The End of the World, Or: “Pray they die quickly”

I'm wondering what breakfast on Sunday morning is going to be like at the home of Abby and Robert Carson. Look, I grew up with people who put bumper stickers on their cars saying RIDE AT YOUR OWN RISK I'M LEAVING WITH THE RAPTURE, but crazy as they were they had the sense not to set a date. But for me this story is an example of a stunning sort of shallow nihilism combined with complete spiritual failure. These parents, it seems to me, have forfeited any right to govern their children's lives & I hope the kids light out for the hills as soon as they possibly can.

“My mom has told me directly that I’m not going to get into heaven,” Grace Haddad, 16, said. “At first it was really upsetting, but it’s what she honestly believes.”

“People look at my family and think I’m like that,” said Joseph, their 14-year-old, as his parents walked through the street fair on Ninth Avenue, giving out Bibles. “I keep my friends as far away from them as possible.”

“I don’t really have any motivation to try to figure out what I want to do anymore,” he said, “because my main support line, my parents, don’t care.”

His mother said she accepted that believers “lose friends and you lose family members in the process.”

“I have mixed feelings,” Ms. Haddad Carson said. “I’m very excited about the Lord’s return, but I’m fearful that my children might get left behind. But you have to accept God’s will.

As I said, I grew up among Premillennialists and on Sunday evenings some traveling evangelist would come to our church and put up his charts proving that we were living in the end times, but at least among the Southern Baptists and Grace Brethren, they always left a little wiggle room about exact dates to get around that canonical statement of Jesus that no one knew when he'd be turning up again. That's probably why this sort of stupidity makes me so angry. Harold Camping is the leader of this cult:

On May 21, the saved will go to straight to heaven to meet Jesus, he claims. The unsaved, including those already dead, "will never have conscious existence again...That person himself will not know anything about it they are dead," he said.

"Christ has no pleasure in the death of the unsaved. It is an enormous comfort about our loved ones," he added. "Pray they die quickly."




Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

7 thoughts on “The End of the World, Or: “Pray they die quickly””

  1. Seems to me this guy has been reading the gospel according to Jimi Hendrix-

    “You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven.”
    Jimi Hendrix

  2. It’s fascinating to me how US-American this branch of religion is. In the days leading up to the “rapture” we didn’t hear word one about it in Switzerland. (Although we all know that Western Europe is an atheist cesspool and wouldn’t recognize the rapture if they got an engraved invitation, right?)

  3. Jennifer, it is a very American kind of religious madness. It comes out of the history of Protestantism in the US, especially the “Scotch-Irish” brand that came over following the more austere Puritans. There is a weird sort of anti-intellectual intellectualism that tends to attract engineers and other technically proficient but unimaginative people.

  4. Madness is one way to describe it. But I am struck by the overwhelming cruelty of this belief that becomes desire to see others punished and suffering. While it is pronounced in fundamentalisms, all religions — no matter how superificially tolerant or ecumenical — stand on a conviction that this is the right way to live. As proof, non-followers will suffer unimaginable cruelties and we followers are looking forward to it.


    4 we didn’t do without.
    Young zanys once.
    Inside don’t change.
    As we party on.


  6. Well, Chris, I was certainly reacting to the cruelty of the parents toward these children & particularly so because I have first-hand experience with the sort of things religion makes people capable of regarding children; but I wonder if religion is by definition cruel? Perhaps all institutional religion, but I want to leave some room for the recognition of the sacred. Science, too, after all, is cruel. And much harm has been inflicted in the name of rationality as well.

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