Saturday, May 07, 2011

The end of the world is coming (again)

Excuse me while I don't stifle a yawn.

Harold Camping has pegged May 21, 2011, as the day that good Christians will be raptured and Judgment will begin. "It is going to happen, There is no Plan B," he says. Camping is the 89-year old founder of Family Radio, a $100,000,000 media network. Family Radio's financial situation improves as Camping's followers surrender their personal wealth to his empire. He assures them money will have no value on May 22.

Camping, like pretty much anyone else who predicts the end of the world these days, is
1. a self-styled "Christian" who has personally cracked the Bible's secret code to learn the date of The End.
2. confident that he'll be afloat during the Rapture.
3. a veteran of at least one End of the World prediction that failed.

Oh yes, he wrote not one, but two voluminous tomes (1994? and Are You Ready?) declaring that the Rapture and Judgment would commence in 1994. In conceding the obvious, he confessed to not looking into the Book of Jeremiah, which is apparently a very important source of end-times data. Last time he was wrong; this time he'll be right. No really!

The Family Radio army is on the march, spreading "The Word." What should we expect on Judgment Day? Camping's followers say that "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." Sounds frightening.

I decided this is teachable moment. There is no end-of-the-world theory so wacky that hoards of followers won't climb on board. But I'm not keen to have any of my students jump on those bandwagons.

So I prepared a poster listing some of the most prominent end-of-the-world. About 50 of them, on a 17" x 22" poster. (This kind of thing happens when you can make 17" x 22" prints. Anyway, I think it looks pretty good. I'll post it for the May 21 End of the World. I'll post it again for the December 21, 2012 End of the World. And I'll post it for any other Ends of the World that happen between or beyond those dates.

I worried that taking on Camping and Family Radio would give offense to my Christian students, but was assured (from all corners) that it would not. He ranks up there with the Westboro Baptists for giving Christians a bad image. Delusional nut cases who profit by spreading fear do not qualify for "tolerance." They qualify for scrutiny and example-making. Which is not to say derision and mockery are off the table.

THE END OF THE WORLD! ...has happened before (many times). (PDF, native at 17" x 22")

National Public Radio's story on the May 21, 2011 end of the world story.

Harold Camping's Family

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