OK. I’ll admit it. I haven’t been paying much attention to the main event predicted for Saturday: Judgment Day. I’ve had my head so far up my ass fretting about jobs, the economy, education, teachers, federal government spending, Pippa’s underwear — or not — that I lost sight of the strongly held belief by many that the world is going to begin to self-destruct. Go figure.
And I know that religion — along with subjects like abortion, taxes and MLB’s designated hitter rule — isn’t something you should joke about. People take it seriously. And good for them.
Here’s the backstory from the NYT, “Make My Bed? But You Say the World’s Ending“:
Thousands of people around the country have spent the last few days taking to the streets and saying final goodbyes before Saturday, Judgment Day, when they expect to be absorbed into heaven in a process known as the rapture. Nonbelievers, they hold, will be left behind to perish along with the world over the next five months.
With their doomsday T-shirts, placards and leaflets, followers — often clutching Bibles — are typically viewed as harmless proselytizers from outside mainstream religion. But their convictions have frequently created the most tension within their own families, particularly with relatives whose main concern about the weekend is whether it will rain.
Kino Douglas, 31, a self-described agnostic, said it was hard to be with his sister Stacey, 33, who “doesn’t want to talk about anything else.”
“I’ll say, ‘Oh, what are we going to do this summer?’ She’s going to say, ‘The world is going to end on May 21, so I don’t know why you’re planning for summer,’ and then everyone goes, ‘Oh, boy,’ ” he said.
Oh, boy. We were planning to have someone come over this afternoon to spread mulch. Worth it?
Here’s some additional info as reported by the Associated Press:
The prediction originates with Harold Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer from Oakland, Calif., who founded Family Radio Worldwide, an independent ministry that has broadcast his prediction around the world.
The Rapture — the belief that Christ will bring the faithful into paradise prior to a period of tribulation on earth that precedes the end of time — is a relatively new notion compared to Christianity itself, and most Christians don’t believe in it. And even believers rarely attempt to set a date for the event.
Camping’s prophecy comes from numerological calculations based on his reading of the Bible, and he says global events like the 1948 founding of Israel confirm his math.
He has been derided for an earlier apocalyptic prediction in 1994, but his followers say that merely referred to the end of “the church age,” a time when human beings in Christian churches could be saved. Now, they say, only those outside what they regard as irredeemably corrupt churches can expect to ascend to heaven.
Camping is not hedging this time: “Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment,” he said in January.
Such predictions are nothing new, but Camping’s latest has been publicized with exceptional vigor — not just by Family Radio but through like-minded groups. They’ve spread the word using radio, satellite TV, daily website updates, billboards, subway ads, RV caravans hitting dozens of cities and missionaries scattered from Latin America to Asia.