Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thoughts on the Rapture

Well, I wanted to welcome you to the other side of the Rapture.  If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you know I had a little fun on May 21, 2011, the so-called Rapture prophesy of Harold Camping, an evangelist from Alameda, California.  If you do not know who I am referencing… well, nothing to see here, move along.  So why did a Buddhist, someone who walks a path of compassion, have such a frolic at the expense of another human being.  Well, it is because this man of God harkens me back to a childhood of “Revelation Churches.”

Let me fill you in on that one.  I was born and raised in a small town in Texas.  Every Sunday, we would travel to an unincorporated township where my grandma lived, a township whose population was about 300-400 and had six churches.  We attended the Church of Christ, one of two in this town.  Of course, ours was the “white” church, after all, this was south Texas and in the middle of the 70’s.  The township’s Church of Christ had broken into two churches during the era of desegregation in the 60’s.  We remained the ‘pure’ church.  Our Sunday attendance consisted of 8-12 worshippers.  Our sermons mostly consisted of quotes from Daniel and Revelations, because Proctor and Gamble had put bar codes on their products and the anti-Christ was in full force shaping the world.  I grew up knowing Ronald Wilson Reagan (count those letters, folks) was secretly shaping the world to his evil means.  Then, the light went out and came back on.

Thursday, 4:32am, May 20, 1982.  My father, who was the song leader for our congregation, passed away.  I was 14 years old, in the heart of my early teenage years, in the heart of susceptibility.   We attended services the next Sunday, where the man who oversaw our church told me that unless I repented and was baptized, I was going to hell.  Now, think about that for a second.  Fourteen, lost his father three days earlier, in the throws of grief, and a man of God is telling me I am going to hell.  It was here that I learned the First Noble Truth of Buddhism - Life is suffering.  Suffer I did.  Of course, I was baptized within the next few weeks.  I took on the mantle of replacing my father in the congregation, leading hymns and reading scripture each Sunday, mostly from Revelations, and looking for the apocalypse in every news story.  Luckily, I joined the Army in 1986, left my small town upbringing, was exposed to culture and diversity and my mind was able to break free of the shackles of my youth. 

Understand, this is not a bash on Christianity nor the Church of Christ, but just the narrow viewpoints of those who blindly follow visions of prophesy.  My path is compassion.  So, I feel compassion when I see fellow human beings following the same path I took as a child.  I feel compassion when I see a man tell his followers he knows the ultimate truth.  In that compassion, I must find some joy and love that is truly the end we must attain.  Over the next few days, if he has not taken his life, we will hear from Harold Camping, he will try to justify how he made a mistake.  It is the circle of life for these types.  I went through this in my early adult years when I confronted the man from my childhood church.  Hopefully, his followers will find some compassion for this man.  In the meantime, I will continue on my path in the here and now.

1 comment:

  1. Very balanced, considering how damaging and hurtful these memories can be. I am proud of you for growing beyond them. You know I totally identify with you.