Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fb Annex A1

  There is some sort of protocol it appears over in Facebook-land. It is not a formal thing, but to some extent we do have a time limit, or perhaps a word limit in place. Have you ever read any posts in fb that exceed a few pages in length? I don't know how to describe the feel of it, but a kind of rudeness or impropriety lurks around in my brain when reading longish items over in that format. So then, we affirm that there is an unspoken unseemliness to essay length responses to; "What up?".
  One of my friends on fb posted something like: "How do you express emotion and feelings without ridicule? A question I've asked for years."
  I responded with; "I am not certain that I understand the question. Do you mean #1 "How can emotion be expressed, and one not receive ridicule from others?", or do you mean #2 "How can one express emotion without simultaneously also expressing ridicule?".
  He indicated that the former was at issue, and I asked for an example. He sent back; "Oh wait, here is one, a depressed person says they want to die and wish it would all just stop. The responding person basically calls the hurt person a baby, or a bitch, or some genital reference that essentially means weak or useless".
  I responded that I would mull it over some, and send back later a response if I could think of one. The problem is that the response appears to require an essay for length and breadth, and so it would be an unseemly entry indeed over in the fb universe. So then, I deem that this particular C.P.E. shall function today as an annex to that other part of the cyber-universe. So there!
  There are at least two issues which crop up right away in my brainstem when thinking along the lines of why-so, of how-come people express hostility, or ridicule or disbelief when a person expresses emotion.
  But before we go there, the disclaimer here is that my basic "take" on emotion and or weakness (when detected in myself at least) has historically been to symbolically or spiritually shoot it in the head. For years (well actually, for decades), I was the world's worst emotional guy, and did not even try to get any good at being emotional, or expressing feel.
  It just was never on my "to do list".
  Furthermore, I find it not a little revolting to have certain (un-named) slobs grousing about "transparency". It makes me want to puke, for the simple reason that such is manifestly NOT transparent in the least! To say; "I struggle against desires to destroy myself and everything else", may turn out to be "transparent" (I don't care if it is, or not), but to agitate for mere "transparency" instead is very clearly a manipulative hiding, an hypocritical "saying but not doing" kind of thing in my book.
  And also, that much being said, the exact reverse is also true! I have often used "the sense of" or "the aroma of" things, in order to describe. In practice, I use feel all of the time, but only very very rarely, is same employed to mean "feeling about myself". Is all this quite clear for you? "Clear as mud", you say? Very well then, let us move on!
  Well, I am glad at any rate that the topic did arise, because I have been trying for days to cobble together a weird C.P.E., somewhat along these lines and was just stuck. I had gone off into a mental cul-de-sac. It was something all about language usage, and specialized expert patterns which we employ, and I could not figure out how to get back to the main idea; which is clearly depression!
  Part of that not written essay of the crazy pants flavor was to assault our normal Christian usage of the word. For example, our church right now is featuring a six week class on "depression". I don't think I will attend. And one of the main reasons is one of the two items that I intend to discuss below. In brief, it is that there is a very valuable truth to be had in being "down".
  Whether the person who is depressed is myself or another, two things come to the surface fairly quickly, but this first one is a "keeper".
  So, the first thing which we notice right off is the one which my friend mentions. There is a harshness, a "shut your face" kind of drill which I employ upon myself when I am down. And in my opinion, we normally deploy same toward others also. The philosophical problem at stake here is that the depressed one is uttering a universal condemnation.
  In myself, it usually sounds something like; "It just doesn't matter what I do, nothing really matters anyhow. I am just tired of being exhausted and doing pointless things for people whom I don't like". Very badly, we want off of the merry-go-round-from-hell which has no meaning. The entire exercise if futile and destructive, if it is built upon a lie, and satisfies nobody, why keep doing it?
  But, that assessment itself is also a lie, in that the sound of it is "as-if" I personally have conducted a thorough and exhaustive search. As-if I have inspected all facts, all options and all history and have thus deduced that there is no meaning available, and thus any efforts to make sense of things is technically a waste of time. But clearly, clearly, no such search was ever conducted. My assertion is false. Now it may remain true in any case that no hope of meaning exists, but my claim to have done the search is obviously an empty one. So then, I think that our usual response number one is to simply shut down depression as a logical falacy, based upon a presumed (and flawed) position.
  It certainly is understandable, and of course, this strategy never works! It is our human standard operating practice and as such, makes a bad situation . . . worse!
