Monday, May 23, 2011

This is why Harold Camping is harmful

We're still here? Blast. I thought a zombie apocalypse would have been the perfect way to end this blog.

An AP article reported on the aftermath of the non-Rapture predicted by Harold Camping.
“I had some skepticism but I was trying to push the skepticism away because I believe in God,” said Keith Bauer — who hopped in his minivan in Maryland and drove his family 3,000 miles to California for the Rapture.


“I was hoping for it because I think heaven would be a lot better than this earth,” said Bauer, a tractor-trailer driver who began the voyage west last week, figuring that if he “worked last week, I wouldn’t have gotten paid anyway, if the Rapture did happen.”
You can believe what you want to believe as long as you don't try to foist it on the rest of us (a point I made in a much more long-winded way last year). Except for the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) Camping and his followers caused with their billboards, theirs was a relatively benign intrusion into the rest of our lives, especially compared to brown stains on humanity's underwear like the hate-filled, hatemongering Fred Phelps.

That said, Camping's obsession with end times hasn't done anybody any good, with the possible exception of the ad agencies who own those billboards.

Camping, a wealthy man, has a moral obligation to to help those of his followers who suffered economic harm. If he hadn't told them again and again in his radio broadcasts that the end of days was at hand, they wouldn't have given up on this world in preparation for the next. He also should apologize to them for his overweening and unjustified confidence in his own discernment -- in short, for being arrogant.

For their part, Camping's followers have some reflecting to do. Obsession with the afterlife has the bad effect of diminishing one's interest in, and attention to, this life. It not only hurts the obsessed, it hurts all those who otherwise might have benefited from the obsessed's continued participation in the daily business of living.

I can't fathom what was going through the minds of people like Bauer. Do they know what driving their families across the country to witness the Rapture sounds like? It sounds like they were thinking of the Rapture as Woodstock. Wouldn't they land up in heaven (or not) no matter where they happened to be on earth when the end came? What was the point of camping out three thousand miles from home? Were they going to wave a lighter as they were taken up to heaven? Was it about celebrating?

Perhaps heaven wouldn't sound so much "better than this earth" if they would put more energy and thought into living and less into worrying about what happens afterwards.

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