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Posted on Wed, May 18, 2011 : 11:30 a.m.

The hype of Judgment Day, May 21

By Darcy Crain-Polly

I received a text message from a church friend this week. It read something like, “What the heck is going on May 21? It’s judgment day or something, and apparently we’re all gonna die.”

I wrote back that we’ll all be fine and I’d see him in church on Sunday, the 22nd. In the meantime I figured I should look into this claim so we at least know how to explain why we are still alive after midnight on May 21.

Turns out there is quite a bit of hype out there, from billboards to blogs, to facebook statuses to news articles. A summary of the argument they pose for our impending doom on May 21 is as follows:

The flood occurred in 4990 on the 17th day of the second month (biblical month, different from our calendar now). They believe that the judgment of God as it was characterized by the devastating flood will occur once again 7,000 years later (they have biblical ‘evidence’ of this as well). If you add 7,000 years to 4990 BC and subtract 1 for the BC/AD switchover (this is required in their formula) then you come up with the May 21, 2011.

I must be honest, my first reaction to this May 21 hype was, “Great, what crazy group of Christians conjured up this judgment day?”

And then the more I thought about it the more I thought it was just plain sad. Some of these folks have resolute faith that this undoubtedly will occur. Are they stocking their basements with bottled water? Are they calling their loved ones?

Millions of dollars have been invested on ad campaigns warning others that the rapture is coming. In fact on one website, you can buy a T-shirt for $18.90 that says “Rapture Ready.” The tagline of the sale says, “for a very limited time.”

This is not an article in The Onion. This is real people’s belief about the fate of the world. I can dismiss this because I don’t agree, but I can’t dismiss the fact that a group of people are utterly convinced that this Saturday judgment will be violently carried out by God to the entire world. And the people that have this belief share the same Christian faith identity as I do.

How do we share a faith with those whom have such different beliefs about the nature of God and the fate of this world? More importantly, perhaps, is how do we proclaim our beliefs in a voice that is louder than the hype of the judgment day minority? How do we respond to this Saturday with a more compassionate response than, “Great, another group of crazy Christians”?

I suppose we respond with assurance to others that this is not a universal belief of our faith. I suppose we could even re-read the story of the flood and remember that it ends with a covenant God makes with God’s people to never come and have another violent judgment day again. I suppose we could proclaim our beliefs not by fear of rapture or on a billboard but in how we live our lives for today, not the impending doom of a calculated tomorrow.

I suppose we could all just show up, fully alive, at our places of worship on Sunday, May 22, and figure it out together.

Darcy Crain-Polly is the Associate Minister at the First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor. She can be reached directly via email.



Thu, May 19, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

I suggest we evaluate the whole thing on 5/22/2011 . . .


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Mr. Tibbs

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

ever wonder why no one ever discusses the laws of physics when religion is brought up? while we have our crazies everywhere in all parts of the world, only the christians here get hammered and it is allowed by this paper that removes comments for alledged "shouting" by using capitol letters? in a nutshell, the laws of physics demands that your souls exist. you have enough electical energy in your body to run a 4 watt bulb. granted, some of us have a little dimmer bulb than opthers but the fact remains. ever have an EKG? or was that too many capitol letters for you? and just because these "educated" people cannot imagine, much less find out what happens to this energy when we die, this "soul" cannot exist. this life is temporary, it was never meant to be anything else than. and all that is left on this planet is what people think of us when we are gone, and maybe a couple hundred pounds of "meat" as it were, or in my case fertilizer..... OK. so now what? the debate rages on. ever wonder why we were never given the power to do anything else other than the power to forgive each other? I have to say I would bet that this planet would be quite empty otherwise! it is why they call it faith. life will end, the planet quit spinning sometime in the future, may as well enjoy the ride. oh, and for those of you who think that because others do not behave, or that others do not pray like you do not worthy of gods love, are practising vanity, and that is one of the 7 deadly sins....judge not.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

