So I Woke Up This Morning
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           It’s Sunday, May 22, 2011. So what’s new? Well, for one I woke up this morning. Yep. I sat up in bed just like I do every morning before thinking that it’s way to early to be up. The clock read eight o’ three. The weather is warm and the birds are chirping. I look outside at the vibrant green leaves of the mango tree, complimented by the brilliant cerulean sky. It’s absolutely beautiful. There’s not a cloud in sight. Now, that’s a good thing, right? Well, I think so. But this isn’t any old Sunday. This is a day that, according to some people, shouldn’t be happening. You know what I’m talking about.

Now I’m not a Christian evangelist, I’m not even a Christian. I was baptized into a Christian church and my family follows in the Christian beliefs, but honestly I don’t believe in organized religion at all, really. So if you listen to the beliefs of Harold Camping and his delightfully deluded disciples, you would think that I would be one of the first people to be killed in the “rapture” and be one of the first to board the busses to hell. But I wasn’t killed and if this place I’m in – living in Hawaii in a rather nice home with a rather nice view – is hell, well then hell, I’m enjoying it.

Jokes aside, though, there are more serious matters at hand than just the words of a crazy old man. You and I will or have spent our entire lives saving money so that we have an umbrella over our heads and some cash for a rainy day. We work, day in and day out, to save for college, a new home, mortgage payments on our current home, a new car, payments on a current car, vacations – whatever it is that tickles your fancy (that you’ll need to tickle your wallet for).

I’ve gone back and forth over the last few days trying to decide whether I feel pity for Mr. Camping’s followers or like slapping them upside the head. Now, I know that there are those in the world who feel that God can cure all and that God is the answer to all. I’m not trying to challenge your beliefs nor am I trying to lay mine upon you. However, I think we can agree that we need to make some things clear. I mean, there has to be a point at which we should draw the line. We should be able to ask ourselves, “At what point do we make the judgment on whether we’re going too far?” Now feel free to call me greedy and selfish and whatever else you wish, but honestly, even if I were to find a cause to which I feel I can devote my entire life to, I would never ever think to go out and liquidate all my assets and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on it. Again, call me selfish, call me greedy, but the truth is at the end of the day, I still need money for myself.

A few news stories have mentioned a New Yorker named Robert Fitzpatrick. Mr. Fitzpatrick, one of our delightfully (or disastrously, feel free to substitute adjectives) deluded disciples – triple-D as I like to call them – spent what was probably his entire life savings (assets and “earthly possessions” included) on the Judgment Day campaign. Various news sources including the Associated Press and the International Business Times, have reported that Mr. Fitzpatrick had spent over $140,000 US on everything from billboards to the small placards lining New York’s subway cars. Here’s the deal. For that amount of money, one can buy a fully loaded Mercedes S-class or a midrange Ferrari. In some locales in the US, one can even buy a beautiful new-construction four bedroom, five-bath house complete with a pool and two-car garage. Most of us wouldn’t spend $140,000 on any of the above, much less completely blow it on advertisement for a prophecy foretold by a radio host.

That’s my next problem. Mr. Camping is a radio talk show host.

Pause.

Stop reading. Are you thinking the same thing I am?

           A radio talk show host?

That should be the first red flag that goes up. A radio talk show host? Seriously? This is the man that people are listening to? Giving up everything because of what he says? Seriously? Also, notice that the familiar title “Reverend” or “Reverend, Doctor” is not present anywhere in his title.

I won’t quote scriptures, as there are enough news stories out there that do, but I will say that there is a bible scripture that states quite clearly that we, the people, will never know when such a day will come. Now, with that in mind, Harold Camping stated on all of the millions of ads published, “the bible guarantees it”. He’s stated in interviews that all of his evidence comes directly from the bible. So – I might be missing something here, but – if the bible says that no man shall ever know when the return of Christ will occur and at the same time gives enough evidence for a man (albeit not the most inspiring of trust) to make calculations of when the return of Christ shall be, that leads us to two conclusions. Firstly, the bible contradicts itself, thereby losing all credibility on the subject.

It’s now Monday evening or Tuesday morning, depending on what region you’re in. Mr. Camping has just broken his silence with a broadcast on his weekly radio show and a news conference (If you want the fine details, point your browser to YouTube). He’s stated, in essence, that “Judgment Day” manifested itself as a spiritual happening rather than a physical one. Judgment Day, Camping says, went on as planned with God beginning the process of determining which of us will make up that three-percent he’ll save. The only difference? We didn’t see any of it. No earthquakes, no mass murders. You know how they say “big brother is watching you” in reference to the government? Well it’s the same concept, except this time it’s more like “father is watching you.”

           

So has the rapture been called off or cancelled? Not in the least, according to Mr. Camping. The rapture will still take place, only now the date has been moved to the date in which he said the world would end. October 21, 2011. That, of course, is bad news for people like Mr. Fitzpatrick. He and those of the same mindset liquidated their assets and whittled down their life savings thinking that, with only a few more days left, what would they possibly need money for?

Well, unfortunately for them, a few days just turned into a few months. That, for most of us, means a few more cell phone bills, mortgage payments, car payments, etc. But it gets worse than that – in a way. When some of Mr. Camping’s followers liquidated their assets, for some that included their homes (which personally I don’t think should ever fall into the “liquid” category). On one hand that probably means less bills. And, without an address, where are the cell phone companies going to send your bills? They can’t! On the downside, it means that, since we’re all still staying on Earth, supporters who sold their homes have no roof over their heads.

I’ll say it again. I’m selfish, I’m greedy, I very much enjoy the company my earthly possessions, and I probably have far more than I deserve. However, I still do feel sympathy for those who sustained great loss as a result of Mr. Camping’s cult-ish beliefs. They’re still our brothers and sisters, we’re all still human, we all have to look out for each other. Some may feel that their stupidity is their own fault and that they should pay for their actions. But honestly, can you really blame a person who is obviously not at the top of the IQ chart and lacks some logistic skills?

            In the coming weeks I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about the long journey the supporters who are left with nothing. The chances of success for lawsuits on claims of false advertisement and soliciting donations for false prediction seem slim. Legal ground on religion and belief is already so unclear, adding the devastation of personal lives and finance to the mix isn’t going to make it any easier. Despite the rather cynical approach I’ve taken to the situation, I do wish the best for all of the Judgment Day believers. I hope you’ll join me in wishing them the best and counting our own blessings. It’s eye-opening and should make us glad for what we have and that we live in such a beautiful world.

Mr. Camping has stated that in October, only about three-percent of humanity will be saved. I’m pretty sure that I’m not in that three percent. If you happen to be, I wish you the best of luck. If you aren’t, well then I guess I’ll meet you in hell.

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