Friday, May 20, 2011

Harold Camping and the Long, Lonely Road

No reason why we he should know, but Harold Camping already almost played a prominent role in my career, long before he set this coming Sunday Saturday as the date for the end of the world.

That is: for nearly 30 years I've done a 90-mile backroad commute across Californie Profonde.  Which is to say, for a long time, for an hour and a half on many a Thursday evening, Camping was my only companion as I hurtled through the dark towards home. I'm an inquisitive guy and I can listen to almost anybody's story once,  but I have to admit I got tired enough of the preacher's, ahem, ministrations--so tired that I had begun flailing around for some way to escape this weekly routine: a different job, maybe, or maybe even early retirement. But I didn't want to retire and in particular, I didn't want to be driven out of my place by some guy with a microphone.

What finally bailed me out was the discovery of good audio books. Suffice it to say that I plugged an old (ten pound?) tape deck into my cigarette lighter (sic!) and  I pretty well worked my way through the classical canon thanks to Blackstone Audio of Ashland Oregon, together with the settled conviction that I didn't want to go back to the preacher.

What do we learn here, children? We learn that I owe an incalculable debt of gratitude to preacher for having made my world a richer, more varied, altogether more interesting place. 

Ah well.  I should try to avoid snark here, but as to the preacher's main message--I am already on record as one of those who believes that the rapture has already happened and it is we who are left behind. So I haven't cancelled my dental appointments for Monday. Meanwhile, if you're looking for an absorbing diversion as you beguile away the idle hours of Sunday Saturday afternoon, may I recommend an old favorite of mine--When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger et al. Festinger is the man who invented "Cognitive Dissonance." The book is a careful, insightful and remarkably kind study of those who believe in end-of-days stories and in particular, what happens when they turn out not to be true.    Meanwhile, enjoy your weekend, Harold, but remember:

  Περὶ δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης καὶ ὥρας οὐδεὶς οἶδεν, οὐδὲ οἱ ἄγγελοι τῶν οὐρανῶν οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός, εἰ μὴ ὁ ]πατὴρ μόνος.
 For those of you keeping score at home, that is Matthew 24:36.  For a more emphatic rendering of the point, go here.  I've always said that if I'd grown up next door to a good cathedral music program, they'd probably still have me.

1 comment:

Ken Houghton said...

"For those of you keeping score at home, that is Matthew 24:36."

Well played. (There's a variation in Mark as well--13:32, I'm told--but that's last year's news.)