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Monday, May 09, 2011

No 'Plan B'

The world will come to an end on May 21, 2011.

That's the truth, according to Harold Camping, 89 year old founder of the California-based Family Radio, a Christian network worth more than $100 million that spans more than 150 outlets in the United States.

According to Camping:
On May 21, starting in the Pacific Rim at around the 6 p.m. local time hour, in each time zone, there will be a great earthquake, such as has never been in the history of the Earth. The true Christian believers will be "raptured". They'll fly upward to heaven.
And for the rest?

It's just the horror of horror stories, and on top of all that, there's no more salvation at that point. And then the Bible says it will be 153 days later that the entire universe and planet Earth will be destroyed forever.
Harold Camping - AP photo
And, how does Camping know this?

The Bible tells him so.

Don't believe him? Well, just crunch the numbers for yourself.
"In 2 Peter 3:8 . . . .Holy God reminds us that one day is as 1,000 years. Therefore, with the correct understanding that the seven days referred to in Genesis 7:4 can be understood as 7,000 years, we learn that when God told Noah there were seven days to escape worldwide destruction, He was also telling the world there would be exactly 7,000 years (one day is as 1,000 years) to escape the wrath of God that would come when He destroys the world on Judgment Day. Because Holy Infinite God is all-knowing, He knows the end from the beginning. He knew how sinful the world would become.
Seven thousand years after 4990 B.C. (the year of the Flood) is the year 2011 A.D. (our calendar).

4990 + 2011 – 1 = 7,000
[One year must be subtracted in going from an Old Testament B.C. calendar date to a New Testament A.D. calendar date because the calendar does not have a year zero.]

Thus Holy God is showing us by the words of 2 Peter 3:8 that He wants us to know that exactly 7,000 years after He destroyed the world with water in Noah’s day, He plans to destroy the entire world forever. Because the year 2011 A.D. is exactly 7,000 years after 4990 B.C. when the flood began, the Bible has given us absolute proof that the year 2011 is the end of the world during the Day of Judgment, which will come on the last day of the Day of Judgment.

Amazingly, May 21, 2011 is the 17th day of the 2nd month of the Biblical calendar of our day. Remember, the flood waters also began on the 17th day of the 2nd month, in the year 4990 B.C."
See? There it is - proof positive for those 'true believers' who truly believe.

Oh, ye of little faith!

If you are chortling in your coffee, there are many - untold numbers - who are as serious as a heart attack about this.

NPR reports on one couple, Adrienne and Joel Martinez.
"Knowing the date of the end of the world changes all your future plans," says 27-year-old Adrienne Martinez.

She thought she'd go to medical school, until she began tuning in to Family Radio. She and her husband, Joel, lived and worked in New York City. But a year ago, they decided they wanted to spend their remaining time on Earth with their infant daughter.

"My mentality was, why are we going to work for more money? It just seemed kind of greedy to me. And unnecessary," she says.

And so, her husband adds, "God just made it possible — he opened doors. He allowed us to quit our jobs, and we just moved, and here we are."

Now they are in Orlando, in a rented house, passing out tracts and reading the Bible. Their daughter is 2 years old, and their second child is due in June. Joel says they're spending the last of their savings. They don't see a need for one more dollar.

"You know, you think about retirement and stuff like that," he says. "What's the point of having some money just sitting there?"

"We budgeted everything so that, on May 21, we won't have anything left," Adrienne adds.

Nothing, except for the fervent hope that all of them will be raptured.
I listened to the NPR broadcast and pretty much shrugged my shoulders and sighed in sadness for this young couple and their daughter and unborn child.

"The crazies will always be with you," I thought to myself. Jesus didn't say that, I know, but if He were here, I suspect that's precisely what He might say.

Then again, if He were here, it would be The Rapture, right?

But, he won't. Not yet. Not for another 12 days, anyway.

Palmyra, NJ - NPR photo

I really didn't think much more about it until later in the morning, when I took Theo out for a walk along Memorial Drive here in Cambridge.

As we were walking, I met a young man - nicely dressed, a pleasant sort - who greeted me politely and said, "Good morning. May I give you one of these pamphlets?

Being Anglican, I suffer from TPP - terminal public politeness. Even though I certainly didn't want one, I took it anyway.

"Thank you," he said. "May you be blessed this day."

I started to walk away, glancing at the pamphlet, when I stopped in my tracks as I read "May 21, 2011: Blow the Trumpet! Warn the People! Ezekiel 33:3".

You know me. I simply couldn't resist.

I went back over to him and looked him square in the eye as he smiled pleasantly at me.

"Harold Camping? Family Radio?" I asked as I gently waved the pamphlet around.

"He's a prophet," said the young man, with obvious admiration.  "I've been listening to him for years, and I've crunched the numbers hidden in the code which God has placed in the words of scripture so those who truly believe will find them and know and be ready."

