It’s been a long time since I wrote my first post. I have no excuse other than the fact that I’m super lazy. So…onward and upward.
Although I’m no longer religious (I’m an atheist now in point of fact), there was a time when I believed very deeply. Like most people in America, I was raised a Christian. Baptist when I was very little and then many different flavors of Protestant. While none of it stuck completely, there are still one or two things that color the way I think today.
When I was twelve years old, the ‘Left Behind’ books were published. If you’re not familiar with these novels — and you should be so lucky — they are a fictional account of the Christian End Times. For the purpose of this post, the only important plot point is that at the beginning of the first novel every True Christian is whisked away to heaven in the event known as the Rapture. This is good for them because they’re with Jesus and bad for everyone else because shit’s about to go down. End of the world shit.
In conjunction with the adult ‘Left Behind’ novels, there was also a kid’s version which is what I read. And it fucked me up. I don’t know if it was because I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that I truly didn’t believe or if I just didn’t consider myself worthy, but those books convinced me that the Rapture was imminent and I definitely wasn’t getting taken. I had a feeling in my chest — which I now realize was probably a panic attack — that made me think that something major was about to happen. Like I was getting a sign from above.
One morning I was laying in bed. Because of my disability, someone has to get me up. Usually this was my mom, but she was late in coming in to help me. So I called out for her to get out of bed. No answer. She didn’t always hear me the first time I would call so I tried again. Still nothing. The little worm of fear started burrowing into my brain.
“She’s not there,” it said. “No one’s there. Because you’ve been Left Behind.”
I pushed that thought out of my head. No way. She’s was just outside doing something. I decided to call my stepfather. He almost never left the house, so if my mom wasn’t there then he definitely would be. I called out for him. Zilch. Nothing. Nada.
The worm returned, whispering in my ear.
“You know they’re gone. Nobody is coming for you. you’re gonna die in your bed, all by yourself.”
Now I was in full freak out mode. Convinced that I was now completely alone and helpless, I started yelling as loud as I could for anyone that might hear me. I don’t remember how long exactly this went on, but, at the time, it seemed like an eternity.
Eventually, my mom came in the front door of the house and then into my room once she heard me yelling. What had happened was that she had gone on a walk around the block and my stepdad was taking a phone call on the back porch. So basically I freaked out for no reason.
Back to the present and my point in telling that story. Even though I don’t believe in the Rapture anymore, that fear of being abandoned is still with me. When I call out and no one answers, the first thought that flashes across my mind is ‘Left Behind’. And this, I think, is the perniciousness of religious thought. No matter how ridiculous much of it is and no matter how rational you may be, it can still take a hold of your mind years after you thought you were done with it.