Will we seize the opportunity in 2012? Will this be the year in which talking heads stop frazzling themselves over un-moments and non-events? Maybe bloggers won't blog about how a predominantly silent clique should think twice before it fans the flames of panic.
It can happen. Yes it can. We need not descend into last year's nadir, which came on May 21 -- Harold Camping's designated date of the so-called "rapture," when born-again Christians would rocket into the stratosphere. I was totally not surprised to be earthbound on May 22 and so were the people in the church I serve as interim pastor. Almost all were there that Sunday (a few had the sniffles; a couple temporary heathens played hooky; no one was in the clouds). We all knew Brother Camping was the equivalent of the bearded doom-and-gloom guy with the sandwich board in LA's Griffith Park -- or the poor soul who bundled up in winter clothing in August and marched the city streets where I once lived, screaming, "REEEEEPENT! THE LAWD IS COM-ING!" We're aware of Acts 1:7: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority," and, like many evangelical Christians, we doubt all this talk of the "pre-tribulation rapture." We think "Left Behind" should be left behind.
Here's the incongruity: Secular bloggers and talking heads are convinced we evangelicals have the IQs of gnats and the herd mentalities of gnus, so we stand in the field like clots of lobotomized deer and await the edicts of our "leaders." When Camping spoke, we lemmings donned sweaters. Every evangelical was talking about it. We couldn't wait for May 21.
One problem: almost all the Christian websites and publications I saw barely mentioned May 21 -- and no one was buying it. We haven't taken Camping seriously since he authorized 1994 as the year of the rapture (to be honest, I had to play catch-up: "Who is this guy?"). Secular writers jammed the bandwidth with their analysis on why the entire evangelical world follows Camping, then other writers responded to those writers and others chimed in. All were talking about how we were talking even though we weren't talking. I would invoke the "snowball" analogy, but snowballs begin with snowflakes, and, as I understand it, a dust particle should lie at the center of each snowflake. There was no dust particle. There was no center. No snowball should have existed, yet it did. Something surrounded nothing.
A few evangelical writers finally filled the void and, typically, they mourned our tribe's current intellectual and theological plight. "Why are we dominating ourselves with all this talk?" they asked -- even though we weren't.
I verified our total non-involvement and well-deserved, in-depth apathy when I tabulated results from two questions I asked of my own church. Question 1: How many attendees wondered if "the rapture" would, indeed, happen on that date? Answer: zero. Question 2: How many expressed any remote concern? Answer: not one.
Those poor brainwashed people.
Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. The airwaves and cable lines are now crammed with vacancy and non-events and individuals famous for being famous. Think about Kim Kardashian, for example. What is she famous for? The obvious answer is that she's ... uh ... "shapely." But why her? Shapely women live and thrive from coast to coast and, sorry Kim, but many have "talent." What does Kim do for a living? Does she punch a clock? Is she a waitress? An administrative assistant? A paralegal? No. Has she been in a critically acclaimed movie? None of it. Kim Kardashian is invited onto talk shows because she's been to other talk shows. She goes to parties because she's been to other parties. She endorses products because she's famous -- and she's famous because she's done ... absolutely nothing.
Not that I dislike Kim, of course. I wouldn't be the least surprised if she's kind to pets and cares about our lakes and streams. She might even give her spare clothes to the Salvation Army. There might be a huge difference between Kim the individual and Kim the sociological phenomenon. It's just that Kim the phenomenon is a snowflake with no dust -- and yet she's there, forever before us, like Harold Camping's huge un-moment.
But this is our year. I can feel it. We'll sojourn into the unexplored realms of substance and coherent logic. We'll even ditch such phrases as "evangelical voting block" and soak in Jim Wallis' wisdom: "Many -- even most -- evangelicals don't fit media stereotypes and are growing weary of hearing them repeated over ande over again, especially from writers who know nothing about us, have an agenda to use or distort who we are and what we believe, or simply should know better." This will be the election year in which we...
...Flip-flopping and Swift Boating and climate change denial. A candidate falls after an errant war-whoop; another teeters over his pastor's statements. It's a there-you-go-again year, a where's-the-beef year, a you're-no-Jack-Kennedy year. The nation's fate hinges on a make-up artist and we vote in the best negative advertisers and then condemn Congressional acrimony and...
Harold and Kim, I take it all back! Save us in our hour of need! You're our last hope!