According to Christian radio host Harold Camping, president of the Family Radio network in Oakland, the Rapture, the most anticipated event in the lives of some Christian fundamentalists, is scheduled for Saturday, May 21. No exact time of day has been given.
The Rapture occurs when all of those who have been faithful to Camping’s brand of Christian fundamentalism are taken up into heaven at once, clothing and all. After all, god doesn’t want a bunch of naked people running around his house (even if your body is a “temple of the lord”).
Camping believes this, because, of course, it’s in the bible along with everything else that anyone wants to find. Except for any clue as to what to wear for the Rapture. Is polyester okay? How about tasteful pumps? Makeup’s probably a no-no, after all, as my Italian grandmother used to say, it makes you look like a puttana, and, besides, Jesus just didn’t wear it.
On October 27, six months after the faithful are beamed up to their heavenly reward, the world will come to an abrupt end and those of us who haven’t been raptured (it’s actually a verb now, along with every other noun in the English language) will suffer horrible, bloody deaths like in the movies and go immediately to hell, purgatory or limbo.
Maybe not limbo, because that’s a Catholic thing. Limbo was for all the pagan babies who died and weren’t baptized. They just floated around out there in space somewhere for all eternity. Sort of like those Kryptonian criminals in the Phantom Zone in the old Superboy comics. Though, I’m thinking that the guy in Rome recently nixed the whole limbo thing. But I digress.
Camping, who used to be an engineer, figured out the exact dates for the Rapture and the end of the world by painstakingly examining and re-examining every passage of the bible for clues. He really needs to get a life.
He told SFGate earlier this year: “I’d wonder, ‘Why did god put this number in, or that number in?’ It was not a question of unbelief, it was a question of ‘There must be a reason for it.’” Or not. Sometimes a number is just a number.
This isn’t the first time that Camping’s predicted the end of the world. Almost two decades ago, he announced to his followers that the Rapture would arrive on September 4, 1994. When it didn’t, he attributed it to a mistake in his math calculations.
Of course, Camping’s not the only one who’s got a problem with math and numbers. For at least the past 2,000 years, religious folks of all stripes have been miscalculating the day and time of the Earth’s demise.
Of course, it’d be a lot easier if the big cheese in the sky would just spell it out: “Last chance to repent, the Rapture is coming next Friday at 2:25pm EST.” The Great Communicator he’s not.
The world may not see millions of Christians called home on May 21, but it could face a transformation of another sort later next year. The Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012, which could mean great disasters that wipe out all human life on the planet. But, according to some folks, it marks the beginning of a new golden age of truth and understanding that could transform us all into long-haired, peace-loving, pot-smoking freaks.
Guess it’s time to dig out my old tie-dye shirts and love beads, just in case.