Hearts at Work
—A Column by Jim Tipton
“When the Rapture comes, can I have your car?”
Several decades ago I read a short poem by James Wright titled, “I Am a Sioux Brave, He Said in Minneapolis.” The poem is contained in the first stanza.
He is just plain drunk.
He knows no more than I do
What true waters to mourn for
Or what kind of words to sing
When he dies.
These lines were written during those decades when it was popular to be at least part Indian. Being at least part-Indian gave you spiritual credibility and got you in bed with lots of liberal young women. I wrote several poems examining this trend, one of which was titled, “Now Everyone Is Writing Poems about Indians,” which was a prose poem that poked fun at that then fashionable obsession.
That poem began: “American poets stick together. Now they are writing prose poems about Indians. They are tired of cardboard stars in buckets of old milk.” And it continued with lines like, “They sit alone, deep in their rooms, hacking their desks to pieces, looking for poems.” And it ended with “They do not want the darkness. They want to cry “Eureka!” But suddenly, on stolen ponies, they are pulled back into the darkness.”
Like the Sioux brave sitting in the bar in Minneapolis, we hide behind our little religions, our little philosophies, our Jungian psychologies, our alcohol, our drugs, secure that we “know” the “truth,” the “true waters to mourn for” or what kind of words to sing when we die.
Some people of undeveloped intelligence have assumed in the past—beginning at least 2500 years ago—that the world would soon end…usually in their immediate future. “The Rapture” is a belief held by many evangelical Christians that Jesus will soon appear in the sky and that the believers will take on their permanent bodies and rise up to meet him, leaving the vast majority of non-believers to get what they deserve through the devastation that will take place when pilots of planes, engineers of trains, drivers of automobiles are suddenly whisked up to Jesus. A belief held by a small cult? Sixty-five million copies of the Left Behind books by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye have been sold. Seven of the series have reached #1 on the New York Times best-sellers list.
I remember a bumper sticker popular before the most recent Millennium in Colorado: “When the Rapture comes, can I have your car?” I should write Jenkins and LaHaye, the authors of the Left Behind books, and ask them: “When the Rapture comes, can I have your bank accounts?”
Various New Age groups currently are promoting the notion that the old Mayan calendar offers wisdom regarding the end of the old cycle and the beginning of the new—to occur in 2012. In fact, we will not see a sudden transformation of human consciousness in 2012. That is a fantasy that we often hear from naive individuals who do not have their personal lives in order, or who worry excessively about life on planet Earth. One internet site announces the current Mayan cycle comes to an end on December 23, 2012, and “Only a few people will survive the catastrophe that ensues.”
Far more helpful to the evolution of the planet is for all of us to commit or re-commit, as Roy Eugene Davis puts it, to “constructive mental attitudes and behaviors” and to spiritual practices that are genuinely useful, such as those suggested by the Center for Spiritual Awareness (www.csa-davis.org), whose practices are based upon the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda (who, incidentally, had the highest respect for another great teacher—Jesus Christ).