In my journey out of fundamentalism over the last ten years, I started off being angry at it. I wanted to argue with every fundamentalist, to show them why they were wrong. Then I went through a period of morbid fascination and I started scrapbooks of outlandish examples of fundamentalist literature (pamphlets, tracts, posters) that I called ‘Volume 1: Live footage from hell’ and ‘Volume 2: Tribulation squad’.
In recent years, I’ve just left fundamentalism alone. Most fundamentalists are nice people, and I’m unlikely to help them much by telling them they’re wrong. (And so many mix some fundamentalist beliefs with lots of non-fundamentalist ones.) But still, sometimes something comes along that recaptures my old fascination – like this tract I found called ‘If you have been left behind’.
Long before the insipid novels, this was the real deal. It’s scarier than the novels, because it is published in all seriousness as a guide to the unbelievers who are left behind when the rapture happens.
It may be that this message will sit on many a book-shelf, until perplexed and grief-stricken people come across it. Some may remember the title, and search it out.
It’s a spooky thought, this tract published to be read when the world is in turmoil. Later on, we read:
My reader, if you have been left behind, and realize the Great Tribulation has begun, DON’T TAKE YOUR OWN LIFE, whatever you do!
The tract carries on with helpful advice about the sort of things the reader will discover as they face the seven years of tribulation. It’s written sincerely, with the best of intentions.
Fundamentalism makes me feel bad about being a Christian sometimes, and I think it will continue to fascinate me and repel me at the same time.