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Lloyd Omdahl, Published May 31 2011

Omdahl: Camping resets end date

Even though Jesus said he didn’t know much about the end of the world, some of his alleged followers keep making predictions with certainty and conviction. Apparently, they don’t want to deal with the day-to-day challenge of living Christianity so they sit around and speculate about the unknowable.

Harold Camping of Family Radio International isn’t the only person who spends time and resources on “the last days” while children are starving, Bibles go unprinted and missionaries are not sent. A good many Christians have become virtual addicts to the unknown mysteries of the Book of Revelation. I taught a year-long Sunday School class on Revelation once, and when we finished, we knew less than when we started.

Well, 6 p.m. May 21 has come and gone, and the world is still here. Camping missed again. While he kept his house and his car, many of his followers didn’t and now their lives are in shambles. Meanwhile, he is scouring Ezekiel for a new sign and is now convinced the end will come on Oct. 21, two days before the due date on his mortgage.

Predicting the end of the world requires a higher level of training than is currently available. It is being attempted by rank amateurs because there is no college major in prophetic calculations. The closest is meteorological science for weather forecasters, and we know how hard it is for them to make a sound prediction beyond four hours. And that’s with a college degree.

As the magic hour approached on May 21, my eyes were glued to CNN to see how they would cover the event. Wolf Blitzer had someone in Kaikoura, New Zealand, to report on the first rumble. According to Camping, Judgment Day was going to follow the sun around the world. This was new to me. I always heard that Christ’s return was going to be one big instant hallelujah event that would make Mount Vesuvius look like the Fourth of July in Menoken.

Apparently, Camping figured that St. Peter would not be able to screen everyone at once since he was depending on a recycled airport body scan and strip searches. In the process, we will all be shocked to find out who we really are.

I switched to Fox, where Glen Beck was claiming that the whole thing was a liberal plot to undermine confidence in the capitalistic system. Over at MSNBC, Ed Schultz was claiming that it was an ultra-conservative effort to bring back a monarchy.

Politically, the Republicans thought the end of the world had already come – election night 2008 when Barack Obama got elected. Democrats thought it had happened in 2010 when they got swamped in the congressional election. Independents disagreed with both, claiming that Armageddon had to come first and that would occur in election 2012 when blood and money would run in the streets.

Other folks have different ideas. For Twins fans, the world ended in April. For students at North Dakota State University, it came when the Board of Higher Education approved an 8 percent hike in tuition.

Camping’s new date for the Judgment Day is not important; he has been discredited. But take heart. According to the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, a new Judgment Day is scheduled for Dec. 21, 2012. Be sure to have your longies ready for this one.

Omdahl is a former North Dakota lieutenant governor and a retired University of North Dakota political science teacher. Email ndmatters@q.com