Camping Prohibited

Camping Prohibited May 23, 2011

Harold Camping had it wrong — again. The world did not end on Saturday. It’s two minutes from midnight Sunday as I type this and the crickets are chirping, the wind is blowing, Poe is snoring and I have a bone to pick.

Nothing out of the ordinary here.

You may have noticed that I was unusually silent the days leading into the Designated Doomsday. If you wondered if that was purposeful, the answer is yes.

I have been greatly disturbed by all of this on many fronts, as I suspect many of you have been.

The only thing Harold Camping had to do to persuade people to abandon their homes, their jobs, their families and yes, part with their monies was to speak with absolute conviction. He, nor his devotees, would even entertain the possibility that they would rise on Sunday morning. The rest of us were dead wrong as far as they were concerned.  There’s been an awful lot of snickering in the faith community about Camping and his crew over the past few weeks. My own pastors made jokes about it at church this morning. It would be easy enough to dismiss Camping as a doddering old man were it not for the multi-million business he runs. Family Radio is estimated to worth a whopping $72 million. They took in $18 million in 2009 according to the IRS. I imagine a lot of pastors wish their church’s financials looked as good as Camping’s, heh?

There are two sure-fired ways to get Jesus-people to give you money, a lot of money — scare the bejesus outta them or convince them that God is their Sugar Daddy in Disguise. There is something innate about the way we are wired that makes us both greedy and needy.

The reason Camping was so successful in getting his message out is because he practices what I refer to in Where’s Your Jesus Now? as the Religion of Certainosity — a term I coined. It’s the religion of the masses — people who’d rather be right than redeemed.  Camping believed he was right and his conviction seduced others.

A voice of authority is a powerful tool. If you need more proof of that, read Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. Whether you claim a faith in Christ or not, I’d caution us to steer clear of belittling those who clung to Camping’s misguided and manipulated teachings. I don’t know if you saw the news clips of the people attending the Camping seminars in preparation of May 21st? If so, perhaps you noticed, as did I, the anxiety furrowed into the brows of the young fathers? Or the tears of the mom crying because her daughters would never know what it was like to marry and have babies?  (I tried to find the clip to include here but there were more clips of people bashing Camping than of Camping himself)

These people aren’t nuts. They aren’t whacked. They aren’t even delusional. They are just mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, aunts and uncles, all trying to live out their faith the best they know how.  Instead of dismissing Camping’s followers as lunatics, we ought to acknowledge them as people who are seeking a significance not sold by Wall Street.

The problem is that we think we’re smarter than them. In fact, we know we are, right?

Yet, we only have to look to our own recent history as a nation to understand how fear can make us reactionary instead of rational.

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  • K. Reux

    I’d also point out it was faith in God that created the abolition movement the ended world wide slavery; faith in God that started so many charities to feed the hungry; faith in the words of the Bible that led Mother Teresa to serve the poor in Calcutta (and the world); faith in Jesus that established homeless shelters and services (e.g., Salvation Army, inner city ministries across the nation). There were hundreds of churches who opened their doors to shelter victims of Katrina throughout Texas; churches and Christians respond generously to disaster relief throughout the world both with their pocket books and with their hands and feet. I am not saying that only Christians and believers do this. But it is truly selective and prejudicial to bash believers and suggest that faith in God is somehow the source of the world’s problems when those who have faith in God have often been the solution to many of the world’s problems.

    • Fools

      Religion is also the reason for wars and death all over the world. Religion also separates humans from one another just based on a belief. Look through history and it easy to see the macro affect of religion has done far more damage to humanity. But hey, keep on believing that whatever religion you subscribe to is the one true one while everyone else is wrong as that is a very positive thing indeed, not.

      • Tristan

        Acts of violence “in the name” of a religion are not usually initiated because the religion prescribes it. Violence “caused” by religion is usually a perversion. As a Christian, I don’t criticize (or blame) Islam or the Koran for 9/11. Unfortunately, some people choose to pervert religious teachings, probably to suite there own preconceived motives for violence.

        • Fools

          The crusades were done in the name of to convert muslims. The witch trials were done in the name of as these woman were an abomination in the eyes of the lord. As you must know these are only two of the major atrocities against humanity that killing in the name of a god has brought upon our race.

