So, presumably, at least half of you have heard that the Rapture is this Saturday. For those who are not up on Christian eschatology, that’s the day when the chosen ones are called on up to heaven and all the unbelievers and unsaved are left to rot here on the planet as it basically self-destructs. Pleasant for those of us “left behind,” if you will. [snark]
And yes, I am not among the chosen. Not that I ever pretended to be or wanted to be. I don’t believe that religion makes you more moral than others, or that it makes you special or superior to others. Nor do I believe that one religion is better than another, or that there’s a hierarchy of people that God, however you perceive him or her, designates.
At any rate, I like a good apocalypse, but stuff like this — with people proclaiming specific dates and thus usurping what’s supposed to be a power reserved for deities — makes me nervous, because a lot of people buy into it, and that’s just walking the cult line.
All that said, Harold Camping of Family Radio has been perusing his King James bible for decades, and he’s been looking for secret codes and numbers that would tell him exactly when the Rapture happens, and after manipulating those codes and numbers (using his own numerology), he came up with May 21, 2011 as the date. And because Camping’s been around since the 1950s, Family Radio has had lots of time to build up an audience. Which it has. It’s translated into 61 different languages and there are Rapture billboards all over the world.
More? Click on.
There have been thousands of end-of-the-world predictions since people have been able to make predictions. Camping’s not new to it, either. He predicted the world would end in 1994, too. Here. A list of apocalyptic predictions since 1900. And there are hundreds if not thousands before 1900.
Other things to think about, even if you’re religiously inclined. One, the modern Bible’s language is a lot different than the ancient Bible’s language. Plus, the original Bible was written in Aramaic, wasn’t it? So over a bunch of centuries, the Bible has been translated, re-translated, and translated again into all kinds of languages. You don’t think something got lost in the translation along the way? Second, “time” is a human construct. It has no meaning beyond what we give it. Our modern American culture keeps “time” differently than ancient cultures. So for anyone to say that Jesus was crucified on a specific day in a specific year is a sketchy supposition. Camping may be thinking he’s simply been able to figure out that the specific date based on his numerology, but here’s the thing. The system of numerology he’s using is his alone. It’s basically whatever he’s wanted it to be. Three, religion is a human construct, developed by specific cultures at specific times to address things that people didn’t understand.
Ultimately, believe what you want to believe. I, however, worry about those people who have joined Camping’s movement and sold their possessions and quit their jobs to get the word out. That’s almost cultish behavior, and things like that make me nervous. When this date comes and goes, like all the thousands of other dates that were touted and feverishly believed in, what will those people do? I hope it’s nothing crazy. Or, at least no crazier than thinking that you actually have the knowledge to predict something like an apocalypse.
So, since the day after tomorrow will bring the Rapture, here’s Blondie’s song to commemorate the event:
Go forth and prosper!