What is *WRONG* with these people?

Summer 1994: I was hanging out on soc.religion.christian (being of that persuasion at the time), playing hookey from writing my dissertation. One topic that came up increasingly often as the summer wore on was that some radio preacher called Harold Camping had predicted Jesus’ return for September of that year. A few posters were rather insistent that the rest of us get on board with Camping’s timetable. Various people pointed out flaws in Camping’s prophetic scheme, some based on scriptural arguments, though most of us just dismissed it out of hand as being based on a load of free-associating Biblical numerology (this seems to be what happens when an engineer tries hermeneutics: it winds up being all about the numbers). Some things are too bat-shit insane to be worth detailed refutation.

Camping even had a local fan: a guy at my wife’s work (not someone she knew — it was a big place) was pushing the September 1994 date on an internal forum. When challenged with the fact that Jesus said that “no one would know the day or the hour of his coming“, he replied: Yes, but it doesn’t say we can’t know the month or the year! IOW: Literalism run amok. He was obnoxious enough about it that the PTB eventually told him to knock it off.  (As I recall he moved to the local Usenet group instead). Camping’s original date IIRC was 6 September (Yom Kippur?), but when that passed it got bumped to 30 September. Mid-morning of that fatal day, one last post appeared from our local guy to the effect that the weather looked good; no sign of the sky opening….and that was the last I heard from him on that subject. About 10 years later I ran across the man’s son, now grown, who related that the summer of 1994 was, well, “interesting” in that household. Out of consideration for a possibly sensitive subject, we did not press him for details.

Now Camping is at it again. 21 May, 2011: Jesus comes and raptures all the Real True Christians (which I think in this context means “People who lap up Camping’s crap and send mondo bux to Family Radio”). Then he comes back in October to smite the rest of us who were too sinful to get on the Train Bound For Glory. (If the first bit comes true, I plan to spend the intervening time partying to end all parties. Seriously: I’m talking about blowing the whole retirement account over five months, instead of 30 years. Y’all are invited). And unemployed people are spending money they don’t have to publicize Camping’s lies and putting their lives on hold to be stood up by Jesus.

I despise Harold Camping. Deeply, truly, permanently. He hereby joins such other luminaries as Fred Phelps on my short list of people for whom, on being informed of their departure from this earthly realm, I will shout Good Riddance! and do a little happy dance that the world is a slightly cleaner place.

OK, I get the believing in Jesus part, partly ‘cuz I once did myself. So go ahead and do that, if you really must (we can have that argument some other time). And go ahead and believe that he might be going to show up again some day (‘cuz it seems like part of the package). But believe that Harold “September 1994” Camping knows anything about the subject?


(Yeah, none of the people who really need to hear that are likely to read a blog like this. And for the record: yes, I’m being a dick, sensu Plait. But I feel better now.)

I will make two predictions of my own for next May:

1) These annoying douchebags will still be here next 22 May — and not one of them will forthrightly admit they were wrong, that they were suckered.

2) That the revenues of Family Radio will fall off somewhat for a month or so after — but by less in aggregate than they will have increased between now and then.

Because as a wise man once said: there’s a sucker born every minute.


1 Comment


    Okay … that made me feel better just reading it.

    “… the revenues of Family Radio will fall off somewhat for a month or so after …”

    Naw. That won’t happen until after October 21, 2011, when the Earth is supposed to end. In the meantime, Jesus will be said to have returned but we just didn’t notice it because we’re all sinners, dontchaknow. And by the Time October 22nd rolls around a new date, with brand new numerology, will already be in place.

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