So I was heading east last week from the Canal Street stop of the Number 1 train to Lupe’s East L.A. Kitchen
when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a bus proclaiming “Judgment Day: May 21 2011″.
Let’s take a closer look.
May 21st, 2011 is the most recently set date for the Rapture, when a relative handful of good Christians will be air-lifted up to Heaven while the rest of us stay below to suffer apocalyptic horrors that include floods (check), earthquakes (check), war (check), famine (sadly, always a going concern in this world) and many other disasters, man-made, natural and super-natural.
May 21, 2011. Hey, wait a minute, that’s soon. Like, tomorrow.
Well, before you all go, I have a question: what about the animals? I walk in the park every day, and can attest that the critters are blithely going about their animal business.
What’s in store for the animals after the Rapture? Or can they come, too?
An internet search reveals that many believers in an end date for the world have given real thought to the question of animals and the Rapture. Most of the concern is about pet animals, and the general consensus, often expressed with sadness, is that animals don’t have souls, or not the right kind of souls, and so will be left behind to suffer the Tribulations, as the dire post-Rapture period is called.
The question of whether animals have souls is a vexed one in religions around the world and through the ages. We won’t even talk about Descartes’ animal-machines here. As with most ideas, religious texts and tradition may be used to support any number of positions on the subject. For many Christian American pet-lovers, the question seems to boil down to: Will I see my pet in heaven? Sadly, for Rapture believers, the answer is no.
Concern over having to abandon beloved pets on Judgment Day has led to creative business opportunities for entrepreneurs. After all, who’s going to feed Fido and Fluffy after you’re gone? Well, you can pay ahead for Atheists, Jews, Buddhists, Bad Christians and other Left-Behinds to care in perpetuity (better get a clear definition of that term) for your animals. As the atheists of England’s Post-Rapture Pet Care say, “Just because we are atheists doesn’t mean we are not animal lovers.” Some of these offers are hoaxes, of course, but several seem, well, “legit” might be stretching it, but let’s just say, “serious.” At least, they’re serious about taking the money – in advance, please, because your checkbook doesn’t work in heaven.
I’m guessing that if pets don’t make the Rapture cut, wildlife are way outside the salvation pale.
I didn’t find much discussion of wildlife, other than as disaster statistics. As you can see on Rapture Watch‘s web page on wildlife deaths, animal deaths are used to bolster arguments that all signs point to the End. No mention of big business, greed and lax government regulations, of oil spills, mass poisoning from pesticides and other toxic substances, habitat destruction, collisions with man-made structures or the myriad other human-caused wildlife hazards. Animal deaths supplement the horrifying human suffering caused by earthquakes and war, and point the way to heaven.
If you’re leaving us tomorrow for the nature-free zone in the sky, be sure to bid farewell to geese and goslings
Say “Sayonara” to the night herons of Morningside Park
Wave good-bye to the sparrows of Saint John the Divine, where even nesting on saints can’t save ya.
And say “So long” to me. I’m staying behind with the animals.
NOTE: Are you reading this article after May 21st? Well, guess what? The end date is being recalculated, even as you read. Apparently, the math may have been off, but the end is still coming. And the animals still don’t care.