Harold Camping: Epic Fail

It has been awfully quiet around here lately, and so I have no choice but to assume that Mike and Clark got taken in the Rapture this weekend and I am left to continue this thing on my own.

Here’s the skinny in case you’ve been out of the country or absorbed in other cares and concerns or just living under a rock the past month:  Some crazy old coot from California with WAY too much time on his hands started reading the Bible, crunched some numbers and came up with May 21, 2011 as the date for the Rapture, with the Tribulation to follow immediately and the end of the world to follow on October 21 (My birthday.  That would be one HELL of a birthday!!!)

The guy’s name is Harold Camping.  He has a radio station and has made massive amounts of money with it over the years.  He tried to predict the end of the world once before:  he called September 6, 1994.  Didn’t happen.  Didn’t faze him.  He just said he hadn’t had time to fully research the relevant passages of Scripture, adjusted his calculations to include a 6100-day “period of ingathering” (you have to know how to do these things when you’re an end-times prophet), and voila–he was back in business with May 21, 2011 as his magic date.

Didn’t happen.

May 21 has come and gone, and we’re all still here.  I am, at least.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, on to other things.

Allow me to share a quote from G. K. Chesterton that I find especially relevant to all this Camping madness.  I have posted this quote earlier; I don’t mind posting it again because I believe it is especially timely.  Chesterton says that the lunatic mind, by focusing on a single idea, has embraced a very narrow universality.  The lunatic’s view of reality explains all of the facts, but it leaves out an awful lot.

Perhaps the nearest we can get to expressing it is to say this:  that his mind moves in a perfect but narrow circle.  A small circle is quite as infinite as a large circle; but, though it is quite as infinite, it is not so large.  In the same way the insane explanation is quite as complete as the sane one, but it is not so large.  A bullet is quite as round as the world, but it is not the world.  There is such a thing as a narrow universality; there is such a thing as a small and cramped eternity; you may see it in many modern religions.  Now, speaking quite externally and empirically, we may say that the strongest and most unmistakable mark of madness is this combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction.  The lunatic’s theory explains a large number of things, but it does not explain them in a large way.  I mean that if you or I were dealing with a mind that was growing morbid, we should be chiefly concerned not so much to give it arguments as to give it air, to convince it that there was something cleaner and cooler outside the suffocation of a single argument,  Suppose, for instance, it were the first case that I took as typical; suppose it were the case of a man who accused everybody of conspiring against him.  If we could express our deepest feelings of protest and appeal against this obsession, I suppose we should say something like this:  “Oh, I admit that you have your case and have it by heart, and that many things do fit into other things as you say.  I admit that your explanation explains a great deal; but what a great deal it leaves out!  Are there no other stories in the world except yours; and are all men busy with your business?  Suppose we grant the details; perhaps when the man in the street did not seem to see you it was only his cunning; perhaps when the policeman asked you your name it was only because he knew it already.  But how much happier you would be if you only knew that these people cared nothing about you!  How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their sunny selfishness and their virile indifference!  You would begin to be interested in them, because they were not interested in you.  You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers.”

By the way:  Are you wondering what Camping is going to come up with now to cover his tracks after he has twice whiffed on Judgment Day?  This post gives some ideas.

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