Archive for and I think oh god I’m still alive

Rapture 2: This Time It’s Fluffy

First published at the Huffington Post

Back in the spring, you may remember, a man called Harold Camping informed the world that the Rapture was going to take place on May 21st. The Rapture according to Camping would consist of one day in which all true Christians would be raised up to Heaven, and then a six-month period during which the rest of us would suffer in the ruins of a fiery Earth. (I wrote a blog post at the time called You May Experience A Burning Sensation, in which I speculated that God’s reason for the six months of fire was that he had some really big sausages to toast. Probably lost me a few brownie points in Heaven.)

Anyway, as you may also remember, the Rapture didn’t happen. But as is the way of self-styled prophets, Camping is undaunted: his website explains that Christ did come to earth on May 21st – spiritually, of course, not visibly or publically or anything, that would be silly – and the Rapture period began then. It will climax, by which I mean actually be noticeable, on October 21st with the actual carrying-people-up-to-heaven part.

So far, so good. Well, no, not good, but it’s impossible not to admire a man with such ability to bounce back from disappointment. I mean, seriously, Camping should write a self-help book. (Carry on, Camping? Camping in Heaven? The potential titles are endless.) Or if he doesn’t have time for that before Friday, he could write an inspirational song. It could be called Don’t Stop Believing In Camping.

However! Reading through his announcement, I noticed that Camping has softened quite considerably since May. The original prediction has been startlingly revised. To quote:

“We have also learned that God is still teaching that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked and will not punish the wicked beyond what is called for in Deuteronomy 25.”

Good news. Because I looked up Deuteronomy 25 and it doesn’t say anything about fire, or the world perishing, or any of that. It says the loser in a dispute can be beaten – ok, not ideal, but we’ll adjust – and it also has a few other laws which are frankly bizarre, but presumably aren’t going to come up that often. I’m thinking of this one:

“If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you shall cut off her hand.”

and this one:

“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light.”

I don’t know about you, but I can probably manage to avoid those two sitations.

So basically, the prediction now is 1. All true believers will be taken to heaven (but you won’t know if you are one till it happenes) and 2. Everyone else gets to stay as they were, except for obeying a random handful of archaic rules. No problem.

There is one more thing, though. I would like to alert Mr Camping to a potential issue he may need to be aware of. Has he heard of Project Blue Beam?

Project Blue Beam – of which you have probably also not heard, unless you like the odder corners of the internet or have read my book, in which it features – is a fascinating (if you’re me) offshoot of Rapture theory. It holds that the New World Order is designing a false Rapture using special hologram-based technology. The purpose of which would be to make true Christians believe the Rapture has happened and they’ve been left behind, thus causing mass outbreaks of panic and atheism, which are of course what the New World Order likes best.

This would be such a great – if cruel – practical joke that I almost wish someone was designing it, but to the best of my knowledge they aren’t. However, that doesn’t stop these people believing it. Or these people. Or these people. Oh yes, there is a corner of the web that is forever Blue Beam.

I was going to write a paragraph that started “So, why are people so keen to believe these things?” but really, there’s no mystery at all about it. It is blindingly, face-meltingly obvious that we all want to feel that we’re being paid attention to and that we’re special. This can manifest itself in becoming an actor, in writing a blog, in getting drunk and smashing things up, or in devoting your life to the idea that a huge, powerful and secret organisation is so obsessed with breaking you that it will create elaborate and wildly expensive schemes in order to destroy your faith in yourself. In fact, that could loosely describe so many movie plots that it’s hardly surprising the idea is spilling over into real life.

Best of all, the fact that there is no evidence for it doesn’t matter at all because a) obviously a secret all-powerful group would be good at hiding its tracks, and b) it hasn’t happened yet. All in all, it’s the perfect conspiracy theory in many ways.

So: if Friday comes and you see the people around you slowly ascending into the air, don’t panic. It’s always possible they may be holograms.


Torchwood: In Hell

As a substantial proportion of you will already know (but I shouldn’t assume, so will do this quick explanatory paragraph), Torchwood was originally a spin-off from (and indeed an anagram of) Dr Who, set in Cardiff. Now it has mutated into Torchwood: Miracle Day and is set in America. This post won’t contain any specific spoilers: what I want to talk about is the overall premise of this new series.

Woody Allen, whom I am legally obliged to quote at this point, said “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying”. He should do a guest spot on Torchwood, his quote made flesh. As the show starts, death stops. It’s Miracle Day: everyone lives. The only mortal left is the main character, Captain Jack (John Barrowman), who until then has been the only immortal.

My problem is, I think the show should have been called Torchwood: In Hell. I find immortality terrifying. By the end of the first episode I was just sitting there curled into a childlike ball, thinking “Why are people still going to work and talking about stuff and developing interpersonal relationships? Why isn’t everyone just hiding in a small room, gibbering?” From talking to other people, though, I’m in a minority – maybe even a minority of one, though it seems unlikely – because other people are coping fine with this premise.

But how? This isn’t just immortality. When Captain Jack had it, he also had eternal youth and limitless healing powers. This new ‘miracle’ just means you can’t die. You get hurt (often a lot), you get older (presumably – it’s too soon to know), but you stay alive. And conscious, apparently, although I assume people are managing to sleep (which is a bit of a plot hole then, but never mind).

