Sunday, May 22, 2011

Oakland Minister Adjusts to Life After the Rapture

Well, it's May 22nd, and we're all still here, so that can only mean one thing: Oakland minister Harold Camping's prediction that the Rapture and a series of catastrophic earthquakes would occur yesterday didn't materialize. We enjoyed the respite from reporting on our ex-Governor's illegitimate son, and can only wonder what absurdity they'll move on to next. While Camping himself was unavailable for comment, the LA Times reports that his AM radio station in Sacramento was "severely vandalized" over the weekend, with air conditioning units torn out and $25,000 worth of copper stripped from the walls. As 6 pm approached in California, a small crowd gathered outside Camping's headquarters in Oakland, consisting mostly of atheists mocking the preacher and other Christians holding signs accusing him of being a false prophet.

On one hand, we think Camping deserves some credit for knowing how to run a media campaign, even if predicting the apocalypse isn't his strong suit. Over the past few weeks, through a combination of billboards, interviews, and relentless promotion on his radio and television shows, Camping got the world talking about his prediction. And even if it made no sense, millions of people spent yesterday glancing at the news to see if he was right. Libertarian politicians could learn something from Camping about how to get a message out.

We don't consider ourselves Christians, but even we know one reason why Christians should have been skeptical of Camping's prediction: Mark 13:31-32, which states "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." In other words, no one but God Himself knows when the apocalypse will come, and anyone attempting to read the tea leaves and predict its timing doesn't know what they're talking about. So why do some buy into these predictions? Probably for the same reason that socialists rejoice at every new regulation and tax increase, no matter how much it harms them personally: they want to see evidence that their god is as powerful as they've been led to believe. It's a lot easier to believe that God is going to create a paradise on earth if you've witnessed an undeniable display of His power. And the sorts of people who view the world's troubles as the product of malign forces beyond their control tend to connect with the concept of a massive upheaval followed by utopia. Fortunately, this doesn't describe most of the Christians we know.


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