Oh--you're still here?
Yeah, me too.
According to Harold Camping, a doomsday prophet based in California and the head of Family Radio International, at 6 pm on May 21st, 2011, the world was supposed to end. Well, more accurately, the righteous would be caught up into heaven, and this judgment day would touch off five months of torment for the wicked before the world ended for good on October 21st of this year.
As we know by now, that didn't quite happen. Well, a volcano erupted yesterday, but there was nothing close to the cataclysmic earthquakes and natural disasters that Camping predicted.
Now, I didn't believe that Camping's prediction would come true. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and while we do believe in prophets, we do not believe that Camping is one of them. However, from my reading about this event (or lack thereof) I have been struck by several things:
- First of all, in reading the tract put out by believers in the idea of May 21st as the Day of Judgment, the tone was not condescending; it was a statement of what they believed to be true and a desire to share this belief in order for other people to be prepared. I can respect that. Also, as I skimmed Harold Camping's exposition on the Rapture, I found his tone to be similar:
The big question we all must face is whether or not we are ready for our Lord’s return. Have we seen ourselves as the sinners we are? Have we repented of our sins, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as our sin-bearer? Have we turned away from our sins, earnestly desiring to be obedient to Christ?
He does not set himself up as more righteous than all others, which I can respect
- You know, I think it's healthy once in awhile to think about what we would do differently if we knew the world was going to end tomorrow. How would our priorities be different? Who would we spend our time with? What would we do? I think an exercise like this helps us to live a little more in the present. (I can hear the old turtle in Dreamworks's Kung Fu Panda saying, "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the Present.")
- This was also good cause to think about how prepared we are for emergencies/natural disasters. With all the earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other such things that have happened lately, I don't think anyone can contest that it is wise to be prepared for such things and make sure we would have what we need to survive in the event of such an emergency. Do we have a first aid kit? Water storage? Food? Favorite blanket?
- Finally, I think that anything that helps to turn someone toward God in some way has served a useful purpose. Yes, oh ye Rapture 2011 believers, God was using you--just perhaps not quite in the way you thought. :)
Here's to many more years of life well-lived for all of us.
P.S. You can read about Camping's reaction to yesterday here.
Image: Kata Rokkar / Flickr