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October 21st, 2011

According to everybody’s favourite prophet, Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping, the world is ending once again today. Earlier this year Mr. Camping predicted that the rapture would happen on May 21st, and when nothing seemed to happen on that day, he revised his prediction to October 21st – this time for sure. Apparently, Mr. Camping has predicted the end of the world 12 times so far and, quite honestly, I’m starting to feel really badly for him. I mean, for heaven’s sake – the poor man is 90 years old, he just had a stroke last June, and now a lot of people are really mad at him because their gullibility made them quit their jobs and sell their stuff – as if it’s his fault they’re so credulous they’ll believe anything anyone tells them. Mr. Camping was quite clear that the rapture occurred in the spiritual realm only, so it’s not his fault you can’t see any evidence of it. After all, the spirit world is invisible. (Duh.) You might just as well blame him for the fact that you can’t see ultraviolet or infrared.

Anyway, what was supposed to happen today is that all of God’s chosen people were to be caught up in the air and whisked off to heaven while the rest of us quietly dropped dead where we stood – but obviously that didn’t happen and, personally, I just feel sick about it. Poor Mr. Camping. Every rapture day he’s so earnest and eager and then, when God doesn’t rapture or slaughter us by the billions, he’s so terribly bewildered and sad. It just breaks my heart. He’s always so disappointed that everybody’s not dead, it’s gut-wrenching. And every time the rapture turns out to be spiritual instead of actual, he gets this baffled, hangdog look, until you just want to put your arm around him and tell him it’s not the end of the world, but that would only make the old guy cry all the harder.

And you have to wonder what the poor man’s home life is like. I mean, Harold Camping’s got a wife – do you think she’s not going to make his life a living hell? Of course she is. I know I would. If my husband were wrong about the date of the rapture once or twice, well, okay, I can understand that. But wrong on 12 separate occasions? Oh please. Has this man no concept of pattern recognition? No, I’m afraid Mr. Camping won’t hear the end of this. Now every time they have a little debate about one thing or another and he asserts his point of view, Mrs. Camping will look him right in the eye and say that one little word – rapture – and all the fight will go out of him. That sweet old man is going to be in the doghouse for the rest of his life, and that’s no way for any man to live.

But we can help, and here’s how. First, we need friends and neighbours to blow a trumpet and make a bit of a light show outside the Camping house, and if we could get a makeshift choir to hide in the bushes and sing “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder” so much the better. Then, when the Campings come out to see what’s going on, if you’re among the righteous you hide so that Mr. and Mrs. Camping think you’ve been taken up. If you’re an unbeliever, then you’ve got a chance to fulfil an old guy’s fondest wish by pretending to be struck dead for your sins by the Almighty. Next we need to pool our resources to create a bunch of fake news reports that show everything happening just as Mr. Camping predicted. Imagine Mr. and Mrs. Camping turning on their television set later today to find that NORAD is tracking Jesus just like they track Santa (with the same realistic footage)! Think of their delight at seeing piles of unbelievers flopping on the ground and gasping for air like fish on a beach, and planes crashing as their pilots get raptured right out of their cockpits, and thousands of believers – including dead ones like Oral Roberts and Jerry Falwell, restored to corporeal form – ascending through the heavens to be with their lord and saviour! (Just watch out for those planes, believers! Thwack!)

Just imagine it! Won’t Mrs. Camping be proud of her man! “Oh, Harold!” she’ll exclaim, her eyes shining with tears, “you were right all along. I’m sorry I ever doubted you.” And Harold will say, “That’s all right, honey, we all make mistakes,” and he’ll take her hand and give it a squeeze and together they’ll sit side-by-side in their Lazy-boy recliners, happy and excited and waiting for their turn to be taken up.

I admit that the next stage of the plan involves stealth and chloroform, but after that Mr. and Mrs. Camping will awaken in a white room in a retirement villa where the harp music will be piped in 24/7 and a staff of professionals wearing halos and wings will attend to their every need for their remaining years, until they finally slide off the edge and into eternity. Will they meet Jesus? Oh yes. Will God speak to them? Every day! Mr. Harold Camping can go to his grave knowing he was right, and Mrs. Harold Camping can go to her grave knowing that her man was a true prophet, just like he always said he was (admittedly sometimes to her annoyance, like when he’d prophesy about which shows they were going to watch on TV.) So, with our help, a couple of old people – still somehow as naïve as newborn lambkins – can live and die happily, knowing they are anointed, sanctified, chosen, redeemed, saved by grace, and all those other untestable assertions the church specializes in, that are invisible and therefore irrefutable. Hallelujah!

My friends, let us band together to help an old man down on his luck. You bring the trumpet, I’ll bring the strobe lights, and together we’ll give Harold and the missus the experience of a lifetime – and an afterlifetime.