In other words, this is a nightmare, specifically my nightmare but also, surely, everyone’s. Eternal suffering, without relief. Oh, and babies are still being born, so soon there will be no resources and everyone will be hungry and homeless except the very rich and callous. Suffering and starving and on the streets. If there’s even room on the streets. Within a year people will be stacked on top of one another like very thin, softly moaning Jenga.*

It’s not just Torchwood, though. It is a mystery to me why anyone thinks eternal life is desirable in any way. The only vaguely bearable version is the kind where you can choose to die. If you don’t have that option, it’s just horrific no matter what you’re doing with your time.

The Christian version sounds all right at first glance. From what I can gather you don’t exactly experience time passing in heaven; you just… stop, or something, and enjoy eternal bliss. Fine. I’ll assume you never get bored or irritable or want to eat a pie, and I’m sure the presence of the Almighty is very soothing. But I still don’t want it. I want to die and be gone – living a long and happy life, yes, living on in my children and whatever I’ve written, cool, but that’s my hard limit.**

Because there’s absolutely nothing that’s fun to do a billion billion times over (and that definitely includes singing Hallelujahs to the god who gave you eternity in the first place). And also: endings are what gives everything shape.

Like this.

*What will actually happen, I assume, is that the Torchwood team resolve the problem and people start dying again. Though what should really happen is that the Doctor turns up to resolve everything, because this is still his universe. But never mind.

**And while you’re at it, give me a quick stab or something just to make sure I’m dead, because my other big phobia is being buried alive. Thank you.

I can't believe I found this in Microsoft Clip Art. What kind of Powerpoint presentation requires a homicidal cherub?


You May Experience A Burning Sensation

(Thanks to for republishing this on their site!)


As many of you will already be aware, this Saturday is an exciting day in the history of the world. According to the eBible Fellowship – and who can argue with them based on the robust and convincing evidence they provide? – on this Saturday, May 21st, true Christians will be removed from this world and taken to heaven, there to watch the 99.9% who weren’t chosen cope with a five-month-long global fire before the world is finally put out of its misery on October 21st.

Yes, the cream is being skimmed off the top of humanity; and as often happens, without any cream we may find that we experience some burning.

I love Rapture cults. This is going to be evident later in the year when my novel comes out, and frankly I would have appreciated it if the eBible Fellowship could have chosen a later date for this Rapture, as it would have provided a great gimmick for marketing my book. As it is, I’m just grateful I’m being published electronically and not in paper, since all the paper will have long since been burnt. I can only hope Kindles are flameproof.

On the plus side, it’s going to be very interesting to see how people react to the impending knowledge that there really is a God, he really does adhere to the beliefs of a minor evangelistic Christian group, and he really is extremely pissed off with the world. I mean, should we all convert, or what? Is there any point? The obviously-infallible eBible Fellowship is clear that after this Saturday, you’re either saved or you’re not, and those who aren’t are going to be denied any kind of afterlife. (Don’t bother with those good works, and praying is definitely going to be pointless). God no longer cares enough even to torture us for eternity; we’ll just die and that’s it, gone forever. Which, coincidentally, is what I believed was going to happen to me anyway. So all that’s really changed from my point of view is that a few people get to live for eternity. Good luck to them.

I am a little unclear, though, on God’s motivation is for the five-month gap between Rapture and destruction, if we have no hope of redeeming ourselves. My best guess is that he has some really big sausages he wants to barbecue.

I am of course assuming that everyone reading this is going to be left behind. If I’m wrong and one or two of you find yourself suddenly ascending into the air on Saturday, I wish you well, and I hope that you enjoy the next five months watching the rest of us running around screaming “It burns! It burns!”

Except that a true Christian, surely, would never enjoy the suffering of others, particularly when the others will almost certainly include loved ones and family members (not to mention pets, unless you’ve taken steps to protect them), so I presume that for you as well, most of the summer will be spent feeling fairly miserable. Still, at least you won’t be on fire.


Luckily, God owns the world's largest fork.



the bubble and the waves

wavesWhen I try to visualise my emotional landscape – and I assume I’m not the only person who tries to do that – what I see, what I feel, is the sea.

I’m bobbing among the waves, and all I can feel is the movement; I can’t see beyond the wave I’m experiencing. Sometimes one wave is joy and the next anger and the next nostalgia and the next excitement; it can be tempestuous. Sometimes the waves are small and calm and consistent, and so am I. Sometimes I surf my waves, sometimes I am overwhelmed by them and sink, but the wave always passes and I always rise back up, above the surface.

What I need now and then is to rise above the waves, say in a large and robust bubble, so that I can have a break from the incessent bobbing up and down and look at the sea as a whole. From this perspective the waves look much more manageable, and I can rest for a while, even if I only rise a little way up and still feel the motion. Sleep can provide a bubble; so can meditation; so can alcohol, though the alcoholic bubble is unstable and prone to bursting.

Essentially I’m a sea creature, and I regard the waves as my fundamental reality. That time in the sky is necessary, though. Sometimes I can even look down at where I am, and chart a course for the horizon.