Friday, October 21, 2005

Rapture or Rupture?

Today I read something and wondered just how far divorced from reality the Talebangelicals are. Which is a pretty astounding thought to have considering I already knew they are completely divorced from reality.

I read this Washington Post article (subscription required).

There's a new film being released based on the Left Behind novels by Tim "Raving Loon" LaHaye and Jerry B. "The tooth fairy wants me for a moonbeam" Jenkins. The books are all about Armageddon and the Second Coming of Jeebus and how the Talebangelicals will be "raptured" into Heaven while all the sane people (who don't believe in the Easter Bunny) are tormented and punished.

The thrust of the article was that Left Behind: World at War, which is the third film in the series, would not be shown in commercial theatres but only in "megachurches" and some smaller churches. Which makes sense: the megachurches are where the market for this insane drivel is while the people who frequent commercial theatres want to see entertainment rather than propaganda. The people who frequent commercial theatres are not averse to fantasy (such as, say, Spiderman) but they'd like to "suspend their sense of disbelief" without having to resort to heavy duty pharmaceuticals.

Anyway, I was struck by this quote from the Reverend Richard Edgar, pastor of the hilariously named "Reality Gospel Church" in Alexandria expects to draw 300 viewers (twice his regular membership). He says [emphasis is mine]:

We want to show Hollywood that there are enough people in the churches to support good, wholesome entertainment without all the blood and guts and sex and vile language.

Let's get this straight, the point of the Left Behind books and films is to highlight what will happen to the unbelievers who are left behind after the rapture. It's to make sure that the Talebangelical sheeple continue giving every spare penny they have to the megachurches so they'll be raptured into Heaven and won't be left behind. It's to convince any backsliders that being left behind is not a good idea. And it's to make the Talebangelical sheeple feel fucking smug that they'll be looking down from Heaven watching all the sinners suffer for years before the sinners are finally cast down into Hell to burn for eternity.

So what's involved for us sinners? The exact details depend upon the brand of Talabangelicalism, but here's just the start of what happens according to Revelations.

  1. The "Four Horsemen" are unleashed: Plague, War, Famine and Death. And they spend their time killing people in horrible ways.

  2. There are major earthquakes, killing yet more people.

  3. At this point the "saved" are transported bodily into Heaven. According to the Talebangelicals, they leave their clothing behind as they are magically yanked upwards, so they are all naked.

  4. Hail and fire mingled with blood are cast upon the earth. One-third of all trees are destroyed; all grass is burned. And it's probably not healthy if you get a big blob of fire fall on you.

  5. A great mountain burning with fire is cast into the sea. One-third of the sea becomes blood; one-third of the creatures of the sea die; one-third of the ships are destroyed (presumably killing all those on board).

  6. A star called Wormwood falls from the heavens and poisons one-third of the rivers and fountains. One-third of the waters become as wormwood and many people die of the poison.

  7. And then it starts to get really bad... If you want to know what happens next you can look it up for yourself, but I'm sure you get the general gist from this partial list.

Oh, and let's not forget that some of those who are raptured bodily into Heaven without warning will be merrily driving along a busy freeway at high speed. So expect lots of car crashes, at least in the shit-for-brains states where people are most likely to fall for this crap.

So, to show all that happens to those who are left behind, and to those who are raptured, involves a fuckload of blood falling from the skies or the seas being converted to the stuff; a shitload of violent death (referred to in the movie industry as "blood and guts") and nudity (OK, nudity isn't sex per se but the Talebangelicals refer to movies which show nudity without any sweaty, straining bodies striving for orgasm, as "sex").

So this series of movies, when complete, will necessarily show blood and guts and what the Talebangelicals would describe as sex in abundance. In fact those are the main feature of the plotline. They are essential. Let us again read what Reverend Shit-for-Brains has to say of the movies:

We want to show Hollywood that there are enough people in the churches to support good, wholesome entertainment without all the blood and guts and sex and vile language.

How out of touch with reality can you get? To believe in this crap means you're bugfuck insane. But to then say that a series of films that revolve around blood and guts and sex are wholesome because they don't involve blood and guts and sex transcends insanity. It's one thing to believe in the invisible magic easter bunny without any supporting evidence; it's a whole new level of batshit insanity to read a book (or watch a film) and say it doesn't contain any of the material that is the essential plotline.

Centuries ago, mathematicians thought there was only one sort of infinity. Georg Cantor upset that applecart by showing that there were different cardinalities of infinity. He proved that the number of integers ("counting numbers") is infinite and of cardinality א0 (Aleph-0). He also proved that the set of even numbers is also of cardinality א0 (i.e., the same size as both even and odd numbers put together. That may seem, to you, as batshit insane as believing in the "rapture" but at least there is mathematical proof so simple that you can probably follow it (even though you'll end up wondering what the trick is). He also proved that rational numbers (1/2, 2/3, 4/3,...) are of the same cardinality yet again: no bigger and no smaller than even numbers. He then proved that real numbers (ones which potentially require an infinite number of decimal places to describe) are of a higher cardinality: א1. There really are more real numbers than integers. If you think I'm making all this up, here's a primer on the subject (it might be a good idea to have some aspirin to hand for the inevitable headache).

Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and Tav is the last. When the Tanakh was translated into the Greek Septuagint (which later became the basis for the Old Testament) the phrase "I am the Aleph and the Tav" (meaning "I am the beginning and the end") became "I am the Alpha and the Omega". Since the Talebangelicals look forward to the end times, I could use either Tav or Omega to represent the cardinality of their insanity. To follow Cantor's lead, I'll go with Tav.

So if we can describe LaHaye and Jenkins' brand of bugfuck insanity as cardinality as ת0 then I think we can justifiably assign Reverend "Crazier than a shithouse rat on crystal meth" Edgar a cardinality of insanity ת1. I have no doubt that even higher cardinalities of insanity exist amongst the Talebangelicals but I'd expect those who suffer from them to spend most of their day rolling around the floor "speaking in tongues" while being treated as very holy people by those of lower cardinalities.

This ordinarily wouldn't bother me, because I think people should be allowed to fuck up their own life any way they want. If they want to zonk out on drugs, or believe in invisible tooth fairies then that's their problem. The trouble is that these lunatics exert a powerful influence upon the Bush administration. Why preserve the environment when the rapture is coming any day now? War is good because it's a sign the rapture is near. It's wonderful that Bush is an evil fuck because he must be the Antichrist and the rapture will be here any day now.

[Sigh. I followed the HTML and Unicode standards to ensure that the Alephs and Tavs were followed by the subscript numerals rather than being preceded by them. Worked great with two browsers I tried on a test file (without the tweaks I did one of my browsers got it wrong) but still screwed up in the Blogspot editor preview. I now see it's wrong when published too. Must be something in the Blogspot style sheets that's doing it. Maybe it will look OK on your browser (I don't have Internet Exploder), maybe not. I tried my best.]


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