Judgment Day, The Rapture and the last day on Earth - what do I wear?
Retired civil engineer Harold Camping has done the math. The 89-year-old founder and president of Family Radio, a popular California-based religious broadcasting network predicts that Judgment Day is at hand: Saturday, May 21, 2011.
On Thursday, the afternoon before my final day on Earth. I find myself sitting with two friends at Old Town talking about the end of days. My article is due at 8 a.m. Friday morning, but here I sit, throwing on an afternoon drunk and talking about lakes of fire.
What is AnnArbor.com going to do, fire me? I’ve got plenty of money to tide me over until Saturday.
I should hedge my bets. Camping was wrong once before. He prophesized that 1994 would be the end of the world, but when the world kept on spinning, he claimed the prediction was preliminary. In the 15 years since, Camping been able to check his work and nail down the real date — tomorrow. Am I ready for judgment day? Are you?
What do I wear?
“When we get to May 21 on the calendar in any city or country in the world, and the clock says about 6 p.m., there’s going to be this tremendous earthquake,” Camping told New York Magazine on May 11.
Flick photo courtesy of Ron Bieber
“As each area of the world gets to that point of 6 p.m., then it will happen there, and until it happens, the rest of the world will be standing far off and witnessing the horrible thing that is happening.”
“Australia is going to be raptured and we’ll still be at the bar,” says pal Tim Chilcote. “You’ll be able to see the Rapture on the horizon and outdrive it like a tornado.”
This term, The Rapture, is the one most associated with Camping’s prediction — one of the first events of Judgment Day. In the rapture, the saved are “caught up” and gathered in the air, where they’ll meet Christ who is returning to earth.
Some say the Rapture will be a gentle floating, others a “lightning fast” rise. It’s unclear if it matters what you’re wearing. I’d say dress up, just in case.
To be raptured you have to believe in the Bible and accept Jesus as the eternal God. Camping estimates 200 million will be Raptured, leaving about seven billion (his math) on earth. After that, the real horror show begins.
Camping says we’ll have five months left (“a horror story”) before the world ends on Oct. 21 (oh no, Kim Kardashian’s 31st birthday!), but most internet sites Jeeves sent me to describe the Great Tribulation — seven really, really bad years.
Look forward to a quarter of the world’s population dying right away from war, famine, pestilence and wild beasts. A giant meteor that turns the seas to blood is on the way, more stuff will tumble out of the sky poisoning the water, we’ll move to a 16-hour cycle instead of 24, 100-pound hail will fall, and there’ll be a final battle where Jesus and his army battle the Antichrist in Armageddon.
Tim, who last set foot in a church six years ago, represents most of my social circle. “I doubt I’m getting Raptured, and I can’t say I’d be any good in a seven-year war,” he says without a hint of modesty.
My other friend at the table, the son of a minister, has opinions, but James Dickson doesn’t want any more Twitter followers, so he declines comment (follow James on Twitter!). He does seem pretty skeptical about the whole business, and he’s not alone. Most members of the religious community don’t believe Camping’s prediction, and no one I’ve spoken to is concerned.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll be left behind when it happens,” says Claudia Elaine Kimble, one of the fine staff members at Old Town. She’s scheduled to work Friday and Saturday, meaning she’ll service humanity on its final day and in its final moments on Earth. Tip well.
“We might be hiring after the rapture,” Claudia says. “Some of the kitchen guys are interested in taking care of pets. They’ve talked about starting up a business.”
One of the unfortunate aspects of this Rapture business, if it does happen, is pet care. Since pets can’t read and don’t know who Jesus is, they’ll remain on earth while their saved masters ascend to heaven.
Entrepreneurs have stepped in to take care of your pets while you dash off to your eternal reward for a modest sum. My favorite site is After the Rapture Pet Care, where for just $10 your pet will be well cared for once you’re gone. Well cared for in a world of burning lakes and bloody rivers, that is.
Later in the afternoon I bump into a local musician who prefers not to be identified. “I might lose a few fans, but probably not many.”
Isn’t anyone worried about the end times?
I hit the town to find one person afraid of the Rapture and had zero luck. A sparsely attended Michael Jackson party at Elk’s Lodge was full of skeptics, while birthday party celebrants at the Eight Ball Saloon seemed more concerned with what song would play next on the juke box than if the world would begin a seven-year period of hell on earth.
If this is it, it’s been fun writing for you this past year, and if the world does continue with business as usual on Sunday, I guess I’ll see you around.
Richard Retyi had 13 years of Catholic schooling but is pretty shaky on his end times facts. He also writes the biweeklyish column Lie to Your Cats About Santa and blogs at InBedByEleven.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RichRetyi to see how he’s handling the Rapture or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.