My grandmother is a huge fan of the 'Left Behind' books. I find them to be generally distasteful, but interesting in concept. The question of what the rest of us would do if some significant portion of the population was 'gone' (abducted by aliens, turned into zombies, killed by a plague, wiped out in a war, etc.) is one of the most popular themes in science fiction. For good reason, since it allows us to explore interesting questions about our own nature. How would I respond to a crisis? Would I survive the zombie apocalypse? Pretty much every nerd I know has a Zombie Attack Plan and has assessed their home for the level of protection it would provide against the Horde. It's fun to think about, and honestly I think it makes us more prepared for any real crisis that comes our way.
The reason I found the 'Left Behind' concept so unpleasant was that it centered around an apocalyptic event that many people actually believe is going to happen. Some people have even set a date for it, as I griped about previously. To me, it seemed to trivialize their beliefs. To the people who held those beliefs, my grandmother included, it gave them a weird (to me) feeling of superiority. Like my friends and I, she was imagining what would happen to her if the events of the story actually took place...and she saw herself being raptured away and watching those events unfold from heaven. She was a bit difficult to live with for a few weeks after reading those books.
Even back in my days as a card-carrying Episcopalian the idea of the Rapture didn't make sense to me. It was too dramatic, too flashy...I didn't really believe in it. Now that I am a card-carrying atheist I definitely don't believe in it, and as such would be left behind if I were proven wrong and the Rapture were to occur. A few atheists are taking that fact and running with it. Since all of us heathen atheists aren't going anywhere, once the Rapture happens we'll feed your dog while you're out. There's a child rescue service available as well, in case your baby is orphaned when you are taken up to heaven. That's right, affirmed atheists are offering their services to care for your beloved children and pets after you leave them behind to go chill with Jesus. I bet they'll even water your plants for you if you tip nicely.
If this were a joke service I would find it hilarious, but they're actually taking people's money. Setting aside how ridiculous it is that anyone is seriously using this service, the people offering it are absolutely sure that they will never have to fulfill their contracts. If the Rapture did occur, there would be no one to enforce them anyway. Doesn't that make the whole thing a scam? Aren't they just taking advantage of people here?
I'm not sure. If someone really believes the Rapture is coming and they are going to be among those brought into Heaven, this could be a legitimate worry for them. The Bible doesn't exactly paint a nice picture of Earth post-Rapture. How could anyone enjoy Heaven knowing their children and pets were left to face that world alone? Maybe the peace of mind the service provides is worth it to those individuals that literally expect to be raptured any day now.
I don't know if this is right or wrong, but I do know I don't really like it. It feels like something important is being compromised, though I haven't figured out why just yet. Maybe it's that someone who would pay an atheist to take care of their animals after they get raptured is probably a nice person who really loves their pets and happens to have some misguided beliefs. Maybe it's that the service strikes me as a mean joke, where the customers pay you to laugh at them. Maybe it's that my grandmother would probably do it, especially if you caught her in those few weeks after she read the Left Behind books. It doesn't sit well with me.