If my friend is anything, he's an ostrich Republican. However, he's also a glimmer of hope. You've given up on the Ostriches. But he's grown to so dislike the Republicans and the Tea Drinkers that he looks down on them with nearly the same derision as he does Democrats. With time, and continued insults to the intelligence of anyone with a brain that the Republicans have been indulging in, he may finally turn against the Republicans. And in doing so, he may be the first of many Ostriches to finally abandon the "Grand Old Party" as a has-been that has lost its way.

So please, be careful of the stones you cast his way. I value my friends greatly, and choose them for their intelligence and creativity. And I'll take up a bat and smack those stones back your way. Because a person who doesn't rise to the defense of his friends is not worthy of the name "friend."

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Robert, anyone who would leap at the notion that I was serious about the "past lives" metaphor truly is a deeply stupid person.

Perhaps, as you suggest, he was being wry in his own turn, jabbing at me for that illustrative jest with a joke about taking me at my word. If so, I am happy to take the jab!

But then ask him WHAT POINT I WAS TRYING TO ILLUSTRATE with that metaphor? It was clear as day. If he cannot paraphrase it, then stupid is as stupid does.

The fact that he can clutch his "democrats are worse" mantra, without being able to cite any statistical justifications - any at all - only reinforces this. "Gut feelings" are exactly what Roger Ailes is using to cripple America with Civil War.

Ask him if he knows which party has balanced any budgets ever in the last 40 years. And which cried out "deficits don't matter."

Which one ALWAYS worsens deficits and debt faster than the other one - absolutely always.

Which one always cuts the Border Patrol and which one always doubles it.

Which one favors booms in small business and which one favors monopolies.

Which one pushes science and the other superstition.

Ask him to name one unambiguous statistical metric of national health that did not plummet, under Republican rule... and then dare him to bet you that you can't name a dozen that went UP under democratic rule.

Ask him to explain how Obamacare is different from the Republican alternative proposal of 1994.

Ask him to name a center of American intellectual accomplishment - a clade of genuinely smart people, who know a lot - who have not been subjected to attack by the Murdochians. (I can name one, the Officer Corps... but they hated Bush with a red-hot passion.) If he can come up with an explanation for this War on All American Smartalecks I am listening. If he hasn't noticed it, or ignores it or justifies it...

...in that case we are talking stooooopid.

If you want to see my old "ostrich" essays, they are available online... from back when I thought millions of decent, sagacious, Goldwater/Buckley types were out there, chagrined that their movement had been hijacked and angry enough to fight to reclaim it. (Just google "Brin neocons.")

I tried reaching out... till I realized why Goldwater and Buckley died of apoplexy, denouncing their own movement as having gone undead... because it is not about left-right or surface justifications.

It is psychological. These people cannot admit that monsters can arise out of their old loyalties. They will cling and rationalize... and all we are left with is civil war.

I fought communism till America and the West won. Our fathers fought the slavocrats till the true america won. Now?

There are no "ostriches." I was wrong. There are just stupid tools. Blue America has to win this civil war like it did the others.

Paul said...

Robert,
Perhaps you could ask your friend "Starting now, today, in which party could a smallish dedicated group of people like you have the biggest influence? Which party would be willing to compromise towards your position?" And that's the party he should vote for, and advocate to other sensible "Republicans".

People shouldn't see themselves as a "Republicans" (or a "Democrats") unless they work for that party; you have certain views and each election you try to move things in your direction. Sometimes that's by voting for someone who will strongly, pigheadedly, defend your view; but mostly it's by voting for someone who has a history of negotiating with your side.

Voting is selective breeding for politicians. Each "generation", you weed out the animals with undesirable traits, over time the population as a whole moves towards your end goal. Right now, you need to eliminate the Republican party as a whole, while selecting against the left wing of the Democrats.

(dedesses: Group of female dedors.)

David Brin said...

A variation on that. If sent into the wilderness, conservatism will come back reformed. But don't come back till you win back at least 15% of the scientists who are the smartest people. When you have only 5% of them, it is absolute proof that a side has gone stupid.

Robert said...

Dr. Brin, remember that video you posted about the difference between close-minded and open-minded individuals? Please keep that in mind. Because you are making a judgement call on an individual you've heard about second-hand and only heard snippets on. Then you are rushing to judgment and when a defense is added to that individual that is contrary to the mental image you have painted, brushed it off entirely and insist that in all likelihood you are correct and that my friend is the lowest form of troll around.