  One of the reasons that it never works is that if one is thereby challenged to produce some inherently meaningful aspect of things either at large, or in particular, the answers come back uniformly "flat or shallow". If ones' heart is in the process of falling to pieces, such "medicine" simply inflames the sore. "Cheer-up" is tremendously depressing to hear!
  The sounds of this sort of approach are more or less; "Well, there is your family to consider, what about them? And don't forget, you are young, your whole life is before you". This attempt to minimize the sorrow and grief over what a mess I have made of things, only serves to point out that in addition to a general and particular meaninglessness at large, I am also an ungrateful jerk to boot?
  Generally speaking then, to try to cheer up a depressed person usually just starts another fight. True enough, that fighting might itself help pull someone temporarily "out" of the dark, but it is also a huge giveaway that there is something we are just not discussing here.
  I remain quite firm in my belief that "negativity" is itself not necessarily a negative thing. If you were dealing with a lifelong drunkard who also loved laughing gas, who was hooked on adrenaline rushes, and pushing black pepper up his nose so to convulsively sneeze; if such a person, was always and always seeking to find a distraction, a buzz, a fury (an anything at all!), and he suddenly woke up one day without the buzz, without the clutter and the busy-ness which he always and always uses to "not see something", if that person wakes up depressed, I am all for it! Pardon the run-on sentence while you are at it!
  For once, for a twenty minute spell amid a months long jag of "substances"; for 1200 seconds; the man can see? Who in their right mind could be "against" that? Sure, what he sees is "dark and depressing" so what? It is real, and I (for one) say; that makes all the difference! For a few minutes I can actually see that my usual chemical bombs of nicotine, caffeine and sugar only cause me to talk too much. They are no "cure" at all for hopelessness. For less than a half hour, I am actually able to notice that my shuck and jive, my tap-dancing with words to amuse others (whom I do not like) is indeed a hollow and useless thing which only adds testimony against me, besides irritating them? This is a keeper!
  That is; the truth of depression is that I ought feel this way at least occasionally. Down is but the opposite end of up, and neither can answer the basic question involved. My strategies to cope-by are (let's face it) junk, and can do nobody (including myself) any real good. To see them as empty is to see them as they are! And this is the entirely valid point of depression which we get right. Keeper!
  There is no "cure", no chipper and invigorating "up" message can even begin to make a dent here. Such "up-talk" only makes things worse. Depression is about what is true in us. We really and truly are are vapid, and mean. We actually do blunder by endorsing nonsense, in my case nearly all the time! Depression sees this in us, and says; "There is no hope". And considered strictly from "in here" we are right to so say!
  Our problem with dealing with this sort of assessment, is that it is both true, and simultaneously insufficient. That is, our grasp of truth means that we hang onto it (we must!), but we rather tend to forget that this very same grasp of the true is built upon a fragment or section of the stuff, never the entirety thereof.
  So; "for the depressed person to to say that they want to die and wish that it would all just stop", as my friend mentions, the correct response is a kind of "two-fer". In the first place, you are seeing entirely correctly to so adjudge things, and so, ought be commended for your deep sanity. Alternately, you ought be informed of something, and is a "something in your face" which remains quite odd once we notice it.
  In short; if meaning did not mean anything, if significance was just a pointless blip of static on a statistical screen of noise, then for us to "miss it" would be deeply irrational indeed. But it remains entirely rational! What then?
  If we attempted to deal with air in a similar fashion to the way we do with meaning, we might wonder at it more. "Air, is simply an evolutionary hiccup which our ancestors (foolishly) believed kept them alive. In fact, a paternalist bias informs here, and we all need to get over our 'airist' bias and prejudices". Newsflash, in order to destroy air in this fashion . . . requires air!
  We cannot "get over" the premise that life was to have meant something, nor can we abide the premise that we ourselves do not need meaning, for the excelllent reason that such surmising would (itself) "mean something"! We smuggle in meaning in order to rid ourselves of it? We require air in order to say we need none of it? What madness is this? This; "in your face" we often do not notice at all!
  Alone and unaided, all that we can say is that we need hope, and cannot find it. All that we can deduce is that life was to have been otherwise than it presently is, but how to repair or rebuild this obvious flaw is beyond our ability to say or do. Focus here because this (in itself), is more valuable than a mountain of solid gold. And also it remains true that we usually just thoughtlessly toss it aside. This "is us"!
