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Doomsdays throughout time
September 23rd, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Novel explores ‘The Leftovers’ after the Rapture

By Todd Leopold, CNN

(CNN) - Stories of the Rapture usually come accompanied with the operatic drama of bright lights, doomy thunder and the echoing hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen as the world awaits the inevitable apocalypse.

Author Tom Perrotta prefers a little quiet.

In his new novel “The Leftovers” (St. Martin’s), the bestselling author of “Little Children” and “Election” follows a group left behind after something called the “Sudden Departure,” a Rapture-like event in which millions of people suddenly vanished like smoke.

Kevin Garvey is the mayor of Mapleton; his family was left physically intact but psychologically frayed. Nora Durst, on the other hand, lost her husband and children and still hasn’t recovered.

Some characters retreat into cult-like groups. One group, the Guilty Remnant, haunts the living and awaits the end; another, the Holy Wayners, is led by a charismatic hugger who loses his bearings.

Author Tom Perrotta.

Then there’s a local preacher, Matt Jamison, who insists that what happened couldn’t be the Rapture because it claimed flawed humans of all faiths and ethnicities. “I should’ve been first in line,” he insists, while compiling dossiers of the departed’s faults.

Listen to a clip of the audiobook, courtesy Macmillan Audio:

Perrotta talked to CNN about the book, his own faith and putting himself in others’ shoes. Here’s an edited transcript of the interview.


You grew up a Catholic. Are you religious?

I’m not religious but am extremely interested in religion. I went through a brief phase of being intensely religious as a kid, but by the time I was maybe 13 or 14, religion no longer played a big part in my life.

One of the things I’ve been fascinated by the more I’ve delved into evangelical culture is how consuming a religious commitment is. I grew up where it was one part of life – it didn’t pervade your entire existence.

Your last couple of books have had religious themes. Why are you so interested in the subject?

I approached [my previous book] “The Abstinence Teacher” through a political lens. I was really interested in the American culture war, which five or six years ago was a kind of consuming part of the political landscape.

I remember that feeling around George W. Bush’s reelection was the sense that the election was going to hinge on people’s views about gay marriage in Ohio.

And here I was living in Massachusetts, gay marriage was legal, people I knew had no problem, the sky hadn’t fallen – and I remember this as a constant question people were posing: Who are these devout Christians? And I thought it was one of the jobs of the novelist is to know who their fellow citizens are.

So I approached it from there and tried to immerse myself in the Bible and Christian culture and follow this one character’s journey from the inside.

Did that lead to “The Leftovers?”

In the course of a lot of reading I kept bumping up against this end times Rapture scenario. And this is not something Catholics buy into. I think I didn’t even hear about it until college. I was reading a book about fundamentalist religion in Texas when I first heard of the Rapture. It was such an amazing image, and such a poetic image, that it stuck with me all these years.

Another point was, I was very taken with the specificity of the scenario. The Rapture would happen, I would presumably be left behind and there would be a seven-year period of tribulation for Jesus’ second coming and the millennium.

And I kept thinking, “Seven years is a long time.” Especially in this culture.

So one of my thoughts was maybe three or four years in, some people would have forgotten. And other people would be, rightly, just focused on the past and on remembering and making sense of this big thing that happened. And I felt that, in this little joke I made to myself – seven years later, nobody would remember – was some truth about these human impulses. One is to remember and make sense, and the other is to forget and move on.

So that’s really what this book is about. It’s not a theological argument with apocalyptic theology. It’s a book about how we remember, how we forget, how we move on. It’s also about the way that trauma inspires intensely religious reactions.

Why is it so hard for us to let go, to enjoy life? Is it our deep-seated religious guilt that prompts these evangelical movements?

I don’t know. I think most of us set ourselves on a path, and we don’t like to get knocked off. I think that’s why the story of St. Paul is such a great one – that you have to get hit by lightning to change. I think a lot of us feel that we have a life that we like, and adding anything that intrudes on that is a problem.

I still have this vivid memory of 9/11 – I was writing a story for this magazine in New York. I was working closely with this editor and I got the news and I e-mailed, “Are you OK?” He e-mailed back, “Fine here. Where’s that rewrite?” It was like, I’m going to pretend this didn’t happen.

Do you have a sympathy for people who think we’re in the end times?

I’m sympathetic with the need for clarity – who we are, what we’re doing, where we’re going to go, what death means. What I’m not so sympathetic with is that sense that some of us are going to get rewarded and lots of other people are going to get punished.

To the extent that somebody takes pleasure in that, that’s a problem for me, in the same way someone might welcome a war in the Middle East because that signals some movement toward the end times.

Seems kind of selfish...

