Working in a mental health center, we have been inundated with people talking about the coming end of the world.  I would never make fun or light of someone else's beliefs so it's been a challenge to have meaningful dialogue.  My real concern is for a woman whom I admire who had pulled herself up from a homeless/on the street existence to a good life with children and a grandchild.  She wants to kill herself because she doesn't want to see the end of the world.  I asked her to just not do anything rash until after the 21st.  I promised to call her on Sunday morning to check in on her and her family.  She said, "you believe we'll be around on Sunday?" and I said "Yep.  I believe we'll be around.  And if it's truly the rapture, I believe you're one of the truly good people". 

Well, you could have knocked her over with a feather.  "I'm a good person?"  So, we had a discussion the upshot being that she agreed to hold off on any plans to end her life until after the 21st.  I told her to go ahead and hoard all the water, toilet paper and canned goods she needed to in order to maintain her feelings of safety but to hold off on the suicide. 

This has been the scope of so many of our conversations this week.  It's been a long while since so many people have had end-of-the-world thoughts.  It's important to remain respectful of other people's beliefs and I try hard to do so.

I am not a believer.  I don't believe in heaven or hell.  I think that this existence is the only one you get so you should make the most of it and live it to the fullest/best you can.  I believe in karma and I believe that you keep coming back to learn lessons you failed to learn in a previous life (not as a cow or a bug but as a person).  Eventually, you get to become one with the universe and a part of all creation.  I know this is simplistic but I am a truly simple person. 
I hope that I haven't offended any of you.  It's not my intention to denigrate anyone's beliefs or belief system.  My husband is a Catholic and still carries strong beliefs from childhood.  I tried to give my children enough information to make choices for themselves.  (I taught Sunday School in the Catholic church for a number of years and loved it.  Mostly I loved the spending time with small children bit). 
It's just been a bit odd.  This has all come out of nowhere.  I don't listen to the radio too often and then when I do, it's one or two stations, so I missed this whole build up.  Now, suddenly, there are buses with adverts on them and huge billboards and the word 'rapture' is on everyone's lips. 
And here we are, dealing with people who have issues with reality on a good day.  My standard answer has become, "I don't know what will happen,  but I believe you shouldn't do anything rash just yet".  It seems to be ok.
Is this a big deal where you are?  Or is this a local phenomenon?  I purposely haven't followed it on the computer (although I plan on talking about it in group this afternoon, so I'll have to wade through it this morning) so I may be a bit behind the curve.


amy said…
The world is supposed to end? Again? I'd no idea. I figured if it didn't end when the Red Sox finally won the World Series we were good for quite a while.
Kaye said…
Dr. Mad Scientist's students keep asking him if it's real. He tells them if it happens, then he'll give them all As for the semester. Hee hee, that makes them do a doubletake. ;-)
Roxie said…
A friend has found a site where a bunch of certified moral atheists will, for a fee adopt your pet if you are, in fact, translated during the rapture. (You pay now. No refunds if you don't get taken.) I think there might also be a child-care option for two-year-olds because you know every one of those little spawn of Satan hellhounds will be left behind screaming, "NO!NO! Bad Momma!"
Rose Red said…
I haven't heard anything about any rapture...maybe it's only going to be the end of the world in the US (I say with tongue firmly in cheek!)

I think you have taken a most sensible approach to it with your clients.
Kate Wood said…
I get this a lot at work, too. Customers love coming in and talking about it, because they know we have to listen to them or risk being "rude." For situations where people are just preaching about the rapture and not actually trying to have a conversation with me about it, I've developed this defense:
"Well, I am baptised, but I haven't been to church in at least a decade. I don't believe in one god, and I don't believe in heaven or hell. I do believe in karma and that we all go around a few times until we are ready to leave for good."
All of that blasphemy usually stops their ranting. For people who want to have an intelligent conversation, though, I have no problem discussing the coming rapture.
KnitTech said…
The world is always on the verge of ending. I'm happy to note God is very punctual (1800 PST).

But like you, don't think it's going to happen.
Bells said…
the rapture stuff seemed mostly funny but I know people took it seriously. As an ex-fundamentalist christian I know how it is to be caught up in those beliefs.

I love the way you handled her. I really do. Nicely done.
Olivia said…
I've only had conversations where it is a lighthearted joke. I'm sure there are true believers around here too, but not so much with the buses and billboards!

You have a difficult job and I like the insight into how you handle these tricky things.
Anonymous said…
it blows my mind the things supposedly sane intelligent human beings go on with sometimes. stephen fry said over the weekend that he was so angry with all the imbeciles who believe in the rapture, not beacuse they're christians but because they do such a disservice to the faith. look at the anxiety it caused that poor woman. you handled it very well indeed.
Anonymous said…
End of the Earth. Really? Again? Lost count of the times it did not happen, everytime afterwards they declared they had their calculations wrong. Come on, buy a good calculator, boys.

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