This Camping guy has it all wrong. When you create a religion you can make plenty of predictions but you have to make sure they can never be verified. Its all about the suspense.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

I do hope we recognise the same differences in other religions we express here under Christianity. Too often we lump an atitude toward a belief / religion that is not our own failing to recognise the larger the following the more diverse the beliefs / interpretations are within. I may not agree; but I defend their right to see this as they may as long as one is not harming another. Lately we are too concerned with protecting others and ourselves from their / our decisions / actions they / we have a right to. In America too often we are not allowed to be wrong. It's OK to be wrong and helpful when we learn from our errors. Great for discussion and maybe somebody thinks twice about their actions toward others just because the 'Rapture' has been brought to their attention.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 1:29 p.m.

We should post the Ten Commandments in public places. homosexuality is an abomination. We need "Christian Values" enshrined in law. But, these Rapture on the 21st people are Crazy! Anybody else seeing the irony/hypocrisy here?


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

The " rapture" people and the ones you cite are largely the same.....if not entirely. and if they are the ones to go to heaven at the apocalypse, i'll happily choose hell.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 10:29 p.m.

IMO, it's just a massive PR move to gain more members. There are a lot of easy targets out there right now, and their ranks are thinning with people losing faith altogether with the state of the world. Can't get a return unless you invest....


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 10:16 p.m.

I'm not certain what points to psychological malfunction more: believing in the bible itself, or believing that those who believed in the magical book will have a magical ride to the magical ever after. However, we can only hope the gentleman who spent his life savings on false advertising in NYC at least left himself enough to purchase a bottle of vodka which he will sorely need on Sunday morning when his posters are taken down, and reality sets in.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 9:53 p.m.

I'll be in Hell canoeing that day, hoping for some photo-ops. I don't buy it, but if the world ends, I feel good about the life I've lived and won't have to pay back my student loans. Win-win.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

What kind of mushhead believes any of the bible anyways?


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

There was a fabulous study done of the psychology of cults by a social psychologist named Sherif in the 50s, I believe. Cult members set a date to meet a spaceship, sold all their belongings, gathered on a hillside, etc. When the spaceship failed to show up, an astonishingly large proportion of the members became *more* confident in their beliefs not less. So don't hold your breath for these May 21st-ists to wake up on 5/22 and say, "oh gosh, I guess we were wrong. Sorry for all the bother."


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 8:02 p.m.

I think you're referring to the study i noted above...'when prophecy fails' by festinger et al. which focussed on a midwestern spaceship cult but brought in alot of other historical examples.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

less traffic to work on monday


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 7:15 p.m.

The decades old social science classic WHEN PROPHESY FAILS ( ed. by l.festinger and others) is a great reminder of what happens to true believers when their cherished beliefs don't materialize on schedule. Some admit they were fools and move on....others dig in even deeper to their absurdities since admitting self-delusion is more painful than " keepin keepin on". There are plenty of local cases that illustrate the latter tendencies. Check out the threads on Obama's gutsy decision in the Osama raid and read the "hatas" comments ...or just look at the picketers on the sidewalk in front of a local synagogue on saturdays .

Darth Pablo

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

Judgement Day was last month, when Skynet became self-aware.

Robert Stone

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

Silly people. Everyone knows that you're supposed to use &quot;the bible code&quot; to predict armageddon or whatever it is. I encourage everyone who isn't planning to ascend to heaven to attend this event: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

John B.

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

He sounds like a great guy..... See you next Monday.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

This is very, very sad for sure. If these people had only alerted us to this idea two years earlier, we could have had a really sweet movie coming out on Friday about it.

And Anz

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 5:52 p.m.

Why to keep giving publicity to those silly people who believe in raptures taking place every year? Reaction to the senseless May 21, 2011 Judgment Day Announcement by some people... <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

Kind of funny how these &quot;armageddon&quot; times seem to coincide with the different Ice Ages. A little more faith in something more reliable like science would ease the stress of a lot of people.

