The Rapture

The Last Judgement by Michelangelo, detail from Sistine Chapel

In some of my worst political moods over the past decade, I have gone places in my thoughts that I don’t like to go.

I had a friend who made a mental list of politicians he thought needed to be “taken out” as the only solution to the political craziness. I said that was no solution as it would make them martyrs and increase their following. I added that whoever did the deed would be considered part of “the other side” and so confirm attitudes.

I saw that friend again recently and inevitably politics came up in our coffee conversation. He had updated his plan to now be that it should be COVID or some medical thing that eliminates those people. I countered that, again, it would be blamed on the other side.

Now, I have come up with my own plan. It comes from having read the book The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta. (more on him later) The novel is about what might happen if a kind of “rapture” occurred but not in the way evangelical groups expected. One day, people just vanish. Some are good people, some are bad, some are young, and some are old. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern or reason for it. Groups emerge to speculate on what it all means. Some groups are religious. Some are not.

I told my friend that a better solution to his wish for his desire that some “bad people” be “taken out” would be if they were “taken up.” The rapture would be very public. Perhaps when some of them are making speeches to a crowd. Maybe not all of them would be taken up at the same moment and it would occur over days or weeks to keep the story alive on the news.

As in the novel, the leftover people would interpret this in different ways. Did God decide to step in and remove evil people? Maybe the Devil took them for his own purposes. Might one side say that God wanted them because they were actually good people? What would atheists say? Is this the universe’s way of cleaning up Earth? Or maybe it was aliens preparing us for their arrival.

I met Tom Perrotta once at an education conference where he was the keynote speaker. He sat at my table for lunch and we connected on both being New Jersey kids. He was born in Garwood and grew up in Newark. Big Springsteen fan.

His newest book then was The Abstinence Teacher (2007) a novel about a sex education teacher in suburban New Jersey who comes into conflict with the town’s conservative population. It is about that and the culture wars and was inspired by the evangelical voters in the 2004 presidential election.

Stephen King said of The Leftovers that it is “the best Twilight Zone episode you never saw — not ‘The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,’ but ‘The Monsters Are Us in Mapleton.’”

His other books include Election (known for the really good film version with Matthew Boderick and Reese Witherspoon), Little Children (also a good film with Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, and Jennifer Connelly), The Abstinence Teacher, and a novel of modern sexual mores called Mrs. Fletcher. His latest is a sequel of The Election‘s characters as adults titled Tracy Flick Can’t Win.

I don’t need any reader comments here about politics or religion. I know “The Rapture” is an eschatological theological position held by some Christians, especially American evangelicals, and is an end-time event. In that view, it is the believers who are alive, along with resurrected believers who will rise. I know the term comes from Paul the Apostle’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians in the Bible. He used the Greek word harpazo to mean that the believers will be “snatched, seized” from Earth and into the air in the final judgment.

My rapture, if it is religious at all, would be from a God who seems to be (as my Deism describes) staying uninvolved with us, finally deciding enough is enough.

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

2 thoughts on “The Rapture”

  1. “You don’t need any reader comments….” hmmmm. Censoring your readers? Isn’t the point of publishing to elicit reactions, and the author takes what comes?
    I love the “Leftovers.” King is right on. I could not get enough of it. All of the big questions are taken on while diving deep into the psychology of why we believe what we believe, and the madness of it. I would say all people who practice a traditional faith should read or watch the “Leftovers” and read “Do I Stay Christian?” I am on this journey, again, and again. Each pass manifests another evolution for me.


  2. I don’t need comments but I don’t stop them. In fact, both my posts this weekend were ones I didn’t post to Facebook because I knew the kinds of comments the posts might elicit – and I’m not sure I wanted to read them. I did post to Twitter but unless someone clicks the link and actually reads these two posts (which is less likely) I don’t think I’ll get feedback.


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