May 25, 2011

Listen to Harold Camping's full response to May 21st 2011 Sort-of-Rapture

The global earthquakes that were scheduled for Judgment Day, May 21st 2011, of course didn't happen, and neither were the saved removed from the planet. (My pet rat Blakey was missing Saturday Morning, & we were worried she was Rat-tured, but we eventually found her.) Harold Camping eventually re-appeared on Monday, and gave a full press conference / special broadcast of his daily show Open Forum, that was widely reported on. The whole thing is up on the Family Radio website now, here.

Our friend & symbologist Dr Benway explained in an e-mail Camping's new stance:

My understanding is that it didn't happen yet and he made a miscalculation,

This is actually not quite his present position, and differs from it mainly in not having cojones the size of ripe grapefruit hanging out of its bushy ears. In a stunning tour de force characterized by the artful admixture of jovial arrogance and aw-shucks humility, Camping turned his twin .50 caliber machine guns of gospel truth on an incongruously hostile group of secular (probably homosexual) press without any discernible regret or consciousness of having done anything wrong.

What he's saying, as near as I can make out, is that he was and is still right about everything, except insofar as he had expected tangible rather than spiritual correlates to Christ's return. He actually said, in so many words, that he had been too cacognostic ("we took it too literally") and proposed an orthognostic reading of his original predictions ("the marvelous proofs...are more spiritual than I had supposed" or words to that effect.) Thus, everything is still on schedule: the day of Judgement came, God's Salvation Plan is over, and the wheat has been separated from the chaff. Correspondingly, Family Radio are decomissioning all their billboards and other public outreach campaigns, (after all, why waste time and energy proselytizing the damned?) and will be restricting their operations to programs like The Open Forum basically just to kill time until the utter annihilation of all things (except the Elect) which is still set to happen in nearly five months.

In my knowledge, Camping is unique here in promulgating what amounts to an apophatic eschatology. You can tell that the world is ending, but only through inference from negatives. Judgement Day is a spiritual rather than tangible phenomenon because we predicted giant earthquakes and they didn't materialize...
So, the October 21st date will not be as widely publicized, so therefore will probably not be as widely mocked by the secular world. But I still propose we meet again for Mimosas.

I've been reading a lot of the Christian response to this fiasco... And there will often be a sort of marginalizing of Camping as a loon, and worry that he is making the rest of Christianity look goofy for their beliefs. Tim LaHaye, who wrote the Left Behind novels, called Camping "bizarre" and "100% wrong." A very articulate scholar speaking on NPR even ended his segment about this with a disclaimer like "now don't get me wrong, I totally believe the rapture is coming soon." The point is, even if most of mainstream Christians take the Bible at its word that "of that day & hour knows no man" (see last week's Doonesbury), there is still a surprisingly high percentage of Americans who are expecting an apocalypse soon-ish, with a destruction of the Earth similar to the poetic descriptions in Revelations, a belief in Hell as a physical place with real fire in caves beneath the earth, et cetera, et cetera. Camping may have had a relatively small following, but the fears he was praying on are a mainstream part of American culture.
Coming Soon: ideas for questions to call & ask on Camping's Open Forum show.

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