22 May, 2011

Random Coolness.

Random photos from this weekend in Central Washington. 













18 May, 2011

A Rapture Primer

So, I hear all this talk about the world ending on Saturday, May 21. But that's not exactly how it's goin' down so I thought I'd straighten this shit out. According to a few folks, the Rapture is scheduled to occur on May 21, but the world isn't supposed to officially end until five months later on October 21. However, most Christians call bullshit on this theory.

First, for those who don't follow End Times prophesy, let's define the Rapture. It's essentially an event predicted in bible scripture throughout the New Testament by different authors. The fact that it was prophesied by many folks makes the case for the Rapture pretty compelling to  many Christians who take the bible literally. (Hi, Dad!)

So, this event is basically a big-ass aerial gathering starting with Jesus Christ (who is currently in Heaven) and his archangel coming down to Earth (well, as far as the clouds; they probably don't want to get their heavenly shoes soiled). While in the clouds, they blow a big-ass trumpet and the Christians, both living and dead, rise up into the air to meet them in the cloud. Now, if you think about it, this is a sweet deal for everybody, really. If you're alive at the time of the rapture, you get to escape death. If you're dead at the time the trumpet sounds, you get to rise up and live in your body again. So, it's pretty fucking cool for Christians.

Okay. So, this old dude, Harold Camping, swears on the King James Holy Bible that the Rapture will occur on May 21, 2011, and that the world will subsequently completely end five months later on October 21. This isn't biblical because it says, plain as day, that the Lord will come when everybody is least expecting it. "...the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." (1 Thessalonians 5:2) and "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (Matthew 24:44), and "...concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." So, basically, not even the freaking angels know what the fuck is happening. So, how does Harold Camping think that he can predict an event that only God the Father knows?

As an aside, Camping falsely predicted the Rapture would occur in 1994. So, he never learned his lesson the first time, he's delusional to begin with, and he's blowin' smoke up everybody's collective asses.

However, should it happen, here's the chronology of the End Times(tm) in a big nutsack.

Event #1: The Rapture

For Believers:

For those who believe in Jesus Christ and follow His teachings, there's a good chance you will be in the crowd that gets to go upstairs. Here's how it goes down. So, you're going about your day, downloading Christian porn and shit, when suddenly you hear a shout and a trumpet blast, and before you can blink, you're suddenly in the clouds (I'm thinking alto-cumulus clouds, personally), standing there with your Creator thinking "...the hell?" Then it dawns on you "Jesus Jones! It's the fucking Rapture! Duuuuudes."

For Non-Believers:

So, if you are an agnostic, atheist, Satanist, or a member of other non-Jesus-centric religions, you will not be going anywhere. You are what is referred to in Bible-thumping circles as "Left Behind." The immediate disappearance of millions of others on this planet is going to force you, and the remaining lost souls, into a state of panic. Airplanes and automobiles manned by believers will suddenly be empty after people are taken. People undergoing surgery might be left in precarious positions because the surgeon was a believer and is now gone. Cue mass panic.

Event #2: The Judgement Seat and the Great Feast (for believers)

From the clouds, you are escorted to Heaven along with long lines of other folks from all eras (so expect some serious B.O. in the queue). There are two main events that will occur. There is the Judgment Seat of Christ which is where God judges, and subsequently rewards, His believers. (The non-believers have a separate judgment day "The Last Judgment.") After you get all your rewards and shit, then you sit down to this huge-ass feast called "The Marriage Supper of the Lamb," which is basically Heaven-sanctioned gluttony. This event is the celebration of God marrying his people. Sounds a bit polyamorous, I know. But if you're a believer--male, female, gay, or straight, alive or previously dead--you will be married to Christ during a seven-year banquet.

"...the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine--the best of meats and the finest of wines." (Isaiah 25:6)

You know, though, that God isn't really doing the "preparing." Come on. That rich bastard isn't slavin' away in the kitchen for a banquet big enough to feed millions of folks for seven years. I call bullshit. He's either going to do an I-Dream-Of-Jeanie nod and make it happen, or he's got some sorry-ass angel lackeys in the back whippin' shit up. Either way, the believers are getting fed the finest of foods and drinks. None of this Old Country Barfet crap.

