August 01, 2008


Since the theme at Goat Rope this week has been religion in America, I can't think of a better way to end it than with an example of a sign of the times.

As you may have noticed, apocalyptic religion is big these days. Millions of Americans have read the Left Behind series and other such stuff and await the Rapture, which some believe to be an event in which Christians of the preferred variety will physically disappear and be snatched up to heaven before things go really south for everyone else.

This is an odd religious idea totally absent from historical Christianity--Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. It was promoted by John Nelson Darby in the 1830s and caught on among some literalists. In the early 1900s, it gained a mass audience with the publication of the Scofield Reference Bible. This version of eschatology appeared in its marginal notes, so it looked like it was "in the Bible." It really became popular with the publication of Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth (a frequently revised work) in the 1970s. (Search the Goat Rope archives for "apocalyptic religion" for more.)

Anyhow, a new website-- people, for a modest $40 fee, to send email messages and key information to those who didn't make the team while you are bodily eating pie in the sky.

For a whole lot of people, this endlessly revised end time scenario is pretty much what religion is all about.

Houston, we have a problem...

RETHINKING THE "WAR ON TERROR." The RAND Corporation reports that policing, intelligence and policy are more effective in anti-terrorism efforts than brute military force.

CONFUSED BY FINANCIAL JARGON? This devil's dictionary may help.

700 YEARS AFTER THE FACT, the Italian city of Florence is still trying to make up for exiling Dante.

TAKE YOUR EXERCISE PILL. It may actually work.

A LITTLE GOOD NEWS FROM WV. The Children's Health Insurance Program will expand health coverage to children living in households earning up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level. It was 220 previously. Lots of groups, including AFSC, have supported this.


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