For Buffy and Carl so loved the world

For Buffy and Carl so loved the world February 27, 2024

• I was not expecting this headline from Christianity Today:Was Carnival Rapture Warning Courageous or Inappropriate? Brazil Debates Eschatology.”

Those last three words are all overly generous in describing what happened here, which was a very public moment of Rapture-nuttery from a flaky pop-star during Brazil’s world-famous Carnival. Evangelicals and Carnival usually don’t mix because we don’t really do Lent. Or dancing. Or fun parties. But Brazilian evangelicals took notice this time because, again, Rapture-nuttery:

On February 11, in the midst of Carnival, Baby do Brasil joined fellow veteran Ivete Sangalo in a trio elétrico, a truck equipped with a powerful sound system that drives through the streets as partygoers follow. The two greeted each other in Salvador, a city of nearly three million in northeastern Brazil, and quickly exchanged compliments about their careers.

Then Baby do Brasil took the mic.

“Everyone, pay attention, because we have entered the apocalypse,” she said. “The Rapture is expected to happen in the next five to ten years. Seek the Lord while you can find him.”

Sangalo, who seemingly had not anticipated her cohost venturing into eschatology, made a crude joke.

“I won’t let it happen because we will bang the apocalypse,” she said, referencing her new song “Macetando,” which roughly translates to “smashing” or “banging.”

I’m guessing that “smashing” and “banging” in Brazilian pop music roughly translates to what those often mean in American pop music, so I commend Sangalo for her superior “eschatology” here. The end of the world? Bang that.

This is the only proper response when someone is cackling about “the end of the world,” as Buffy Anne Summers taught us years ago:

GILES: It’s the end of the world.

WILLOW, XANDER, BUFFY: Again?

GILES: It’s the end of the world, everyone dies. It’s rather important really.

WILLOW: So what do we do?

BUFFY: I stop it.

That is what the Good Guys in the story do whenever the villain in the story tries to end the world. It’s what the Good Guys in the story have to do, otherwise they’d stop being the Good Guys.

It is always and only the Bad Guys who want to see the world destroyed. The rest of us, you see, like the world. We grew up there. It’s where all our friends live and where all of our favorite restaurants are. (Also, too, I recall reading somewhere or other that “God so loved the world.”) So if you are cheering for the end of everywhere and everyone the rest of us have ever loved, that does, unambiguously, make you the Bad Guy in any story.

Making it a “Rapture” story does not change that. It just casts God as the villain. That’s a promising premise for a horror story — a cosmic Ernst Blofeld as imagined by H.P. Lovecraft — but it’s also pretty blasphemous. Like Job and the Psalmists, I have a list of rather pointed questions that I’d like to ask God, but even so it still seems grossly unfair to accuse God of being anything like the monster that Rapture fantasies make God out to be.

In any case, this blog is not available in Portuguese, and it’s highly unlikely that Baby do Brasil will ever see this, but I’d still like to invite her to put some skin in the game here. “The Rapture is expected to happen in the next five to ten years,” she says.

Care to bet on that?

I’m willing to spot her an extra five years. (I’d make it an extra 10, or even 20, but neither of us is quite that young anymore.) So let’s call it Carnival 2039. If the Lord tarries — i.e., if that date 15 years from now arrives with no Rapture in the interim — then Baby do Brazil will have to pay $10 to the unraptured charity of my choosing.

But what if I lose this bet? Hmm, that’s tricky, given that she won’t still be around to collect personally.

So, OK, if the Rapture does happen “in the next five to ten years” — or even in the next 15 — then I, having surely been left behind, will pay for someone back in Brazil to water her plants and feed her pets for the remainder of the Great Tribulation.

• Speaking of heroes and villains and John 3:16, here’s Mojo’s Jackie Flynn Mogensen on the anniversary of The Pale Blue Dot. Here’s that picture, taken from 3.7 billion miles away:

And here again is Carl Sagan’s lovely and loving description of that photograph:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there—on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

xkcd has a good one on “Goodhart’s Law.”

That’s the rule that says “When a metric becomes a target, it ceases to be useful as a metric.” I don’t think Goodhart’s Law was ever directly cited on the show, but this was a constant theme running through all five seasons of The Wire.

• Dr. Janega of Going Medieval on “Periodization and the Middle Ages“:

Periodization is what allows us to make generalizations about various time frames and also it just makes the conversation easier. As I have said before, it’s something historians do to the past, not something that the people who live there do themselves. No one wakes up one day and says, “Oh I just checked the calendar, it’s the early modern period now.” That is something that historians engage in retroactively.

… That’s how you get the very concept of a Middle Ages in the first place. It is a pretty European-centric way of delineating things, because it starts with the “fall” of the Roman Empire in 476, and the ends …. IDK like maybe in the sixteenth century? Maybe in the late fifteenth? Basically if you can see Protestants you’ve gone too far.

 

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