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Are you ready for the end of the world?                                                                                     Print this essay

Posted at: May/18/2011 : Posted by: mel

Related Category: Common Sense, Perspectives,

Have you heard the news, the end of the world is upon us. Apparently our biblical judgment day is May 21 of 2011, just a few days left to get your personal compass pointed in the right direction. End of days prophets have been around for a while, but they seldom pick a specific day. At the center of all this is Harold Camping who speaks and hosts on Family Radio, a Christian network that is rumored to be worth more than $100 million. Mr. Camping’s followers have been caravanning across the country buying billboards, subway signs and handing out pamphlets at street corners. Many of these followers have abandoned their jobs, spouses and even children to pursue this crusade.

Harold Camping, at 89-year-old has been in the prophecy game for years. Back in the early1990?s, he published a book entitled “1994?” In his 1994 book he claimed that the judgment day apocalypse would come in September of that year. When faced with the fact that the world did not end as he had predicted, he was not discouraged. He said that he had learned that he made a calculation mistake by not considering key elements in the book of Jeremiah.

Apparently, having resolved his math errors Mr. Camping now says that on May 21 of 2011, “starting in the Pacific Rim at around the 6 p.m. local time hour, in each time zone, there will be a great earthquake, such as has never been in the history of the Earth.” He goes on to explain that true Christian believers will fly upward to heaven and as for the rest, “It’s just the horror of horror stories and on top of all that, there’s no more salvation at that point. And then the Bible says it will be 153 days later that the entire universe and planet Earth will be destroyed forever.” That means that October 21 2011 is the end of everything.

What is our fascination with gloom and doom? Maybe there is an inner peace in knowing that you don’t have to worry about the long term social security trust fund solvency? There is obviously a level of comfort in having a specific date to focus on. You only have to be good for a certain length of time and a good thing will happen! I am not a psychologist, but I am guessing than many people find comfort in knowing a specific date for the prophesized rapture. Maybe there is just a general satisfaction with knowing when the end will come since dealing with the unknown is a challenge for many.

This is unfortunately not a new phenomenon. Back in the 1800’s a Baptist preacher named William Miller prophesized that Jesus would come on October 22 of 1844 based on his study of the book of Daniel. Many people dressed themselves in white robes or night shirts and spent hours on the designated day looking to the sky expecting to be swept up and taken to heaven. Many of these followers even gave away their possessions in preparation for this event. When Jesus did not appear to save them from their earthly lives, October 22 became known as the “Great Disappointment.”

Like many fathers, mine proved he was wise beyond my ability to appreciate at the time. He told me once that while good news is what we need, if you want to get rich, pick a date and write a book on why the world is going to end on that date. Far too many will buy your book and you can get rich. I asked about being perceived as a fool when the date passes without anything happening, he say to apologize for the mistake and write a sequel…it will be a best seller. I learned sarcasm from my father as well as staying out of the prophesy business.

Most of these prophecies over the years have not come from a Nostradamus like vision; rather they are the result of interpreting the text of the Bible. Camping professes that the Bible is written in a code, and if you are able to decipher the code like he is, it is clear as day.

During the last 50 years the prophecy business has been on an upswing, I suspect this is because of the birth of the nation of Israel since the rebirth of Israel is one of the more tangible prophetic milestones. Now with our instant media we can rationalize every event happening anywhere in the world and align it somehow with biblical text. Everything from the Middle East unrest to peace talks can be hammered into one of the square or round holes. Earthquakes, hurricanes, it all fits into someone's explanation. To my surprise, in researching this I found that nearly 40% of Americans believe Jesus will return by the year 2050 (Pew Research Center). I suppose that the real issue is with the deluge of instant global media. The easiest way to rational all this information for many is to believe there is some grand scheme or plan afoot. Giving all the chaotic events across the world, assigning some grand order or purpose would be comforting to many.

To a certain extent, I find all this almost humorous. Please don’t presume I am insulting the Bible, I believe strongly that the bible was written in a metaphorical form and can be a valuable resource for learning some of the best and most important lessons of life. The debate over interpreting Bible content literally or figuratively is one I am going to avoid at this time. As for the notion that there is some embedded code, the sheer numbers of translations that have existed in bible history make any code virtually impossible; ever play the game of telephone? Looking for the tangible as opposed to the subjective is always going to be easier on the brain.

Honestly, I am a little concerned for the followers of Harold Camping. If their rapture does not occur on the 21st, they will awake on the 22nd without jobs, potentially without savings, maybe even without families. As for me, I have a very busy weekend planned and really don’t expect to spend any time looking skyward or ascending in the near future. Of course, according to Camping, only the righteous will be taken to heaven. For everyone else, we will remain on earth for a period of torment while the real fire and brimstone begins. Depending on who you talk to, it could just be that I am not one of the chosen?

What are your plans for May 21st?

Comments (1)                                                                                                                                                    [Add Comment]


Years ago I worked recycling newspapers, and when business was slow I would read months' old tabloids that frequently had psychic predictions. I divined the 3 laws of successful psychics:

Predict something very general, then fill in the details on the retelling. One story said something like, "Amazing psychic predicts crash of Boeing 737 north of Caracas with death of 237!" What the psychic had predicted months earlier was, "A plane will crash in South America. Many will die." A lot of the Bermuda Triangle stuff works that way.

Use inside information. Jeanne Dixon was big socially in Washington DC circles. When she predicted that the Soviets had a satellite killer--or maybe it was a killer satellite in her telling--she had surely just gotten the non-public information from some loose-lipped Pentagon type.

Lastly predict something totally outrageous and/or frightening like, "Obama will resign before his first term is up and Joe Biden will win election in 2012." It gets you noticed. 6 months later people remember your name, but nobody remembers that they noticed you because of an outrageously wrong prediction.

Posted at: May/27/2011 : Posted by: Frank Hood

Ken Kesey
Take what you can use and let the rest go by.
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