Late Night: Get Ready for the Rapture!Posted: May 20, 2011
Tomorrow’s the big day, folks! A bunch of holier-than-thou evangelicals are supposedly going to be “raptured” into heaven–or something. I’ve never been exactly sure what’s supposed to happen in “the rapture.” I guess it would be kind of like when the Virgin Mary was “assumed” into heaven or when Jesus “ascended into heaven.” As a kid, I always pictured them floating up, up, away from the earth and into the sky. I guess that’s what the “rapture” is supposed to be like.
Of course I was a little kid then and didn’t quite understand the difference between fantasy and reality. A lot of the people who think they are going to be “raptured” are full grown adults who apparently never got past that little-kid stage of development. I wonder what these believers are going to do tomorrow night when they aren’t taken up into heaven to be with their god? I hope it won’t be too messy.
Anyway, I thought I’d gather a little information about what is supposed to happen tomorrow and what is being said about it around the intertubz.
We’ll start at Family Radio Headquarters in Oakland, CA, where the latest end-of-the-world prediction emanated from the mind and lips of “biblical soothsayer” Harold Camping. The New York Times reports that PETA members are camped outside, holding signs that say things like “make your last supper vegan,” and the pastor of another church is preparing to help out after the big disappointment comes.
“They are going to be reeling,” said Pastor Jacob Denys of Calvary Bible Church in nearby Milpitas, so he and about 20 volunteers planned to spend Saturday outside Mr. Camping’s compound to let “them to know that God still loves them.”
Another nearby pastor is also very worried about Camping’s followers:
Pastor Dave Nederhood, of Christian Reformed Church in Alameda, said he had met Mr. Camping on several occasions and had followed his radio broadcasts about the apocalypse closely.
“My concern is for the people that have bought into his lie and have sold their belongings, quit their jobs, left their churches and their families and now they are sitting at home listening to Family Radio and waiting for the end,” Mr. Nederhood said. “I’m terribly concerned.”
Harold Camping has predicted the end of the world before and been mistaken. He predicted it would happen in 1994. But he claims he made a mistake in his mathematical calculations–this time he’s absolutely sure he has the right date and time for the scheduled apocalypse.
In New York City, a former MTA employee, Robert Fitzpatrick is also a true believer. So much so, that he spent his life savings in order to warn his fellow New Yorkers. According to the New York Daily News:
The retired MTA employee has pumped $140,000 into a NYC Transit ad campaign to warn everyone the world will end next Saturday.
“Global Earthquake! The Greatest Ever – Judgment Day: May 21,” the ad declares above a placid picture of night over Jerusalem with a clock that’s about to strike midnight.
“I’m trying to warn people about what’s coming,” the 60-year-old Staten Island resident said. “People who have an understanding [of end times] have an obligation to warn everyone.”
His doomsday warning has appeared on 1,000 placards on subway cars, at a cost of $90,000, and at bus shelters around the city, for $50,000 more.
Fitzpatrick’s millenial mania began after he retired in 2006 and began listening to California evangelist Harold Camping’s “end of days” predictions.
Fitzpatrick even self-published a book about the coming end of days: The Doomsday Code. I wonder what Fitzpatrick will do if his plans for tomorrow fall through? He gave an interview to Brian Curtis at The Daily Beast, but Curtis didn’t ask him that question. Curtis did ask Fitzpatrick if he thought he was going to be one of the chosen ones to float up to heaven.
“Living with this idea, it’s not easy,” Fitzpatrick says. Even an ad buy of biblical proportions doesn’t calm his thoughts. He stands in the subway handing out Gospel tracts and each day sees dozens—no, hundreds—of the unsaved. He knows these poor souls will die in the earthquake, or else cling to life before the whole universe is vaporized on October 21. “That’s one of those things that could really get to you if you let it,” he says. Fitzpatrick’s mother has dementia, and he’s not sure if God will make a special dispensation for her.
Knowing the date of the judgment is only half the Rapture equation. The other half is knowing whether you’ll be among those who will “meet the Lord in the air,” as it says in 1 Thessalonians. When I ask Fitzpatrick if he’s sure he’ll be raptured, I notice that his confidence takes a small but perceptible hit. He can’t say for certain. He uses the words “strong suspicion,” lawyerly language he would never use about the date of the Rapture.
You might think of Robert Fitzpatrick’s dilemma like this. He knows that on May 21 the very last train is leaving the station. But he has only a strong suspicion that he has a ticket. It’s the kind of existential fear that might make you spend your life savings on subway ads, or pass out leaflets until the final seconds before the great earthquake. Fitzpatrick tells me, “I’m still praying, let’s put it that way.”
The world is going to be “vaporized on October 21?” Will that prediction still hold if the “rapture” doesn’t happen? I have so many questions!
Interestingly, Tim LaHaye, co-author of the “Left Behind” series says Camping and Fitzgerald are way off base. The rapture won’t be tomorrow. Nobody but God knows when the end is coming, according to La Haye, but the end is coming pretty soon. He sees signs of it happening right now in the Middle East:
there are things fomenting geopolitically, like the Arab world and the rise of the radical Islamics within the Arab people that are a threat to the whole world. I was just reading today that they want to conquer the whole world! I think it’s a demonic religion, to be honest with you. Ezekiel 38 and 39 predicts that Russia and the Islamic world are going to get together, go down and drive the Jews into the sea and destroy Israel.
Ugh….This guy isn’t any more sane than Camping, if you ask me. Here’s a little explanation of the biblical prophesy of the end times, according to La Haye:
The Hebrew prophet Daniel talked about that time of trouble that would come on the earth. There are seven years, and in the Book of Revelations, the apostle John got a vision from the Lord himself, and it came out to exactly the same: Two periods of three-and-a-half years, one of tribulation and one of great tribulation. That includes 21 judgments, during which time God is trying to get the attention of mankind to call on his Son for salvation by shaking the earth with earthquakes and all kinds of disasters. Man is shaken by his false sense of security and can then turn his faith to Christ. There will be millions of people that do that during that seven-year period of time, but that is after the Rapture of the church. So, as long as the church is still here, the tribulation hasn’t started.
Okay, whatever. I think maybe La Haye is just jealous because of all the attention Harold Camping is getting.
Left behinders have lots of ideas about this rapture thing too. For example, who is going to take care of the pets of the people who disappear in the blink of any eye? Who will get their stuff? How do you get ready if you think your going to be “raptured?” And so on. Here are a few samples.
The Daily Press.com: Top 10 Things to Do to Prepare for the Rapture
LA Times: The last-minute “rapture” reading list
The Guardian UK: How to prepare for the rapture
Daily Markets: Post-rapture pet rescue
Salon: Your apocalypse survival FAQ
MadamaB’s take at The Widdershins
What are you doing to prepare for the big event?