And I’m no expert on Christianity, but one of the interesting things about Jesus is how he constantly works against anyone’s assumption of moral superiority. So Christians who assert moral superiority and certitude about their own election will always seem to be in some sense setting themselves up for a fall, because Jesus was always uncomfortable with people who did that.

Did writing this change any of your thoughts about the Rapture?

The reason it has so much power to me is that it’s such an amazing metaphor for the way life is. As we get older people start disappearing from our lives. That, to me, was the leap that made the book possible. We are all left behind. We’re not left behind in the way the end times scenario envisions, but we’re all living with the absences of all kinds of people – not just people we loved, but people who sat next to us in school or worked across the hall. But we keep going, because that’s what we have to do.

What’s your vision of God? Do you have one?

I don’t, though it’s hard for me to believe in a God who’s personally interested in the fates of every one of us, because the fates of so many innocents are so terrible. I know there are theologians who will explain that away to me, but it never sticks.

But you do believe in God?

I consider myself agnostic because I’m never quite comfortable with a story that says we’re some accidental combination of gases and all this emerged. I guess I haven’t heard the story yet that makes complete sense to me, from scientists or religious people.

Have you gotten any personal e-mails or letters about "The Leftovers?"

I’ve just started to get a few people who say they’re praying for me. I think there are going to be some people who are going to see the cover, see the name, see the Rapture and assume that this is, in effect, Christian fiction.

Religion feels like it clearly came out of a world – it was a tribal world, it was a local world. If you think about a world in which there was fire or calamity or flood, that’s our everyday world. And that was part of it. It’s always end times in a global, media-connected world.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Books • Christianity • End times

soundoff (481 Responses)
  1. Dave Davis

    Attention hippypoet and reality: it is not "forfilled", it is "fulfilled". Troll, troll, troll yer boat gently down the sream......

    September 23, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • John Richardson

      "sream"??????

      September 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • BG

      Richardson is wearing his Grammar Nazi uniform again.

      You take pictures of yourself in the mirror again, John?

      September 23, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Does someone else want to explain to BG the difference between spelling and grammar?

      In fact, however, I was just noting a small but amusing nugget of irony.

      September 23, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  2. Guest

    What do you view as unproven "theory"? that the sun does not have an inexhaustable supply of fuel? That the stars don't? That we can estimate the time to the end of a star's "life" by estimating the fuel left and the "burn" rate? That a large asteroid could destroy the earht (or at least make it inhospitable for life to exist)? that an all out exhcange of nuclear weapons could accomplish the same? Indeed, only point 5 appears to be debatable, and i don't know how many (other than heaven's gate) expect jesus to arrive on an astronomical body like and asteroid (or comet).

    Where's all the unsupported (unsupportable?) theory other than in your minds?

    September 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  3. hippypoet

    @Chuckles

    ok, so what i would love to know is what is the exact prophecies the person must forfull before being reckonized as the messiah of the jewish people? and how number are there... if you can remember.. don't stress yourself.. as i will be cnn.com tomorrow 🙂

    September 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Thats a good question,

      The honest answer is I'm not really sure how many there are exactly. Many are already mentioned on this board, the important ones, like born to a virgin (or young maiden depending on translation), there's the gifts being brought, being born of kings, riding through a gate in jerusalem on a donkey, uniting all of judaism in the promised land, bringing peace and no disease.

      I mean, it seems pretty clear that when the NT was written they shoehorned jesus into a lot of what the prophecies say about a messiah and said it happened to jesus. You even have a couple of conflicting issues in the NT, I might be way off with which person says what, but I think Mark says that Jesus is born of king and then goes through pains to prove Joseph's lineage to King David..... the obvious problem is that Jesus has no bloodline to Joseph, so why does it matter who joseph is related to? Furthermore we have joseph traveling at top speed back to bethlehem when jesus was born and why exactly? Why uproot the family to travel a while with a pregnant wife just so the kid can be born in bethlahem instead of somewhere else?

      There's obviously the missing points of the prophecies too which shows the christ followers willingness to both hold up prophecy as proof of jesus' divinity and ignore them at the same time. Many others believe since jesus said he was god and then performed miracles, who cares if he fulfilled the prophecies, he showed he had godly powers.

      There are many reasons why there are still jews around even though jesus was supposed to be the jewish messiah, but let it suffice to say that during that time period, messianism was rampant and it was not uncommon to hear about a messiah in a different land that was bringing peace. The jewish messiah was supposed to come and literally, physically move all jews to one area, sort of like how during the rapture people are literally just going to disappear without warning. Since theres no historical record of jews from across the world zooming at high speeds into Israel, it was safe to say for the majority of jews, the man known as jesus was not the messiah.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • hippypoet

      isn't one of the key prophecies state that when the messiah comes the temple will be rebuilt on the mount.. which now invloves first the destuction of the Dome of the rock then the building of a new temple... is that right? also i have heard that solomon's temple was nothing less then a stone tabernakle compared to moses wooden one... is that correct?

