Forget 2012, kids. The Aztecs had it all wrong. The world is going to end on May 21, 2011. Haven’t you heard the “Awesome News,” that Judgment Day is coming on May 21? That’s the day real estate values really shoot up: the rapture will occur, shooting all the deserving straight up to heaven on an express elevator of glory. The rest of the story isn’t all fun and games though. We may get some choice picks of real estate and less planetary overcrowding (and definitely a few less annoying proselytizers coming to our doors) but that’s while we endure 153 days of “death and horror” before it all comes to a spectacular end on October 21.
I better say Happy Birthday to my daughter early this year because that’s her birthday. Look what I brought you for your birthday this year, honey, it’s the end of the world! It was too big to gift-wrap, sorry.
Look, we know it’s true. Like the message on the RVs in this doomsday caravan says, “The Bible guarantees it!” Look it up in the index! May 21, 2011!
To warn people of this tsunami of impending doom, a CNN report tells us, “ten loyal listeners of the Christian broadcasting ministry Family Radio, to join the radio station’s first “Project Caravan” team.”
They say their work comes with ample precedence, that the God they believe in would never bring judgment on his people without warning them first. Their job is to “sound the alarm,” they say, pointing to Ezekiel 33. Just by being out in their RVs, wearing their T-shirts, jackets and caps, and passing out their pamphlets — which they call tracts — they are fulfilling a mission.
Of course, Paul of Tarsus contradicts the view that God will warn people first. In 1 Thessalonians Paul says people will be taken by surprise when Jesus returns (5:3,6) since the ending will come “like a thief in the night” (5:2), bringing “sudden destruction (5:3). Maybe they know something we don’t? Something Paul didn’t?
That’s usually the case.
The man responsible for all this madness is Harold Camping, who hosts “Open Forum” on Family Radio. The station has spent every year since 1959 building up the business and now has 66 stations across the United States and its broadcast in 61 languages.
You have to wonder what they’re going to do when May 21 comes and goes and they’re all still sitting in their little convoy of vans. Or when the 153 days of “death and horror” turn out to be like every other day.
What happens to the people who have dropped everything, given up all they own to spread this message, when the message turns out to be false?
It may not matter to Camping. He is now 89. He has a degree in engineering. As CNN reports, the Bible is his “university” and he believes the church age ended and the “Great Tribulation” began on May 21, 1988, when “Satan entered the pew.” He doesn’t place any faith in the mouths of clergy he says; only the Bible has the truth.
But what if he’s just as wrong as the clergy? He’s hardly the first to preach the end of the world, after all. That’s as old a story as Christianity itself.
I mean, he also once thought September 6, 1994 was the big day, and while I can’t remember the specifics that far back, I’m pretty sure the world did not end.
Of course, he says he’s sure he’s right this time around. What tipped Satan’s hand this time? Camping “points to the gay pride movement.”
Funny, I don’t remember any mention of gay pride parades in the Bible as a sign of the end times.
Only a fanatical believer could be filled with confidence by such words.
“I know it’s absolutely true, because the Bible is always absolutely true,” he says. “If I were not faithful that would mean that I’m a hypocrite.”
Not true. You would only be a hypocrite if you didn’t actually believe it was true but were saying it anyway. Faith has nothing to do with hypocrisy. If it’s not true, you’re simply wrong. But wrong at great expense to those people who have given up everything they own, all their worldly possessions, to follow you.
But they say they’re not a cult. They all say that, of course. Camping says: “I don’t have anybody under my control. They’re volunteers. I’m just a teacher. I’m just showing them where to look in the Bible. The Bible is the authority.”
Right. But they didn’t come to the conclusion that the world would end on May 21, 2011 all on their own. They came to that conclusion because of you, Mr. Camping. You may not be proven a hypocrite but your reasoning is a big disingenuous.
Now granted, the author of 2 Thessalonians (who was not, by the way, Paul) changed the tune a bit and announced that all sorts of other things will happen before Jesus returns, sorta relegating the “thief in the night” routine to the back burner. Maybe Camping prefers the message of this Pseudo-Paul. After all, Paul’s message did get kind of stale when the end didn’t come right away like Paul said it would.
Failed prophet. Something which on May 22, 2011, Mr. Camping himself will no longer have to aspire to be.
And of course, as with any fanatical religious belief, the laws must be set aside. Just as tolerance must give way to Truth, man’s laws must give way to God’s: Not everyone likes where they want to put up their signs.
“We try to obey the law of the land as much as possible, but when it comes to getting out the gospel, we must obey God, not man.”
But as the Christian Egyptian monk Shenoute said in his own defense after ransacking and burning down a Pagan landowners house because he was Pagan, “There is no crime for those who have Christ.”
It’s an old excuse and it’s wearing thin for the growing numbers of us who don’t have Christ, and won’t have him. This claim to privilege, to special status, has grown old and stale, particularly when you claim giving the LGBT community equal rights is granting “special rights.”
You already have special rights yourself. Maybe you’re a hypocrite after all, Mr. Camping.
Just remember, if you’re still here on May 22, it just means you weren’t “one of the elect.” I suspect we’ll have lots of company, including Mr. Camping, who will no doubt come up with a whole new boat-load of excuses and keep soldiering on for Christ.
This surly old son of Odin will see you all back here on May 22. We’ll do lunch.