  So then, getting back to the fb post for a moment, the reason that feeling and emotion is met with hostility, is that it must! Our desire to just quit this world of misery, lies, pretending and stupid futility is honest enough, but it can never be the whole picture. To embrace sorrow as a friend, to grasp ahold of, and welcome the grief which so haunts our steps is a kind of walking "which makes no sense" to us. How could it?
  A kind of individualist and then a collectivist suicide is what we "must" build provided that we see no further than "the me". If I know nothing at all in this world of folly, I yet know this! Philosophy will carry us this far, and it is never far enough, not by a long shot!
  There is a great line in "Til We Have Faces", the 'god' says; "You must die . . . before you die".
  Back at the trainwreck of Eden, we were sort of turned "inside-up", our sense of color became a mathematical error so to speak, our hold on the true became a death grip, and never any more the exchange of a friendly handshake. It was along those lines I think which we went off the rails. We as creatures, became wildly distorted, and as such (now) must see ourselves "at the center". But, at that "center" there is only a hole in the ground awaiting . . . me! We became crazy gamblers who have-to (now) "let it all ride" upon the flimsy and absurd premise that we can (and ought!) be "something special".
  We see, and are not seeing correctly. We hear, and only listen for certain parts. We are wrecked by the damage, and also must continue assembling the parts for the big collapse. This "is us". We kind of "vaguely recall" that life wasn't supposed to have been this way, and for the life of me I cannot say how it was to have been!
  So, we complain.
  Nobody likes complainers, and nobody enjoys being around "needy" people. At minimum, I don't! But what other option is there for us if we remain alone and unaided? If my friend who makes no bones about his rejection of Messiah complains; I suppose that I can "understand" to some degree the issues involved. But I cannot fix either the world, nor him nor me. In a sense then, we conclude the matter with hunger.
  Food is like air, we cannot get along without it. Hope is like food. We cannot last without it indefinitely. All that we can safely say then is that we require the stuff, and cannot locate it by our own selves.
  A kind of "inversion" of things then would "predict" (after the fact?) that it is Hope which locates me! There is precisely nothing in me which Hope could find "worthwhile or meaningful". There is zero aspects of my life, doings or intentions which would, or could ever "recommend me" to the Captain of Hope. This much is certain. This is our emotional reality, and also, the reality is that I do indeed have hope! Something new has entered the world.
  The center has been relocated outside of "the me", and I wasn't the one who did it! He Himself becomes a kind of "food", which like the waybread of the elves ain't much to look at, but yet has marvelous staying power!
  It was in the saying, and in the telling Him precisely what I thought of His idiotic little dump called "reality", it was in my expressing rage at Him, that I found something unexpected. The gift is life! But, I didn't want that; I wanted truth and meaning! Uh, those are tossed into the deal gratis, deal with it.
  We have to find our "bottom", we must locate the ground in which we shall one day be buried, and stand just there, shouting our wrongminded hatred of all things. Say what is in you, it is ugly . . . and true!
  I did not "find" God, He arrested me! I did not "choose Jesus", He mopped the floor with me! To speak of "the me, 'making' Him Lord" is just more hopelessly stupid blather.
  He is the Maker whether we like it or not, but if we like it, there are benefits undreamt involved. Our truth takes us to the edge, His truth takes us to life, to death, and then to life again.
  It is either that, or complain, to grind the teeth and to rant at the darkness. but of our own selves we (privately) prefer the darkness. That "is us"!
  Hope is built here, we are not, have never been and shall never be; of our own selves. The True Self has seen to that! And so, with hope anew comes desire anew. It would shock the pants off of my dear old Mom that I (nowadays) actually enjoy asparagus!
  With The Captain comes a new "want-to". Long live the King! Our hope dwells in Him.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Auto-destruct Sequence

  Back in the late 60s, when I was a grade schooler, we would come home about three p.m. from Bel-Air Elementary. On TV, the reruns included such stuff as Gilligans' Island, The Beverly Hillbillies and whatnot. But the real action was the reruns of Star Trek! Now, there is some entertainment for an eleven year old boy!
  It is odd (now) to watch those old shows, they seem so shallow; or is it insipid? I have a hard time trying to regather the emotion, the "oomph" of just why I found the program to be so powerful as a sixth grader. Really, one of the few ideas which showed up in the show (occasionally) which has stuck in my cerebrum (or where-ever) for 45 years is; "the auto destruct sequence"
  You know the drill, some dire strait or another in which Kirk & Co. have landed, gives them no choice but to blow the good ship Enterprise to smithereens! So, the chief officers, one by one go through the protocol (talking to 'computer') to verify and authenticate the legitimacy of the process. Of course, this is attended by a Cape Kennedy type of countdown, and what with one thing and another, the crew finds a last ditch reason to over-ride the command. But, we knew that was going to happen. To my young ears, this was compelling stuff indeed!
