It Wasn’t the End of the World as We Know It…and I Feel Fine

Well, I’m still here.  And so are all of you.

Regardless of when it was supposed to happen – 12 noon, 6 PM or 9 PM, all of them have come and gone and no Rapture happened. In fact, it is now May 22nd, so the entire day has gone with no Christians flying up to Heaven.

For those who don’t know what I am talking about, California-based preacher Harold Camping predicted, based on a convoluted Biblical mathematical code he supposedly cracked, that today would be the start of the end of the world. Known as the Rapture, all the good Christians were supposed to be lifted up into Heaven, while the nonbelievers and ungodly are left behind to suffer through a period of tribulation, until the earth and everyone who is still remaining is destroyed.  Despite a volcanic eruption followed by earthquakes in Iceland on Saturday and an earthquake in an island chain near New Zealand, nothing happened.  May 21st has come and gone without so much as a trumpet.

Now, I know about the Rapture.  I’ve read the Book of Revelation. I’ve read the Left Behind novels.  I go to church.  And while I believe Jesus will return to the earth someday, one thing that the Bible tells us is that no one – not even Jesus himself –knows when that day will be. The only one who knows is God, and apparently he’s not telling.

But Harold Camping’s arrogance – yes, arrogance – got the best of him and he became convinced that he knew, without a doubt, that the world would end today.  He was so certain of it that he wouldn’t even entertain a thought of what might happen if he was wrong.  I watched a television interview with him Friday where the interviewer asked  him exactly that – what’s going to happen if the end doesn’t come? – and his response was an emphatic “It is going to happen.”  When pressed further, Camping responded again, with more conviction, “It is GOING TO HAPPEN.”  But, as a man of God, he should know that in Matthew 24:36 in the Bible, Jesus says no one knows the date.  How can Camping – or any other doomsday prognosticator – be so arrogant as to claim he (or she) knows something that no one, including Jesus, knows?

So Camping – and not unexpectedly, Christians in general – becomes fodder for jokes and humor.  And there was some pretty funny stuff on the internet today.  I was following @RaptureHelpDesk on Twitter (“You should see @Jesus right now… he has been messing with his hair for the past hour…#SoNervousAboutMakingASecondFirstImpression”) and checking out various photo pages with pictures of clothes laid out as if their wearers just disappeared out of them.  But I do feel kind of feel sorry for Camping.  This is the second Rapture date he got wrong and you have to wonder about the mental state of someone who was so absolutely, 100% certain of something, only to see it not come to pass.

The fact is, people have been trying to predict the End of Days since, well probably since time began, and as a result May 21, 2011 becomes just another in a long line history of failed apocalyptic predictions, and we put it behind us and get on with our lives. Until December 21, 2012, anyway.

Photo by Suat Eman

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