Not Even With a Whimper

That’s great! It doesn’t start with an earthquake! And apparently for some, May is the cruelest month, breading disappointment out of dead prophecies, mixing frustration and desire. It’s supposed to be the end of the world as we know it, and no one left on Earth is supposed to feel fine. Yet with reports coming from Sumatra and New Zealand, where six o’clock has come and gone, show that today will pass just like any other.

Cult Watch has some good advice for Campings followers on this day of non-events. The first point is the hardest:

Be prepared to accept that you are wrong. Many others have claimed to know the end of the world before now, and obviously they were wrong. They too misinterpreted Scripture, so if the rapture does not occur on the 21st of May 2011 then you will have joined their ranks. This will be a blow to your ego and some will find this failure very emotional. The best course of action is to prepare to be humble. (Source)

It’s heady stuff, predicting the end of the world. When you’re a prophet that has figured out what no one else has figured out, it’s probably almost impossible not to get an inflated ego over it. Even if you’re not the prophet but someone supporting him (and of course it’s almost always a man), helping him, it’s easy to let all the esoterica to go to your head.

It’s not the first time people have lived through the end of the world, nor will it be the last. Religious huckster Herbert Armstrong predicted that the world would end in 1972. Almost forty years later and twenty-five years after his death, followers remain, still convinced that they know the signs of the times and will accurately see the end coming before anyone else.

One of Armstrong’s self-appointed successors is David Pack, who has his own church called The Restored Church of God. At the church’s magazine’s web site, there’s an article about the Camping prediction with the following lede: “Predictions from a small American religious sect have gained widespread attention.” Pack writes about all the reasons why Camping is wrong, and in the ultimate irony, ends the article, “If you are serious about learning the truth of the end time, read the most comprehensive book ever written on the subject” (source). Surprisingly, this book Pack mentions is the Bible, but he also suggests his The Bible’s Greatest Prophecies Unlocked! to reach full understanding of Scriptures.

It all brings to mind Eliot’s “The Hollow Men,” with it’s famous final stanza:

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.

Camping would probably be content with a whimper this beautiful Saturday.

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