      September 23, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  4. Reality

    From p. 2:

    What we do know:

    1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

    2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

    3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

    4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job/winterizing.

    5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

    6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 billion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

    Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 billion years?

    September 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "Know" is such a misunderstood idea. You don't "know" anything you just said reality. You just put back out what you have been told. None of what you said you independantly discovered or confirmed. It's not that you know...but that you agree with someone else that thinks they know.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Mark9988

      You've nailed it, Uncouth Swain. What they say they 'know' is based on faith in theory, not knowledge.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • .........

      spam alert hit report abuse to all reality copy paste posts

      September 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      To know is to understand the theory, the mathematics, and the science. No belief is required. Just because you DON'T know doesn't mean that other people are incapable of knowing. You might not KNOW how quantum mechanics works, but the computer your using to post your thoughts was likely built on its principles. Just because you don't understand it doesn't make it any less real. One does need to observe, say, the spin properties of trions to know that they exist.

      September 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Dave Davis

      What in the heck is a "cloud of raptors" anyway? I almost never critisize the person, only an ignorant comment. but this truly takes the cake, dear friend. Never heard such a thing. The Rapture is mentioned in the New Testament, just not by name. Try reading in the books of the Thessalonians(both books encompass only a few chapters). The apostle Paul tells of the return of Jesus. Almost every book of the Bible with few exceptions, speak of the Messiah's return. The "concept" of the rapture did not lie dormant for thousands of years and suddenly be rediscovered. It has been there all the time and Jesus people have always been aware of His promised return.

      September 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @ThinkForYourself- "To know is to understand the theory, the mathematics, and the science."

      Not really. let's use a classic thought experiment shall we. A child is born into a world where it is only black or white. Everything is black or white by design. The child grows up and learns everything there is about light, particles, color absorbstion...etc. Basically the child grows up the ultimate source on all things color but never has seen anything but black and white.
      Question: Do they know color? Or do they just understand it?
      And if they ever saw the color red, would they learn something?

      September 23, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      swain

      you know the earth is a sphere right

      not because youve been in space and orbited the earth

      but because you can only regurgitate what the astronauts have told you

      so get off your high horse

      youre a christian

      you know nothing

      September 23, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • BG

      @ Brownie

      FFS. Stop this blather and get your book report done or I'm calling your mom.

      September 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      bg

      if you could tell me what state and city my mother lives in ill be impressed

      until then

      keep chugging all that manchowder

      September 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      Maybe we're arguing symantic here. So you're saying that to know is to experience? Because I know that there is, say, ultraviolet light, even though I can't actually see it. But it exists. It's measurable. Other animals have adapted to see in wavelengths other than are own. Are you trying to say that we don't know that ultraviolet light exists?

      This goes back to your original point. You say that we don't know the life expectancy of our sun, for example. But we do because we understand the mechanics of a star. So ... we understand but we don't know? Sorry, that doesn't make any sense to me.

      September 24, 2011 at 1:20 am |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @THE BROWN NOTE- You didn't answer the thought experiment.
      Lol...you dolt. I hope you didn't wait for astronauts to see the Earth from space to tell you it was sphere. HAHAHAHA.
      Ever been to the ocean? There is a simple way to know the earth is round right there....of course you might be too simple to realize it.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @ThinkForYourself- I am arguing semantics a little but there is truth in that most ppl "know" only because of what others have told them. They don't delve into the subject matter. There are those that believe they know about global warming, but the truth is that they are no better than those of blind faith. Scientists tell them their is global warming and spit out some info and the believer takes it and never searches it out at all.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Swain

      I'm honestly puzzled by your experiment. You're saying to the casual observer, not just select people, the world is black and white, but we learned all about color? If there is no color how would we learn about different types of color other than white, light grey, darker grey, dark grey and black, let alone have names for these?

      Now if you're referring to a completely color blinded individual I guess that's slightly different and makes one wonder what a person who can only see in black and white understands questions like, why is the sky blue? or grass green?

      Then again if want to get really trippy you can ask the age old question, is my blue the same as your blue? I mean we're told the order of the rainbow and we each see every type of color with it's assigned name, but we can never truely understand what its like to see through another persons eyes and maybe we both see something COMPLETELY different but still have the same name for it and don't even understand that it's radically different. This could possible mean everyone actually has the same favorite color but mine is technically blue because my blue might be your favorite color of pink.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Uncouth

      I'm going to also have to disagree with you on belief in global warming. It would be one thing if there was no discernable effect other than scientists saying the earth is undergoing global warming, but we can see with our own eyes when summers are reaching record highs, heat waves that were unheard of, major melting in the arctic, ridiculous snowstorms in places unused to anything of the kind. You don't have to be a scientist to see that environmental change is going on. Now whether or not it's completely human engineered and what exactly our effect on weather patterns is compared to just regular swings is up to you. If you really believe that all this crazy weather is actually completely normal and that we do not need to slow down on our use of coal and other fossil fuels, well that's your perogitive, though I would urge you to take a closer look at statistics and to understand that whether or not humans are the single and only cause, or just one of many causes of global warming, we could still do our part to minimize the changes happening to the weather. right?

