Shouting Into Darkness

Fuck the Apocalypse

Posted in Religion by Chris W. on May 14, 2011

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If you live in New York City, there’s a non-zero chance that you’ve come across some billboards that advertise May 21, 2011 as “Judgment Day.” Not the fun Judgment Day with Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwartzenegger. This is Biblical Second Coming of Jesus, as according to Family Radio (a Christian broadcast station out of California) and their founder, Harold Camping.

I confess to never having listened to their station, as Christian Radio sounds as appealing to listen to as a garden rake on a chalkboard, so I don’t know if Mr. Camping encourages his followers to spread his gospel, but someone sure feels like getting the word out. These ads are everywhere, and a street team is descending upon New York City this weekend like a horde of locusts to scare the general populace into believing that their lives are about a week away from ending. All in the name of “loving thy neighbor.”

Before people get defensive, this isn’t going to be my usual whine-fest against religion. The issue doesn’t touch honest Christians who believe in doing good for others in the name of Christ. You Christians who look at the Book of Revelations as if it were “Pink Elephants on Parade,” not a literal depiction of the End of Days, you are off the hook this time. What I can’t stand are the small group of “fire-and-brimstone” Christians who want to make you afraid. They want you to feel bad about being human or want you to fear for your life and/or soul because some invisible clock that only they are somehow privy to is about to expire. I thought religion was supposed to inspire people, make them feel good about being alive, not ready to jump whenever someone shouts “Boo”.

To Family Radio’s credit, they aren’t bilking money out of people, just standing on street corners trying to pass out flyers to people walking out of a Starbucks. I’ve seen a lot worse out of people who are down with G-O-D. But make no mistake, this is self-aggrandizing at its core. It’s a common marketing trick to invent a problem if you can’t solve a pre-existing one. I can think of no better problem to have than total annihilation. That’s a problem that can’t be fixed by RonCo.

The company line is that the people trying to spread the message are “warning” the rest of us of the impending danger. How effective they are in this task is another tale, entirely. In an interview with today’s AMNY, Ija McDaniels, a Philadelphia resident that migrated to New York to help Family Radio’s cause, bragged,”I passed out 3,000 [pamphlets] today.” That’s good for her, but how many of those pamphlets found their way into a trash bin soon after leaving her line of sight? In the same story, Robert Fitzpatrick told the NY Daily News, “people who have an understanding [of end times] have an obligation to warn everyone.” His “understanding” of the End Times? May 21, 2011 is the date of Christ’s return because it occurs 7,000 years after the Great Flood that God sent to “reboot” humanity during the Old Testament. No other explanation, just “7,000 years seemed like a long enough time to wait for God to pull this stunt again.” If all these guys are doing are betting on big round numbers being winners, I’d like to introduce them to Nostradamus and his prediction that the world will end in the year 2000.

What I don’t get is this: if Jesus/God is returning, and the world is on the brink of ending, what can you do about it?! It’s not like preparing for a hurricane. Total Biblical Armageddon is a Royal Flush in the hands of the Almighty. Nothing beats it. If God wants to smite you, there are very few defensive strategies against that plan. And if this really is true, and Jesus Christ is coming back to judge the righteous and the wicked, wouldn’t it be blasphemy to try and “prepare” for it like you would a natural disaster? The only plausible way out is to do what these Christian wackos want you to do anyway and jump onto their ship, but wouldn’t God see through such a thinly-veiled plan to save your own ass? That only works for Roman Catholics, where all you have to do after a life of sin and depravity is say that you’re sorry at the last second and you get a seat in Heaven next to the virtuous old lady who never hurt a soul in her life. I guess Family Radio hope you’ll join the club on the “end of the world” special and then figure canceling the membership is not worth the hassle. Christian sects and gyms have a lot in common.

The end of the world, at least coming from Biblical causes, is perhaps the most overblown global threat that hasn’t yet made it into an Al Gore movie. A literal end-of-the-world is not something we have to worry about because, if it happens, there’s nothing that could be done about it. And we have enough problems to concern ourselves with to start thinking about the ones that are forever unsolvable. For example, the NYC spearhead of this movement is a retired MTA worker who spent $140k on ads. That’s $140,000 USD. Fuck the apocalypse; how does an MTA worker earn that much money and yet the service is still that shitty? This guy has more than a hundred grand to piss away on his own flawed superstition and I can only make the Staten Island Ferry at about a 50% success rate?!?

If there was ever a reason to want these nutjobs to be correct, that would be it.

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