Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Rapture: Anatomy of a Thought Virus

Later today, so I hear, Jesus will return in the sky and all of those who are “saved” will be taken up into the sky and brought into paradise.  The jury is still out on whether or not they will be served white raisins while there.   
This particular idea (As we shall see at midnight) is obviously a Type Three idea…that is, a thought virus.  It is neither accurate, or adaptive.  I really hope no one took too much trouble to prepare for this event.  Although I commend the efforts of this entrepeneurial soul.
This particular thought virus is spread in two ways:

1.  I suppose their are many believers of the actual doctrine of the rapture.  Although I am not sure that I know any in person.   But this seems to have started with the biblical interpretations of a father and son team: Increase (yes that is a first name due for a comeback) and Cotton Mather.  These two puritans were involved to varying degrees in the Salem Witch Trials.  Whether they were drawing on earlier influence is not clear, but they came up with this interpretation of certain biblical scriptures (Kyle, 1998) in which the believers would be taken up and the nonbelievers left behind.
This idea is obviously appealing to some people.  It includes several characteristics of a good thought virus: It cannot be disproven (there is no date attached to the concept itself, so it can always happen tomorrow); it is consistent with other held beliefs—that is, if you already believe in Christian tenets, this idea plugs into them nicely; it includes a sense of social justice (Bad sinners!  Stay here and fight zombies while we go do the heavenly hustle!), and it would be cinematically spectacular to watch!  This idea has been also spread by books like the Left Behind series.
So when a Christian radio host named Harold Camping decided to take a second crack at predicting the rapture, he assigned the date of 5/21/11 for the heavenly fireworks.  Then the  idea started to spread on Christian Radio stations and websites.  The news picked the Thought Virus up and spread it to the rest of us.  

2. The second wave of this thought virus spread as a comedic routine.  For 3 days I have heard many people mocking the idea.  I myself posted things on face book like “Glad we will get the rapture over with”, and this morning’s “Crap I am still here.”   I really can’t help myself.  Its just too irresistible to poke fun at this.  I am not alone.   After pro-wrestler Machoman Randy Savage  passed yesterday, a friend posted to facebook, “RIP Macho Man. He was raptured a day early to pave the road to heaven with slim jims. OHHH YEEEEEEEAH”  

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