      September 26, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Chuckles- Sorry...it's a Thought Experiment better known as "Mary's Room".
      "Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like ‘red’, ‘blue’, and so on. She discovers, for example, just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, and exactly how this produces via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal cords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence ‘The sky is blue’. What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a color television monitor? Will she learn anything or not?"

      September 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Chuckles- I know ppl (usually older) that observe that the olden days were hotter. Of course they also said that kids worked harder and life was overall better. But I digress...my point is that most ppl are led to believe a certain way because of what some others say. I've known ppl who got much of their info on Washington from Glenn Beck. They can go online and such and find info to back up their thoughts....but can be just as wrong.
      As to GW, I still feel there are those that are truly ignorant of GW yet believe it because of what others tell them. They then convince themselves from what they see around them that those "smart" ppl are correct. It works both ways. Ppl get a thought in their heads from the "smart" ones and then fill in the gaps from their limited perspective.

      September 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Uncouth

      You didn't answer my original question which I think is tantamount in being able to answer your question at hand. Is this a pleasentville-esqu think where Mary, in her room can only see black and white, she grew up seeing and black and white and all of a sudden everything is in color? Or the world around her is in color and she's given a black and white monitor and told to study a tomato and try to tell based on the black and white image if its ripe or not?

      September 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Uncouth,

      So you're telling me that back a little while ago texas was getting a 100+ days of temps over 100? I mean you are right, we have some smart people telling us stuff and we believe them because they're smart....sort of. We also believe them because they can back up their findings. Show that when we started recording temps in the air and in the ocean, the temp is rising gradually and not dipping up and down. People might remember a really hot summer, but if we look at the evidence their really hot summer might have been 10 degrees cooler than what's happening now.

      What exactly do you think is false in terms of global warming? I mean, by hard evidence and data alone, something is happening with the environment that hasn't been happening since we started recording all of this data. Now whether this all happened before in the days before we had the instruments can be found out through tree and ice core samples and give us a very good picture of temperature on a yearly basis.

      As I see it, what would science and scientist have to gain by telling people exactly what they don't want to hear if they were lying? If you were to apply this argument to say, the big bang, I could understand your hesitance in just blindly accepting an astronmers theory on the creation of the universe, however for global warming there is mountains more data showing the legit effects that humans are having on the environment.

      September 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • J.W

      Chuckles are you the same person as Laughing?

      September 26, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @JW

      Ya caught me!

      September 26, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • J.W

      I kind of suspected it a few days ago. Am I the first to figure it out? lol

      September 26, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Damian beat you to the punch, though I sort of gave him a clue when I answered him from a different computer which automatically put me as Laughing, so that sort of gave it away, but kudos for figuring it out without a clue! What gave me away? Was it my wit? My far too awesome to not be me posts?

      September 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • J.W

      Well I noticed I didnt see the name Laughing for a few days, then chuckles and laughing are sort of similar, and your posts look the same the start with @x the one line in between the you type your reply.

      September 26, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • J.W

      I did not realize you cannot use 3 or more x's at once. That is a new one.

      September 26, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Chuckles- in the thought experiment, the idea is that Mary has been brought up (somehow) in an environment that is totally black and white. He has the ability to see color but beyond black and white...there is no color to be seen.

      September 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Chuckles- "What exactly do you think is false in terms of global warming?"

      I don't think global warming is false. That's not what I am saying anyway. My focus is what ppl think they know. Whether it's global warming, religion, evolution...etc, there are those that believe they know something but have done no critical thinking on their own of a subject.
      The person that believes in Noah's flood without doing research on it is no better than one that says evolution is real without doing any research on it.

      September 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  5. Bo

    @JohnR, If Hippypoet has left, maybe you have some Jewish background, I don't know for sure if he does, do you?

