People in Suburbia

Left Behind Guy

Posted on: December 20, 2009

A couple of years ago, on the internet, I ran into a guy who was recovering from an obsessive-compulsive fear of The Rapture.

Left Behind guy was a Roman Catholic who, in a chance encounter, discovered the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye, books which describe the end of days from the point of view of people left behind in the Rapture. Wanting to learn more, Left Behind guy joined the Rapture Ready community (rr-bb.com). The more and more he became involved with the community, the more and more doubts he had about his own piety — he’d had premarital sex, missed church, enjoyed lewd movies, he never evangelized, had never even read the Bible in its entirety.

He convinced himself that he was an unfaithful Christian, that the Rapture would come by at least 2012, that God would reject him and leave him behind in the Rapture. His fear of of being left behind was indescribably intense, and the foreknowledge that it was unavoidable sent him into deep depression. The anxiety absolutely destroyed him: he had to drop out of college, saw no point in going to work anymore, alienated his closest friends, couldn’t even look at a church because the sight would make him collapse with nausea.

Occasionally, in fits of hysteria, he *have* to call his family members at all times of the day and night, needed to check if the Rapture had happened. If he felt inexplicably alone, heard the sound of sirens, couldn’t find a person he was searching for, he’d have to call someone to find out if he’d been left behind. His family became irate and stopped returning his phonecalls — which only exacerbated his anxiety.

Left Behind Guy had made a lot of friends at Rapture Ready — however, one of his friends, started to have doubts about her faith for one reason or another. She was berated and eventually banned from the community for spreading seeds of doubt. Left Behind Guy had seen a lot of heavy-handed moderation, decided to leave the site in protest.

Once he left that that paranoid, fear-mongering cult, he was an outsider. He watched people in the the community from a different point of view — saw people wrestling with the same intense fear, depression. He saw people throwing their jobs away, talking about the futility of conservation on the basis that the world will end in a few years, seeing people talk about experiences being persecuted by friends and family who think they’re something “wrong” with them. As an outsider looking in, he saw mirror images of himself in other people, and was horrified.

Left Behind Guy’s experience lasted about 6 months. He “recovered”, as he puts it. To the best of my knowledge, he has re-built an intensely rewarding faith on a more liberal flavor of Roman Catholicism.

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