The Truth, Mainly - 10/10/1994

Ever'body talkin' about heaven ain't goin'
by Leon Satterfield

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 created fossils.)

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 coming.

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 pass—and a clear case of Divine Intervention.

"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 Chosen People.

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 "countless people."

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 last month:

"We are seeing the Christian Coalition rise to where God intends it to be in this nation—as 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 implications.

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 this month.

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.

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