September 2009
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As stated previously, I am hardly the religious type, but I have sufficient knowledge to give the background concerning the idea that the long dark was the Rapture.  There's the Seven Seals, the Seven Trumpets, three Angelic Announcements and then God's reign on Earth.  I won't bore you with all the seals (or a lot of the details in general), suffice it to say their are four horsemen associated with the first four seals.  They ride out, one at a time, each with their own compass heading.  These four go out and basically fuck shit up for everyone.  Famine, plague, war, drought, it's all there.  It's the end times, so it's supposed to be ugly and painful.  Looking back, that seems a fair description of what happened. There wasn't food to be found, every story agrees on that.  People died everywhere, both from disease, famine and war, so that checks out too.  Global disaster is global disaster when you get right down to it.  The details are almost unnecessary when you get to that scale. The fifth seal talks about a vision of heaven and those that died for their belief in the appropriate God, which is hard for us to verify at this late date. I will let that one pass, but add that I do admire religions that punish those that may live their lives in a very decent manner, but for whatever reason don't worship the "right" god.  The fifth seal could also be the beginning of the "Great Tribulations."  That sort of sounds mundane for something like an extinction event.  Granted I am not the expert on the English of your time period, but tribulations always seems like a small problem.  To me, that makes this sound like the Huge Minor Problems.  Take from that insight what you will. Once the Great Tribulations begin, we get the seven trumpets, three announcements and the sixth seal. The three announcements are, more or less, angels coming and telling people that those who don't believe will have their asses handed to them and those that do believe will have to suck it up and drive on (be faithful). Not a time to be a non-believer it would seem. Again, hard to say if the announcements happened or came from actual angels, although I have no doubts that those were very popular opinions when the old world was being ground down and people were dropping like snowflakes in a blizzard. Interspersed with this are the seven trumpets, the last of which might have coincided with the seventh seal. The trumpets are all bad news.  They aren't heralding a traveling festival after all.  These are things like a third of mankind will die, a third of this will die, a third of that will die, the ground will open up and black smoke will fill the sky turning day to night and hiding the stars.  During this, the sixth seal is when things enter end-game and the earth trembles and things generally fall completely apart.  Again, this seems like a good description of everything that happened.  I'm not sure how many people actually died, but I think its safe to say that an good estimate would be "most of them."  If you subscribe to the moonstrike theory of world ending, then that could cause something very much like this as well.  One thing people agree on, whatever happened, it rained ash or dirt, or something that wasn't rain, for days on end and the sun disappeared and summer never came for a year or more.  Those stories are everywhere.  For the rest, well it's religion, so its about faith to some degree, rather than facts. The thing we are really missing is the one thing that would prove this completely true.  The Kingdom of God on Earth.  The seventh seal and the last trumpet are supposed to herald the return of the King of Kings and whatever that entails. We live in a wonderful amazing world, but I can guarantee you it is not "heaven."  People do not drown in heaven, nor do they get mangled by an angry grizzly rousted out of his hibernation by the unseasonal warmth of a Chinook.  Of course, I didn't live in the past, so maybe this is heaven by comparison.  There is much debate among the religious types as to what the current state in my world means in a religious sense. Christianity is so fractured now, what with such off-shoots as Techno-Baptists, the Holy Vaders, and the Mennonite Revival Adventists.  Then there's the other religions like Muslims, Buddists, Hindu, and others, plus their off-shoots. It's a confusing world out there for the faithful, but a very colorful interesting one for those willing to open their minds a bit (a required bard skill). There's even talk of a the need for a new scripture, an even newer testament.  Not that there aren't a half dozen of those floating around with traveling preachers, but people tend to want something "official."  Even if it's only official with the quotes around it.

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