    September 23, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • hippypoet

      sry, i have no jewish background for better knowledge... all i know was studied... granted i did date a jewish girl once. for all the questions i asked the families rabbi, only one was answered – if your not a jew, then (and this is verbatim) you can only have answers that won't serve you but to undermine our beliefs. i smiled at that answer, it was most likely correct. for all the knowledge i have i use to argue against religion. however the rabbi and i did discuss the importance of the messiah forfulling all the prophecies... if even one is not fulled then he is not the true messiah.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • hippypoet

      right, sry i meant this to be in the last post... and jesus never united the jews under one law and ruler, and never brought them into the holy land – or promised land. also jesus wasn't the holy warrior fortold by issac during the time of solomon. it was like kind david was to be reborn.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • JohnR

      No Jewish background. Just lots of Jewish friends and colleagues.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Chuckles

      I DO I DO!!! I'M BARF MITVAHED AND EVERYTHING!!!

      What would you like to know?

      September 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  6. Salty Bob

    End of the earth will be in about 4billion + or – 500k years. Count on that, now all the wana be fairy tale followers will come and go, like their imaginary religions while the hard working normal people make the world go around and be as prosperous as we can.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  7. Bo

    @Hippypoet, I hope you don't leave just when things were getting interesting!

    September 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  8. Bo

    @hippypoet: so what prophecy(ies) were not fulfilled? Perhaps you have had some Jewish background?

    September 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      no such thing as prophecy

      just events that occur and then after the fact people write them down like they were seen in the future

      September 23, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  9. Bo

    @RealDeal, this the strangest question because the two can not be seperated. To seperate the two there is nothing. I can not even give you an example that you would understand, because the only example I can think of is the soul and the spirit: one can not exist without the other. I know there are some people who think the soul and the spirit are the same, but they have a wrong concept of the soul.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Bo, It seems as if you have a very romanticized idea of "God" and its characteristics. If "God" were proved and its characteristics delineated for you, you wouldn't need faith that "he" existed. Would you miss that faith?

      September 23, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  10. McJesus

    Talking snakes are real. I'm perfectly sane to believe in this. Excuse me while I go talk to the voices in my head.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  11. Bo

    @ Uncouth The reason the Jews don't accept Jesus as the Messiah is they are looking for hero that will conquer the world, sort'a like a superman. (I say this with tongue in cheek) But they are looking for someone who will deliver them from all their enemeys, and the Holy Land will be theirs forever

    September 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i have found your knowledge of such things to be very,... well shallow. not to insult here but you should leave such things to others who know what they are talking about. The jews are looking for nothing less then a person who forfulls every single prophecy made about the messiah as fortold by the prophets in the old testiment.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  12. Bo

    @Hippypoet If you were directing your 1:53 post at me, just tell me how Herrod could fit the bill, doubt that you could find 2 points let alone 8, and maybe you could find a few men that could fill 4 points, but Herrod would not be one of them. Now, I challenge you go and see if you can name 1 other man that can fill all eight, any time in history. but remember, there are more still more incedents that apply to Jesus that can be found

    September 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • hippypoet

      http://www.livius.org/he-hg/herodians/herod_agrippa_i.html

      check it out... jesus never did the more important things as the so called messiah, he never brought peace to the jews, or regrouped them as a single nation... he only instead spread separation thru them as they fought over the messianic prophecies... sad really!

      September 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • hippypoet

      and you never answered this

      to argue the foolishiness of god is to argue that he himeself makes mistakes... thats a bad arguement to have against me! for if mistakes are possible then your god is not a very powerful one... i think when he says to his followers that he is the only one , the true god.. i think he is running a loyality campain... he needs people to believe him or he loses, hence why jesus reverts to tricks to convert people...water to wine, walking on water.....

      to add to it, any "god" that makes mistakes, is by definition, not a god!

      September 23, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  13. Free

    The rapture is accepted at face value because people like the idea of being treated as VIPs and given a backstage pass to the end of the world. I think that the author got it right when he said it "Seems kind of selfish..."

    September 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  14. Bo

    @AtheistSteve, as I said, rather quoted, yesterday, God has left enough hooks for unbelivers to hang their doubts on. The Bible wasn't written to prove anything, it was wrtten as a guide for those seeking to serve God. God wants followers of faith. If the Bible were to prove the existance of God how much faith would it take to believe? "...for without faith it is impossiable to please God." Hebrews 11:6 "...for the just shall live by faith..." Galations 3:11 "...the foolishness of God is wiser than men..." 1Cor 1:25 I'll choose the "foolisness of God" over the wisdom of men, I believe it is a safer trip.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • hippypoet

      to argue the foolishiness of god is to argue that he himeself makes mistakes... thats a bad arguement to have against me! for if mistakes are possible then your god is not a very powerful one... i think when he says to his followers that he is the only one , the true god.. i think he is running a loyality campain... he needs people to believe him or he loses, hence why jesus reverts to tricks to convert people...water to wine, walking on water...

      September 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Bo, "If the Bible were to prove the existance of God how much faith would it take to believe?"

      So, "faith" is the most important thing then... not truth?

