Listen, I Never Thought I Would Say This, However... thank you Reverend Camping! I have been looking for someone to prove that what I have been saying, writing, preaching and teaching for years, is the truth. The truth about what? That it is time to move on, and to put religion (and its anachronistic teachers ...) into a proper historical context too; NOT the God phenomena! Having said that: I know that there will be others who will pick up the mantle and run with it, when retrograde religious teachers are retired. I predict that scientists, will unwittingly, become the prophets of the 21st Century and beyond.
That makes me think of a time at Stanford U, when the religious community, that I was a part of with On-Campus Ministries, was asked to "stop placing a burden on the students at Stanford". We were told to instead, witness to students, exclusively, around the on-campus United States Post Office branch. But having said that, the dean permitted me to baptize individuals in on campus Lake Lagunita, and I did.
We need to pursue what is real: Let's consider who this man, Reverend Camping is, first of all? Reverend Camping is a man, a Civil Engineer by profession, who studied and graduated, just down the hill from the Graduate Theological Union (a consortium of Christian Schools), that sits on the scenic hill, just above and on the Campus of the University of California at Berkeley. I am a frequent visitor of both the Campus and the GTU's library!
Reverend Camping is a man of no mean spirit, one who in his zeal has embraced the bible (Constantine's Canon), studied it, teaches from it and believes that it is the final authority … In that sense he should not be accused of quackery, something that his latest foray into end-time predictions, has caused many to believe. Even though he appears to be a quack, he is like too many other religious people that all of us have come into contact with - individuals, who are inflexible, and a bit too much in love with their own minds, egos and craft!
I enjoyed listening to him on a Bay Area Talkshow, KGO Radio, this past Sunday. Professor Brent Walters, Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, at San Jose State University, invited him to speak for an uninterrupted hour, in the 3rd segment, of his 3-hour long Sunday morning radio show. It might be fortuitous, given that Reverend Camping was nearly 15 minutes late getting to the show, which might prove that when it comes to keeping time – well, you see where I am going? Reverend Camping spoke, for approximately 45 minutes, with only an occasional interruption, typically when he was asked to clarify a point.
The very capable Professor Walters, was kind and gracious to Reverend Camping. Reverend Camping’s predictions, that the Rapture of the Saints will occur on May 21, 2011 of this year, and that the world will end five days later, is not been hidden from the public eye. All across the country, his prediction that the world is coming to an end … has been posted on billboards, talked about in the media and preached about on TV and Radio.
Many other preachers, scholars ... who don't agree with him, have already distanced themselves from both he and his reductionist, perhaps, theory. To some, he appears to be a complete idiot. But what is it, that he is really saying? Just look at his website www.familyradio.com, and you will find out. And, this is important because when he was interviewed by Professor Walters, a man who I consider to be a friend, he repeated what is written on his website, that is: “The Bible Guarantees It”.
In other words, he is not predicting the end of the world, he is simply pointing out, based on his interpretation of what is written in Constantine's unadulterated Canon or the Bible, (not in code by the way), that these eschatalogical events will occur over the course of the next few weeks. He might be right about what the bible predicts, and still be wrong! A DaVinci Code all over again? Blasphemy? I know, for the assemblers of Constantine's Canon, could not have a made a mistake here and there, in terms of compiling the canon, correct? In other words, Reverend Camping has already given himself an out, even if everyone is still here on May 22nd!
Most of us, who were raised in the Church (regardless of which religious group or denomination we hailed from), are aware of the following scripture, Matthew 24:36. "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only". According to the biblical writer(s), this is what Jesus said. That day, is what, for sure what most Christians, but not only Christians are waiting for. Somehow most Christians believe that somehow they belong in a better place than earth (er herm), and that they will, uniquely, be reunited with their loved ones in that better place, in deference to what they helped to construct on Earth!
It begs the question Christians, and others, do any of us really deserve Heaven! Man, these people like Reverend Camping and others, hate the world that they helped to ruin, and they do so to the extent, that they can't wait to get out of here. Well, fine I say, for when the majority have been beamed up ... I can enjoy the San Francisco Bay area, the Tahoe basin ... with less congestion.