  We were talking in the Sunday school class today about "the beauty of failure" of which I ought be some sort of expert at by now. I still (by in large) do not "get" the concept. Failure is one of the very few things in this life that I am really any good at. And even there, we get mixed results. That odd occasion of sometimes getting something more or less correct, ruins my "streak"! So, if the goal was to become a uniform and consistent failure, well I'm no good at that! A failure at being a failure, how depressing is that?
  Some folks find (I believe) this sort of rumination to be "negative" or "too hard on myself". I haven't the froggiest fig-newton of why they think so. It seems darkly humorous to me, a bit like being unable to consistently recognize your own image in a mirror. The auto-destruct sequence is basic to "who we are" or at least who we were.
  We, generally speaking; much prefer to "not-look" at this type of dynamic in ourselves. When others begin the countdown, we attempt to put them off of it, to distract or perhaps compliment them into a more sanguine mood. It (our strategy I mean) is like Scotty trying to amuse the rest of the crew during the computer count down with a joke, and dancing a little jig.
  The auto-destruct sequence has many faces, and appears to be one of my favorite strategies. As a mental image, picture a pilot of a fighter-bomber "having a thing for" hitting the "eject" button, perhaps?
  If one is even able (questionable) to look at life realistically, the ideas of "hope" and of a better tomorrow seem pretty darned vapid. The beauty of drinking isn't so much the glamour of stumbling around and making a fool of yourself. But rather, the sharp focus of seeing what a crazy dump we live in (and keep rebuilding!) is temporarily fuzzied. By drinking, we are actively trying to ruin things. But what we forget while in the process of drinking is the next day.
  The interior wreckage, that physical exhaustion, plus the familiar sense of feeling like crap on a windshield (the next day), is what the drinker is so busy building. This, we forget, and it is but a variant of the auto-destruct. I think I can grasp the intention of why we build that. People say that; "Nobody wants to feel bad about themselves", but the fact is that they already do! The "problem" to be solved is much more along the lines of; "Why do I feel so chipper and glad, given what a trainwreck I have made of things? Shouldn't there be some evidence of the mayhem?" So, we build hangovers to verify who we (think) we are! Or, at minimum, that is what I used to do.
  The auto-destruct is a slow motion thing, a type of half-hearted suicide. We might deem it a self authored tentative eviction notice mayhaps? There is something terribly wrong with ourselves, and with the world. We are quite certain at this juncture. The thing begins to balloon at about the same time that we identify "the problem area". It is as-if we were going to utter a repair strategy to "fix things". It doesn't much matter what we identify as the "source" of the troubles, in that the process uniformly breeds in us a superiority complex. We end up thinking; "Why can't people just be more (fill in the blank here as you like); and things would be so much better!". This type of brain talk guides us infallibly to the conclusion that the real problem is "out there", and moreover that if and when "they wake up"; things shall improve and not otherwise.  I did this sort of head trip for many years, and it never made any difference how hard I pushed "the fix", people would just not learn! Shocking, ain't it?
  The auto-destruct sequence lives somewhere in this neighborhood. To validate hopelessness "out there", is to unwittingly validate it also (and stronger!) "in here". I (technically) become a "failure" in this case, at waking-up others. It's just that I am not really very good at it (failure I mean). Hit the "eject" button . . . again. Our interior chaos has oddly predictable patterns, we keep building the same thing over and over.
  For at least twenty years, as an "adult"; I used to say; "You want to know what I want out of life? I will tell you, I . . . want-out. . . of life!". Strangely, this was not well received. Life seemed like a bizarre game in which you can only be penalized, a sort of ever downward spiral, such that even what you try to do right is only more evidence against you? And I (for one) concluded that the basic premise then would be to do damage control soonest, and cease adding to the deficits! "Just show me the EXIT sign already, and I will cease making things worse, it ain't much; but it is the best I can do." and that; was the decades long brain noise I built.
  Now, our normal heart furniture tends strongly to disallow this type of response, and next thing I knew, I became the one "tut-tutting" my own self in order to shrink or contain the auto-destruct which (in reality) was the best answer I am capable of. I came to strongly disagree with myself "in principle"! Talking to yourself isn't so bad, the arguments are worse . . . but  worst of all, when you lose the argument!