Perhaps you need to divorce yourself from your preconceived notions about the Republicans in general and on those supporters who continue to support them and take a truly impartial look at what it is that has them supporting the Republicans. (While you are at it, you can do the same for the Democrats seeing that they are often guilty of the same crimes, but are not quite as guilty as the Republicans, likely due to a couple leaders who can remain in power and are more altruistic and have the people's welfare in mind.)

Finally, put down your broad brush. While it might be good for painting fences, you don't get the fine detail work that a smaller brush can bring about. It is better to do a longer but more effective job than a fast and sloppy paintjob that smears those who don't deserve it.

Rob H.

Paul said...

"People shouldn't see themselves as a "Republicans" (or a "Democrats") "

{Sigh} Stupid brain.

Paul said...

David,
Your no-losers non-reform tax reform got another run. This time in PopSci. Just a bare bones summary, nothing on the culture war. But it's interesting to see the basic idea spreading. (Keep pushing it. You never know it might get traction.)

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-05/science-fiction-writer-imagines-simpler-computer-driven-tax-code

Tacitus2 said...

It is a tense moment on the quarter deck of the 72 gun ship of the line Tacitus. The 18 pounders have been double charged with grapeshot and run out, all trained on a unknown vessel flying belligerant colors.

Lanyards are held in tense fists, a boarding party stands ready with cutlass and marlin spike.

With a sigh the captain folds his glass and says:

"Stand down men. No foeman that, merely a harbor bum boat filled with some of our less prudent brother officers. They have drunk far too deeply of rum and indignation."

"I doubt not that on the morrow the Wrath of their own Grape will suffice for their Chastisement. Let them rave at phantoms while the Spirit, and the spirits, animate them."

Nautically Yours

T
Detritus of Empire

LarryHart said...

Robert:

The problem with "open-minded" and "close-minded" is that it's bandied about without realizing that ultimately, we all are close-minded when it comes to certain topics. This can be a scientific, sociological, political, economic, or religious topic... but we all will refuse to accept the other side may have validity. Our only true hope is to realize we are close-minded... and to keep an eye out for our own tendencies toward close-mindedness to try and keep it from accepting valid evidence.


You are entirely correct.

You also have to acknowledge that in the current American political scene, one party is opposed to the very NOTION of open-mindedness. It's true that each side has it's own sacred cows and blind spots, but that's not what I'm talking about. The Republicans treat self-assuredness in the face of evidence as a virtue. One need look back no further than the George W Bush administration to see what I mean.

The process you describe--keeping aware that you have your own blind spots and doing as much as you can to be aware that you might be wrong--is a part of the scientific method. Thesis-antithesis-synthesis. Proponents of opposing theories or interpretations debate each other until a better fit to reality comes out the other side. But this process does NOT work when one of the opposing sides refuses to accept or work within the scientifc method in the first place.

Robert said...

First, about the two meanings of "Rapture". They both derive from the Latin for being "taken away". Similarly, a "raptor" is someone or something that "takes away" something, as a bird of prey takes away a small, unsuspecting mammal. The second meaning of "rapture" has a synonym - ecstasy - which also means being "taken away".

Someone else has already made the point, but the majority of Christians have always refrained from making predictions that Jesus not only forbids them them to make, but, by his own admission, can't even make himself. Even the whole idea of a "Rapture" is a very recent invention (I'm tempted to say heresy), cooked up in the Nineteenth century - you know, the same century a psychotic fifteen-year-old boy took a walk in the woods and an angel showed him some golden plates.

There are more of us converted ostriches out there than you might think. However, while it's necessary to vote Democratic for the moment, the things that led me to vote Republican in better days are still there; what's wrong with the Democrats now is what's been wrong with them since 1933. It took the Tories about 10 years to get their senses back after 1997, and it'll take a long time for the Republicans. My guess is they'll pick someone godawful in 2012, go down to a defeat that makes 2006/2008, or even 1964, look trivial, and then have some sane people pick up the pieces. But I would be amazed if they find someone I prefer to Obama in 2012.

Meanwhile, since I brought up my favorite cult, here's a joke.

God is applying for a tenure-track faculty position at the University of California. They turn him down.

"We can't hire you. You haven't published anything in almost 2000 years."

"But wait a minute. I published this book in 1830."

"You must be kidding."


- Bob Pfeiffer.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

God is applying for a tenure-track faculty position at the University of California. They turn him down.

"We can't hire you. You haven't published anything in almost 2000 years."


Heh.

