Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The World Didn't End

... but Harold Camping did.  The end-times prognosticator died yesterday at age 92.

For those of you with short memories, Harold Camping famously predicted that the world would end on May 21, 2011.  When it didn't, he moved the date to October 21st, and here we still are 2 years later.  A lot of people were thoroughly (if inexplicably) sold on all this.  So convinced were they that the world would end that they sacrificed life savings and homes to put the word out.  I wonder what has happened to those folks since, how many have recovered and how many have not; how many are still true believers despite everything that happened, and how many people left disillusioned.
Whether deluded or crooked, Camping did a lot of harm, mostly to his followers and their families and friends.  He will be remembered as but a sad and curious footnote in the history of this age.

End times predictors have come and gone regularly for the last 2000 years.  An entire end times industry sprang up in the 1990s and 2000s around the turning of the millennium.  The Harold Camping episode may mark its demise.  The old world keeps plodding annually around the sun indifferent to whatever zeros are turning over on someone's particular global odometer.  It appears that God doesn't care much about these distance measures either.

What has always struck me about apocalypse enthusiasts, at least those in my lifetime and my experience, is that the driving passions behind them are spite and misanthropy.  I remember the Camping followers (and so many others like them before and since) anticipating prophesied catastrophe with positive glee.  They weren't joyful over the prospect of a final reconciliation between heaven and earth or spirit and flesh, a world where the dead are raised and the reign of death is forever ended.  They were eagerly anticipating coming out the big winners in the end, and watching all of their detractors humiliated and their enemies destroyed.  This wicked old world that marginalized the True and Faithful remnant and made fun of them was going to get its comeuppance, and the True and Faithful would be there left standing to cash in that big winning lottery ticket at the very end.  That's the gleam in the eye of just about every rapture freak I've ever known in my 55 going on 56 years (and I've seen a lot of them in that half century).

Times Square May 21, 2011 just after 6PM.
I actually feel sorry for this guy.  Robert Fitzpatrick spent $140,000 of his own money to promote this thing (and unlike so many evangelical mega-preachers, he is not rich).  He seems to have dropped off the radar, and I have no idea what happened to him.
He's one of Camping's victims as far as I'm concerned.

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