  I am convinced that The Almighty knows this about us, He is well aware of this habit of ours of creating wrecks. In my own opinion Of Him (which was far too low) I thought He was on the "chipper" team. Those pastors with the over large crosses about their necks, saying things like; "That's just super" about things like growing radishes, kinda made me want to puke. The whole "encouragement" drill seemed to be awfully pasty and thin if it didn't have any courage or guts to it. This feminine and squishy nice guy theory just doesn't wash. We end up with a "god" who kinda loafs around until we decide (all on our own) to take our finger off the trigger? We end up with yet another voice telling us to; "Try harder", and this garbage is supposed to somehow qualify as "good news"? "Park it where the sun don't shine pard, ain't interested", was (and still is) my response.
  The way to get past the blender is to go through it, the path leading into the meat grinder is the correct one. This (in part) explains our fascination with extreme sports, and with death defying stunts. Life is inherently "unsafe", start there. Because (you see?) we know something about ourselves. We can hide from it, we can temporarily forget it due to distraction or stupor, but it won't go away. Death is "the answer" as far as we are able to see. It is simply this, He sees farther!
  That is, He is not "against" our auto-destruct sequence in the least. It is just that it does not go far enough! We have one piece of the puzzle, and it is a keeper, but it ain't the entire picture. The reason we (or at least I) keep rebuilding a collapse, a failure, an offense to others is that it must come! "And if Mr. Almighty upstairs hasn't the wherewithal to whack me for it, I shall manage it myself! So, let me get this right, I have to do my job, plus His too? And this is the same Guy telling me; 'To be perfect?!'. An Almighty loafer nice guy, just what we needed. . ." This was the sound of the brain racket in me for years! And that was about as far as I could see, before He came to meddle in my affairs. But hear me, I was right . . . but never right-enough.
  He doesn't take away from the truth we know about ourselves, He corrects by filling in the parts we cannot see. The auto-destruct sequence itself is destructive not because it is wrong headed, but because it is incomplete, and a half-measure.
  Our grasp of things is inherently "negative" and we (stupidly) attempt an over-ride with the "positive" as a sort of check or balance to keep ourselves from going too far. I have no beef with that inner strategy, except to note that it is a stopgap. It is like pouring molasses on sand, it slows the motion downward, and maybe that is alright. Perhaps it was more time which we required after all, but time for what?
  My Dad used to say things like; "We shall all stand naked before God to give an answer". This sounded like a terrible idea to me! Yes, he had "stand" right, and also "give an answer" correct; it was "naked" which was never enough. To complete the picture, to find the missing pattern, we need clothing. It was the best that Dad could do, and it was never good enough, in this; he "is us". My look at this sort of thing led me to conclude; "If things are that dire, the sooner I can cease adding evidence in the case against me, the better!". I was right and it was the best I could do, and it was never enough. That "is us".
  The good news of the auto-destruct sequence is that He built and owns the sucker. In His hand, it is applied correctly, for our good, and to His praise. Does that sound odd to you? What then of the testimony; "I tell you the truth, I die daily, it is no longer 'I' who live, but Christ (Jesus) who lives in me"? In Him, our concept of the "finger on the button" gets pushed; as JFK would have said "with vigah!".
  If back on the U.S.S. Enterpise, they once had carried out to the end the auto-destruct; I suppose that would have been the end of the series? But they always drew back, "just in time". He does not draw back, and applies the death sanction to us. The beauty is that on the "other side of death", is a life we have not yet guessed at. Gospel asserts boldly that this process is already begun! We agree with that testimony. The end of me is not "the end", but rather, a surprising new kind of beginning.
  One of the mind sets of the hip generation includes the phrases; "Getting your 'stuff' together", and "getting your head screwed on right". The unspoken premise is that one can (and ought!) get ones' proverbial poop in order, that is; it is do-able. And as long as we are stuck in that miserable rut, we personally guarantee the auto-destruct to manifest in our actual doings. Through bitter experience, I say so!
  Is it drugs or sex you would rather fail at? Or, how about some combination? Is it driving while drunk, or doing a crooked business deal in which you shall surely be caught which you prefer to build? Somewhere, somehow we are determined to apply negative sanction, to exhaust and ruin . . . ourselves. We must, because it is the right thing to do! "And if God is too gutless to smack me down, I'll do it!", this is the sound of our misery. Gospel predicts correctly instead that the auto-destruct  finds its' true home when we "go low".