Reminds me of a plot point in a Douglas Adams book (blanking on the title) in which Thor, the actual Viking god of thunder, could not get through customs because he lacked a passport, which he could not obtain without a valid birth certificate.

And the customs clerk was perfectly willing to believe he WAS a millenia-old god. But that was beside the point. No birth certificate meant no passport, which meant no way through customs.

Rob said...

Bob, you give offense.

David Brin said...

Robert I apologize for my polemical excesses. I consider "down here in comments" to be a place where I can let my hair down among "pals & bros."

NOTICE... ALL THINGS SAID DOWN HERE IN "COMMENTS" ARE INFORMAL AND - GIVEN MY CONTRARY NATURE - LIKELY TO CONTAIN GRUMBLINGS THAT ARE MUTTERED JUST TO FLOAT THEM - LIKE FARTS - IN MID-AIR.

Having said that, let me reiterate that the failure of conservatism to engender from its midst a truly large scale and angry sub-movement that's enraged at the hijacking perpetrated by Ailes-Murdoch-Koch-Talal-Limbaugh is a truly devastating indictment of the general psychology of frantic, excessive loyalty on that side of the aisle.

Sure, "lefties" are repulsive. That is why I have tried strenuously to bifurcate a distinction between genuine lefties - who have no real power in the Democratic Party - and the Smithian liberals who, if nothing else, can be negotiated with. Who relentlessly PLEAD for people to negotiate with. Who adopted the Republican Health Care Plan whole cloth, then stan blinking in poleaxed perplexity when that gets them labeled "communists."

That list of questions and challenges for your friend... stripped of the "stooopid" insults... still stands. If you can uplift another ostrich good for you! It is sacred and profoundly patriotic work! It is THE most patriotic work.

Add my list of comparisons between the way Republicans and Dems wage war.

But I can be excused for being grouchy. It looks like negotiation won't happen. The know nothing movement must be crushed.

David Brin said...

See me great big interview on transparency, accountability, surveillance and sousveillance at:

http://hplusmagazine.com/2011/05/23/david-brin-on-the-path-to-positive-sousveillance/


http://hplusmagazine.com/2011/05/23/
david-brin-on-the-path-to-positive-sousveillance/

sociotard said...

Solar powered planes lands in brussels after first international flight

David Brin said...

Robert:

http://www.davidbrin.com/1947.htm

says it all.

But add this:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110523/ap_on_go_co/us_defense_bill_look_homeward

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110523/
ap_on_go_co/us_defense_bill_look_homeward

Robert said...

David,

I couldn't agree more with most of what you passed on to me in your comments to me. I read the 1947 article about two months ago and really liked it. The defense budget articles are also completely on target; that's one thing at least some Republicans may come around on relatively soon.

However, here's a short History of an Ostrich for you:

1. X has had it and blows up in public against the lunatics who have taken over the asylum.
2. Fox News decides that X is a Soviet agent or a Muslim, or both.
3. Three days later, X is forgotten.
4. If X still receives some attention down the road, X is referred to as the "leftist blogger" or "Democratic commentator" X.

Who is X?
Christopher Buckley
David Frum
Bill Bartlett
Andrew Sullivan
Ron Reagan
several of Goldwater's, Nixon's, and Eisenhower's grandchildren.

... and more I can't think of right now.

I've also managed to bring over most of my family, though my stepbrother Michael has done more, and the real credit should go to Sarah Palin. W brought my sister over all by himself - she was a Tulane alumna, so you can imagine how she felt about Katrina.

Underneath everything, though, there are genuine and enduring, not to mention important philosophical differences about the nature of government that are what the politicians really should be talking about. Needless to say, the supporters of a certain recent President who outspent Roosevelt (and at least FDR had reasons to spend - they may have been bad reasons, but they were reasons), have no right to Goldwater's (or Heinlein's and Anderson's) legacy.

For anyone offended by my previous post, I recommend Joseph Smith, by Mark Twain. Magnifique! At the same time, I'd be glad to concede that Smith had miles more charm and imagination than his twentieth-century counterparts. And his successor was a politician and organizer of genius - and impressively sane.

"Young lady, I knew L. Ron Hubbard when he was only a small-time crook!" - L. Sprague de Camp, on being accosted by a female member of the Cult.

- Bob Pfeiffer

David Brin said...

Excellent post Robert.

Essence. We all were suckled on suspicion of authority. Dems fret over conniving aristos and faceless corporations... decent conservatives fret over snooty academics , political correctness police and faceless bureaucrats.

Both sides are right that the elites they fear can be dangerous!

