The Sad Strange Heaven of Harold Camping
Monday/May/23 2011 Filed in: Philosophy / World View
The Ruptured Rapture
Perhaps by his own definition, Harold Camping is the very essence of that which he has devoted his near-century of life waging holy war against.
Harold Camping is a false prophet.
Our first Apocalypzia post devoted to Chicken-Little Camping was back in June 2009. This blog was, in fact, launched as a send-up/mash-up of all the end-of-the-world doomsayers out there. Hence, our tagline: The Beginning is Near.
Camping said that his prediction of heavenly ascension and earthly perdition was based in The Word. But when asked to show his work, what came out of Camping's mouth was a jumble of jackleg jargon indistinguishable from numerology, gibberish and Sudoku.
Having finessed his way through a previous bungled warning of the coming wrath of God back in 1994, Camping soldiered on and came up with a new and improved drop-dead date. A few years ago, Camping told his followers that he had raised his game and could now assure a 2011 Rapture with a Fed Ex guarantee.
He blamed his 17 year error on not yet being familiar enough with the nuances of his scripture-on-scripture approach to bible study. Now emboldened by his new-found expertise, Camping doubled down on 2011.
It's important to note that Camping didn't just predict a May 21 Rapture, he also predicted an October 21 Armageddon.
And he wasn't just choosing dates on a calendar. He described in specific detail exactly what would happen -- and when -- as the Saved, both alive and dead, ascended into the air with on-time precision at 6pm in each global time zone.
He talked with absolute assurance about how the heaven-bound would transform into glowing glorified bodies. He articulated how those Left Behind would spend the next five months, waiting for worldwide destruction, stumbling through the ejected and mouldering remains of the unforgiven dead.
But an employee of Family Radio, the non-profit (non-prophet?) organization that Camping heads to spread his message, is quoted as saying that relatively few staff members ever bought into the whole Eve of Destruction scenario. For them, working at Family Radio was just a job and a way to pay the rent.
Even Camping's immediate family was unconvinced of the Rapture.
Most snake oil salesmen do what they do for money. Some, especially those in politics, do what they do for power and fame. The sad tale of Camping is that he appeared to eat his own dog food. He seemed to actually believe that, had his predicted Rapture not put an end to human history, his name would have been emblazoned alongside all the other blessed prophets chosen by God to hear the whispered secrets of the divine.
As it is, Harold Camping is a flabbergasted and bewildered 89 year old who has wasted his existence soliciting and spending millions of dollars to warn the world of danger that never did, and never would, manifest.
But Camping isn't alone in this folly of crying wolf.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Eight years ago, we were told that, indeed, the world would end unless weapons of mass destruction were wrestled from the soon-to-be-dead hands of Sadaam Hussein. These words were presented to us with no less hubris and certainty than Camping's exclamations about the End-of-Days.
And three years ago, we were told that if we didn't hand over a trillion dollars ransom to thieving Wall Street fat cats, this sucker (an amusing and pathetic metaphor for the global economy) could go down.
The Fire Next Time
As of this writing, Harold Camping has not yet fully emerged from hiding after his not-so-excellent adventure this weekend. He is expected to make an official statement sometime May 23, most likely on his weeknight call-in talk show, Open Forum.
Since May 21, Family Radio has broadcast tapes of old Camping sermons that pre-date his Rapture prediction.
Will he do the right thing today?
Will he fall on his sword and take responsibility for advising the world to forsake their earthly obligations for a chance at an E-Ticket to Paradise?
Or will he, instead, blame the whole fiasco on a media that somehow took his words "out of context?"
Weekend at Harold's
Perhaps he's spent the weekend re-crunching his numbers and has a revised timetable for the end of time.
Or perhaps Brother Camping will pull a Bobby Ewing when he steps out of his Monday morning shower and act as if the non-events of this past weekend have been erased from our collective backstory.
There is evidence that this divine debacle will be swept under the carpet. The Atlantic Wire quotes Camping aide Tom Evans:
"You can imagine we're pretty disappointed but the word of God is still true. We obviously went too far and that's something we have to learn from."
The Not-Yet-Late and Never Great Harold Camping
A May 11 New York Magazine interview with Harold Camping