The landscape of modern (and ancient) culture has always been dotted with prophets who’ve claimed the end was near. Every few years, the entertainment industry spins such predictions, and the media parses out would-be raptures, including the most recent Mayan 2012 calendar debacle.
I’ll confess: I haven’t read one sentence of the 16 novels in the Left Behind series (1995-2007), nor do I put much credence into whatever doomsday is next on the docket.
Read below, have a little laugh, and stock-pile your beanie weenies.
Saffron Cross Bonus Materials: Dishtowels and Interfaith Raptures
Fred was happier at Binkley than he had been before, and our sabbath rhythm was bearing fruit. We fought less, he had more patience for Christian worship,and he tolerated social interactions, something his introversion typically kept him from enjoying.
And instead of grumpy yawns and sourpuss glares during Binkley worship, Fred assigned himself the task of controlling the hymnal. I gave up that responsibility willingly, as I’d been doing it for nearly three decades, and I’d rather concentrate on joyful singing and Holy Spirit stirrings. Holding a book can distract from these tasks.
At each hymn, Fred fervently prepared, flipping pages and double-checking the numbers.
How precious, I thought. He’s really getting into this.
While the organist playing the introduction, I smiled lovingly at Fred, proud of his participation in Christian worship. But when I looked down to sing the first verse of “The Servant Song,” I nearly fainted: Fred had turned the hymnal to number 666, “The Voice of God is Calling,” and, with a smile plastered across his face, he giggled as if he’d pulled the prank of the century.
Now, I consider myself a rational, progressive Christian, but I have a slight case of hexakosiohexekontahexaphobia left over from my Southern Baptist roots. I cannot comprehend why the beloved Disciples of Christ chose to include the number 666 in The Chalice Hymnal so my Hindu husband can get his jollies.
My fear of the number 666 stemmed from growing up in a rural town where grandmothers “beat” the devil out of their kitchens with dishrags. If there was an unwelcome spirit in the house, hiding under the auspices of an unruly teenager, financial problems, or illness, the devil was shooed away with prayer walks and kitchen tools. My grandmother was especially attune to this ritual, and her favorite words that Jesus ever spoke included her own ad lib: “Get thee behind me, Satan . . . and don’t push!”
Satan was a real concept in our family and community. I was told that if you invited him in, he’d make himself at home, so it was best to avoid speaking his name, watching shows or movies about him, or speaking or writing the number, less he feel he was welcomed to stay for supper. Fred knows this about me. And he knows that I am just the tiniest bit irrational.
I looked down at the “The Voice of God is Calling” as Fred pointed to the hymn number at the top right corner of the page. I gave him my best death stare, only because I couldn’t cuss him out in church.
But some Sundays, this was out of my control, as the Binkley worship leader actually chose “The Voice of God Is Calling” as the invitational hymn or hymn of preparation. These were Fred’s favorite five minutes of Christian worship, gleefully pointing to 666, elbowing me in the ribs, and making monster faces.
Every few years, some clever prophet in a polyester suit predicts the end times and everyone gets stirred up, cranky, or excited. Nearly one year after we were married, some nonagenarian with an audience decided the precise date Jesus was going to come down from heaven, and he offered warnings of soul preparation. Fred loves it when these occasions arise, as they are a reminder to all of us humans that God is God, and we are not.
At the last Rapture crisis, Fred and I went to bed in peace, decidedly confident that we were not likely going to be sucked from our rooms at midnight, but perhaps with a smidgen of anxiety that Mr. End Times could be right. I was no longer carrying the baptism banner of fretting over Fred’s salvation. Rather, after several cycles of the Swami months, I was more worried about my own deliverance as the disqualified Christian among Ghandi’s doubles.
We went to bed at a decent hour and I was snoring when Fred awoke me in a furious state, his body lifting from our bed.
“Dana! I’m being raptured!”
I wiped my eyes, and my blurry vision revealed Fred, pulling such a clever Criss Angel levitation imitation that I thought, just for a moment, Sweet Jesus! You’re taking him and leaving me? The Hindu is getting raptured?
Fred laughed hysterically, and in my midnight fog, I realized I was bamboozled again.
I pretended to be annoyed, but was relieved that, through my weird phobias and end-of-world predictions, we were finally able to laugh at this mixed-up marriage and not take ourselves (or our religions) too seriously.