Friday, May 27, 2011

Why Bother With Harold Camping?

Harold-Camping-Failphoto © 2011 youngmoigle | more info (via: Wylio)Well, looks like Harold Camping was wrong. The May 21st Rapture that Camping spent all of his energy on never happened. He's reportedly shocked, but everyone else isn't.

And if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I had a field day making fun of Camping all day Saturday!

I think at one point I even compared him to Marshall Applewhite, the leader of the Heaven's Gate cult.

My friend and Something Beautiful co-host Jonathan at one point said, "You're not gonna give that guy a break are you?" To be honest, I wasn't.

And that's because I've suffered a lot of anxiety attacks in the past believing that the world was going the end at any minute.

First there was Mrs. Nash (not her real name) in 11th grade who mixed Y2K paranoia with the Book of Revelation, and regularly told us in class that the devil was unleashed from his pit after his thousand-year imprisonment. And this was in a public school, too! Of course January 1, 2000 came and went, and nothing happened.

And then that summer while working at the Surratts-Clinton library, I came across some books about Nostradamus, The Bible Code, and the Left Behind series. I spent that entire summer in paralyzing fear, worrying that something bad was going to happen in the next year or two. It got so bad that I was sent to a therapist after I scratched my arms up with a sewing needle. Fortunately things got better than fall when I started following Jesus. His Word comforted me and told me that no matter what would happen, God would always be there.

Flash forward to the summer of 2006 when I skim through the book The Bible Code and suddenly start preparing for the big nuclear holocaust it predicted for that August. I couldn't eat, and whatever I did eat I couldn't keep down. Nothing made me happy. All I could do was look at the horizon and imagine a big nuclear blast coming my way. It got so bad that I had to go on Effexor (which I still take). Of course 2006 came and went, and I realized how much time I wasted.

So when I read about a mother killing her children and then herself to avoid the Tribulation, or all the people who gave up their entire lives to preach Camping's message, I immediately remember all the time I wasted throughout my life being scared to death. This isn't the Gospel! Jesus came to give us peace, not fear. Eschatology is supposed to inspire us to participate in God's restoration of the world. But why do that when you can scare people out of their money and lives?

Take it from me, folks, when Jesus says no one but God knows when the world will end, you better believe it!


  1. I did a little nail-biting about whether or not to make Harold Camping jokes or whatever. It's certainly very funny and all, but on the other hand it is also kind of sad. A friend of mine made a comment about how her heart goes out to all those "who thought today was going to be the day," and how awful it must feel. And come on, it's never in good taste to mock people for their religious beliefs.

    However, and this is a big however, Harold Camping isn't some innocuous religious voice who believes unconventional things. Yes, he took a lot of money (I believe the "donate" option on the website was active all throughout the whole ordeal), but the main thing that disturbs me is his animosity toward gay people. He claimed in multiple places on multiple occasions that gay people are a big part of the reason God was so angry.

    It's hard to be sympathetic for this poor old preacher when he viscerally antagonizes me and my family. So while yes, it must have been heartbreaking for those who thought it was going to go down, it's also heartbreaking that people have turned their religious traditions into a vessel for revenge fantasies.

  2. "Jesus came to give us peace, not fear." I completely agree with this. So, live in peace and not in fear.

    Jacob Carlson