For those who may not have noticed, the world did NOT end last Saturday at 6 p.m. — nor at any time since.
The raving predictions of the Rapture by 89-year-old radio minister Harold Camping fell completely flat, leaving behind much amusement among non-believers.
What, however, of the thousands of believers?
Many of these people gave up their jobs, their savings — Camping's ministries receive $18 million a year in donations — their homes, their families and their reputations because they thought that Sunday would never come.
How did they justify their actions the next day? How do they move forward in a world with no discernible end? If they apply for work, how do they answer the question "So, Mr. Smith, why did you leave your last job?"
Some will have sense shaken into them. Some will think this failure is merely another test from God. Some will return to Camping for guidance. Some will look to others for a different sign, a different prophecy.
Camping, who incorrectly predicted doom in 1994 as well, has already grabbed his slide-rule and Bible and come up with another date: Oct. 21.
He's been proven foolish and fraudulent, however (otherwise I wouldn't be able to write this). Why would anyone believe him now? A small segment of the population, however, needs an impending Apocalypse to get them through the day.
If not Camping, someone else will give them that date, and the cycle will begin again. There's never a shortage of doomsayers in the world. Already the Mayans have staked their claim to 2012.
The doomsayers don't worry about the confused and mishandled children of the true believers. That is why I, too, have become a doomsayer, and from this point on will charismatically begin organizing my followers.
Mine will be a kinder and gentler Judgment Day.
Using the Bible, a NASA supercomputer, the fourth edition of the Scrabble Dictionary, a deck of third-grade flash cards and a medicinal dose of peyote, I have determined that the Rapture is indeed coming … but not until July 5, 2033. God wants his beloved United States to get one more night of fireworks before the, you know, final fireworks.
Now that I have set a date, I want all my followers to follow my instructions carefully:
Shhhhhh. Keep it to yourself. The non-believers and sinners cannot be changed. They are stubborn and close-minded. They will mock you. They will suffer more if they are taken completely by surprise.
Do not change your routine. Keep your job. Take care of your home. Do not give away your possessions, except possibly for sharp objects. Yes, yes, only keep rounded objects in your house.
Rather than emptying out your children's college funds to spread my word, I want you to increase the amount you put in these funds. Send your kids to a good school, to study medicine, science, engineering, so that they are better able to understand the coming apocalypse.
Please do not send me any money. I don't nee … you know what, on second thought, if it makes you feel better, send me 5 percent of your after-tax income. I'll invest it in mutual funds and treasury bills in your name. If something fluky happens, and there is a July 6, 2033 — not that there will be, no sir, I am completely sure about that date — it'll be there waiting for you.
I want you to exercise regularly, so that you're healthy when you are called up. Wear sunscreen too; faith won't stop skin cancer.
I want you to work hard, move up the ladder, succeed in your given business. Donate some of your money to help ease the pain of underprivileged people in the community. They'll suffer tomorrow, but why not let their today be nicer?
Do not talk about the end. I know I already said that, but I would like to emphasize the point. The thing that has derailed most "End of the World" movements? That the followers annoyed the non-believers, with signs, ranting and odd robes.
Let me do the preaching. The end is coming, oh yes. Beware. Prepare. But let's act just like normal. It'll be better for everyone that way.
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