He said this without the sort of excitement or psychological, religious ecstasy some people exhibit when talking about The Rapture. I mean, it's not called "The Rapture" for nothing.

Rather, the man had a certain calm about him - a peace that certainly surpassed my human understanding.

"On May 21 - in twelve more days," he said calmly, "It will all be perfect. I will be perfect."

I smiled at him and said, "This life is not perfect. It wasn't designed to be. And," I added, trying to stay calm, "Even Jesus said that no one will know the exact time of Judgement Day. Didn't He say that 'The End' will come 'like a thief in the night'?"

"Yes," he agreed, "that's right, but God has written a code into scripture so that the true believers will know the truth."

I thought for a moment before I asked, "But, what if it doesn't happen? What's your 'Plan B?'"

"No 'Plan B'," he said, "I've paid off all my debt. I've said most of my goodbyes. I've asked forgiveness of those I've hurt in the past. This is it."

He said that with such serene confidence, it almost broke my heart.

I patted Theo's head and watched the Harvard Row Team in the Charles River.

I suppressed an urge to tell him that there is a long history of people predicting the end of the world unsuccessfully — Camping himself in 1994, which he attributed to a miscalculation.

Oopsie! I hate it when that happens, don't you?

Then there was the "Great Disappointment" when people in the early Adventist movement expected the Second Coming on specific dates in the 1840s and were not obliged.

Truth is, there have been many "Failed Armageddons" over the centuries.

Some doomsday sects have arisen in recent years, citing biblical or other religious sources. Camping's May 21, 2011, date has to share space on the doomsday calendar with others’ predictions of a 2012 apocalypse, based on some calculations involving the Mayan calendar.

I wanted to tell him all this, but decided he couldn't hear it anyway, so I just kept my mouth shut and hummed a little tune in my head. "Jesus loves the little children. All the children in the world . . ."

I can only imagine what he was considering telling me.

For a few minutes, all we could hear was the Harvard Row Teams from our place on the banks of the River Charles.

"Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!"

My friend took a deep breath and then said, "I was never able to say this before, but now I can. I'm gay. I think I have been all my life. It's been awful. Horrible. Sometimes, as hard as I tried, I just couldn't resist the urges. When I think of the many times I would sneak off into the bushes to have sex with men - well, it makes me tremble. By the grace of God, I never got arrested. But, I have confessed my sins and promised not to do it ever again. My pastor assures me that I am forgiven."

He smiled gently at me and then continued, "It certainly makes it easier, now that there's only 12 days left. I've been able to tell my parents and all my relatives and friends. I've told them not to worry about me. That I will be fine - and so will they if they prepare themselves and get ready."

"How did your parents and your relatives and friends respond to this news?" I asked.

"Oh, my mother cried, but, well, you know, it was Mother's Day," he said, without a trace of guile. "I think they were all shocked. Some tried to talk me out of it - they're all Roman Catholic, you know - but I am a true believer. I will miss them in The Rapture," he said, a touch of genuine sadness in his voice, "but well, God will work it out for them, I'm sure."

I took a deep breath, and then patted little Theo as I searched his black, silky coat for something to say.

"I'm not going to try to dissuade you," I started slowly. "I just want you to know that being gay doesn't have to be what you've experienced. My partner and I have been together for 35 years. We have six kids and five grandchildren. We've had a wonderful life. Not perfect, by any means - some of it has been painfully hard - but rich and rewarding and fulfilling."

"You can, too," I said, softly, "It's not about someone else's truth. It's about finding what's true and right within yourself, and rejoicing in the way that God created you, and living your life in the best way possible. Doing good. Being kind and compassionate. Working for justice and peace."

He opened his mouth to say something, stopped himself, and then just smiled. "I know The Truth," he said, "and The Truth is that all the so-called 'progress' made by the Gay Pride Movement and Same Sex Marriage are really just signs God has given us that the end is near."

"I'll pray for you," he said, reassuringly. I had no doubt that he would.

"Thank you, that's very kind," I said. "I will keep you in my prayers." And, I will.

And, not like that song 'Pray for You' that's been making the rounds (which I think is a hilarious take on the hypocrisy of some Christians).

We chatted a bit about Theo, the weather, the Harvard Row Team, the Boston Red Sox (of course) and then we said our goodbyes and I left. I walked a few feet away and then turned around to find him smiling and passing out more leaflets.

It's now a few hours later and I find myself feeling very sad. I'm sad for that young man. He never gave me his name and I didn't give him mine. I feel very sorry for Adrienne and Joel Martinez, their little girl and the child that will be born in June. Here. On this side of the veil. Of this, I have no doubt.

Then again, I feel bad for people who buy into the Amway business or those who were duped by Bernie Madoff's Ponzi Scheme.

What's that old saying? "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Or, as P.T. Barnum reportedly, "There's a sucker born every minute."

