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Friday, 20 May 2011

The World Ends on Saturday Night


Morning mist on Lake Mapourika, New Zealand
: photo by Richard Palmer, 2004

As you may or may not have already heard, the world will be ending tomorrow at six, Pacific Daylight Time. I have this on good authority, having read an interview with Harold Camping, 89-year-old founder of Family Radio and Chief Engineer and Evangelist of The Idea That The World Ends Tomorrow.

How certain are you that world is going to end on May 21 — do you have any doubts?
God has given sooo much information in the Bible about this, and so many proofs, and so many signs, that we know it is absolutely going to happen without any question at all. There’s nothing in the Bible that God has ever prophesied — there’s many things that he prophesied would happen and they always have happened — but there’s nothing in the Bible that holds a candle to the amount of information to this tremendous truth of the end of the world. I would be absolutely in rebellion against God if I thought anything other than it is absolutely going to happen without any question.

Are you going to do something with all your money before the 21st? Are you going to donate it to charity or something?
What’s the point? In other words, Judgment Day is the end of the world. That means that the whole world is in judgment, it will not be business as usual at all. At all. Nothing that goes on is important any longer...

Harold Camping, from an interview in New York Magazine: Daily Intel, 11 May 2011

Billboard, California, 61 days before predicted end of the world: photo by Lord Jim, 8 March 2011

And I walked on down the hall -- Jim Morrison, The End, 1966

Family Radio advertisement for approaching Judgment Day: USA Today, Friday 13 May 2011

Reeling out into the rushing bedlam of the freeway feeder, after reading the words of Harold Camping, one wondered if the frenzied speed of the commuter traffic could be explained by the drivers wanting to get home a little early, to pack up. But no, it's like that every day, said a frail inner voice of reason.

In the quieter side streets reflection was possible.

It was this bit, in the course of Mr. Camping's helpful exposition of the trajectory of incipient calamity, that had so occupied one -- a remarkable promise really:

Are you going to do something with all your money before the 21st? Are you going to donate it to charity or something?
What’s the point? In other words, Judgment Day is the end of the world. That means that the whole world is in judgment, it will not be business as usual at all. At all. Nothing that goes on is important any longer..

Passing along a low stone barrier surmounted by a steep hillside ascended by a winding flagstone path leading up to a large and well-kept house, reflection was interrupted. There atop the stone barrier lay an elaborate and intricate-looking and obviously very expensive camera, with its custom leather carrying-strap. Well, this was carrying things a bit far. Could it really be the case that, assuming an imminent termination of the value of all worldly possessions --

it will not be business as usual at all. At all. Nothing that goes on is important any longer...

-- the residents had actually abandoned their beautiful camera? What use would it serve in the after life, after all? Next to the camera lay a pair of glasses. Thick lenses, rimless, probably bifocals. Who would need their bifocals on Judgment Day?

Still, there were some jagged edges to this piece of the puzzle, and these spurred the resolute neighbourly Good Samaritanism in one to emerge from its Loch Ness depths and slowly, in fact tortuously, what with the gamy leg, ascend those flagstone steps, so as to inform the residents that, just on the off-chance they did not expect to be rapt away withing thirty-six hours, they might wish to retrieve their camera and glasses.

The expedition up the hillside took a while. Halfway up, it became possible to see through the front windows into a living room in which were visible a man and woman of approximately middle age, talking and laughing. Before them were music stands on which were propped sheet music. Music was playing behind them, from an unseen source.

Waving to get their attention proved unsuccessful at first, but then the woman appeared to take notice of the strange old person hailing her from halfway up her arduous front steps. She said something to the man. The man appeared to raise a cellphone toward his face. Meanwhile the woman came to the front door, opened it a crack, and said: Stop right there!

Or it might have been: Halt right where you are!

At such moments, after a bit of a climb, the dizzying effects of the blood pressure meds tend to overwhelm one's cerebration. The recording memory temporarily founders, much as might a small vessel at sea in the brunt of a Huge Wave, the Great Wave that will herald The Coming of the End of the World, on Saturday night at six o'clock.

"Sorry to bother you, but did you leave your camera and glasses down on that wall?"

The woman turned to her companion.

Of course they immediately became much more neighbourly at that point, and the fellow came down to fetch his camera and glasses. He seemed happy to have recovered his belongings and not at all concerned about the imminent end of the world.

