All this talk of the Rapture has turned me into a giddy, culture-obsessed freakazoid. The fanfare on both sides is a barrel of crazypants fun: will you be sporting a Rapture Veteran t-shirt, or will you be signing your pet up for a new owner once you’re whisked away to Heaven? (All pet rescuers are certified atheists!)
Past Judgment Day prophecies may not have been real -- but they have made a very real impact on American history. This interesting Christian Science Monitor article shows how failed Rapture predictions of the past have given way to new religious movements, psychological research and even more Rapture predictions. For example, the Seventh Day Adventist movement grew out of a failed prediction called the “Great Disappointment” of 1844.
End Times prophecies have also impacted social psychology. Dianetics follower named Dorothy Martin convinced a group of followers in 1954 that End Times believers would be rescued by flying saucers. Psychologist Leon Festinger snuck into the group of believers and documented their belief systems as part of his study of what is now known as cognitive dissonance.
Paul Boyer talks more about the Rapture's social and cultural ripples in his interesting essay, "Doomsday: A User's Guide." In his essay, he mentions how even NASA engineers have jumped on the Rapture boat. Edgar Whisenant sold several million copies of a 1988 book detailing 88 reasons the world would end that year.
There’s also this great slideshow of shoot ‘em up, disease-ridden apocalypse movies to pop in your DVD player.
What are you doing for the Rapture? Let me know!