Thursday, May 26, 2011

This is the Time

Many people followed the prediction that the world would end on May 21, and those who God saved would be taken up to Heaven and the rest of us left here below.  Facebook had a lot of pictures of “post rapture looting” which was fun.   Harold Camping, the nearly 90 year old minister who predicted this, said Monday:  “It has been a tough weekend.”  I think he should win a prize for understatement.  Cynically I thought, “You cry all the way to the bank.”  He collected $18 million dollars this year alone from followers and probably spent $100 million on tracts, billboards, etc.  He still has, by some accounts, $72 million in the bank. 

Whether he is a crackpot or a charlatan is not for me to determine.  What I am struck by is something another minister said today about this whole event, “It is interesting to see what people do when they think they have only a short time left.”  He told several stories of people reconciling with relatives or friends from whom they had been estranged, and people taking vacations or getting rid of stuff they didn’t need.  I was also struck by how many people made an effort to have fun, to heal relationships that had been hard, to leave jobs they hated anyway, and to throw out stuff they didn’t need.  Many commentators have said that the people who follow Camping are na├»ve or mentally ill, and that may be true.  But I also think that this prediction made some people get their priorities in order. 

This event raises many questions, some moral, some legal.  Will Camping give back the money he raised for this, especially to people who may have given him their life savings?  What is the obligation of the state to protect from people like Camping?  Should his organization maintain its nonprofit status? 

But the question I am most interested in is this:  how can all of us have correct priorities all the time, and not just when we think we are about to die (or in this case, be raptured away)?  Healing relationships, being with friends, having fun:  why can’t do those things every day?  Part of the reason someone like Camping can happen in the United States and is less likely to be found in other developed countries is that other countries place more emphasis on people and community than we do.

This minister I was with today finished his talk by saying, “Camping got the day wrong, but not the time.  We must always act as if God is here already and we must know that today is the day for justice and love.  Not tomorrow, not when the Republicans agree with us, not when the funders help us, but today, now, this minute.  This is the time.” 

This is the time. 


StephanieandKim said...

Great post, Kim. Raises important questions about what our priorities are, and how the lack of real community in this country leads to large numbers of people willing to follow someone like Camping.

Sabrina L. Smith said...

Hi Kim!

I grew up with Camping's ministry & my mother devoutly believes the Bible predicted the May 2011 Rapture. As you may know, I have little time for a life dictated by a notion of a God though I'm dedicated to community & every individual's development of a solid moral compass.

I appreciate the irony of your post as I believe the answer to your question of how we can espouse morally sound priorities on the day to day is the very purpose religion strives to serve. Camping himself asserts that the age of the church is over - yes, as a sign of the end of times - largely due to organized religion's inability to illustrate & demonstrate a sound moral compass.

On one hand, it's a sad day when the implementation of religious beliefs moves the observer to long for a solution that the presented antics aim to fit. On the other, it's a strong case for each individual to develop their own application of what I still believe is the only "religion" necessary: the Golden Rule.

It's great to learn of your blog & I look forward to interacting with you here!