      September 23, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      according to your precious bible god showed the alleged faithless that it existed

      but the rest of us never see any evidence

      so why is it that some people are special and the rest never get to see

      its like david blaine or whatever his name is

      you dont get to see the magicians tricks

      you just know hes full of it and its for entertainment purposes only

      now lets see this god of yours

      guarantee it will never show up

      September 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  15. when

    @ John R. The same reason non believers reject Him. Pride and hardness of heart which blinds them to the truth. The scriptures and prophesies are still there for all to see. If they were not...we would not have Messianic Jews. Some have seen the light.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i imagine they got alot of light in the middle of the dessert!

      September 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • JohnR

      @when Nice try.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  16. when

    Many of the prophesies would be impossible to fulfill on purpose, such as, where you were born, no broken bones, just to name two. But we could sit here all day and show you prophesy after prophesy, prove it is historically sound and you still would turn a blind eye. You think Christians are stupid for believing there is a designer to all this design but your so-called "rationale" dictates everything just came from nothing. You don't believe God just WAS, however, you have no problem believing mankind just IS. Classic. Hypocritical and classic.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Human kind actually is. The evidence is in your mirror. I have yet to see any evidence of a god. Your prophecies do not impress me in the least. Your god is weak and useless, he used up all his power millennia ago. For some reason he seemed to practically jump out at people all the time back then but now nothing. Seems to be leaving a huge vacuum to be filled with science.

      And if he decides to make himself known and he turns out to be the OT god, then he'll just have to destroy me forever since I think he is a scoundrel of the worst sort and I could not hide that thought from a god, right?

      September 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • hippypoet

      your silly, and not to bright...to make a child all you have to do is have s e x... and if you know how long the gestation period is your on the right track... now all that is needed is basic math... so should i "count" you out! lol what i just said is the arguement for the birth of jesus during summber or early spring due to the life style of the people and what they did during said "off"months. Any prophecy can be broken down into a simple easily understood form... all thats needed is a mind. stop looking at the events that proove something and look at everything...being unbaised is the only tool one has when looking for answers buried in history. now take what i said, not the insult, and run with it.. it can teach you much... as for the insult, it too can change, just learn more. 🙂 lol

      September 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Real Deal

      @when: "Many of the prophesies would be impossible to fulfill on purpose, such as, where you were born, no broken bones,"

      Where is the verified evidence for these "facts" of place of birth and no broken bones outside of the 'reports' of the NT writers?

      September 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      well this god of yours needs to fix a few things

      it supposedly created the universe

      but it couldnt keep its story straight in a single book

      and you actually believe in the drivel

      funny

      some all powerful god it is eh comrade

      September 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  17. Bo

    @ Eric You know some about Rev Miller, but not enough. If you want to call it a rapture, OK, but it is not the same doctrine of the rapture that is being taught in many churches today. I have studied the doctrine of the rapture that is being taught now, and because I don't buy it, I forget who fostered the idea, but it wasn't Miller. Maybe you want to research it, I'm not interested.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  18. when

    The Dead Sea Scrolls were carbon dated and proven to be authentic. Also proves Isaiah was written long before Jesus's birth. I'm fairly sure Bo was refering to prophesies in the O.T. not the N.T., regarding the Messiah, to which there are far more than 100. It's absolutely insane to suggest that any part of the O.T. was written after Jesus was born but perhaps this is the way non-believers convince themselves that prophesy doesn't exist. Sad.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      I didn't see where anyone said that. But the NT was written WELL after Jesus' death. And the authors had a vested interested in writing their stories in order to fulfill the prophecies that they believed in.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "Well after"? Keep in mind that there are biographies of Washington and Lincoln that are just as far away from their source, if not more...than many of the books of the NT. Would you put down those bios for the same reason you do the books of the NT?

      September 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Free

      I think that it's far more common to see the legendary parts of Jesus being invented just to match Isaiah's messianic prophecies and, even then, they seem to have missed a few. He didn't gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6). He also didn't usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. (Isaiah 2:4) He also fails to fulfill some other prophets messianic prophecies. It's no wonder that the Jewish people are still expecting their savior.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Audience does matter to when one looks at the gospels. Matt was far more focused on prophecy and the Jewish connection of Jesus than Luke or Mark. John def had a more spiritual focus than the other three. They are facets of the same jewel.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Free

      Uncouth Swain
      More like those birthstones mothers have in their family rings, representing siblings who often bitterly disagreed.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      That's why I used facets of the same jewel instead of the erroneous concept that they are totally unrelated.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      @Uncouth – biographers use solid, verifiable primary sources, which they cite. The gospels used third hand verbal accounts written down decades after the event happens. Can you really not see the difference between the two? If you're trying to come up with an example to refute my point surely you can do better than that.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @ThinkForYourself- I see that you are trying to hold a modern standard to a text that was not put together in modern times and co*ndeming it for that.

