For Harold Camping, May 21, 2011 is Doomsday. For the Rest of Us, It’s a Day to Celebrate What We Can Leave Behind…

Are you ready for May 21, 2011?

I know it’s Saturday.  I know you probably have some big plans to go out and have fun.  Some of you may have to work.

Others will take their kids to soccer or pick up a relative or friend for lunch someplace special.

Some will celebrate birthdays, some will sign divorce papers.  Some will play golf and others will sit on their ranch’s front porch and watch the cattle and the clouds roll by.

But others, such as doomsday predictor Harold Camping, will be awaiting the end of the world.  Eighty-nine year-old retired civil engineer Harold Camping will be expecting the rapture, expecting true believers to be taken into heaven while the rest are simply left behind.

Camping, who works for Family Radio, has apparently used the Bible to construct a timeline for doomsday that predicts this Saturday, May 21, as the date it will all come to an end…judgment day.  It will happen with a massive earthquake.

I’ve known about Harold Camping’s prediction for a while, first seeing a news report on it months back.  I remember thinking how far away May 21 seemed, and I wondered if it would garner much support.

But here we are on May 20, 2011 and Camping and many followers are still gearing up for doomsday.  But it’s interesting — I have an acquaintance who is getting married, a family member who is leaving that morning for a trip, and friends who are making plans for the day.  I read one story that says a group of atheists are planning a party, awaiting Camping’s announcements at the end of the day when, they believe, nothing will have happened and Camping will be forced to explain.

With December 21, 2012 looming in a little over a year, Camping’s May 21, 2011 predictions gives us some things to think about.  What do we do when we think it will all end?  How are we supposed to feel?  Are believers supposed to be happy when everyone else is “left behind,” or should they be busy preparing their defenses of humanity to save the rest of the world?  Isn’t that what Jesus would do?  Would he celebrate the end, or bustle about doing what he could to intercede on behalf of the world out of compassion instead of celebration?

I’m no expert in doomsday.  I read the stories with interest just like everyone else.  But what I do know is that very truly, in spite of religious beliefs, any day could be our last day.  Any day could be the day the debts are called in and the store is shuttered.

I guess the question for me at the end of the day (the end of days?) isn’t really about who is “worthy” but who has done the best they can, whatever their beliefs.  It’s not about which conception of god will carry the day and its certainly not about who is left behind.

It’s about what we have done on this earth to make it better.  It’s about our civility, our humanity, how we tolerated and embraced each other and our differences.  Its about a love for others that doesn’t cause us to celebrate being part of a select few who will have bliss, but how we were good with our neighbors of different religions who are “saved” right along with us.  It’s about what we have left behind as a legacy, and not simply about where we are going.

Good luck, Harold Camping.  If your prediction does come true and the world does end on May 21, 2011, don’t be surprised if those folks at soccer practice, the Jews who were at synagogue, the Hindus who were having a family outing, and all those atheists at the party are standing at the gates beside you.

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