I had never heard of Harold Camping. I am familiar with Family Radio, the station he helped to establish in the 1960s. It was one of many evangelical shortwave stations I encountered on the dial during my long years of traveling international radio. I paid it no mind. Evangelical stations are typically, though not exclusively, owned by Americans and I listened to shortwave to hear the opinions of those not from my homeland. The one exception was the late Reverend Gene Scott’s programs. He’s been dead for six years, but you can still hear him nearly 24/7 online and on shortwave. He’s still a hoot.
But Camping never registered with me. And probably never would have if it weren’t for this rapture business. Somehow, I missed the first rapture prediction in September of 1994. Now let’s see, what was I doing in 1994? Well, that’s the year my partner and I met and got together. Maybe I was too rapt with that to notice much else. So if the ’94 prediction made the media, I missed it. The world didn’t end in ’94 or ’95. It’s safe to say that the prediction was a red herring.
However, Camping appears to be a never-say-die kinda guy, so he’s back again with a new prediction: May 21, 2011. This extraordinary prediction grew out of his realization that the Bible contains numbers of particular importance: 5, 10, and 17. Multiply these together, square the result, and you get the number of days after Christ’s crucifixion that rapture will envelop the earth. Curiously, when I use my calculator to project 722,500 days from April 1, 33 AD — the date Camping claims the crucifixion took place — I get May 22, 2011, a day later. Maybe there’s something wrong with my app.
If I seem less than convinced it’s because, well, I’m less than convinced. One of the harbingers of the rapture is chaos in the world. And as evidence of this, Camping sites the increased rights for and acceptance of homosexuality and lesbianism. And here we come to an old, familiar saw. Have a group of people you don’t like? Come up with a prophecy that calls for the group’s total destruction. In a recent video, Mr. Camping noted the irony of his ministry, located in Oakland, California up the road from the airport, being just across the bay from Sodom itself, i.e., San Francisco. Maybe San Andreas is about to slip again.
Here we have yet another example of someone using religion as a weapon to beat people with. Homosexuals, lesbians, non-believers, holders of different faiths are all no count. Such thinking makes it so clean, so simple to dismiss others one doesn’t care for. It reduces religion, and the God behind it, to the level of The Big Bully, the one who will protect you from the others whose mere existence is an intolerable threat. “My God is gonna kick your ass! You’ll see!” In that sense, Camping’s rapture is nothing more than the biggest of Big Bullies. The Ultimate Big Bully. One who will not only beat the tar out of his opponents, but will carry him off to safety before the whole world is destroyed, thus ridding him of ever having to deal with the Nasty People, be they homosexual, lesbian, Muslim, Jewish, or Wiccan, ever again.
Let’s have a different kind of rapture, one that brings joy and pleasure, not pain and suffering. Come May 21, listen to your favorite music. Play your favorite sport. Volunteer and help others. Have a good meal with friends. Have sex. Do whatever consensual, pleasurable, positive activity turns you on and get rapt in that. And while you’re doing it, hope that others very different from you are able to do the same. That would be pure rapture indeed.
(p.s.: Are we really to believe the homophobic rantings of someone named ‘Camping’? Come on!)
© 2011, gar. All rights reserved.