Have you heard the big news? The end of the world is truly upon us this time. In fact, it’s tomorrow: May 21. How can we be sure? Why, because an uncredentialed evangelical minister named Harold Camping has done the math and determined that the world ends tomorrow. Never mind the fact that he got it all wrong years back, when his prediction that the world would end on Sept. 16, 1994, failed to come to pass. Never mind the fact that all other doomsday date setters like him have always wound up with egg on their faces. (Remember Edgar Whisenant’s 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988?) And never mind the fact that even Christ said, “”But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” No, Mr. Camping knows better than our Lord Himself does. So whatever you were planning to do with your life, forget about it. It’s all over after today…
As you can imagine, a number of people have chosen to have fun with this silly prediction, while others have even devised ways to earn a buck from it. As NPR reports:
— “kevinism” suggests a “#Rapture prank: On Saturday, take some of your old clothes and shoes and leave sets of them arranged on sidewalks and lawns around town.”
— “BackpackingDad” wonders “what’s the timezone for the #Rapture? Do we go on Vatican time, or does Auckland go first and Hawaii has to wait all day?”
— “cutnsew” says “yes,a pub is a must. We also need to surrounded ourselves with significantly slower individuals #zombieapocalypse #rapture.”
Then there’s the “Post Rapture Looting” movement on Facebook.
Meanwhile, this rapture talk also has some entrepreneurs excited.
— There’s Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA, a business run by atheists which for $135 will take care of your dog or cat if you’re among those believers who are whisked away on Saturday.
— And there’s You’ve Been Left Behind, which for $14.95 will send e-mails or digitized documents you want delivered to friends or relatives in the event that you’re not here after the Rapture.
All this is not unprecedented, of course. The Christian Science Monitor has a tight collection of “five failed end-of-the-world predictions.” Be sure to check out what the poor “Prophet Hen of Leeds” had to endure in 1806.
I’ll admit that on the one hand people like Mr. Camping can provide us all with a lot of laughs. Yet it’s also sad, as not only is he making a complete fool of himself, but he’s also making other Christians look ridiculous. I recall reading an article, written by a religious skeptic, that rattled off a litany of other such doomsday predictions that of course turned out to be total rubbish; toward the end of the article, the author pointed to them as a major reason for his rejecting the Christian message. In other words, Camping and his ilk, however sincere they may be, are discrediting the gospel in the eyes of many, rather than bringing people to the Lord. Sad, so sad…
I wonder what Mr. Camping is going to have to say for himself on May 22…