I feel sad for anyone who looks for easy answers to life's complex and often confusing questions. I have found that the real joy in life is to welcome and embrace life's questions, living into them, as Rilke says, until I find the answers - or more questions.

As for me and my house, on May 21, 2011, you will find us living in readiness - trying our best to do justice and love mercy and walking humbly with God.

That's my plan. 'A'. And, 'B'. The whole alphabet of choices. 

Maybe I should try to find that young man on Memorial Drive and bring him a rainbow flag.

No, sillies, not as an incentive to join God's Queer Rainbow Tribe. He's already part of it, whether he knows it or accepts it or not. Although, what I really fear is that, when Armageddon doesn't happen on May 21st, it still will be the end of the world for him.

I can't imagine what he will do, now that he's 'come out' to everyone and then hopes it will all go away. Or, he'll go away. Up in the air. With Jesus. In The Rapture.

He may need the rainbow flag as a reminder of the bow God set in the sky as a sign of the Covenant with Noah that God would never again destroy the face of the earth (Genesis 8:21).

That's not written in any code. That's God's Covenant. A Sacred Promise. (Genesis 9:11)

If you can't trust in God's promises . . . well . . . it might just as well be the end of the world.


JCF said...

Wow. Speechless.

[Suddenly wondering whether Camping (Camp-ing?) is gay, too. O_o]

Almost wondering whether TEC should try to do a 5/*22*/11 outreach? "If you're still here, unRaptured, try a Church that brings God to humans and humans to God for the long haul" [I would say "...for 2000 years" but I suppose some would kick up a stink w/ my contention that TEC was founded by Jesus and the Apostles ;-/]

Anonymous said...

This is incredibly sad.

My parents became Jehovah's Witnesses when I was 1.5. They, along with other people in the church, were getting ready for the church's predicted end in 1975 by selling homes, spending life savings, etc. I spent my life in fear of some great end at which time God would kill billions of people, leaving only the Witnesses. I didn't stop believing it until I went to college at the age of 27 where I learned to think for myself.

The sad thing is that on May 22, most of them will continue to believe this man and whatever story he makes up for his mis-calculation. 37 years later and my parents are still JWs.

Tara P.

Molly Aley said...

Wow. Just loved this post. Really happy I found you. Good good stuff. *happy sigh*

Orgel56 said...

Very Thoughtful. Thanks.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF - I know, right? BTW, good news on the lab report. Way to go!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Tara - It is sad, isn't it? I'd like to dismiss them all as 'simple folk' and 'fools', but the people who got suckered into Madoff's Ponzi scheme were no different.

So, so sad.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Molly Aley - Glad you found your way over here. Come back again.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Orge156 - You're welcome.

Watson said...

As "Anon" said: "This is incredibly sad". Still, I think meeting you, the person who stopped, talked, cared, might stay with this young man. Perhaps it will give him some stability and guidance later.

MarkBrunson said...

Sadly, when the world doesn't end, the old fraud will simply claim he "miscalculated" again and his followers will continue following - and paying.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mark - that's one of the saddest parts of this very sad story

Reg said...

This is a fine post, encapsulating my own sense of the primacy of personal truth. If we believe that the spirit speaks to us, as I do, we have to accept that it speaks to us with all kinds of different emphasis - presumably a result of having to come through that "glass darkly". It's clearly dangerous to question the truth of others, but I think that the absence of Christ's message of unconditional love as its central fact is, for me, legitimate grounds for doing that.

Harold Camping bears a heavy responsibility for the plight of the young man to whom you spoke. When his prophesy fails, will he reemburse those who have exposed themselves to financial ruin because of his mistake? Will you do that for your disciples Mr Camping?

I found your response to this encounter very moving, and thank you for sharing it.

Bless you and yours, and the rainbow future.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hey there, Reg, I fear Mr. Camping has absolutely no plan to compensate the 'true believers' in his truth. Furthermore, I think you can bet that Mr. Camping has a "Plan B". It's just absolutely disgraceful - and, terribly, terribly sad.

Thanks for your visit and your comment, Reg. I look forward to another visit and comment soon.

Anonymous said...

What about the king of the south starting a war with the king of the north?

What about the seven year peace treaty that reestablishes the daily sacrifice at the temple?

What about the broken peace treaty after 3 1/2 years, and the daily sacrifices taken away?

What about the abomination of desolation, who stands in the temple of Jerusalem and declares that he is to be worshipped by all; that he is God?

What about the two end time prophets who will prophecy in the streets of Jerusalem for the 3 1/2 years of no sacrifices?

WHAT ABOUT PROPHECY?? Are we just going to skip over it all?

And as for 2 Peter 3:8, which states one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day......

well Ezekial 4:6 states "I have appointed thee each day for a year.. AND

Numbers 14:34 "each day for a year"

As the bible says: Mat 24:4 "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name,"

Mr. Camping has been deceived.