Have I told you about the time I was thirteen and my mother grounded me after I threatened to sacrifice my Sunday-school teacher to Satan? Not my regular Sunday-school teacher, mind you, but the substitute who took over the teenage class when our regular teacher was out having her baby.
Every week Mom dragged me to that church, attended mostly by level-headed Methodists who, to their credit, knew the difference between miracles and hallucinations: miracles happen in the Bible, while hallucinations happen to you.
Then we had Mr. Pseudonym. Everybody knew he took his religion a lot more seriously than most. But when he became our substitute Sunday-school teacher, we teens were the first ones to learn just how seriously he took it.
“Sometimes I read my Bible in the closet with a penlight,” he’d solemnly tell us. “That’s what we’ll all have to do, once the Antichrist takes over.” As for the religious tolerance mainstream Methodism embraced at the time: “non-Christians will tell you stories about the miracles their gods have done. And they’re right, except those are really demons pretending to be gods, to mislead people with weak minds. Remember: Satan is the Father of Lies.”
On one level I fully appreciated the nuttery this represented. On the other hand — well, I did believe in God. And if Jesus could rise from the dead, why couldn’t fallen angels do magic, too? Besides, Mr. Pseudonym was a grown-up. A teacher, no less. A bona fide authority figure. I’d already met idiots in all three groups, but was still naive enough to think they were just bad apples rather than the majority of the orchard.
Also, those little demon spook stories made Sunday-school a hell of a lot more interesting than discussion-group topics like “If someone offers you drugs, why does God wants you to say no?” So my impressionable young self spent a few weeks in this contradictory twilight zone that was half scientific rationalism and half mystic Christianity, until Halloween.
Every year the church held a Halloween party for the kids, and we teenagers who were too old for trick-or-treating converted the darkened Sunday-school classrooms into a haunted house. We used refrigerator boxes to make a series of tunnels the kids would crawl through to reach various drugstore tableaux that were moderately scary, I suppose, if you were seven years old or less.
I dressed like a witch, and when the kids crawled to my rocking chair I recited a rhyming story (which was not a poem) that I wrote about zombie jack o’lanterns coming to life on Halloween to get revenge on the children who’d turned them into pies. In the story’s dramatic finale, I jumped out of my chair, yelled “Now listen up! What I say is true! The jack o’lantern’s coming, and he wants YOU!!” and chased the squealing kids into the next room.
I repeated this performance a few times, and then the party ended and the chaperones gave us teens the standard good-job talk. Except Mr. Pseudonym, who waited until next Sunday to tell us what he thought.
He understood we all meant well, he said as he paced solemnly back and forth across the Sunday-school classroom. We meant well, when we dressed like ghosts and vampires and other evil spirits, and put pictures of witches on the walls of God’s house. But we must never do it again, because “the next day I had to spend the entire morning casting out the demons that entered when you did that.”
I was just starting to think “if cartoon ghost pictures are all it takes for Satan to possess God’s house then humanity is pretty well fu—” when Mr. Pseudonym turned to me.
“And Jennifer! Where did you get that poem?”
Ah, that’s more like it: an adult about to compliment my work. “It was mine,” I said proudly. “I wrote it last week.”
To fully reproduce Mr. Pseudonym’s response would take far too much space but here’s the gist of it: “blah blah despicable blah blah disgusting blah blah cannibalism blah blah souls of the children and what was I anyway some kind of a Satan worshipper?”
That did it. I drew myself up to my full height (4’9”) and snapped “Yeah, I’ve sacrificed goats to Lord Satan before, but I could always use a jackass if I had to. So watch out.”
Next thing you know he’s dragging me down the hall to the adult Sunday school, with me yelling at him and him screaming at me and neither of us listening to a word the other said until we came boiling into the room where my mother sat.
“Mrs. Feralgenius!” Mr. Pseudonym boomed. “Your daughter just threatened to sacrifice me to Satan!”
“I. Did. Not!” I insisted in the piping-high child’s voice I still had. “I called him a jackass!”
So there's one of the events which eventually turned me into the princess of mellowness I am today.
Meanwhile, Israel and Lebanon are at war, and I have no idea what it is: the latest chorus of the Middle East crises that have been foreign-policy background music for America since before I was born, or a twenty-first century archduke’s assassination. But here’s what Mr. Pseudonym thinks of this whole mess.
Today (July 15) The London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat reported that “Washington has information according to which Israel gave Damascus 72 hours to stop Hezbullah’s activity along the Lebanon-Israel border and bring about the release the two kidnapped IDF soldiers or it would launch an offensive with disastrous consequences.”
Unless somebody blinks soon, this crisis has the potential to escalate into the fulfillment of Isaiah 17's Oracle against Damascus. . . .
"See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to flocks, which will lie down, with no one to make them afraid. (Isaiah 17:1-2)
. . . . Some believe the phrase "cities of Aroer" refers to Aramean territory east of the Jordan River around the Arnon River, which flows into the Dead Sea in southern Jordan. However, the Jewish Encyclopedia claims that this phrase in Isaiah 17:2 is probably translated incorrectly, because of its geographical distance from Damascus. While they say it's possible that there may have been another Aroer near Damascus, it is more likely that the passage should be rendered "the cities thereof shall be forsaken." If that's the correct translation, it would include the Hezbollah stronghold in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, which was part of Aramean territory in Isaiah's time, and is in a direct line between Beirut and Damascus.
It goes on like this for several paragraphs, explaining several more Bible verses, and ends thusly: If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.
Ahhhhhhh, wonderful stuff. Memories of childhood come flooding back. I went looking for more, but found a strange dearth of Lebanese Armageddon news. I mean, nothing. What was wrong? Where are Mr. Pseudonym's friends? War in Israel — why isn’t the Left Behind community freaking out about this?
A quick look at some message boards shows I’m not the only one concerned:
Daniel: Checking out some other Christian boards I was kind of surprised to see that some of them have no or hardly any mention of the situation in Israel. I think it's a pretty good indicator of Bible inspired groups and churches vs "Sunday morning social clubs". For all we know we could be wathcing WW III start, yet some of these other so called Christian boards aren't even discussing or addressing it, pretty sad. I'm starting to think right along the lines of something Eric posted, he said there's going to be a lot less people raptured than a lot of people were expecting. I'm starting to think that way too.
Homesick: I've suspected for quite some time that the rapture is going to be nothing like it is portrayed in the Left Behind books. I read the first one when it came out and my first thought was, "boy they sure do think a lot of people are going!" When I look around me every day, I can't see the rapture being all that huge percentage wise. While I'm sure a lot of people will 'go missing', the number compared to the amount left behind is going to be small. In the book they portray it as virtually everyone left behind has 'lost' a family member, IMHO there will be a lot of people who will not lose one person they know personally. Which leads to the question of what about all the "christians" left behind? I wonder how many of them are going to realize the truth then and how many will not? Sad thought.
Sad indeed. I hope that at least Mr. Pseudonym gets raptured. He’ll be heartbroken if he’s not.