- Category: News & Analysis
- Created on Sunday, 22 May 2011 16:47
- Written by Bill Martin
We have been discussing the prediction of one U.S. TV evangelist that the rapture would happen on May 21 (based on a complex numerological analysis.) The following was initially posted as a comment on that previous thread -- but this seems worth its own discussion.
(For those unfamiliar with the Dispensationalist Christian concept of "the Rapture" check out wikipedia for background.)
Perhaps the rapture did occur yesterday, just no one qualified for being “caught up in the air”–including the very people who were promoting the idea.
This is completely possible under the “scheme of salvation” that the god of many “Christians” profess: that no one really qualifies.
Occasionally I do challenge one of these “Christians” on this point, that even under a more generous reading their god’s hell is going to be populated by many billions of souls–and what kind of scheme of redemption is that?
Of course they always reply that it is a “just” scheme, that it is expressive of God’s fundamental justice.
(There is a philosophical problem here already outlined in Plato, and also expressed in ancient Hindu and Jewish teaching: Does “the good” or justice exist independently of God, and therefore God also has to look to “the good” to know what to do–as when God chooses to create the best possible world, which then presents the further problem that it seems God could not do otherwise, being God–or is it simply that “what God says, goes,” so to speak, and that there is no further definition of “good” or “justice.” For anyone who thinks this is a simple problem, please think again.)
Of course what is at stake among us poor, pitiful humans is what it means to believe in such a scheme; as some have argued in terms of the May 21, 2011 rapture-event, this desire for the world to end is often expressive of powerlessness, though also mixed with a very sad but certainly also ugly hatred of humankind. That is, these schemes appeal to people who feel completely powerless and disaffected from the world as it presently exists.
So in that respect I want to affirm what some of the commentators here raised RE why we communists have been so bad and ineffective in speaking to these people.
One of the final straws for me in my association with the RCP was Bob Avakian’s “book,” Away With All Gods. The “analysis” in that book was completely inadequate for dealing with the subject matter.
As I recall (please correct me if I have my references mixed up), there was already something in the previous book of Observations on culture, philosophy, etc., about how we communists need to be “spiritual,” as if this is just something one turns on or off, easily acquired. My point here is not, however, to go back into this particular episode of inadequacy, but instead to point towards where there needs to be a sea-change in communism, and the opening to dimensions that have not been explored previously–except by liberation theology. It’s an interesting measure of things that, even in our reconceptions of communism, most of us here don’t have any deeper sense of these things than is evinced by Bob Avakian in Away With All Gods (where liberation theology is dealt with–dismissed–in a footnote, and then without any references to key texts or ideas of the movement); indeed, some of our secularists here are probably not even up to that speed.
Stephen Hawking is a brilliant guy, for sure, but humans are not computers and people who die are not broken-down computers.
Death and the possibility of an “afterlife” is not an issue for computers, but neither is *life* an issue for computers, at least not at this time. Perhaps when life and death become issues for computers, we’ll be in a whole new universe of possibility–indeed, this seems likely. But isn’t this where at least some aspects of some religious traditions have contributed greatly to the non-economistic sense of communism (and that side of Marx)–that the historical redemption of humankind is not fundamentally a question of technology (though perhaps technology is a secondary and still very important question), but instead a question of community, of social relations?