Post-Rapture Pet Care
by J. Michael Utzinger
In a famous quotation, often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln, the Rev. Henry Rowland once preached about the effectiveness of the Gospel on the Christian's conduct claiming that it makes "husbands better husbands, and wives better wives; parents better parents, children better children, masters better masters, and servants better servants; in a word, I would not give a farthing for a man's religion, whose cat and dog were not better for it!" Rowland might have been pleased with the sentiment behind the various post-rapture services offered to evangelicals, whose beloved pets might be "left behind." Kelly briefly mentioned these pet services in her last post, and I became intrigued.
Religious concerns about pets are hardly new for Protestants. Martin Luther, if the Table Talk can be believed, thought there would be dogs in heaven with silver fur and gold tails. Billy Graham's Swedenborgian vision of heaven included dogs and golf. Likewise, post-rapture services for pets existed long before Harold Camping's predictions became part of the recent media frenzy. Modern premillennialists love their pets too. In the words of one online company, After the Rapture Pet Care, the pets of raptured Christians are a real concern, and a legitimate concern. Our pets are given to us by God for us to care for. We are stewards of their lives. Should we simply forget them at the Rapture, allow them to starve or worse? Therefore, they promise immediately after the Rapture that all pets registered with them will receive the following:
1. Our non-Christian administrators will activate our rescue plan.
2. Volunteers will be alerted immediately by email and telephone that they have been activated.
3. Pets will be assigned to our Volunteer Pet Caretakers based upon location and other factors.
4. Our administrators and Volunteer Pet Caretakers will do whatever it takes to find and rescue your pets. If your pet has a location chip, they'll use that, or they'll go to every location you've registered with us, and, if your pets are not at one of those locations, they'll search for your cars as well as stay in contact with the local pet shelters. If they are unable to reach a Volunteer Caretaker in your area for whatever reason, our administrators will communicate with local animal organizations, like the Humane Society, to advocate for your pet's rescue and care.
5. Our administrators will stay in touch with our Volunteer Pet Caretakers regarding each and every pet to be sure everything is being done to rescue and care for them.
If all of the true Christians are raptured, one might well wonder how these services could be guaranteed. The typical answer is found in the FAQ of one company, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA:
Q: How do you ensure your representatives won't be Raptured.
A: Actually, we don't ensure it, they do. Each of our representatives has stated to us in writing that they are atheists, do not believe in God / Jesus, and that they have blasphemed in accordance with Mark 3:29, negating any chance of salvation.
The cost of these services really vary. If premillennialists like anything besides charts it is calculations, so the savvy post-rapture shopper will find that it pays to do some prophetic math:
While there are many monthly subscription plans on the market, flat fee plans seem more reasonable. Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA, for example, charges a $135 fee for its services. (They raised the rate earlier this year by $20 because of the large volume of requests that Camping's predictions apparently caused). The pre-tribulationist dispensationist of the Scofield-Lindsey-LaHaye ilk understand that after the rapture there will be seven years before Armageddon. Using Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA's services, therefore, will add up to $19.28 per year of care. Of course, the fine print makes clear that the rapture must take place within ten years or your contract will expire. This means that buyers risk spending more if the Lord tarries more than a decade (and there is a precedent for this). However, there is a silver-lining that a portion of the proceeds are donated to area food-banks.
Those pet-lovers following Camping would have a greater annual cost for care. Because the end of the world will be in September, the monthly cost of $33.75. Further, since rapture will come by this Saturday there will be no fear of one's contract expiring. No hidden costs.
With a one-time $10 flat fee After the Rapture Pet Care is the best buy of these pet services. In the meantime you can also purchase gear from their online store, including t-shirts, coffee mugs, and wall clocks (the irony/humor of this last item is not lost on me, especially since it is not clear you can definitively tell what time it is with this clock. I think I may have to order one for myself). Ultimately, one will have to balance cost and risk: the key factor being credibility.
According to an LA Times article, "Entrepreneurs Offer Post-'Rapture' Services," (19 May 2011) there have a been a proliferation of businesses, well beyond pet care, that cater to the needs of premillennialists who are concerned about maintaining their affairs after the rapture. In a very cursory surfing of the web I found post-rapture wills, videos for non-raptured family members, and encrypted document storage and "rapture"-triggered email messaging systems.
Opponents of dispensationalism have often argued that its otherworldly preoccupations lead to quietism. Charles Erdman, long-time professor of practical theology at Princeton Seminary, felt compelled to challenge this view in 1916. A premillennialist himself (though not a dispensationist) he noted that belief in Christ's premillennial second coming compelled people to act concretely in this world because of this belief not in spite of it. Put another way, for believers, the imminent rapture creates one of the parameters that dictate moral behavior in and for this world. Indeed, buying services to warn, alert or care for non-believing family members (whether human or animal) after the rapture is not so much lunacy as reasonable behavior for a true believer. Kelly Baker has reminded us that the rapture is not just "rhetorical and absent but material and present."
The consumption of post-rapture services is a means to concretely express faith and act morally, which in turn reinforces the belief in the rapture and makes it satisfying. Donning a t-shirt that expresses one's belief in the end witnesses to one's faith, while the risking of stigma from non-believers confirms and proves the seriousness of that faith. And Saturday, one might see these beliefs embodied in a variety of interesting ways, maybe even "On the Dance Floor" with Britney Spears or Jennifer Lopez right up "Till the World Ends."