Jason Gurley

By day, I'm a user experience designer; by evenings/weekends, I write novels from my home in Scappoose, Ore. My newest is Awake in the World, published February 2019 by Roaring Brook Press; my previous novel, Eleanor, was published by Crown in 2016 and has since been translated into German, Portuguese, and Turkish. I’m currently working on a new project.

404: Site raptured

I was prowling through the desiccated archives of my old blog—no, not that one, the one before that one—and came across a decade-old entry in which I wrote about a web site called You've Been Left Behind:

From the YBLB site: We have set up a system to send documents by the email, to the addresses you provide, 6 days after the “Rapture” of the Church. This occurs when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail safe any false triggering of the system.

Let me first emphasize that the quotation marks around the word Rapture are their own; I didn't add them. Think on that a moment. 

The gist of YBLB seems to be this: For an annual fee, you can store messages on their site. Messages for the 'lost' folks in your life. After the rapture of the faithful, YBLB will automatically send your messages to each of those left in your wake. Your lost friends will read your words, realize their predicament, and convert to believers on the spot, thereby saving their immortal souls. I mean, ostensibly.

What a con game! Though I suppose people of faith should be used to being exploited for profit. YBLB, for just forty bucks a year, will put your personal email message on a server somewhere. How do they determine when the rapture has happened? If three of the five YBLB employees fail to login at regular intervals, the server will declare rapture! and send all the emails. First of all, they think sixty percent of their employees are going to heaven, and in my estimation, that's quite optimistic, given their business model. But what about the potential scenarios that might lead to three employees failing to log in? It's not much of a failsafe when you consider personal time off, sudden deaths, internet outages, etc. 

Oh, shit — the rapture! Wait, wait...sorry, false alarm...

But perhaps most egregious:

The unsaved will be ‘left behind’ on earth to go through the “tribulation period” after the “Rapture”. You remember how, for a short time, after (9/11/01) people were open to spiritual things and answers. (We are still singing “God Bless America” at baseballs’ seventh inning stretch.) Imagine how taken back they will be by the millions of missing Christians and devastation at the rapture.

That gloating tone, right? Oh, you missed the "Rapture"? Sorry not sorry. But I'm a baseball fan, and what really gets me is the factual inaccuracy here. Have you ever heard "God Bless America" during a seventh-inning stretch? We sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," guys. Was this site written by a terrorist organization who didn't do their research? 

According to BoingBoing, one more paragraph was excised from the site around the time it started gaining notoriety. It refers to how those planning to be raptured can assist their deadbeat friends and family left behind:

You will also be able to give them some help in living out their remaining time. In the encrypted portion of your account you can give them access to your banking, brokerage, hidden valuables, and powers of attorneys' (you won't be needing them any more, and the gift will drive home the message of love). There won't be any bodies, so probate court will take 7 years to clear your assets to your next of Kin. 7 years of course is all the time that will be left. So, basically the Government of the AntiChrist gets your stuff, unless you make it available in another way.

Ten years later, how's this business model going? Well, as of sometime in late 2016 or early 2017, You've Been Left Behind appears to have let their domain lapse, or perhaps just stopped paying their hosting fees, because the site is now occupied by what appears to be a run-of-the-mill ad-heavy squatter site. 

What I really want to know is: when the business went under, did all of those whoops I done been floated into the sky emails get sent? I imagine at least some of the emails were gloating ones, just like the site that invited people to write them: Oh no, you didn't make it to heaven? That's so sad. I totally did. (If the rapture were a real thing, would the tone of such an email invalidate someone's invitation?) 

There's a parallel here to those cryogenics businesses that promise to store frozen heads and bodies for a few centuries, until death itself is cured, at which point all those folks will be resuscitated (and presumably discover that their personal fortunes are worth nothing anymore). What happens when one of those storage facilities goes bankrupt? There are probably a few already. I'm imagining a nondescript office park facility somewhere in Maryland, all the furniture and electronics carted away, a few dozen bodies left thawing and moldering in fancy tubes in a forgotten warehouse out back...

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