      September 23, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      the biographies of politicians and the alleged biography of a fake messiah are completely different

      to try to lump them together is the work of desperation

      sorry but lincoln was far more important than jesus

      he actually existed

      the reason why lincoln was written about was for historical purposes

      the reason why jesus was made up was because some guys wanted to get rid of the jew religion and start their own

      so they borrowed from the jew religion and the greek mythology religion and a little bit from some other sources like the egyptian religion and put them altogether like voltron and formed a super religion

      they did it by making up stories of fulfilled prophecies

      well i could do that too

      i could take a another fake religion and then write a book about events that happened that there isnt proof of and claim that someones body got resurrected to heaven and since theres no proof i can just say youre a fool without faith

      hows about that christians

      thats your garbage religion in a nutshell

      theres nothing you can say to deny it

      keep throwing up bible quotes sheep

      i can do the same

      but the difference is that you only regurgitate and dont know what youre talking about

      you interpret that bloody book even though it tells you not to

      christians are hypocrites

      they are uneducated and believe in something they are too afraid to research

      fear keeps them going to church and believing everything the sheep herder says

      but you know that hardly any of them will ever see for themselves what their bible is really about

      l ron hubbard said that the quickest way to get rich is to start a religion

      the catholic corporation is no different than scientology

      well theres only one difference and thats the fictional doctrine idiots believe in

      September 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      keep grasping for straws swain

      someday you might actually post a fact or two instead of trying to justify that bible of yours

      September 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      @Uncouth – you're the one who brought up the an.alogy in the first place (between the gospels and modern biographies). Read what you posted first – I was just replying to your fallacious argument. And you're right, we can't apply the same standard to the bible as to modern text, which is why its perfectly reasonable to highly doubt the claims made.

      September 24, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @TBN-"the biographies of politicians and the alleged biography of a fake messiah are completely different"

      Very good...that is exactly what I have been saying. The Gospels are NOT biographies and you dolts need to quit treating them as such. Very good TBN...you must make your momma very proud yes you do.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @TBN-"someday you might actually post a fact or two instead of trying to justify that bible of yours"

      You are a confused little man aren't you? I have stayed on topic of this little bit of comments. You have yet to show anything to counter what I have said other than your own version of "lalalalalala".

      September 26, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @ThinkForYourself- Sorry...comment boards don't make the best media for conversation.
      1) Time isn't as important as one may think. The time between the lives of Lincoln and Washington does not make their bios or histories on them any better than the accounts of Jesus's life in the NT. There is no evidence that any of the info within the gospels is incorrect. One that makes an as*sumption that because the text was written decades later it is therefor incorrect is silly.
      2) The modern man expects all their stories about real ppl to include everything trivial about that person. Ancient writers did not work that way. So to hold ANY ancient texts into that kind of scrutiny is folly.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  19. Bo

    Here are just a few of the OT prohecies of incedents that happened in Jesus. 1)Gen 3:15 to be the seed of a woman (not man) 2)Micah 5:2 birth place: Bethlehem 3)Isaisah 7:14 born of a vergin 4)Psalm 72:10-11 brought gifts [when born] 5)Zechariah ministry and death of Messiah 6) Zeah 9:9 riding a donkey as a King 7) Zech 11:12 sold for 30 peices of silver to buy the potters field 8) Psalm 22:17 no broken bones Psalm 22:17 cast lots for clothing These all apply to Jesus, this is only eight things, what is the mathamatical probabilties (chances) of all eight (there are more there's one of being called out of Egypt,one that He is called a Nazzerite several that He would work miricles & heal people, I think there15 particular i cidents in all and many generaliztions, and there are some in the NT before he was born and 2 after His birth) incidents happening to the same person. I don't know, because I'm not a mathmatician, but I do know that it is in the of thousands.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Real Deal

      @Bo (and @when),

      Don't you think that the group of 1st century evangelists who wrote the NT (and Jesus himself) READ (or heard about) the OT prophecies? It's really quite easy to write stories which "fulfill" it.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Isaisah 7:14
      The original hebrew word means "young maiden", not virgin. While a young maiden could be a virgin it isn't specified. Certainly a young maiden who gives birth is no big deal. The author of Matthew knew this and deliberately tailored the verse to add "wow" factor to the Jesus tale. But it makes so much more sense to believe that a virgin would give birth...right? This exemplifies the complete abandonment of common sense that is needed...nay required... to buy into this garbage. Again I repeat that the words written in any story are insufficient to prove the truth of any claim. Like I said before...a far future generation of people who unearth a previously unknown New York city doesn't make stories about Spiderman true.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      So if you already buy into the entire Jesus myth then you have reason to believe in the prophecy. What a shocker. But since I do not, I do not.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • JohnR

      If these OT prophecies are so compelling, why have Jews overwhelmingly rejected Jesus as messiah?

