I said to my neighbor Ted that my co-worker told me that at noon tomorrow a unicorn would walk across my front lawn leaving a path of tasty Skittles behind him. Ted laughed uproariously telling me what a boob my co-worker was. “How ridiculous,” Ted said, “a unicorn will leave Skittles across your front lawn but it isn’t going to happen tomorrow!”
And so went the media spin today as everyone lined up to mock Harold Camping who said that I should not be writing this post right now. By now I should be writhing in pain as the earth crumbles beneath me and the true believers in Christ rise to glory.
The ridicule for Camping is nearly universal but no one is willing to go out on a limb and say that the whole idea of the rapture is absurd. No one is willing to say the rapture will not occur today at 6PM, nor tomorrow, nor the next day, nor any day in the future. It is fiction. It is allegory designed to get folks to behave properly in their current lives (or in rapture-speak, to “be ready”).
The lack of internal logic evidenced in Camping-critics boggles the mind. A case in point is a Baptist minister who was interviewed this morning on TV. He laughed and snickered at Camping’s prophecy. He reminded us that false prophets should be stoned to death (but not Camping of course … that would be over the top). He called people who followed Camping, “gullible”. Then he said that only God knows when the rapture will come. I sat there scratching my head. He had the nerve to call Camping followers gullible but when he utters the same meme, not committing to an exact date, suddenly his congregation is not gullible? So let me get this straight, the rapture only becomes laughable when you put a date on it?
I can’t point a finger at the devout only. The media has twisted itself in knots calling today’s predicted apocalypse ridiculous but reserving respect for the concept of rapture. I don’t see how any truly religious person would not find the reaction to Camping deeply offensive. Let’s be honest. If you are laughing at the rapture occurring today, then you are really laughing at the rapture, period. This phenom of the media stepping right up to the edge of calling the rapture foolishness but then stopping, is the ultimate hypocrisy.
But speaking of hypocrisy, let’s get back to the devout for a moment. The reaction this week to Camping by God-fearing Christians truly makes me wonder if they really deep down take any of this stuff seriously. What happens when someone sees Christ on a potato chip or on a tree trunk? Just about everyone calls him a whack job. With the rare exception of Joseph Smith Jr. who built an entire religion around his talks with God, what other modern-day flesh-and-blood human is taken seriously when he says he has received specific instructions from the almighty? When Mike Huckabee says prayer helped him reach his decision not to run for President, how many so-called seriously religious people really believe God literally told him what to do? For the most part, people believe that Huckabee found enough peace, comfort and quiet meditation through prayer to reach a decision that felt right for him. If Mike ever said literally that “God told me to leave Obama alone”, 90% of us, church goers or not, would write him off as a nut case.
The case of Harold Camping speaks volumes about what people, even religious people, are willing to believe. As long as the most supernatural aspects of the Bible remain shrouded in un-provable generalities, most folks will gladly sign on. But if anyone dares to get to a level of specificity that invites scientific scrutiny (like the world will end tomorrow at 6PM) suddenly that person becomes persona non grata. People like their religion so long as you can’t prove them wrong. Clearly I cannot prove with 100% certainty that the world will not end someday, nor can I prove with 100% certainty what will happen to all of us when that day comes. If you change “someday” to “tomorrow” or “next week” or even “within the next ten years” I can state with much greater certainty that the end of world claim is bogus. So can just about everyone else. That’s why it is imperative that only God knows when the day of reckoning will come. So long as only God has the answer, we can all just go along believing the rapture will happen, just not today.