At first, I was awfully disappointed to wake up a week ago Saturday
to the realization that I'm not part of the Elect.
It was Oct. 1, and that meant The Rapture had come and gone, the
saved had been whisked away to Heaven leaving only the unsaved behind,
and even though I was wearing clean underwear in anticipation, I hadn't
made the cut.
Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. You heard the
news back in July the same as I did. That's when Harold Camping, via the
40 stations in his Family Radio Network, told us that judgment would
come before Oct. 1.
He didn't just make it up either. He had numbers. The Rapture was
set for sometime in September, 1994, just 2300 days after May of 1988,
which was exactly 13,000 years after the creation of the universe in May of
11,013 B.C. (If that seems a little late, remember that in the beginning, God
Made sense to me.
I grew up in a church where we talked a lot about being the only
ones in town who'd get raptured, so I've known since first grade that it was
What surprises me, though, is how many have been left behind.
First thing I did when I saw that I was still here was to run out and
buy a morning paper to see who was missing. I nearly got hit by a '89
Grand Marquis with a bumper sticker that read "In case of the Rapture, this
car will be unoccupied." It had an occupant, and he was driving 15 mph
over the speed limit.
There was nothing on the front page about anyone disappearing, so I
turned to the sports page. That's where I was really shocked.
Bill McCartney and his Colorado football team were still around.
I was sure they were of the Elect after they beat Michigan 27-26 with
a 64-yard touchdown on the last play of the game. It was a fundamentalist
Protestant version of a Hail Mary passand a clear case of Divine
"Those guys out there asked for a miracle," said a Colorado player on
the sideline, "and God decided to give it to them."
Seemed highly irregular. Hadn't God used up His football eligibility
back in Knute Rockne's day? Didn't Colorado have too many beings on the
field? But the Michigan coach didn't take any of that to the NCAA.
Probably remembered how the Red Sea closed around the enemies of the
So I figured surely Coach McCartney and his boys had been
raptured. But the afternoon of Oct. 1, there they were on TV, generating
spiritual energy from some source by holding hands on the sideline
while they beat Texas 34-31 on a field goal with one second left.
Well, if McCartney hadn't made it, I thought, surely Jerry Falwell
had. But there he was on TV too, still peddling his $43 videotapes
of the Good News: President Clinton is implicated in the murder of
I was certain Pat Robertson had heard the trumpet and been taken off
in the twinkling of an eye. Pat often advises God on political matters, and
thus knows all about Divine Intentions. Here's what he said about them
The Truth, Mainly
"We are seeing the Christian Coalition rise to where God intends it to
be in this nationas one of the most powerful political forces that's ever
been in the history of America."
So surely he wouldn't miss The Rapture.
But a story in Newsweek says Pat's still here, still selling his wide
variety of Christian products including a face cream called "Sea of Galilee"
and a nutritional drink called "The American Whey."
Ollie North's still around, too. So are Jesse Helms, Danny Quayle,
Robert Dornan and lots of other politicians who regularly give us
messages from God which have astonishingly convenient political
I began thinking the unthinkable.
Can it be, I wondered, that it's false prophets who have taken
over radio and TV and threaten to take over Congress? Can it be that ever'
body talkin' 'bout Heaven ain't goin' there?
You might say in rebuttal that Harold Camping got mixed up on his
dates, but since you're still here you would say that. But his
numbers are hard to argue with, and so far as I know he hasn't been seen
It's unsettling to be left behind, I admit, but incorrigible optimist that
I am, I urge you to look at the bright side:
Since all of God's real spokesmen are playing harps by now, we don't
have to listen to anyone who claims to be a source close to the Diety. That
means we can get on with making the best of our depravity by reforming
health care and campaign financing, and by passing all that other
legislation that Jerry and Pat and Ollie say God is against.
I know that Nebraskans aren't much interested in those things this
time of year, so let me tell you what else it means:
It means that on Oct. 29, we'll have a football game, not a religious
dispute. Frazier won't be playing for Tom Osborne, but God won't be
playing for Bill McCartney.
Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.