What Now for the Unraptured?

abandoned houseI’m still here.

I wasn’t raptured away on Saturday, to spend eternity strumming harps and swapping self –congratulatory stories with others of the elect about how we had perfected our retirement portfolios to maximize income despite the coming tribulations of the end times. So I’m going to have to suffer the consequences of not having been saved.

A lot of people, hearing the news that Harold Camping’s “ministry” raked in almost $20 million last year from the believers who gave him their money in anticipation of Judgment Day, will think that the whole thing was a scam. And that’s without the numbers for last minute hopefuls, who didn’t ‘donate’ to Camping until 2011. But what if it happened? What if you woke up Sunday morning and all the people left are really those that God didn’t want?

I expect that there are going to be both immediate and long-term consequences, as well as local, and national consequences. Among the immediate consequences I am hoping for are less traffic congestion and shorter calendars in the Courts where my cases are. The California judicial system has been hit hard by the economic collapse and even before the recession we never had enough Family Court judges. For the people who run the Courts, fights over custody, visitation and who should support whom and what children, has never been as important as “real” legal disputes, like who owns the copyright to lines of children’s dolls.

On May 6, they closed the cafeteria on the top floor of the main downtown civil courthouse. They say that it is being remodeled. But they give no re-opening date. I can’t help wondering whether the reopening plans were left undecided until the powers-that-be knew who was going to be left to run the place. For those used to sitting in the cafeteria, negotiating deals with clients and other attorneys, the closure is, itself, a bit of Armageddon.

Judgment Day seems to present us with a very good opportunity to test some sacred-cow economic theories. If the “free markets” people are right, fuel prices should be plummeting in the next couple of weeks. Moral purity and guaranteed saved-ness seemed to be most prevalent in a segment of society that favored un-aerodynamic pick-up trucks with over powered V-8 engines, roaring down the freeways at 80+ miles an hour. If the cost of fuel at the pump doesn’t drop precipitously now that those drivers are all up in heaven, we’ll know that the fix is in.

Of course, that’s what we expect to happen. Since all the good people are gone, it is only the evil sinners who are left. Naturally, they will be conspiring with each other to keep fuel prices high. But even so, market forces will win the day, and the need for sales to keep profits flowing will ensure breaks in the price-fixing schemes and an ultimate crash in fuel prices.

Even if fuel prices do fall, think of the environmental promise with 200 million less people (that’s the estimate of the number of people who were to be raptured away). Once the spring breezes blow away the smog, every U.S. city will have clean air, starting this summer. There will be many fewer cars clogging the streets and choking the air with their exhaust. Power plants will need to generate less, burn less coal, cause less acid rain. Armageddon may be a terrible thing, but it will surely be a blessing for those with asthma.

The collapse of the housing market can only continue. It will probably accelerate, now that so many apartments and condos are going to be suddenly empty. I’ve been thinking about wandering around Brentwood, looking for houses that were vacated on Saturday evening. I think that I’ll hold out for one that has an indoor pool – so I can get my swimming exercise all year ‘round. There’s probably going to be a few days of looting, after the rapture. But then neighborhoods like Brentwood, which are away from the stadiums and theaters and excitement, should settle down and be pretty pleasant places to suffer through Armageddon.

For people who want even more solitude and quiet, I suggest looking in Orange County. As they have been telling us for decades, the folks down there are much more holy than we big city sinners. So the sudden vacancy rate behind the Orange Curtain must be very high. And, with so many of them gone, the commute back to a job in L.A. should be much faster and less congested.

The post-rapture situation in national politics and social policy is more complex. To carefully study it, I think I’ll join the looters going through Best Buy and grab myself a high-def, wide-screen, flat-panel TV to watch the news. If I find the right house in Brentwood, with more than one big room to hold a big screen TV, I just hope that they haven’t all been looted by the time I get to the big box store, so I can get a few.

I’m hoping that the wide-screen, hi-def news will help me observe and understand the politicians who were left behind. John Boehner and Newt Gingrich stand out as men who have made their religious devotion central themes in their campaigns against women and the poor. Neither man acknowledges any question about his faith or his commitment to “Christian” principles.

Yet each remains here. Is this a message that God doesn’t like the politics of hate? Is it a message that Jesus was right when he condemned meanness and wickedness toward society’s poor and weak, saying whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me? Is it a message that shoveling money, subsidies and tax breaks to the world’s richest multinational corporations, while taking it away from the needy is a sure way to avoid salvation?

What results may we expect, now that Judgment Day has come and gone, and these politicians find themselves still here? Will they see that their iniquity has been rejected by the God they claim to worship? Will they reform their ways? Or will they accept that they are now officially condemned and, thus, free to continue their evil ways, grasping for every corporate dollar they can, knowing that eternal salvation is beyond their hopes, and thus irrelevant?

Unfortunately, we have plenty of precedent to help us predict the answers. The same people who “knew” that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for the alleged wickedness of New Orleans, utterly reject the idea that the fires sweeping Texas, the tornadoes ravishing the Bible Belt or the spring floods on major rivers represent any sort of Godly warning to the people of the affected areas. They see no warning in these events, even though the damage is focused on conservative areas of ‘Red’ states.

We also have Harold Camping’s example. This is his second big Judgment Day money fest. He made millions with the same kind of prediction in 1994. Instead of learning humility from the 1994 exercise, he learned to love avarice even more. He joins the ranks of hucksters who have shilled religion for money down through the ages.

So our Armageddon is likely to look a lot like our present. Boehner and Ryan and McConnell, et al. will continue to work to convert the U.S. into a money-ruled oligarchy. And like the Biblical predictions, those will be saved who act as Jesus taught us to act. We are our brothers’ keepers. If we act to protect the weak and the powerless, we save our selves from corporate oligarchy. If we do not act, if we wallow in despair that Obama hasn’t changed the world enough, fast enough, we consign ourselves to the horrors of lost freedoms and corporate rule.

Tom HallOn the other hand, think for a few moments about the situation for those who were raptured away on Saturday night. How perfect can heaven be, with 200 million new souls crowding into a facility designed by He who designed a world with shifting tectonic plates, ozone holes and republicans? I’m imagining a heaven filled with people trying out newly acquired wings, flying into each other and everything else. I’m thinking about the logistical problems with food service, laundry, housing, etc. It must be a paradise for personal injury and discrimination lawyers.

Tom Hall

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