Forget for a moment his May 21, 2011 Judgment Day prediction (which, by the way, is this coming Saturday). Almost two months to the day later, on July 19, Christian radio broadcaster and date-setter Harold Camping will turn 90 years old.
He was wrong in his 1994 end of the world prediction and will be wrong again this year. He left a smidgen of wiggle room in his prior prediction, none that I see for this current one. This one is as sure as the Word of God, the Bible, from which he claims to arrive at his calculations - at least that is what he expresses.
What infinitesimal credibility he may have salvaged from his previous debacle will surely be shot after this one. "I miscalculated" may have worked once. The second time will prove him undeniably wrong in his basic ideas.
His calculations, long, rambling, and boring (at least to me), are based on certain suppositions that are far from undeniable. His starting point - that Jesus was crucified on April 1, 33 AD - is hardly carved in stone. But on top of that, his Biblical numerology - that the number 5 means atonement, 10 represents completeness, 17 stands for heaven - is built on sheer guesswork. In all this he seems no more enlightened than the pyramidologists who measure the Great Pyramid and attempt to chart the history of the world from their calculations.
At nearly 90 years of age there surely isn't enough time left for him to change what ought to be his epitaph: I was a nut.
Growing up in a fundamentalist Church, I was "treated" to frequent discourses on the "signs of the times," which are and have been down through history a staple of these types of churches. The end was always near, Jesus was ever "at the door,"
We used to sing a song that began with a thought lifted from Jesus, "Why worry about tomorrow?" The chorus was
for the next hand you shake might be the hand of the savior,
the next step you take could be on streets of purest gold,
your next meal could be the marriage supper,
and the next touch you feel, he could be blessing your soul
How I hated that song! How I hated those sermons. How I hated the entire notion that I had the misfortune of being born in the "last days."
I would never grow up. I would never have the chance to build and enjoy a life here on earth - which I did then and still do find unbelievably beautiful. Why did it have to end?, I wondered.
Now I am in my fifties and getting a bit jaded by it all, especially by those who have so little regard for this life that they spend their time encouraging others to look beyond it.
Statistically speaking the world should end for Camping before it does me - but no man knows the day nor the hour! The world will end for all of us eventually, when we breath our last of it. But May 21, 2011 holds no particular threat for the majority of us. But for Camping it is the beginning of another round of embarrassment for his faulty biblical interpretation.
His end is near, so maybe it won't be that big of a deal. This is his last hurrah and there won't be time to recover and launch another. Still, it will be interesting to see how he deals with this latest failure.
As for me, I quit worrying about this stuff years and years ago. "Live for today" is my motto.