          • Tristan

            The Crusades were certainly not our high-point. I would still argue that it wasn’t “God’s fault”, but it’s complicated. Keep in mind that religion and government were overlapping. Political leaders may have their own motives. When there is a state church, it’s very convenient to use that to your advantage when waging war. There is a very good reason for separation of church and state (despite it’s misunderstandings).

            I don’t mean to throw responsibility off of Christians. We are responsible, and I’m sorry for it. But I make the distinction between God doing these things and very misguided people doing them because they don’t understand God, or their own religion’s teachings.

            National pride was used to fuel the Nazis, but that doesn’t mean national pride is to blame for the Holocaust.

  • Fools

    @ Rocco – Once again you are wrong. For one that is not the site where I got my information as I do not peruse Catholic sites as, in my opinion, that is the largest cult following of any christian denomination. Honestly, we will never agree and will continue on and on with this and no one ever getting anything out of this conversation. I have done enough research to know that the bible is a corrupt document that plays no role in society today. I have also done enough research to know that every form of teh bible is corrupt as they are translations by man from different languages that a lot of the time do not have direct translations for specific words so the translator used their best judgement. I also know that Martin Luther spoke out against the Catholics as they were so completely corrupt asking for money to abolish the sins of the people. And back to the canon, men deciding which books would be taught and which ones would not makes no sense being that they are all supposedly breathed by god to these men who wrote them down. I could care less which books made it in or didn’t but the fact still remains that the Apocropha came in after the fact along with the hold trinity and a slew of other fantastical ideas and stories. Catholicism may be the first major christian church but that defintely doesn’t make it the right one.

    • Tristan

      Although I disagree with your opinion that the Bible is a corrupt document, how can you say that “it plays no role in society today”?

      When any text is translated into another language, it is not “corrupt” because there is not a direct translation for specific words.

      • Fools

        Hey Tristan,
        First off I would like to say that I really apprecaite the tone of your post. As with others on this thread I felt as though it was an arguement more so then the person actually wanting to have a discussion. For that I applaud you, bravo! In my opinion, I don’t think any of these religious text have a role in today’s world. The morals can be taught without the dogma, the golden rule can be implemented without a doctrine that is thousands of years old to tell you to. The fact that the book is as old as it is and hasn’t gone under scrutiny from the believers of its stories truly surprises me. When I read that women are to be subserviant to the male, that you have to do x, y and z in order to appease a god and that if you don’t do x, y and z that you will be punished I can’t help but think this was not perceived by a loving god but men. Then throw in the fact that most of these doctrines were written in patriarichal times where men ruled every aspect of life from human law to spiritual law to who can read the doctrine and who can’t, well…it just doesn’t jive in this time period. Please don’t get me wrong here, if religion is what makes you stronger so be it, but if you take a hard look at yoruself when calling upon a god to help you I would put money on the fact that a god didn’t help you through your struggle but rather you found the strength within you to overcome. On the issue of the translations of these doctrines from one language to another not making it corrupt Iwould still have to disagree. Not only would the message be broken but the fact that it was left up to men to translate clearly takes away any divine intervention. If there was one truth I’m sure an all knowing entity would make it known in all languages simultaneously around the world and that the stories would not vary as they do.

        • Tristan

          Good points, although you and I disagree on the fundamental origins of morals. I believe that they come from something outside us… God, and the Bible is one medium God uses to communicate these things to us. I guess I can call you a Naturalist who believes that morals are defined within humanity. This debate has been going on for some time. I like C.S. Lewis’ presentation in Mere Christianity for the perspective on this side of the table.

          The role of women and men should be understood in the context of culture. In general, I think the Bible has actually been progressive in OT and NT times compared to society. Women play a predominant role in both OT and NT scriptures.

          Doing x, y, and z… Yes, I agree that sounds like men, not God. My own faith centers around Christ, not me. So the focus is not on my “works”, but God’s grace. This is hard for a lot of Christians. As Americans, we want to be in control. But the central teaching here is that God is in control, not us. So it’s about what God does, not what I do. Like I said, this is hard.

          I guess we’ll continue to disagree on the translation thing. When I read the Bible, I’m looking for the big picture. Even if a few words are mutated in translation, I don’t think that the overall point will be misinterpreted. I can barely speak a lick of Spanish. I had 2 years in high school over 10 years ago. But still, when I’m in a Spanish speaking country I’m able to get by.