Uh, I Guess the World Didn't End
But this columnist was prepared - with a change of clothes and some toiletries.
I have just come back from the mountaintop with my suitcase. If I were to be one of the chosen few when the world was to end, I at least wanted to have a fresh change of clothes and some toiletries. Not knowing how long the Rapture journey might take, I didn’t want to be disheveled and unshaven when I arrived.
Well, as we now know, Harold Camping has miscalculated – again. The self-proclaimed Family Radio prophet had guaranteed that the world would come to
an end at 6 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 21, 2011.
Camping is the 89-year-old retired civil engineer who has built a multi-million-dollar non-profit ministry based on his end-of-the-world prediction.
Camping followers have been crisscrossing the country in recent months to put up Judgment Day billboards and hand out Biblical "proof.” According to Camping’s calculations, Saturday is exactly 7,000 years since the flood in the biblical account of Noah’s Ark and the day the Bible implies – apparently in some kind of code that only Camping can decipher – would trigger world-ending events, with earth finally being consumed in a great fireball on Oct. 21 of this year.
In 1994, Camping had also predicted apocalyptic Armageddon, but when it didn’t happen, he said that he had made a mathematical error. But this time, he assured us, the math was dead on, so, listen up, and be prepared.
OK, let me pinch myself: Yep, I’m still here. No earthquakes, check. No tornados, check. No volcanic eruptions, check. No tsunamis, check. No plagues, check. No super meteors hurtling toward earth, check. No floods, just what has been going on along the Mississippi, and that’s been in the works for a few weeks now.
Before my trek to the mountain – I wanted to be in a location that was clearly visible if God were seeking me out - because I knew He wouldn’t have much time I set my wristwatch to U.S. Naval Observatory Time. I wasn’t sure what timepiece God is using these days. (I secretly hoped it wasn’t an hourglass, because those damn things are so imprecise.)
About 5:45 p.m. it got pretty cloudy and a little windy. Off in the distance, I could hear a chorus of voices shouting, "Amen, amen.” I realized others must be seeking visibility, too. They must have seen the clouds and winds as signs that the prophetic beginning-of-the-end was imminent.
Then at 5:55 p.m., the sun began peeking through the clouds. At 5:57 p.m., an aircraft, which had taken off moments earlier from the local airport, passed on its ascent to cruising altitude. I briefly wondered whether God might have chartered an airliner to pick up the Lehigh Valley faithful. If he had, I didn’t get the message. I silently cursed myself for not having friended Him on Facebook or tweeted Him to confirm my 6 p.m. whereabouts.
As the big hand hit the 12 and the little hand was on the six of my Mickey Mouse watch, I held my breath and strained my ears.
A couple of minutes went by. "We’re here, we’re here,” came several voices in the distance, presumably the amen-sayers I had heard earlier.
6:05, 6:10, 6:15 – nothing. Birds were singing; the wind was rustling at about 15 miles an hour, just what you might expect on a mountaintop.
Confused but relieved, I got into my car and drove home.
Now, I had to figure out how to get the suitcase back into the house without my wife seeing it and wondering whether I would have to do this all over again on Dec. 21, 2012, the day the Mayans predict the world will end.