  When we agree with our pride and ambition being scuttled, when we embrace our loneliness and sorrow, when we die to any hope of ever "getting it together", then into the meat-grinder we walk. . . gladly! The central axiom of the good news has two legs. One, Jesus is Lord (as in Lord GOD) whether you like it or not, and two, that He has busted out of the tomb. These combined, alter the shape of reality; by addition and by an abundant overflow. It does not say; "You are wrong about everything". It says; "Keep what is true, and add to it!".
  This sort of talk is "man-talk". The three being cast into the fiery furnace possessed "balls". And it is just here that I find our western church to be so lacking. We have forgotten the connect between courage and loyalty to the death, with our flimsy, and girlish usage of the word "encouragement". A man never "backs down on what is right"! That is just the way it is, deal with it. Our problem is not an unshakable insistence upon "right", but rather that we have been blinded, that we live in a dark world. We see not-far at all.
  He knows this about us.
  As the True Owner-Operator of the auto-destruct sequence, He is not "saddened" by our conclusions. He is not "surprised" at our patterns of rebuilding the wreck. It is simply that we are unable to wreck deeply enough. Our puny hangover, our lousy disputes with the "ex", do not ever cut deeply enough! It is for lack of passion, not the excess thereof He scolds!
  Individually and collectively, we build a future collapse. And whether it is a war, or an economic depression, whether a bad needle habit, or chronic emotional depression we of human-kind shall keep on finding ways to crash.
  We must!
  The beauty and innovation, the sheer genius of Gospel is simply that death "in Him" is survivable! The King of the Jews is the evidence, the Guarantor of life, the Executor of the sentence and the Redeemer back from destruction. We provide the destruction, until He gets here, and does the job right!
  The way out is down, the way home is in being lost. The way of gladness is to embrace sorrow as friend and counselor. There is a new thing in earth!
  He, the Aroma of Life, He the Captain Brave, He the Lily of the valley, Fairest of ten-thousand.  He is "the new thing"! The one Loyal Son has pledged Himself. . . to the death, and beyond!
  Unthinkably, far and far beyond.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

That Rapture Jive

  I have been mulling over whether or not to write on a topic now for several weeks, and finally decided to go ahead. The beauty of this sort of format is that if the finished product is junk it can easily be scrapped, or edited like crazy in the future. But rather than leaping directly into the rapture jive, it seems appropriate to me to introduce it by way of how it arose in my brain-case as a topic for an essay of the crazy pants variety.
  I have to admit up front that I have been spending altogether too much time looking at the news feed material which my close personal friends over at Facebook send my way. I gather by observation; that there are algorithms at work. The sort of thing you click on, triggers similar feeds in the future. So, each person through their personal choices is (basically) programming themselves with what they already agree with. I find this oddly fascinating, and quite boring, it is both.
  All that said, the sort of thing which shows on my feed is highly political (of the conservative ilk), very often humorous, and sometimes religiously quasi apocalyptic, y'know, just like yours truly! What I find more interesting than not, are the comments to a given post. Some posts have way too many to read, but even on those; you can get a whiff, and a general drift of "where" most of the commentary is directionally pointed, by skimming a couple of dozen or so.
  Years (decades now) ago, I quit watching television. I resented being "programmed" into a unanimity, a kind of cultural group-think, so I quit watching (plus that, my TV conked out, and I was too cheap to buy another!). The broad outlines of popular opinion now, compared to when I quit watching, up until today have shifted dramatically. And I (for one) attribute much of this sea change to the constant barrage of images and words on television.
  In its broad sense, the changes are toward a kind of muzzy headed marxism, which is all about fairness, tolerance and inclusion, which is to say what has been bred is a harsh and shrill victim status, a cruel and deceptive exclusion of the "incorrect". In this type of model, the smaller (and more bizarre) the minority, the louder and broader the message. In my opinion then, America (as we knew it) is no more.
  Another cultus is forming, and it appears to be politically driven. That is, safety, security and provision are not to be sought in work, ambition and personal drive (forget about God!), they are to be awarded to all; as their rightful due.
  So anyhow, if this estimate of what America is becoming is even moderately correct, a reaction to (or against) such "progress" is a (predictable) "end of the world" scenario. I am not (yet) certain that we live during the era just prior to the return of the King, but viewing the news feed comments, I am (apparently) in the minority.
