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Obligatory Rapture Post

Judgment Bus

In addition to being my boss’ birthday, tomorrow is supposed to be Judgment Day according to Harold Camping. No, it’s not the end of the world. That’s coming in October.

Just for the record, I may as well make my own prediction: There will be no rapture tomorrow. However there will be plenty of discouraged and disillusioned people. I’m amazed how many have bought into Camping’s prediction. I feel sorry for these folks. They’ve been led astray.

One Day Left

Here’s the precise prediction from Camping’s website:

What will take place on May 21?

On May 21, 2011 two events will occur. These events could not be more opposite in nature, the one more wonderful than can be imagined; the other more horrific than can be imagined.

A great earthquake will occur the Bible describes it as “such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” This earthquake will be so powerful it will throw open all graves. The remains of the all the believers who have ever lived will be instantly transformed into glorified spiritual bodies to be forever with God.

On the other hand the bodies of all unsaved people will be thrown out upon the ground to be shamed.

The inhabitants who survive this terrible earthquake will exist in a world of horror and chaos beyond description. Each day people will die until October 21, 2011 when God will completely destroy this earth and its surviving inhabitants.

That seems fantastical enough, and I don’t understand how people could really believe that. But a story on NPR takes it to the next level.

On May 21, “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,” [Kevin Brown] says.

So wait we’re to expect this massive earthquake to happen time zone by time zone? Twenty-four earthquakes in little vertical slices of the planet from pole to pole? That just seems ludicrous on the face of it. I mean even if you accept the whole rapture premise Why would God honor time zones?

I was curious to know if this was Kevin Brown’s own idea. Nope, turns out this comes from Camping himself.

Tina Dupuy interviewed Camping and wrote about it in the Atlantic, and she gets right to the heart of the silliness:

The Rapture is at 6 p.m. on May 21, 2011, where ever it’s 6 p.m. first, with the “fantastically big” world-ending event taking place on a time zone by time zone basis.

That means we can expect the Rapture to start when it hits 6 p.m. at the International Dateline at 180 Longitude roughly between Pago Pago (American Samoa) and Nuku’alofa (Tonga). We’ll know it’s Judgment Day because there will be an earthquake of previously unprecedented magnitude, Camping predicts.

So, according to these calculations, the Rapture will actually begin like a rolling brownout across the globe at 11 p.m. PST on Friday, May 20th. “Everyone will be weeping and wailing because they’ll know in a few hours it’ll come to their city,” said Camping.

So that’s 9PM tonight in our time zone. Might be a good time for a cocktail.

It’s easy to make jokes about the situation. I’ve been invited to a number of funny Facebook events like “Post Rapture Looting” and “Pre Rapture Orgy” and “Scare the Christians by Leaving Empty Shoes and Dry Ice Around.” Ha ha. But I also find this phenomenon troubling. I find it troubling there seem to be so many people who’ve fallen for this. I suppose it’s further evidence that it’s a big old world, and there are a certain percentage of rubes out there.

If you actually have the stomach to investigate Camping’s math, you can’t help but realize he’s a charlatan who will likely prosper no matter what happens. He’s like Donald Trump, in a way: a complete clown who’s playing the system by getting people worked up over sheer foolishness. That’s not to say either Camping or Trump are harmless. Quite the opposite. I hope no one is hurt by these shenanigans, but it wouldn’t surprise me if something ugly happens.

I suppose we’re all prone to apocalyptic end times paranoia. I just don’t see it coming like Camping predicts. I see it more like massive environmental degradation. For my daughter’s sake, I hope I’m wrong about that too.

Post Scriptum: For a good example of proper attribution for one of my photos, check out this Catholic News Agency story: Catholic scholar dismantles May 21 Judgment Day claims

Published inPixTheology


  1. Garvey Garvey

    Do you have any guess as to how many people believe this guy? I mean, I am pretty plugged into my church family where I live, and I do not know a single person who gives it credence. Not one.

    To be honest, this whole thing has been bogus–a media creation by the sneering left.

  2. So you’re saying it was the New York Times driving that fleet of “Judgment Day” buses around New Orleans this Mardi Gras?

  3. Garvey Garvey

    More people heard about it from a single NPR story than saw those trucks. Probably by 100-fold or 1000-fold.

    Ask around, if you know any Christians (e.g., your folks). They probably never heard of this, either, until all the news articles.

    You say “so many people falling for this.” How many is that? 10,000? 100,000? I guarantee it isn’t even close to 1/2 of 1% of the American population.

  4. Garvey Garvey

    (BTW, in case you didn’t figure it out, I meant the popularity of this story, the national knowledge of it, is media driven. Pure media hype.)

  5. Yeah, I was just funnin’ ya. But you raise an interesting point. I think it would be hard to get any real numbers on how many “true believers” Camping has. However, in poking around I did find his organization raised $18 million in 2009 alone. Hard to say how many people that represents, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s more than 10,000 but less than 100,000. Whether that seems like a lot or a little is obviously a matter of perspective.

  6. Hm, maybe I underestimated. According to this it’s a worldwide phenom.

    In Vietnam, the prophecy has led to unrest involving thousands of members of the Hmong ethnic minority who gathered near the border with Laos earlier this month to await the May 21 event. The government, which has a long history of mistrust with ethnic hill tribe groups like the Hmong, arrested an unidentified number of “extremists” and dispersed a crowd of about 5,000.

    If there’s 5,000 in Vietnam alone it seems like there could be well over 100K globally.

  7. Garvey Garvey

    Well, it’s more than Jonestown or the Hale Bopp cultists, so it’s a lot by those standards. But minuscule if considered as a portion of our populace.

  8. Correction: 11PM PST does not equal 9PM CST. I subtracted two hours when I should have added.

    Highly ironic that I would criticize Camping’s math and make such a boneheaded mistake myself.

  9. rickngentilly rickngentilly

    a kid at work today asked me what i thought bout the paca lips.

    i had no idea what in the fuck he was asking me.

    after a little conversating i got his gist.

    i told him the guy who put up the billboard was some 98 year old white dude from texas.

    he seemed relieved , like he was cool with going out tonight instead of hanging at grandmas house waiting for the rapture.

    not sure if i did him a favor or not.

  10. So to sum up:

    1. Old white male Christian religious fanatics sure get our attention.
    2. The Christian Fundamentalists are not alone in this religious obsession.
    3. Americans are fixated on world destruction.
    4. Religion is not rational, most of the time.
    5. This is not the end of the end.

    From Religion Dispatches

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