One went on one's sorry way.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
...........-- T.S. Eliot: The Hollow Men, 1925

Passing Safeway, there was a sighting of Robert Reich. He was walking in the opposite direction, crossing at the light, with a slightly younger person of congenial appearance. They were talking in a what seemed a calm and civil way.

Like the lost camera episode, that brief glimpse of a stranger proved curiously relieving. If the end of the world were imminent, wouldn't Robert Reich know? And if he knew, would he be seeming so calm and collected?

Who can say, though, that the sure and certain knowledge of the imminent end of the world, provided it's accompanied by the equally sure and certain knowledge that the end will be not too painful and the climax clean and mercifully quick, might not be a very soothing thing, at this stage.

Not to go on overlong with this inconsequential saga. Later on in the chilly evening, another your-reporter-on-the-street encounter, another stranger, and then another... Let us skip the circumstantial detail and race on toward the terminus. Indeed wasn't that the subject here?

Two bored college work study students, engaged in folding some towels, said they wouldn't mind if the world ended, but would prefer it didn't happen until the end of the weekend. "That way I get out of my Monday shift," one helpfully elaborated. "Plus we get to keep Saturday night, yo," added the other.

And then there was a handsome and powerfully built young man in a Detroit City tee shirt who seemed bemused by the matter.

"I will tell you a story," he said. "I come from Panama. In 1989 I was seventeen years old and living in a dormitory in a military academy. In the middle of the night everybody woke up, there were explosions everywhere, nobody knew what was going on. We were told to go into a bunker. We stayed in that bunker four nights without knowing what was going on. Then we found out the U.S. had invaded.

"We had thought it was the end of the world."

Staudammkrone dam at Lüner Lake, Austria
: photo by Friedrich Böhringer, 2010




"In the quieter side streets reflection was possible."


grey whiteness of fog against invisible
plane of ridge, green of leaf on branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

not as expression, but which
itself is that “being”

picture plane, the structure
of it, is to be where

cloudless blue sky reflected in channel,
sunlit green of pine on tip of sandspit

Ed Baker said...

6 p.m. there is 3. p.m. here

I will let you know
from "the other side'
how it-all turns out !

the ONLY problem that I have with
this 3 p.m. Ending is that

Oprah's farewell is at 4 p. m. and I
will "_________ing" miss that !

gamefaced said...

when i was a kid, probably 13, my parents sent me off to church camp for a week. the theme that year was rapture. the leaders showed us a really low budget 'rapture' movie (this was before 'left behind'), i think it was called 'in the blink of an eye'. the opening scenes of the movie were shots of christians disappearing from everyday situations. one image that i've never forgotten, was a baby crying for his mother from a shopping cart alone, in a grocery store.
another bit, during one of our many mandatory lessons (church camp was not for swimming or hiking or enjoying the world our god had provided us to live in no, it was for boring to death the future army of god)pastor stated that we would watch, once raptured and safe in heaven, the unsaved remaining on earth die horrible tortured deaths at the hand of satan's rule. then pastor was asked, how will i be in heaven, in eternal bliss, if i'm watching my unsaved family and friends suffer. pastor explained that the raptured would be so in awe of god, of being in the actual presence of god, that knowing another human would be of no importance. basically, we'd all be blinded by god's perfect love.
i pictured myself sitting on a cloud, frozen in light and unable to care - awareness gone. a zombie for something ominous, shiny and cold. it scared the shit out of me.

anyway i'm rambling but, all this ruckus is like reliving my childhood. it leaves me totally baffled. while i totally understand the psyche of these people, it amazes me how few of them ever grow up, in spirituality or intellect.


hey I believe in end times as much as the next guy
but these familyradio apocalypservice types
seem so unenthused about their epic fuse
lack of mouth foam and popping eye balls
like the prediction squeezed from the bible
is just another ponzi scheme
they're hoping will pan out
but won't the divine payday
probably get deducted --
windfall prophet tax


Aminesh said...

Do not confuse about the situation going on today's world. What Jesus says in the Holy Bible about the End of this World and the Second coming of Christ..You need to Read more References in Holy Bible but one thing is True and that is only the Father(God) knows about the End Time. you need to read Holy Bible: Matthew 24, then you will get perfect idea..
If you want more perfect idea about the End Time of the World then read my Blog..
(End of the World. How far? Read it..)

aditya said...