  As an aside, as best as I can tell, Peter the Apostle believed that he was living in "the last days", and I see no reason to dispute that estimate. So, in this essay at least, we are discussing that rapture jive, as it applies to the period immediately preceding the return, not a prolonged era of gospel tidings being spread to all the nations.
  I have been a Christian since the winter of '77, and never during that period have I once embraced the so called "doctrine" of the secret rapture. In brief; it is crap theology, not only untrue but misleading in the extreme. In my estimate, the entire schmeer swings upon two verses in the Bible. I Thes 4:17, and II Thes 2:7 are the ones I have in mind. Jerked entirely out of context, we get this lame theory which (more or less) runs as follows.
  Jesus will come, but since He doesn't physically touch the earth with His foot, it doesn't really qualify as a coming. You got that? So, when this occurs, He will zap the church outta here, and they will go have a good time for 3 1/2 (or 7, depending upon the interpretor) years. During that period, the Jews will renew bloody sacrifice at Jerusalem. Oddly, God will be pleased (?) to accept such worship, and they will do mightily. So anyhow, at the end of that period, the King returns, and establishes some sort of kingdom, in which believers and unbelievers (still together) will be ruled for precisely one thousand years. Then, there will be a judgement, a resurrection, and something or other.
  This bizarre mishmash of the apostles' teaching was entirely unheard of in the church for 18 centuries. Nobody believed it, because it had not yet been invented. Let us take as an axiom; "Novelty in theology is not wholesome food".
  To my knowledge, the rapture jive arose out of a series of meetings in which teenaged girls started giving first person"Thus saith the LORD" type of messages. This, (positionally) places them as equals to the prophets of old, and I (for one) do not buy it.
  The keystone of their innovative word was; "Jesus could come at any time", which is clearly hogwash. This two stage mashup of eschatology was the "explanation" of their "revelation" and as a result utterly divides (again) Jew from Gentile. Two peoples, two salvations, clearly a fraud. And speaking of frauds, next this guy named Darby took the mess, and sold it like crazy. But where it really gained traction was nearly a century later, when Schofield published his KJV version "with notes".
  Since (at minimum) the 1960's or so, a huge chunk of the fundamental and/or evangelical protestant church in the west has bought this misery hook, line and sinker. The net result?
  Read the comments section of those semi-apocalyptic posts on Facebook. People expect to be lifted out, prior to the tribulation era. They do not expect to be here. Well, they may be correct, and "until he that prevents is taken out of the way" could well be the Spirit. So, if the Spirit is gone, and the Christians are gone at that time, then all I would say is that there are more ways than one to remove them! Ever heard of a chain gun?
  But here is my "take" on what the rapture jive actually will do then in the lives of those buying into it. The Apostle Paul who is wrongly cited for supplying the idea, is the very same guy who predicts that two major signs must occur prior to the return. And it is these signs he warns the believers to watch for. So how are they going to do that, if they ain't here? The great apostasy, and the appearance of the man of sin are the two. And so, for those buying the rapture jive I would ask, of those alive then; "What is your opinion of that man?". And unless I am smoking major doses of controlled substances, the answer is obvious!
  They are being forced into something like; "Whoever that guy finally proves to be (and we don't know where he really comes from), the only thing we can affirm for certain is that he is OBVIOUSLY NOT the man of sin!" I ask; "Uh, how can you be so SURE about such a negative proof?" Simply said, their answer must be; "WE ARE STILL HERE! We cannot be here, if he is here; so he ain't him!" Doesn't that seem an interesting coincidence to you?
  One of the two signs given beforehand (the arising of this son of perdition), and the most vocal and active branch of the church being prepared for generations beforehand to deny his true identity? Downright flukey that! The other sign, a massive falling away from the faith; I take as deeply connected to the identity of this one rotten man. That is to say, a false religion need not necessarily "replace" faith, but add to it!
  Central to the lie is a parallel, or an equality premise. After all, this is what the original rebellion was all about; "To become like God". So, evil or wickedness is not a self conscious endorsement of an "anti-right". Rather, it proposes a parallel (and unique) "also right". I infer that something along these lines must come into play in the future. And the rapture jive leaves believers very vulnerable exactly here. Whether during my natural lifetime or not, the two signs are tied together structurally. He claims to be somebody he ain't, and the faithful are swept along in this tomfoolery, it is both.
