This is one of my favorite questions, usually followed by an absurd query. For the last few days, maybe because the Westboro Baptist Church was in the news picketing Elizabeth Taylor's funeral, or maybe because I watched Real Housewives of Orange County last night and Alexis and Jim are living on Jesus Lane (Gretchen said it not me) - the question has been this:
What IF Jesus Christ really does come back, you know the second coming scenario where Jesus returns and takes all the "true believers" with him to heaven and anyone who hasn't accepted him as their personal savior is left behind? I've done a lot of religious exploration in my life and I was even "born again," but it didn't feel real. It felt like I was in a play with a lot of bad actors. This didn't have as much to do with the gospel as it had to do with the "saved". I've never been around so many judgmental and fearful people in my life, and while I liked the music and singing parts, and definitely felt myself lifted into a communal consciousness during that part of the experience, the minute the Pastor started sermonizing it was like God left the room, and now I was stuck with this guy who was recruiting as hard as a Forum newbie.
The whole idea of Revelation - or the second coming - has always been fascinating to me. It's like the plot of a Stephen King novel, except that there are like millions of people all over the world who believe it's really going to happen. They not only buy into the idea completely, they actively pray for it, and are betting their souls on it. Some of them even sell all their worldly goods and go wait on a mountain top at certain points in time like back at that circle around the sun referred to as Y2K.
Next year should bring a new level of hysteria with it since the Mayan Calendar predicts that it will be the end of the world - I know it's a Pagan calendar so if you're a true believe you shouldn't even be discussing it (Satan!), but anything that hints of an apocalyptic end to the planet is a hopeful sign that Jesus is coming.
Back when I was going to Calvary Chapel and learning about the End Times, the Pastor's version had Muammar Gaddafi starring as the anti-christ, and he was pitching the idea that we would for sure , be seeing Jesus in our lifetimes. Another thing that he said would be happening, because it was written, is that we were all going to be assigned an identification number which would be branded or tattooed on our arms, and that would be scanned at the grocery store when we went shopping!
I think about this every time I swipe my Ralph's card. It's not quite the same thing, but still, who knows what that's really about? I do want the discounts however, so just to be safe, when I filled out the form I used an alias and a fake address.
Maybe it's the combination of earthquake, tsunami, edge of nuclear disaster in Japan, combined with a week of new war in Libya and a plethora of reality TV that seriously scares the shit out of me when I consider that this represents man's creative output in the 21st century, but I've been thinking that if it's really going to happen we're probably getting pretty close to a visit from Jesus.
And here's my question - what if he comes back and basically tells everyone to piss off? That we have missed the point? What if he's just hugely disappointed in the interpretation (or adaptation in you're in the entertainment business) of his gospels by beings who were supposed to take those teachings as a jumping off point, and live their divinity here on this beautiful planet. What if he feels like that sacrifice he made hanging on that cross was just a waste because somehow people got the idea that you could be as much of a jerk as you wanted to be and all you had to do was ask for forgiveness? And then the next day everyone went back out and continued to act like jackholes...in Jesus' name!
I have this vision of him coming back and picking up the people who never claimed to believe in anything other than loving their family and friends and treating people well because they were their neighbors, or because they needed a helping hand. Those people who respected the earth and understood that they were a part of it - that all life was precious? Those people get to go. Them that actually behaved in accordance with the Godly part of themselves - they loved, they respected, they behaved with Grace when they found themselves in difficult, challenging and painful situations? They're in! Folks who lived each day grateful and worked at finding the blessing and seeing God in everything and everyone? Welcome!
The people who lived their lives like hall monitors for God? All those God fearing folks who were cruel to others in Jesus name? Sorry. People like Fred Phelps and his Westboro Church members? Well, in the scene in my head, Jesus looks at those guys and says, "you are a pack of douche bags and tools and since you have perpetrated acts of hatred in my name then you shall inherit this place you have created. I mean I forgive you because that's what I do, but I really don't want to hang out with you and I for sure don't want you bringing this mess into my house. So you just stay here and think about your choices - because everything you do and think is a choice. I'll come back by sometime and see if you're getting it - see ya."
And with that he boards his magical escalator and as it carries him up into the clouds the sky is filled with Lady Gaga's video for "Born this Way" from Youtube (complete with mandatory ad) and it begins to play on a loop..... for eternity.