Tom brilliant piece. I shall keep you posted about the events in here. Someone says if not the end, Delhi would 'atleast' suffer from an earthquake. And the skies have already turned dirty brown and grey.
'They' keep predicting the 'imminent' return of the Christ.
You are marvelous. You can make cats men skies everybody smile. I wish the Lord was reading this and would postpone the 'Judgement day' a while. So we can all watch Oprah's farewell.

TC said...

Profoundly interesting comments to reflect upon in the quieter side streets of the night.

It might be easier to laugh off this Haroldian hokum were its sort of thing not responsible for having warped so many souls out of shape over the ENDLESS decades and centuries. The REAL MIRACLE (Harold, are you listening?) is that a few brave souls (see: comment above by gamefaced) have actually managed to survive it.


This next bit should be of interest to those monitoring this blog from other planets...

...for those who may have been hoping-against-hope for that quick, clean Twilight Zone ending: I'm going to have to break this to you easy.

The giant quake in New Zealand that was according to Harold Camping's prophetickal vision to occur an hour and a half ago, thus triggering The End... did not happen.


The picture at the top of this post was meant to portray the continuation of world time in the spatial region where the abolition of Time was to begin.

Personal aside:

One would so much rather be there, in heaven on earth, than here, in the same area code as the Prophet.

Instead, just beauty as usual.

Anyway, so... no offense to our relentlessly errant Prophet... and this is is not to say that catastrophes and calamities haven't been occurring at an alarming rate in recent times, but a wiser way to view all this might begin with putting it down not to God or gods but to... yes, humans, a cast of which Harold presumably remains a member. Wonder about his carbon emissions sometime, did you say?

And really, here's the deal, if some such deity as the One which Harold is so quick to project upon the innocent and unregarding cosmos were actually to exist, do you suppose he'd let a tiresome old coot like Harold stand up as his earthly representative and messenger? One suspects not. One of those Piero della Francesca angels, for example, would do so much better.

Furthermore, just for equal-time, since the Founder of Family Radio has already harvested a good deal of free pub here, it should be conceded that there is another view going round. The false prophet hunters of the as yet unended world (and frankly, all this idiocy almost makes one regret the failure of the End in philosophical as well as personal terms), zealous in their tracking down of their fellow nutters, have designated our Harold as a ravening wolf in sheep's clothing.

Now granted that IS a bit hard... still it's probably just more fuel for the boxoffice flames in heaven.hell (or as we heathens may be permitted to simply call, yes that word, the world).

Vincent has put this economic aspect of the (non)ending into proper graphic perspective:


The ups and downs of the ratings and the bar graph profit lines and the big and little tickets suggest that maybe next time out HC ought to shoot for something easier, like predicting that tomorrow will be another day.

Avram Marian - Gabriel ( Graham ) said...

Join Jim Morrison Fanclub at:
The fans will see your blog.



The sun has just appeared above the ridge, the world doesn't appear to have ended. . . .


pink coming into clouds in pale blue sky
above ridge, waning white moon by branch
in foreground, waves sounding in channel

changing result to, in which
follows from is whose

compared with that, relative
to system, would this

grey-white clouds reflected in channel,
shadowed green pine on tip of sandspit

Barry Taylor said...

What freaks me out from my safe distance is the sheer scale of the paranoid-sadistic fantasising represented by this kind of thing, from today's (Manchester) Guardian:

'One caller in Oregon wanted to know if he should arm himself to protect his family from the doomed in his street who might be jealous that those who have "found Jesus" were about to go to heaven.

The show's host assured him that nonbelievers would be too busy being tortured by fire to worry about seeking vengeance on him.'

So the Fear extends now as far as the blameless neighbours. Every single you must be destroyed for the crime of not being me. Terrifying. So Tom, in that context, your small picaresque adventure in good-neighbourliness and
-Samaritanism is particularly poignant.

Glad you all made it through.

TC said...

The torments suffered by nonbelievers at the hands of believers will doubtless be exacerbated on Judgment Day. For this reason alone, I exhort the world to continue to exist.

ACravan said...

This piece and its associated comments (particularly gameface’s reminiscence) interest me a lot and are much more thoughtful than most of the simply nasty and condescending “anti-Rapture people” remarks I’ve seen, for instance, on Facebook pages. (Like the old Pall Mall cigarette packages used to say, I really do think of Beyond The Pale as a place “where particular people congregate”; the same cannot be said of Facebook.)

