Known to his parishioners as Pastor Harold, but to the rest of us as “that nitwit” Harold Camping said that his prophesy of the coming of the end of the world was off a bit. Now, according to Pastor Camping, Judgment Day is on tap for October 21, 2011. Camping heads up something called Family Radio International, which raised and spent millions advising the rest of us to get our stuff together in anticipation of the end of the world. It would seem that more than a few of the followers decided that selling all their worldly possessions in anticipation of The Rapture would be appropriate, the thinking being “why do I need a house and a big screen TV when Heaven has all that stuff, and more?”
We don’t knock people who have deeply held beliefs of a religious nature as having at least some kind of faith is a good thing in the grand scheme of things. Having respect for others deeply held beliefs also goes a long way to creating a little civility on our planet, so we’re not going burn Harold Camping and Family Radio for being complete asshats.
What we are going to burn them for is their 2009 IRS filing. According to the Associated Press story, the non-profit Family Radio International received $18.3 million in donations and had assets of $104 million, including $34 million in stock and other publicly traded investments.
Now that doesn’t stack up worth a poot to the folks in the Big Show, the Major League God Brands, whose assets are easily in the billions, but FRI is doing all right. Which is where we can be piqued.
Having read the entire Bible, both Old and New Testament, we don’t claim scholarship by a long shot, but we do have a reasonable comprehension of the documents and the overreaching concepts behind the King James’ version of the stories. Notice we didn’t say the King Jimmy is the definitive version, but it at least is one of the more mainstream ones. (Incidentally, we have also read the Torah, the Bhagavad-Gita, a fair amount of the Koran and a lot of the Analects of Confucius)
One of the overreaching concepts is the Church is to minister to the poor, to help feed them, clothe them and generally help them up, to become contributing members of society, so they in turn can help those less fortunate. Ministering to the sick is another great concept, looking after the frail, the infirm and the unwell, to give comfort and healing. No argument here. Providing ministry to increase the understanding of the word of the Bible, we can go along with too. Nothing wrong with trying to increase brand awareness and asking for money to help with the other two tasks, so far, we’re in agreement.
Where we part is the politicizing of certain passages to act as justification for or against specific actions. With enough Biblical scholarship one can find a quote that supports or proscribes damn near anything depending on how you interpret the passage.
There’s the hook; how you interpret the passage. If one is intellectually honest, interpretation is wrong, as it is changing what God meant, based on the particular lens the reader is wearing at any particular time. That kind of intellectual vacuity leads to the Inquisition throwing people in a lake tied to huge boulders. If they floated they were witches: If they drowned they weren’t witches. They were dead, but at least they weren’t witches.
Which brings us back to Harold Camping and the prediction of the End of Days. Unless Harold has a direct dial line to God and God himself started the conversation with: “Harold, I’m pissed…”, then Harold Camping and Family Radio International are guilty of the intellectual sin of interpreting what God has to say, according to their own peculiar lens. We note that Harold Camping has never claimed he has a glowing red God-Phone on the kitchen wall, so his predictions can be safely ignored and his followers might consider turning in their secret Bible decoder ring that they bought for their fellowship gift of $100 plus shipping and handling.
Now the question becomes, what does one do between now and October 21st?. We have a suggestion: It is an old RoadDave called The Golden Rule from October 2006, wherein we researched and listed 31 different versions of the essential “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” concept that is at the core of every known Brand of God, without interpretation, intellectual tap dancing or trying to find some kind of scriptural quote that makes Argyll patterned socks a sin.
It might even be one of those simple things that makes every day go a little easier.