It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

So, this is it.  Today, the world ends, according to Harold Camping, an 89-year old preacher and biblical scholar with a large following on the radio.  You may not think his following is so large, but compared to, say ... this blog, for example ...

Anyway, at 6pm, there we go.  Actually, which 6pm has been a matter of some dispute.  As the bronze age nomads who wrote the original text of the Bible didn't really have an understanding of time zones, a notion that it can be evening in one place and necessarily must be morning someplace else, as a by-product of the whole the-planet-is-round thing, which in itself came from the we-live-on-a-PLANET thing, the biblical clues left for Mr. Camping simply say 6pm somewhere, which of course could mean anywhere.  I'm pretty sure that as I type this on a Saturday morning in Washington, DC, it's already been 6pm in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Galilee, or any of the predictable Biblical locations.  Then again, many Evangelical Christians believe that, sometime around 1776, Jesus began favoring the United States of America above all other nations (the institution of slavery being so in sync with that whole turn-the-other-cheek business), so it might be that we all just have to wait until Central Standard Time or something.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I don't put much stock in this particular theory.  And yet, I find it fascinating that amid all the talk, mostly jokes in my circle of friends, about the (cue threatening music) impending rapture, even I've had fleeting thoughts of "But what if they're right?  What if people really do start floating skyward? Won't I feel silly then?"

And if the power of suggestion works so well on me, I can only imagine that those who are already inclined to believe that the Bible is the sanctioned word of a Supreme Being don't have to make that much of a leap to believe it's all going to happen.  And yet - if doubt can so easily invade the mind of a set-in-his-ways non-believer like me, I have to believe that Mr. Camping's followers experience moments of doubt, too.  But evidence would suggest that at least some of them - those that have already quit their jobs and made post-rapture arrangements for their dogs and cats (unable to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and therefore unworthy of heavenly assumption) feel 100% sure about Mr. Camping's biblical number-crunching.

And the question I've heard most of all is, "What will they all say/do/think on Sunday morning if/when the world doesn't end after all?"  And I guess we'll have to wait until Sunday morning to find out.  I'm hoping that no one commits suicide, and I think it's a real threat.  I'm not sure how Mr. Camping in particular will be able to summon the nerve to show his face in public again after being so wrong about this.  (Then again, he's done it before.)

As for myself, I'd like to rise above it all, but there's probably one more day of lighthearted joking about an apocalypse that I really don't think is coming.  Y'know, meeting people on the street, with a "Happy Rapture Day!" and having a good laugh about it.  And while I obviously don't see the need to do a lot of repenting today, perhaps I will take special care to really enjoy myself today, to live as the cliche would direct us, as if it were actually my last day on Earth, squeezing the joy out of every moment, comfortable and secure in the belief that I probably will still be around tomorrow.

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