I'm about as certain that you're correct in your Harold Camping vs. Piero della Francesca observation as I am about anything (which isn't very, usually).

A couple of years ago I followed the progress of a woman named Licia Kuenning, a former Timothy Leary acolyte during the Harvard/Millbrook days, who was promoting what she called the Farmington Prophecy, named for the tiny village of Farmington, Maine. Licia, her husband Larry, and the Friends of Truth, their totally back-to-basics Quaker splinter meeting, moved from the Philadelphia suburbs to Farmington in early 2006 in order to avoid Armageddon, which she prophesied would take place at dawn on June 6, 2006. Her vision told her that of all the earth, only Farmington would be spared and the people living there would be permanently cured of their ills. Licia and Larry are both intelligent and highly learned people who run the Quaker Heritage Press, publisher of restored, integral and annotated editions of early Quaker writings. Their version of Faith & Practice, the traditional “book of discipline” used by Quaker meetings, is really a little masterpiece, whether you share the Kuennings’ beliefs or not. Needless to say, when the end of the world didn't arrive on schedule, Licia was left with egg on her face and many unsold copies of her prophecy novel, Farmington!, Farmington!

Watching (from internet distance) Licia thoughtfully adapt from prophesy “Coming Now” to “Coming Soon” mode was kind of touching. Even though she’s not a very friendly person (her online letters to commercial cleaning product manufacturers whose wares irritate her allergies are scary and her notion of what constitutes intellectual dialogue is seriously lacking in decorum), one couldn’t despise her for her Farmington delusion and mocking her seemed inappropriate. Frankly (and in part because she expresses herself so well on her chosen subjects, including Farmington), one wanted to understand her better. As Quakers say, there’s that of God in everyone. Curtis

TC said...

Believe it or not, here in Harold's area code we felt at 7:04 PM on Doomsday a brief sharp jolt. Three point eight. Epicenter a few miles north and eight and a half miles down, under the town of Pinole. A few miles beneath that, either the Beast 666 is warming up its engines...or it's geological business as usual (i.e. shaky).

No word on Harold Camping's reaction. Harold's a bit further from the epicenter, but one hopes, for the sake of his Grand Bad Dream, he at least was able to feeling or capable of feel something. A. is reading out a story from the paper about a trucker from Maryland who drove all the way across country to spend the night of Doomsday in a parking lot on Hagenberger Road, where Harold has his Family Radio Headquarters.

"Talk about pathos."

The infernal regions could not be more depressing than Hagenberger Road. The haunting memory of the unemployment facility in that grey deathly concrete wasteland will accompany one netherwards when one goes. Merely to depart it yay unto the raging fumes of the freeway was to be rapt.

TC said...

One shouldn't omit mention of the single piece of good news it was possible to harvest from the universally depressing doomsday wet firecracker event. The fellow who had attempted unsuccessfully to purchase lethal doses of pre-Rapture poison for his pets (the vets told him to take a hike), and evidently remained bound and determined to off the poor creatures, was ratted out by neighbors to Animal Control, who mercifully came and took away the poor animals that were not going to get to go to heaven anyway.

SarahA said...

I'm still here!
My Daughter's world ended last night, when I took her 'Blackberry' away from her! Ha! *sigh*
People are nuts! Did you NOT know that Thomas?


mr Camping might be camping out
counting out the
windfall prophet tax
that he somehow forgot to spend
all the last minute donations

meanwhile in the news today
the followers are "disappointed"
which confirms my suspicions
this was more boredom-based hobby than any real honest-to-god apocalyptic fervor

many a ponzi schemer continues
to receive donations from their
starry-eyed investors/followers
even after his/her criminal conviction

but for many May Twenty-Firsters
the end time
was just some trashy diversion
to make their life resemble the ideal
of reality TV

Real New Testament Housewives?


TC said...

I believe the tragedy of a confiscated Blackberry may indeed be the most remarkable of the many unusual events round the world catalogued by diligent historians of this Lost Weekend.

Robb said...

I, too, am glad we got to keep Saturday night and also feel a little bummed that Monday showed up but I would have traded all the osestri in the world for Camping to have been wrong. In fact I did. That's what saved us.