      September 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      The O.T. is about as compelling as a damp rag.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "If these OT prophecies are so compelling, why have Jews overwhelmingly rejected Jesus as messiah?"

      Because for the Jewish ppl...Jesus did not fulfill all aspects of what the Messiah was suppose to do. The concept of a Second Coming isn't in the OT.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • hippypoet

      just so you know, there were many people that fit the bill for being the messiah... one was the very king of judha at the time, Herod ... he in fact fit the bill better then jesus, one of the things that jesus wasn't was a warrior... that was one of the key things you HAD to be to be the messiah FOR THE JEWS...keep that in mind, others had there messiahs too at the same time, it was after all the fashionible thing to do... i mean come on, everyones doing it!

      September 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Lol..well, not everyone was doing it. Many of the would be Messiah's died, converted to just disappeared. Going from a total non-spiritual point of view....I would say the top two secular Messiah candidates were Simon Bar Kokhba and Judah Maccabee.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • JohnR

      @Uncouth Exactly. I think the Jews are the best judges of who really does and does not fulfill the messianic prophecies. Jesus fail.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @John- while they are welcome to believe as they see fit...that does not mean that Jesus was not the Messiah. A premature fail I think on your part.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Well, the messiah was supposed to do certain things for the Jewish people that never happened. I mean, how ridiculous is it for some ostensibly almighty god to build up all these stories of sending a messiah to liberate the Jews once and for all and then he sends some putz who never gets more than a small following amongst the Jews and then gets killed by the very foreign occupation forces that are subjugating the Jews. It's ludicrous.

      September 23, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • *frank*

      Lol, the jews didn't recognize him as the messiah; his own followers were obviously not all that convinced either since they kept betraying him and running away like scared vermin; and we see by the 'why hast thou forsaken me' bit that EVEN HE was starting to suspect very strongly that he was full of crap. Then a drunk italian marine shanked him in the liver, he died, and crazy people made up ghost stories later.

      September 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "to build up all these stories"

      Who built up these stories?

      September 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      look at all the christians trying to justify their bible as truth

      you forgot to add the spoken words of jesus that say to his followers that hed return before they died

      theres a prophecy for you

      jesus himself claimed hed return almost 2000 years ago

      why dont you christians ever quote that scripture

      hmmmmmmmmmm

      figures

      September 23, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • JohnR

      @Uncouth I am envisioning the alleged scenario in which Yahweh himself informed the prophets about the coming messiah. No, I don't beleive that is what really happened. I am asking people to consider the whole story and evaluate how ludicrous it is.

      September 24, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @TBN-"why dont you christians ever quote that scripture"

      I personally have never ignored any scripture. I suggest the same to you and quiy cherry picking text from the whole. Many believe that the scripture wasn't about the then but into the future. Those that would witness all Jesus had predicted would not perish till his return. And since not all of the prophecies have been done yet...the scripture is not false.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @JohnR- You may do that and the believers may also think you are quit absurd. Freedom of thought...it's so great.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  20. Eric

    The rapture is the brainchild of Rev. Miller from the 1800's. He predicted it would come on a certain day and when it didn't happen (twice) they almost lynched him. Somehow, the American "Jesus Loves me yes i know" crowd knows nothing of the fact that 90% of Christians arond the world DO NOT BELEIVE IN THE RAPTURE. They know nothing of the fact that the Bible does not say a world about the rapture. They know nothing of the fact that Jesus was against violence and revenge. All they know is that they're Baptists and that Leviticus says kill the gays even though it also says to not eak pork. How many of these Baptist rapture humpers eat ribs? According to leviticus it's just as bad as eating c*ck.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      The concept of the Rapture is in the NT. It might not be called that very word....but the concept is there.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      If the concept is there, then how come it took nearly TWO THOUSAND YEARS for someone to discover it? Was it written in a cipher? You're really stretching here.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      ThinkForYourself_ Oy..go look at some pretty paintings from the middle ages. I am sure you will find something that shows the concept of Rapture is older than just a few centuries.

      As for the term Rapture...have you ever really looked where the term came from?

      September 23, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • JohnR

      @Uncouth I do believe the controversy within Christianity is the timing of the so-called rapture, ie whether it is on the final judgment day or before the tribulation (hence, those "left behind") or sometime in between.

      September 24, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • lost12

      Eric–Excellent comment couldn't have said it any better myself!

      September 26, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Eh...I'm responding more to Eric than the main article.
      Heck..as for the end times....when they come they come. I never saw any reason to freak out over the possibility.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.