Alarm clocks just seem to disappear around me, swapped for some pile of wired rubbish and a dent in the wall. It's not that I mind terribly, I mean, they do add a certain future-apocalyptic atmosphere to my room. But the whole thing does have one major drawback: I tend not to wake up when I'm supposed to. Take this morning, for example, my eyes flew open and I hadn't the foggiest what the bloody time was. Instead, I just hoped to whatever supernatural force there may be that I hadn't missed work (it took a few more minutes for me to realize that it was in fact a Saturday, and I didn't have any work full-stop - but this wasn't before I had leaped out of bed, gotten dressed and cleaned up in 3 mins flat).
I finally came across my watch under the bed while looking for a left sock, and saw the neon hands pointing towards 11 o'clock (which gave me a goddamned heart attack) and the small lettering 'SAT' (calming it back down). I sighed and got to my feet, turning around to draw the curtains back. Sun shining, birds chirping and all that, I reckoned it was a fine day for a walk. So, quickly grabbing my phone, wallet and a few mandarin oranges, I strolled out the door. Peeling back the first mandarin, I noticed I wasn't alone, and by the heavy panting and steady trot, I realized my big Alsatian had followed me out. I shrugged, 'the more the merrier', and we kept walking down into the ravine.
A few sniffs here and there, territorial-marking included, the dog was a having a damn good time. And aside from the vulturous mosquitos insisting that I leave without three or four pints of my blood, I was rather enjoying it too. We followed the ravine a while, until I decided we could both use a drink. I figured we were around 23rd and Rabbit Hill, so we headed up and onto the main roads. Before I could even decide whether I wanted Booster Juice, DQ or Orange Julius, I had a picket sign almost catapulted up my nose by some older citizen that looked like something out of a bad retirement ad.
"The end is nigh!" she spits in my face. I was taken aback, I hadn't realized I'd slept so long!
"Wait, what?" I said, before I realized I should have kept my bloody mouth shut.
"The Rapture is upon us!" she raves, waving her arms madly. "Hail the coming of the lord, to judge those unworthy of paradise!"
Then it hits me like a brick wall. It's the 21st. For those of you who aren't aware, Harold Camping, the Christian radio broadcaster and president of Family Radio, has used Bible-based numerology to predict exact dates for the end of the world. This 'modern genius' had seemingly deciphered the ancient language of the Bible to predict the Rapture to occur on May 21, 2011 at precisely 6 pm. He followed up his first 'scientifically proven' statement, with the vengeful and divine destruction of the Earth and universe five months later, on October 21.
Now, despite having previously predicted that the Rapture would occur in September 1994, almost seven years ago, Mr. Camping has been quite the sport in opening both himself and his radio station up for public and private interviews. He does not claim Family Radio to be a church, nor an ordained or hierarchical authority within a church or institution. But he still maintains his own set of distinct and controversial christian beliefs. For starters, although he believes that humans are not totally depraved and enjoy a relatively free will, he subscribes to the idea that salvation is not in our hands in any way. We cannot win it either through good works, deeds or prayer, for it is solely an act of God's grace. He also does not believe in the warm-climate of Hell, but teaches annihilationism; that unpure, unsaved souls will cease to exist. But perhaps his most controversial teaching is that all churches have become apostate and must thus be abandoned. Instead, he encourages personal bible study and (naturally) listening to Family Radio.
Camping's bases his Biblical study and predictions on Jewish feast days in the Hebrew calendar, the lunar month calendar and a the Gregorian calendar tropical year, combined with other 'trivial' information in the Bible. He gained notoriety, skyrocketing to the headlines, after proclaiming that 200 million people (~3% of the human population) would be 'raptured', while the other 97% would simply cease to be. How lovely.
When asked what it would mean if he turned out to be wrong (again), he replied: "I can't, I can't answer that question, because it is going to happen, absolutely."
Well, Mr. Camping, a big fan of Voltaire myself - though I may not agree with what you have to say, I would fight to the death for your right to say it. This is of course, given my right to do the same and say what I want.
Goddamnit, I was having a bloody wonderful day before you and your half-crazed cronies had to waltz into my Saturday morning and mess it up. The sun was shining, birds chirping, a lovely breeze was blowing, and now I find myself trying to dislodge a picket sign from my left nostril.
Well. 18:00 has come and gone in many parts of the world (including the promised land), and we've seen no locusts, no fire raining from the heavens, the ravine was still good ol' H2O when I sloshed through it, no zombies, no toads and my friend Hugh (a devout atheist) has neither boils nor sores. Mr. Camping, I think it's about time for another of your decadely, Biblical revision.
Besides, we all know THIS is the way the world's going to end: http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/end
You can check out Mr. Camping's website here: http://www.familyradio.com/graphical/literature/judgment/judgment.html