Event #2: The Great Tribulation (for non-believers)

After the initial adjustment to the fact that millions of people just fucking up and disappeared, we don't get to curb our anxiety much before the serious shit starts going down in the form of widespread calamities and intense turmoil, the likes of which the world has never seen. For the next seven years, God's messengers (including the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, which symbolize Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death) will unleash God's wrath upon the world in the form of plagues and pestilence, at predestined times. The word "apocalypse" means "the lifting of a veil" which is the symbolic term for the apocalyptic henchman that come and reveal God's wrath to the people of Earth. So I take the word "apocalypse" to be synonymous with "Great Tribulation." But that's me. Don't quote me on this.

During all of this turmoil, a person called the Antichrist will rise to power and try to quell the people's need for a strong leader during these troubled times. He will really be acting on behalf of Satan, spreading evil throughout the world, but the people won't know it. The Antichrist will use religious syncretism to merge religions and economies together. People will be required to get the "Mark of the Beast" (666 or 616, depending on who you ask) tattooed on their body as a means of monetary exchange. This mark will ensure their damnation. (As if the fact that the Christian are already gone did not. But whatever. I'm just the messenger, yo.)

Event #3: The Second Coming of Christ (The Battle of Armageddon)

So, after the seven years of hell on earth is over, and believers are done stuffing their pie holes, they come back to Earth with God and start kicking Satan's ass. It's going to be quite epic. The big things that happen are: the armies of the Antichrist are destroyed, the Antichrist himself is sent to eternal damnation along with the False Prophet, and Satan is sent to Hell for 1,000 years and ejected from Earth.

Event #4: The Millennium Kingdom

So, after Satan and his cronies get their asses kicked, God and His believers take over, rebuild the Earth, and the Millennium Kingdom begins. Mind you, however, the non-believers who did not perish in the Battle of Armageddon are still here, alongside the believers. Everyone is peaceful.

Event #5: The Last Judgment

After 1,000 years of peace and goodness, God lets Satan out of Hell again and whoops his ass one more time (just for kicks). After that, he conducts the Great White Throne Judgment (or Last Judgment) and now judges all non-believers and sends them to the Lake of Fire (Hell) for eternity. Him and his minions will now rebuild a New Heaven and Earth. Why a new Earth? Why not ditch this hole? Who the fuck knows. Maybe the believers have overpopulated Heaven and they need more space. In any case, the darkness of Earth is defeated and the light will reign for the rest of eternity.

Forever and ever, Amen.

Rapture Playlist

“Break on Through (to the Other Side)” The Doors
“Rapture” Blondie
“Stairway to Heaven” Led Zeppelin
“Caught up in the Rapture” Anita Baker
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” Judy Garland
“Come Sail Away” Styx
“Little Trip to Heaven” Tom Waits
"Armageddon It" Def Leppard
"Ghost Riders in the Sky" Johnny Cash
"Arma-goddamn-motherf**kin-geddon" Marilyn Manson
"It's the End of the World as We Know It" REM
"Left Behind" Slipknot
"The Great Gig in the Sky" Pink Floyd
"High in the Clouds" 'Ol Dirty Bastard

Suggested Reading
"Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

BONUS: Rapture Dining Guide--for those in Seattle during the Rapture who want to be Left Behind in gastronomical style

11 May, 2011

A Better Place

I’m a dreamer. Not so much in the classic sense as in the literal sense. When I sleep, my mind opens up and creates the most fantastical, epic scenes. Sometimes, I am dreaming in other languages, which I fully understand, and speak fluently. Sometimes, I know where I'm going even though I have never been there. Sometimes I even solve world problems. (I once had a dream that I invented a way to stop a tsunami.) Other times, my dreams have me being chased by wild animals and, although weary from running and hiding, I always manage to outwit them. Often, I’ll go to bed with a problem and when I wake up the next morning, I have an answer. It fascinates me when people tell me that they don’t dream, or that they don't remember many of their dreams. I am always dreaming and remembering. 

