24 May 2011

Evangelism, Rapture and Ham Radio

Actually, yes they do all belong in the same blog! Stay with me here.

Now that the fraud that Harold Camping has been playing on the gullible has been exposed, and no one got 'raptured' it is time to asses the damage. Let's begin by laying out simple facts.

  1. The "rapture" is what the Reformers would call a "found thing, vainly invented." The original publication of the idea dates to the 19th century. Amusing to me is the fact that the inventor was a misled Jesuit and the idea languished in well deserved obscurity until some "bible believers" republished it in the 1830's.
  2. Christianity has always thought of itself as expansionist. From the earliest days Christians have been earnestly telling everyone they can that the kingdom of God has come. We have tried, albeit with less success than we might wish, to live into that kingdom.
  3. From the earliest moments of the faith when it was first announcing itself, it has been attacked by those who do not want that "good news" to spread. Jewish temple authorities began the persecutions, Rome picked them up and the history since then is consistently violent and repressive.
  4. If repression has failed, ridicule has been effective. From the snide internet comments about our, "invisible friend" to the attacks of the likes of Dawkins, laughing at the faith is remarkably good at harming it.
    It should be said that our own misconduct helps make this weapon effective. Come on, the "Holy Roman Empire?" Baptist and other preachers defending slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries? Jerry Falwell claiming he prayed the course of a hurricane away from his headquarters? "Biblical inerrancy?" There is much to ridicule.
If I wanted to attack Christianity, I would invent Harold Camping. I would teach "biblical inerrancy." I might even write an "Anglican Covenant." I would not want to confront Christianity on its own ground, but rather to make it look ridiculous.

Yes Christians joined in the rapture jokes. Besides Leno, Letterman, Conan, inter alia, some of the very best appeared on Of Course I Could Be Wrong and Wounded Bird and the Facebook chatter was a total hoot. None-the-less, there is damage done. The believers who were defrauded by Camping were harmed, the faith over all was given the image of foolishness by those who think this guy is a for real "minister." And serious conversations with serious seekers were put off by the necessity of refutation of the rapture heresy.

Yup, if I wanted to harm the faith, I would invent the rapture, and "preachers" like Camping. I wonder who did?

Which leads me to Ham Radio. Hams are expected to provide disaster communications in exchange for the frequency privileges we enjoy. Our chatter has been about how to set up disaster nets if a bunch of the radio operators were raptured. No one seemed really worried.

We are communicators and we are governed by specific rules requiring that we not spread false disaster reports. To many we seem rather out dated now. After all, the internet is there, everywhere, as are cell phones, so why bother with these old guys, with their knowledge of electronics, their multi - function radios and their widespread affection for Morse Code? (Sadly some FCC staff seem to be of this view.

This week in tornado alley, suddenly hams are useful. Like the good news, we have visible purpose. Maybe our silly tech talk (we actually know what Ohms law means!) has value.

Hmmm.... maybe that old time stuff is worth preserving, advancing, considering and even embracing. But just as hams have to meet minimum standards and not be of diminished moral standing, ministers should be ignored when they are clearly liars.



Rick+ said...

Well said, Jim!

Leonard said...

The poor man, Harold Camping, seems as though he´s had enough living on this side of eternity anyway-- looking forward to a fresh start.

Anonymous said...

Why do I bother? At least I don't have to waste hours of my life talking to the non-existent and pay hundreds of dollars to do so.
And the beads? Just stupid. Truly another pitiful pseudo-medieval affectation.

JimB said...


You know my three rules. You are nowhere near the topic. But momentarily, for my own purposes I shall leave your comment here.


Rick+ said...

Hey...! He dissed my beads!

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