So we've all had a lot of fun with Harold Camping's prediction, or I guess at this point failed prediction of the May 21 Rapture. I can remember where I was when I first heard about it, I was walking into the Get Motivated seminar and there was a gentleman handing out pamphlets while wearing a sandwich board with the End of Days! message and a website. He was shouting out, "Why worry about being a success in life when you should worry about the afterlife!" A few things struck me at the time, the fact that this was old fashioned street corner preaching like we don't see very often up here in Portland and that of course the end of days now has a website. And I debated for a bit on if I could sneak a photograph of him without his noticing.
Then it sort of left my mind. Until the billboards starting going up around the country and the news stations started reporting. And then the internet picked it up in full force. Everyone knew that May 21, 2011 was his date. They knew about this preacher. They knew about his failed prediction from 1994. They knew about the radio show and the people that truly believed this would happen. The one thing people seemed to not know is that Rapture does not equal the end of the Earth so there was a lot of erroneous "last day of life" stuff going on. But that's okay. People were having fun right?
There was some dissension in the ranks of the Christians as a whole, there are places in the bible (Mark and Luke) where Jesus is quoted as saying that no one knows the day except for God. He wouldn't even tell his son why would he tell Harold Camping right? And as every parent knows the "Someday" threat is much better than a specific deadline. Think about it, doesn't the call to Santa to report bad behavior work much better in November than it does in June? It's because your child is smart enough to know that they can make up for eating the extra cookie if Christmas is 6 months away, but now a few weeks away? Maybe not. We are all just children, if you gave us a debauchery cut off date don't you think we would take advantage of it? But the whole "thief in the night" angle means we have to be good ALL THE TIME. So if you are using religion to influence behavior this is the smarter tactic.
Now, as I said earlier, we all had fun with this prediction, just as I am sure we will continue to have fun with the 2012 predictions. But this morning I noticed that the fun aspect of it was slowly but surely turning mean. People are starting to discuss how stupid those that believed are. How idiotic they have to be to have believed this. And by default how much smarter we all are by comparison.
So for those of you that are Christian and behaving like that, first off let me speak to you out of your rule book, Judge not. Secondly, if you are a Christian and you believe the Bible don't you think you are cutting a pretty fine line on them being stupid and idiotic for believing their minister who said the end of the world is coming May 21 while at the same time you believe your minister when he says Noah built a boat and put 2 of every unclean animal and 7 of the clean on it and then God flooded the entire world? Every animal. All of them. And then there is the whole virgin birth, death and resurrection that the religion is built upon. You say these are matters of faith. Well, Harold Camping's flock had faith in their minister. He just got it wrong. Be kind. Their faith is a little shaky right now and what they need from you is compassion not derision.
And for those that aren't religious who are mocking them just because they are Christian. I say you probably don't have as firm of a leg to stand on as you think. You tell me you believe in science! I say great, it's still faith. It might be faith that someone smarter than you figured something out but unless you understand and can build a plane, you have faith that it will fly. It might be scientifically sound...but it's faith. Unless you mixed your own headache relief from the bark of the willow in your front yard when you take your aspirin you are putting your belief in the company that manufactured your drugs. We all believe in something that we don't understand at some point in our lives. You can call it what you like, those that are religious call it faith, you can call it trust. What ever. You believe in something that you don't fully understand because someone else has told you that it's true. And that they do. And so you should just trust them. You might do it with you internal combustion engine mechanic, they did it with their minister. I do it with my sports teams. Don't you dare try and tell me that what I wear on game day doesn't influence my team. I know that it does. I just know it.
And as is my way...this is another reminder that the fringe, in this case Camping's flock of Rapture believers, doesn't represent the whole, the thousands of Christians who made plans for Sunday knowing that the odds weren't good Harold Camping was right. Just as the portrayal of any religion's fringe element doesn't reflect the core and mainstream aspect of that religion. Al Qaeda isn't the Muslim faith. The terrorists that crashed into the Twin Towers weren't following the tenants of Islam. The atheist litigating every-time someone says bless you to a sneeze doesn't represent the atheists (and we agnostics who get lumped in there as well) who believe freedom of religion means freedom to practice or not to practice. The fringe doesn't represent the whole.
Having fun is all well and good until you get hateful. Rapture didn't come on Saturday, but Santa is still watching. Don't make me call him.