A lot of questions have been bothering me since a Jehovah’s Witness accosted me in the train station almost two weeks ago.
1) My first question has two parts.
A) Does Harold Camping, the minister who has been predicting the 2011 Rapture (since his similar 1994 prediction proved erroneous), really believe what he’s saying? Or is he just a strange, sick man who needs a lot of attention?
B) Whether or not he believes it, what’s in it for him? Does he appropriate the money that followers send to his church? Does he simply enjoy the notoriety? Is he enjoying a good deed by spreading what he thinks is God’s word?
2) If the Rapture were a real event, would I be an unRapturable individual? I’m having a lot of unkind thoughts about Camping and his followers. For example: what a bunch of horseshit-peddling imbeciles. If I plunged my hand into a dumpster and pulled out the gooshiest, most fly-ridden thing I could find, it would be more palatable than their worldview. If I put a homemade batch of ricotta cheese into the back of my fridge and forgot about it for six months before exhuming its powerfully-scented, furry, bluish-green body, and I had a May 21st believer, an evolution denier, and the dude who first claimed that vaccines cause autism all standing right in my kitchen, I don’t know whose head I’d dump it on first. This is not charitable and it shows how intolerant I really am. May 21st believers’ lapse in judgment doesn’t excuse my nasty thoughts.
3) What’s Harold Camping going to say tomorrow, May 22nd, 2011? Is he like newspapers who pre-write volatile celebrities’ obituaries? Is his speech prepared? Will his followers be embarrassed? Most people have nightmares of stepping out in their underwear. Do May 21st believers have nightmares about stepping out in the summer of 2011?
4) What’s going to happen to all those poor people who believed the May 21st story? It’s obvious they’re ill-equipped to deal with the real world anyway, but from what I’ve read, many of them have spent every cent they have on billboards and subway station ads promoting the rapture, or quit their jobs and uprooted their families to travel the country proselytizing. Will their employers give them back their jobs? Will they have somewhere to live? Should we start a charity for them, or do they deserve to be homeless and destitute because of all the crap they’ve been sowing?
5) I’ve read different sources, and I’m unclear as to whether a May 21st believer expects 199,999 or 1,999,999 companions. But whichever it is, the main question, to me, is why the heck you’d be so hell-bent on spreading the word when such a small percentage of Earth’s population is going to be raptured (especially if you’re counting everyone whose bones are waiting for Jesus in their graves). The rapture sounds more competitive than a top graduate school in a crummy job market. Why harm your chances by expanding the pool of believers?
6) Is the apocalypse coming after all? Last night I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and during the previews, I felt a tinge of fear. This fall, at about the same time Camping-fans predict the destruction of planet Earth, the film “Real Steel” will be released. The following description, gleaned from the trailer, is not for the faint of heart: Hugh Jackman stars as a down-on-his-luck boxer who decides to train a giant boxing robot, to battle with other giant boxing robots. I watched “Australia” and I watched that horrible Wolverine movie for one reason. But come fall 2011, if you told me I could avert the end of the world by watching “Real Steel”, I would not do it. Just as May 21st believers can’t imagine a normal world past 6pm this evening, before last night, I couldn’t imagine a Hugh Jackman movie that I would not watch. But now, as far as I’m concerned, anything can happen.