- Religion and Philosophy
The Lost Herd: Thoughts on Harold Camping
A Man Without Empathy
Considering how many people lost their lives last week, not from actually dying or departing into Heaven, but from having spent all of their resources and efforts in spreading a message that was escapism at its worst, Harold Camping has displayed no real condolence for the poor morons who held blind faith in his predictions. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those who feel dejected are plotting or at least desire to kill the man.
Harold Camping is no better than any of the leaders of suicide cults in the past like Jim Jones, and I'd even go so far as to say he's just as worse in his actions. Like Jones, who set up the horrifying Jonestown in Guyana that resulted in the murders and suicides of over 900 of his followers, Camping certainly comes across as a sociopath. No man with a moral conscience, even with an undying faith in God, could have the nerve to stay completely silent as long as he had in the wake of his faithful followers finding devastation in the lack of the world's end. Instead, the man goes into hiding, most likely spending all that time concocting another lie, and then speaks out with more advice about “speaking to God”, turning the eyes and ears away from himself and instead directing them on a deity not responsible for the mistake.
Any person with a rational mind can realize that a man like Camping is nothing but a clever manipulator, using to his advantage his old “wisdom-primed” age and elaborate lies for monetary gain. He wanted some serious bucks, and he got them. Over $78 million in advertising, enough to send the man to Hawaii for the most likely short duration of his life, and then some. Let me ask this: If the man believed truthfully that the world was going to end, why would he request donations? What purpose could all that money serve in a world where he wouldn't need it, if indeed he'll be one of those departing in the Rapture? Is there an economy in Heaven? Unfortunately not many of his faithful friends must have questioned this, throwing their lives away in pursuit of spreading fear. And that goes into the perpetual message I believe many religions spread, the fear of impending punishment.
May 21st was the universal date the world was supposed to end. Even in the Phillipines, the billboards read this for the doomsday date. Nothing happened, of course, just like nothing occurred in New Zealand, unlike Camping had predicted. The only unusual thing I noticed in proximity to the 21st was a sheet of sunlit fog which swept over parts of Chicago's skyline in the days before. And that wasn't even that unusual.
The most upsetting aspect of these doomsday predictions is not how the sheep follow the herd, but rather the fear the children--especially in America--experience. There are enough things the media encourages to fear in this world already; there's nuclear war, terrorism, disease, financial collapse, etc., and yet the message spread over the news and into kids' heads above all is that their world will be no longer. Harold Camping has the audacity to keep America's youth trembling. I don't know about many others my age, but at about ten years old on New Years Eve, 1999, I actually shut my eyes during the countdown to 2000 on the television, almost certain and petrified that the world would end that night, from an explosion or otherwise. My biggest discomfort about all this mess in these predictions is how frightened a lot of the youth must have been. A waiter informed my parents and I at a restaurant on Judgment Day afternoon that a sixteen year-old in the place was panicking about the end. This upset my father, and made me a bit pissed off myself. And yet some families, such as the one whose parents believed the end was coming and whose children didn't, showed more logically-sound youths. We're living in a country where fear is what it means to be free.
One thing I find actually pretty funny about the apocalypse prediction is how Jesus was depicted as being the new ruler who would have brought suffering to the non-believers left on the Earth, a belief that would have kept me rooting for Satan to end the death and pillage. He's depicted as one mean guy. And on the other hand, in the Bible it states that no man will ever know the end of the world, that no soul will never be able to determine its coming, so therefore any true Bible enthusiast would be able to figure out that Harold Camping is no more than a man.
Harold Camping is no less of a monster than any of the leaders who've said “Drink the kool-aid”. He only says “give me money” (Jim Jones did this himself beforehand) instead, because he's not willing to die himself. He's too much of an old coward who fears his death and wants to have left a significant mark on the world, not intelligent enough to realize the unbearable backlash it will cause on not only his reputation, but his legacy. He'll be documented in history as another psychopathic prophet who was only interested in his well-being, and managed to reach other countries with his expensive lie. I can only say I'm happy that very little people actually believed or spent their entire finances on this lie, and like someone mentioned in a comment on an article on the following Sunday, the prediction itself seemed like an IQ test that all of Camping's diehard followers failed, and many of whom have succumbed to Social Darwinism. There isn't much that Camping can do to redeem himself, going on a six-day walk (for how many days it took God to create the Earth) sounding more like an excuse for physical exercise rather than faith. I can only hope the man doesn't make another convoluted calculation, if it was really calculated at all. 1994 was wrong, Camping, 2011 will be no different. And 2012 will be just another presidential cycle with people like Sarah Palin to make fun of and loathe, and nothing more.