4. To The Top Of The Mountain and Over The Cliff
"O wad some Pow'r the girlie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!"
Joe Goodbuddy, appalled and heartsick upon learning of the degree of Conspiracy influence and control within his church, went searching desperately for a church free of such influence. His search led him finally to a small but growing Bible-oriented independent church.
Joe never had owned a Bible except for the large family Bible, ensconced on a table in the living room but rarely opened. Since this Bible was inconveniently heavy and cumbersome for study purposes, Joe went shopping for one of more convenient size, but quickly became confused by the multitude of versions, translations, and paraphrases offered in the stores. Upon consulting his new preacher, Joe was advised to obtain a Scofield Reference Bible, which he did.
As Joe attended his new church he soon was exposed to the doctrine that the evils he had come to recognize from his Birch education were in reality signs of the imminent Second Coming of Christ, and that it was useless for him to oppose these evils since the Second Coming would solve all earthly problems for Christians. He was urged to spend his entire spare time working for the church and winning souls, in preparation for the imminent "rapture of the saints." This was the term used to describe the anticipated secret return to earth of Christ, who would come to remove all true Christians from the earth prior to the terrible tribulation which was to follow.
After a few months in his new church, Joe began to taper off on his Birch work. After about a year he decided to resign from the Society, writing a letter of resignation thanking the Society for what it had done for him, but explaining that he now was engaged in a much higher calling which demanded his full time and resources during the very short time remaining before the Second Coming of Christ.
Seven years later, Joe was still attending the same church. He was working harder than ever at his job, having expanded his business, and was making more money than ever. He had built a new home and furnished it with new furniture and appliances, presumably to await the Lord's coming in greater comfort. He kept up his insurance premiums. He was sending his two sons to college, where both were preparing for professional careers. As in his pre-Birch days, he was spending considerable amounts of time at the golf course in summer and at the bowling alley in winter. He had resumed watching the toob. In addition he had bought a new boat and was seen frequently on the lake, leading one irreverent observer to inquire whether he was as much a fisher of men as he was a fisher of fish.
Besides resuming all his old hobbies and recreational activities, Joe took up a new hobby, that of "rapture watching." He found that there were books to be read, TV programs to be watched, lectures to be attended, tapes to be heard, films to be seen, charts to be hung on his office wall, lapel buttons to be worn, and bumper stickers to be distributed, all promoting and reinforcing his newly-found idea that the Second Coming must inevitably occur soon. Joe subscribed to a newsletter published by a company known as "Second Coming, Inc.," which purported to keep him posted on how current developments in the news were fulfillments of Bible prophecy. He became an avid earthquake fan, combing each news report for supposed clues to the Second Advent. It could almost be said that Joe never missed an earthquake. Each of Joe's late-model cars bore a bumper sticker proclaiming, "In case of Rapture this car will be driverless." To anyone who has not yet encountered the "rapture cult," some of the foregoing may seem like gross exaggerations, but this author has personally encountered, or knows someone who has personally encountered, every one of these activities.
Joe Goodbuddy, encouraged by his Bircher friend to climb up out of the valley of ignorance, irresponsibility and inaction, had climbed laboriously until he had reached the top of the mountain of responsibility, only to plunge over the cliff on the far side into another chasm of irresponsibility known as "religious neutralism." He had lost his energizing realization of the danger. He had deserted the John Birch Society, without which he and his family might never have been led to Christ. Although he would never have admitted it aloud, he had in effect written off American freedom as not worth fighting for, even though he took advantage of that freedom in every activity of his daily life, including every time he attended a service at his church and most especially including those rare occasions when he really did try to win a soul to Christ. In Russia and Red China such activity is strictly forbidden and severely punished.
Joe's position, viewed from a logical standpoint, was completely ridiculous. On the one hand he was obsessed with the idea that he would at any moment be "raptured," which occurence would conclude abruptly all his earthly activities and responsibilities. On the other hand, he continued to live as though not only his own life but also the lives of his children would proceed normally and reach normal endings. The only activity he abandoned was any effort to oppose the evil Conspiracy, which continued, patiently and gradually, arranging a life of slavery and horror for himself and his children while he played contentedly at his newly-discovered little game. Joe was hedging his bets concerning all contingencies of his life except one. Never considering that, if his religious assumptions should be wrong, he and his family might be subjected to torture and death in a Communist slave labor camp, he blithely threw all caution to the winds and gambled everything on his being "raptured" before things got really bad. Ignoring the warning given by the sufferings of Christians in Russia, China, Cuba, Poland and many other countries, who have had to undergo martyrdom for their faith, he assumed that he and his family would be exempt from such a fate.
Illogical and contradictory as Joe's position is, it is nevertheless the position today of thousands of former patriots, both men and women. If they had not deserted from the army and were still active members of The John Birch Society, they might easily make the difference between slavery and freedom for generations to come. Their actions could not have suited the needs of the Conspiracy better if the Conspiracy had been able to program them to react exactly as they did. Is it conceivable that they could indeed have been so programmed?
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