  He, showing himself in the temple (where?) as-if he were god, may not get a hearty "Amen" from the believers, but neither will they be able to assert that he is the one we have been warned of! A theory of; "He can't be him, because we are still here", must breed a kind of "irrelevant nowhereland", a religious ghetto being built. Neither able to fit in with the mobs flocking to the un-man, nor able to testify that he is in fact the anti-christ, the church in this sense, sentences herself to a "no comment" at best! And this is what I mean by the new cultus being political.
  The rapture jive is a twisting of scripture, which when imbibed, breeds a disinterest in the affairs of men. I recall when in the U.S.A.F. that "short-timers" (guys about to end their enlistment time) definitely had a bad attitude about doing their job. It just didn't matter anymore, if "I'm outta here" forms the ethic. So, in this case, the world can go to hell in a handbasket, and believers are not motivated to take risks to rebuild decency or truth in public discourse, for the very same kind of reason. They are "short-timers"! And girls, this is your message for us from on high? Please, stop the madness!
  I don't pretend to grasp all that shall come to pass, but I know my own hearts' ambition. I desire like Job of old, to see my Redeemer stand upon this earth with these eyes of flesh! And, the slide we are now in culturally, may or may not be the final chapter. Regardless, I entrust my life and my death, my falling and my rising to the Good King. And if He sees fit that I have the endurance to live to that day, I'm all for it! I desire nothing in this world, but to see Him standing in victory, having kicked the ever living snot out of the foe, and all of his slaves!
  Indeed, the entire teaching pattern of acquiring patience, perseverance, and endurance all point forward to that day! You shall require, my friend; a superhuman strength to tolerate His presence. Like a tornado, but wild, like a super-nova but really bright, we build endurance unto that rendezvous. We are to live, enduring all things; and not to be swept away with the guilty.
  There exists precisely one method of guilt removal which He authorizes and recognizes. There is one bomb shelter strong enough and deep enough to cover us in that hour, and it is called ; "The blood of the Lamb". The very same apostle said once; "I determined to preach nothing to you . . . but Christ crucified, and Christ raised". This sole remedy doesn't change, nor does the clock or calendar reform our view here. Whether late or early, the one sacrifice is our one hope before Him. And if for any reason at all, that covering be removed, our hope in that hour dies.
  He is sworn upon His own honor, the covering shall not removed.
  It is for this reason, that I most strenously object to, and find utterly repugnant this "christian" teaching that in those last days, the blood of bulls and goats will once again be the path of acceptable sacrifice for anybody at all! In this plumbers' opinion, that would be "the abomination which makes desolate", indeed!
  And this rounds out my spin on the rapture jive, except for one point. If we do see such horrible heresy as revived bloody sacrifice, and believers remaining physically present then, unable to correctly identify the un-christ, then the final weirdness of clocktime does (at that point) kick in.
  Daniel and John keep stressing; "A time, times and half a time, 42 months, 1335 days" from the abomination to something marvelous. It is stressed and repeated, so (naturally?) the rapture jive doubles it to seven years? This guarantees a dis-spirited and forlorn bunch of do-nothings. See? They have been left behind! "Apparently" they were only fooling around with faith, and were not found worthy of supernatural evacuation planning. And so, to make a bad situation worse, their estimate of the duration is off by a factor of two! This guarantees an unready folk, and purchases leisure for excuse making, gee; just what we were missing. . .
  The rapture jive is a theological train wreck, a massive lie and breeds no good fruit in those swallowing it. The reality is far different.
  Ever since the original rebellion at Eden broke out, humankind was told to anticipate the Coming One, the Messiah of Israel. Through a hundred types, through the Law, via sound doctrine, with promise and threat, by poem and song we were taught to await His coming. But when He did show, who knew?
  Well, there was His mom and step-dad, a gang of nobody shepherds, several astrologer types from Persia, an old lady at the temple, and one old guy who was promised to see him come before he died. But each of these had help in so recognizing Him. That is about it. So, we get an obviousness and a blindness both at once. We get a fulfillment and an inability to recognize, it is both/and, not either/or.
  So likewise then, predicted is dire and wooly horrors in those days. Mens' hearts failing them for seeing the things which are coming upon earth! Plus, and simultaneously, we see a workaday run of the mill. It is business as usual, a type of not noticing like stepping into a bear-trap!. It will be both in those days then.
  In brief, it has become my ambition, my goal in life to be like that old guy Simeon. I want to see the LORD's anointed come to do Justice(!) before I go.
  That is all. Nothing else really matters much to me. That, and to tell you about it, I suppose.