A few nights ago, I had a wildly vivid dream. In it, my best friend Denise, who died a dozen empty years ago, was still very much alive. We were wandering in the hills above Garmisch-Partenkirchen in southern Germany, which is where we were on our last time together. She was acting completely possessed, chasing huge Bavarian cows across the alpine meadow, their cowbells clanging loudly as they outran this mad sprinter.

I can still hear her laugh. Sometimes, it was more of a cackle. And sometimes, it was a beautiful belly laugh. If I close my eyes, I can smell her hair when we hugged. She’s the only friend that I would let hold my hand for any length of time. Anyone else, I would pull back into my own comfort zone. With Denise, prolonged non-sexual touch was not only possible, but expected.

I knew that she was going to die. In the dream, I mean. I suddenly had an urge to stop the clock. Just stay put. Don’t move. Keep her there where it was safe. But I knew that was impossible. I knew somehow that this was the last time I would laugh with her. So I watched her hair fly back while she chased cows and laughed and laughed at their enormous bodies charging off.

“You’re going to die soon.” It just came out. I couldn’t stop it.

“I already know…” she replied, unfazed.

She told me not to worry because she would be going to a better place. I didn’t understand what she meant. She was a devout atheist who believed that we are all just worm food when we pass on. So, what is she talking about, this “better place”? How the hell is “worm food” a better place? But she insisted that she was going to be alright, that I shouldn’t worry, and that she was at peace. That this “better place” was somewhere far better than here. That I would understand when I got there.

I trust her.

This dream was undoubtedly brought on by the fact that I attended a memorial service last week for a prominent member of my circle of friends. She was an incredible life force and her death hit me in the gut. Grief is processed in both overt and subconscious ways. Sometimes you think you’re fine, and then you are sideswiped by the most gut-kicking pain. And sometimes you feel pain, but the smallest, most beautiful thing lifts you up and you don't even realize that you're smiling for perhaps the first time in days.

I work out a lot of things, including grief, in my sleep.

And I’m grieving more than death. I’m grieving change. A breakup from a long-term relationship. This beautiful place I live that will be too big for just me and my cat, Fernando. For the life plans I had hoped to achieve by now, that just weren't possible. For love lost.

I'm feeling topsy-turvy. Catawampus. Off-kilter.

And yet…

Strangely, I’ve not felt this grounded in a long time. Even though I cannot always gauge where my center is, and I don’t always know up from down, I do know where my feet are planted—firmly on this godforsaken, awe-inspiring, fantastically bipolar planet of ours. The planet that feeds us grief and love together and calls that a “square meal.”

I ponder occasionally what it will be like to get off this ride, eventually, when my station arrives. Will I gladly walk off into the unknown, or will I try to stay on the ride and beg for one more stop? It seems that a lot of life is spent avoiding or prolonging the inevitable. What if we looked forward to it? What if it was something exciting, like breathing the air Paris for the first time? What if it was the ultimate rush that no drug known to man could ever match? What if it was, as Denise told me in my dream, “a better place”?

As I feel my way around in the dark, I notice that I'm a little crazy. It feels good. I'm beginning to think that without a bit of crazy, life would be colorless. Dull. Bland. I think that sanity is, at times, totally overrated. My writer friend Iced Borscht reminded me of a quote by Charles Bukowski: "Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead."

Validation.

I've always been a little bit of a nutter; I don’t always dance to any discernible drumbeat. But there are stigmas attached to expression without restraint. One must somehow keep feelings and extreme thoughts in check, instead of going Mad Hatter on the world. And yet that feels wrong. To go against the grain would be unnatural. Why fight the fact that I'm a bit whack right now? Soon enough, the pendulum is likely swing the other way again and I’ll come down from the chandelier I’ve been swinging, stop eating rocks, and sit down to have tea and scones and cucumber sandwiches.

Until then, I will continue to dream. Of clarity in the midst of insanity. Of beauty brought about from change. Of dancing unfettered.

I'm already in a “better place.”