It happens right now that 99% of the danger is rising in the areas where the dems fear and conservatives tend to be blind..

The lesson of 1947 is that a patriot is ABLE TO WAKE UP. And admit. Right now my side is the crazy one.

David Brin said...

onward

Jonathan S. said...

LarryHart:

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

Blight said...

Looking at this site, I noticed that my comment (below) was removed. If I have not followed protocol at this site, please advise:
So how likely is the rapture with only the very blessed going up to heaven? If we live in a simulation, I don't really see a problem; it would be an interesting performance art piece. And frankly, we live in a survival of the fittest universe where dog-eat-dog is the primary rule. The rapture enthusiasts may not be in bed with Christ, but they are heavily and heavenly invested in their own survival. And being on a end-of-days bus passing out pamphlets may have some fringe benefits: my daughter says the bus stopped at her Starbucks and they all had cappuccinos. Trying to figure out why poor people still vote Republican - or why Tea Baggers still think Obama was born in Kenya are exercises in futility. The human brain is so perversely self-interested and self-rationalizing we are lucky that we haven't been hunted down for our hair, skin and other possessions. (My sincere apology to those who have suffered this crime against humanity.)
And worse yet, note who is driving our present real-world simulation. The Tea Baggers got their idiots elected recently and the banksters and lobbyist are still in charge of the economy and the government.
In the great Russian science fiction novel, We, the last surviving intellectuals were still speculating on Marxist theory as they were hunted down in the sewers. David, speculation is fine, but when will "We" start creating our own reality instead of reacting to the ignorant and destructive actions of today's illiterati?

Blight said...

Speaking of simulations, why don't we begin working on Civilization 2.0. For example - a global civilization that has universal environmental and labor standards - also provisions for increasing employment in participating states by directing their efforts towards improving the third world states or work on new massive space projects. Also, while we are at it, why not get rid of speculation in the oil markets by requiring higher delivery and margin requirements. Also we should set standards on equitable pay standards - rather that the increasing acceleration towards global slave labor conditions. If civilization 2.0 is not pursued by those with the intellect, talents and political savvy to do so, is a Soviet Union style crash out of the question? We almost crashed and burned in 2008 - and conditions are still deteriorating for the middle class and too-big-to-fail is even bigger and more powerful now. Frankly, sitting and spinning conceptual spider webs in one's ivory towers may someday prove fatal. So I don't give a damn about the "Rapture", it's life here on earth that should scare the hell out of you.

Heather said...

There is not going to be any 'rapture' until Jesus appears in the clouds with his mighty angels. Paul clearly said this in 2 Thes. 2.

Jesus' coming, or the Day of the Lord, will not happen until two things occur first. One: the falling away, which is a reference to an apostasy, or a falling away from the truth faith of Christ, happens. Two: then the man of sin, or the Anti-Christ would be reveled and enter the temple and make himself God. Has any of this happened yet? No.

Sure, there are little "holocausts" where Christians are being martyred for their faith, but not on a global scale. Not until the world religion comes on the scene, with the ecumenical blending of all faiths into one mass religion of witchcraft, only then will the Anti-Christ show himself, and claim the "throne" of the world in Jerusalem and enforce his one world religion on all people. Do some Google searches regarding the Popes working hard to bring all religions together under their purple and scarlet skirts, believe it or not, it will happen.

This is still on the horizon; when will it actually happen? No one knows. There is no way to tell the exact time by using Scripture so please stop trying. Jesus just gave us symptoms to watch for, a major one being the anti-christ in the temple, and Paul gave us two specific events to watch for, neither of them give a specific time it would happen. If they had, then people being who they are, would sin it up just until the time of his return and "repent" thus granting them the age ol' desire of both saving your cake and eating it too.

Consider history, it repeats itself. The only time the world had one language and one religion and worshiped a trinitarian god was recorded in Gen. 10 with Nimrod's Babylon. God judged them by dividing them with different languages. Before that, pre-flood, world wide idolatry was punished by a world wide flood. Once more, history will repeat itself, and the whole world will fully embrace and openly practice idolatry, so it will be judged once more, on the Day of the Lord. You can choose to believe this, or you can choose to ridicule it - the choice is yours.

However, the scoffers may want to sober up when they see a man standing in the temple in Jerusalem [when it is built, which hasn't happened yet] and proclaim that he is God and demands your worship or your life, just as Jesus and Paul said would happen. That means, according to Scripture, that Jesus' day, and his return is near - woe unto those who accept the mark of the false Christ and his false religion. Consider yourself warned.