While a new year has arrived, there is plenty of evidence that as we begin the second decade of the 21st century, for many of us our minds have not evolved past 33 A.D. That is the year that some Christians believe Jesus died on the cross, was resurrected and later that year ascended into heaven. Since 33 A.D., Jesus has been cooling his heels, presumably at the right hand of The Father, waiting for the moment for his return to Earth. Then, according to the Bible, the faithful get raptured and depending on which Left Behind book takes your fancy all sorts of things that are really nasty will happen to the rest of us. The bottom line is that for us damned either (a) we will descend into Hell for all eternity (not a pleasant prospect) or (b) we die, and not just our physical body but our immortal soul as well. Poof. We turn into nothingness. We are declared a factory reject and discarded like used toilet paper.
As for The Saved ™, it’s off to heaven for all eternity I guess (although some think they will dwell here on earth, which will become an earthly paradise). There life must be wholly spiritual, you are never too far from God or Jesus, you can be pals with St. Jude, harp and lute playing is all the rage, and days beyond count will be spent in rhapsody singing Hosannas. It’s sort of like having an orgasm forever, only better because it’s clean, not dirty and it lasts forever. Remember that cheerleader you nailed behind the bleachers in high school, who threw her legs over your shoulders while you plunged away into her like Superman? Heaven is much better than that.
Now we can put Judgment Day on the calendar. Mark yours now. Put it in your Google Calendar as an all day appointment: May 21st, 2011. At least that’s what Harold Camping of Oakland, California believes and he ought to know because he runs an organization called Family Radio. It is true that the Bible says that no man knows the exact date of the Last Judgment. It turns out that if you study the Bible it’s a solvable problem. A convenient calculator helps with the math. Here’s how he figures it:
The number 5, . . . equals “atonement.” Ten is “completeness.” Seventeen means “heaven.” Camping patiently explained how he reached his conclusion for May 21, 2011. “Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D.,” he began. “Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that’s 1,978 years.” Camping then multiplied 1,978 by 365.2422 days – the number of days in each solar year, not to be confused with a calendar year. Next, Camping noted that April 1 to May 21 encompasses 51 days. Add 51 to the sum of previous multiplication total, and it equals 722,500. Camping realized that (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500. Or put into words: (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven), squared. “Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story,” Camping said. “It’s the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you’re completely saved. “I tell ya, I just about fell off my chair when I realized that,” Camping said.
Yep, it’s all there! Camping is a former civil engineer, but he sure has studied his Bible. Apparently, Jesus left little breadcrumbs that enlightened Christians could follow. It’s all so clear now. No point in paying any insurance premiums beyond May 21st. You will need a different kind of currency in the next world, and it has to do with the purity of your soul and how much you grokked Jesus as your Personal Lord and Savior ™.
I should be quaking in my boots because, no, I have not accepted Jesus Christ as my PL&S. Which means if Camping and his amazing math are correct, in 132 days my life of reckless hedonism is over. It’s hell and brimstone for me and my Buddhist wife, my daughter, my cat and my siblings. My father, age 84, will probably make it as he has lived a very virtuous and religious life and presumably my late mother is already there, ready to hold the gate open for him. My Dad ushers at church and attends Mass faithfully. He is Catholic, however, and I’m not sure but I suspect Mr. Camping doubts any Catholics will make it because of the papal infallibility thing. Or something.
132 days. I was thinking that since I put on a few pounds over the holidays, it’s time to take them off. Now I’m thinking it’s time to put more pounds on. If I only have 132 days left, I need to eat plenty of chocolate, and the good kind. I’m talking Godiva and Ghirardelli. I also need some serious debauchery because, alas, my life is sadly absent of fleshly sins. It’s time to put an ad in the Craigslist Casual Encounters section for a sleazy hookup with 420, which I have never tried. In general, I need to refresh myself on the Seven Deadly Sins because I forgot what most of them are and I need to make sure I sample them all. Times a wasting.
I feel so foolish for donating all this money to charity recently. With the end of the year, the pleas arrive in the mail and perhaps anxious for a few extra charitable deductions, I start cutting checks. In December, checks went out to So Others Might Eat, Friends of Homeless Animals and more prosaic places like Washington Consumers Checkbook. I hope they spend my donations quickly because after May 21st apparently it won’t matter. Presumably, all but a handful of those homeless bums and families being fed and sheltered in D.C. in part with our money are damned like me. Homeless cats and dogs may be nice creatures but don’t get to entertain us behind the pearly gates. How can a nice purring fuzzy thing top The Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
Hopefully, there is still time for me to accept Jesus as my PL&S, but not according to Allison Warden. Today’s Washington Post shows a picture of the fine looking young woman. She has had her car professionally detailed to make sure we know the date, which conveniently provides a link to the wecanknow.com web site where I am sure all these things are made perfectly clear. According to Warden, it’s probably too late for me. Despite Jesus’s teachings that “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first”, she says it’s too late for me and probably for you if you are Unsaved ™. So you should definitely join me and consume large quantities of Godiva chocolates while you can.
The sad reality for the Allison Warden and Harold Campings of the world is that come May 21st I will have forgotten all about the end of the world. And the truth is, on May 21st I am infinitely more likely to die from a lightning strike than because of Armageddon. Moreover, even if Jesus did populate the Bible with clues like these, me thinks that Harold Camping’s calculations are probably a bit off.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus was 33 when he died, and the year 1 A.D. is an estimate anyhow of his birth, if he existed at all, which we have to take wholly on faith. The number zero did not even exist back then, so maybe he died in 34 A.D. Then there is the minor matter that calendars were all askew back then, we switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, then there are all those leap years, some of which we accounted for and some of which we did not. All those leap seconds over the years must have added up to an hour or two. Moreover, his calculations for all their precision don’t address the time of day when Armageddon is to commence. I’m guessing Christ will split the difference and make it when the sun is at the prime meridian over Jerusalem, as a courtesy to his followers who might want to make one last stop to the bathroom before The Rapture begins. God probably won’t save you if you are taking a crap during the big event.
No matter. Come May 22nd, 2011 Harold Camping will doubtless discover a small error in his calculations so the time and date will be reset once again for the next group of devout suckers. As for me, I will be sleeping in late because that’s what I do on Saturday mornings. Just to be on the safe side though, I will try to hit the bathroom before the sun reaches the prime meridian in Jerusalem. If I am going to hell, I don’t want to do it with a full bladder.