Steph B

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

I appreciate Darcy's perspective on trying (even though it's difficult) to not judge fellow Christians or others who believe May 21st is the end. As a fellow Christian, I often find myself disheartened and disappointed when others in my faith do/say things in the name of Christ that I absolutely do not condone or agree with. It gives Christianity a bad name - that's how we get the &quot;crazy Christian&quot; title. So to approach those people without anger or resentment, and with love, is the way I like to try to go about it though it's not always so easy. I think that the May 21st date is silly and unfounded, but what's most important here is that we are living each day as if it were our last. Instead of becoming obsessed with the &quot;end times&quot; as so many people are, how about celebrating life each day by living passionately and embracing the adventure that every new day brings? Call me a sap, but it makes me happy.

Rev. Daniel W. Blair

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

I am very sad for those who have been following this lie that the rapture will occur on May 21st. Even if they attempt to explain away "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark 13:32), they cannot explain away that most every Christian, theologian, scholar, and prophet from the first Century until the Nineteenth Century all believed that the church would go through the Great Tribulation and not escape through some secret rapture that would leave the world paralyzed. I pray that they will take a moment and read my book, "Final Warning" because the hour of is His judgment has come.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

C'mon,, how 'bout a little journalistic initiative? Put a tail on a few of these people and see if they're buying green bananas at the grocery over the next few days.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 4:45 p.m.

To test if these people really believe this, I'd like them to sign over all their property and any of their assets to me on May 20th. They won't need them anyway.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

Good answer!

Mr. Ed

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

It would appear the Ann is very judgmental.

Jen Eyer

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

A comment was removed for containing multiple sentences in all capital letters, which we don't allow because other readers view it as shouting.

Jen Eyer

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 4:43 p.m.

Thank you both for your feedback.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

This is perfectly appropriate, Jen. However, it remains ironic that chooses to use exactly this format for the billboards that SHOUT at us across town. Perhaps you should apply this standard to those who design your advertising, as well?


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

I suggest adding the &quot;all capital letters&quot; prohibition to the conservation guidelines as they don't seem to appear in text related to the above link. Not that it would change the action. As for the &quot;conservation guidelines&quot;, they appear to be less of a guideline than a rule.

Chris Blackstone

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

Any attempt to set a date for the &quot;rapture&quot;or judgment is ill-advised. Read Jesus' own words Acts 1:7 "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority" Matthew 24:36 "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.". However, while the judgment (probably) won't happen this Saturday, judgment will happen. The same Jesus who told us the time of the end is unknown to us will one day finally destroy all that stands against Him (Revelation 19).


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 11:20 p.m.

@evenyou, read Misquoting Jesus, an excellent book about the people who wrote and rewrote the bible.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 8:41 p.m.

Freemind, the Gospel was not written at the Council of Nicaea, so I'm starting to lose track of your logic here.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 8:10 p.m.

@evenyoubrutus, last I checked the First Conference of Nicaea was held during Emporer Constantine I, in 325 CE. so sorry, not 400 years, 325 years after the &quot;fact&quot;


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

End of the world (unless humans do something to blow up the planet) I'm guessing it'll happen...7-8 billion years from now when the sun gives up the ghost? As Carl Sagan said &quot;Billions and Billions of years from now...&quot;


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

freemind42, I think you accidentally put an extra zero on that number. Maybe you should do some research.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 5:24 p.m.

@bertha, 400 years after the &quot;fact&quot; too!

Bertha Venation

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

These are not Jesus' words. The Bible was not written by Jesus. It was written by his buddies.

Danny Haszard

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 11:38 a.m.

Watchtower Jehovah's Witnesses have little credibility with their own fairy tale primary doctrine of Jesus 'invisible' second coming October 1914 Watchtower society false prophets declare end of world in 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975, and 1984.... Actual news releases on Armageddon 1975 prediction <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> ----- Danny Haszard been there!