From what I can see, there is a lot more for us to learn right here on earth, clearly, we have missed some things. I suspect that we have at least wasted the last 2,000 years, in a quest to rule the planet in the name of God. Why? Because like Reverend Camping (who only needs the bible and a few commentaries), most religious individuals are just as limited in their outlook as a result of having restricted themselves to their interpretation of a single book. What we have done is to teach a kind of fanaticism that has led to more division.
What is it that we could have learned and taught, from and in, during ages 1, 2, 3 in the Earth, and up to now, if we had not given in to self-indulgence, fanaticism and dogmatism?
The fact of the matter is that religious people, and religious organizations, have not figured out how to agree with each other on earth, so why in the world would God, reward us, and have us to come to Heaven - wherever that is; not likely up yonder. Er herm, isn't that the reason that Satan, was metaphorically, tossed out of heaven for creating division, self-ambition ... Sound familiar! Why can't religious people get along with religious people, or settle on one doctrine?
Good bye! Nothing in me tells me that I deserve to be in a special place with God, and to leave everyone else behind - I have made a lot of mistakes too you know, haven't you? Haven't all of us come short of the glory?
Trust me, Reverend Camping, is a bible literalist, but he is not a nut, I don't believe that. He is very aware of Jesus' pronouncement, that no man knows the day or hour, just as most believers are aware of and often cite that particular text. The latter explains why so many people, Christians and non-Christians, are flabergasted, disgusted, and equally dismissive of his prediction about the Rapture, the apokalupsis and him to! And the ones who believe in him, are not unhappy with him mind you.
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die: remember that saying? And isn't that the real problem, that is that we are afraid of dying!
But why would the Reverend put himself out on a dangling limb like the one that he has placed himself out on, one that could destroy his $100 ministry, and his credibility with his followers and sycophants? It is simple: Once again he is only reporting, based upon his years of biblical research, what he believes that "the Bible guarantees", not him. He is not making this report, based upon his own feelings! His conclusions are are based upon the Bible. Professor Walters, gave him an opening, one in which he declined to modify by the way. He insisted that it will happen, in deference to the miscalculations that he made before in the 1970's.
Reverend Camping, in my mind, is the perfect example of what religion can do to a person, even a bright, articulate and educated one.
What do I believe about all of this, Reverend Camping and biblical eschatology? Well, there are historicists, post-millennialist, premillenialists, amillenialists, pretribbers, posttribbers ... within the Christian faith alone and none of them agree to agree. So what does that tell you and me? And don't forget that the Apostle Paul, a man who often shot from the hip, believed that he would apparently be a part of the rapture, without having gone to sleep. At least that is what he appears to be saying, in his letter to the believers at Thessalonica or modern-day Thessaloniki, take your pick.
Now don't forget, there are over 50,000 Christian denominations, and millions of preachers and teachers, who will have an opinion about the end of time, and about Pastor Camping too. And keep in mind that all of us, including me, claim to be infused with the same spirit of God. So, what does that tell you? We don't seem to be very believable do we?
What will, practically every other cleric, imam, priests, guru ..., have to say? They will say that "Reverend Camping is wrong, but I am not wrong"! Keep in mind however, that Reverend Camping's prediction, is pretty close to that of the ancient Mayans, although, they did not predict a rapture - something that the best scholars say, is a prediction based upon a misunderstand or misappropriation of canonical texts.
I can recall prognosticators in the past, who named the day and hour when Jesus would return, the Rapture would occur, and the world would come to an end. One group predicted that Jesus would return to Akron, Ohio, several decades ago. Akron, aka Jamestown, well that is before Lebron headed to Miami, is where I was born. I love the people in Akron, and I love Akron too. But when I heard that Jesus decided to appear in Akron, about 20 years ago, on Copley Road, near the High School that I graduated from, I had more than a few doubts.
Man a group of people lined the streets on Copley Rd., with their bands playing, and there was a great celebration. The problem was that Jesus no-showed!
If only we could be more like Solomon, who wrote: Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow, you die. Obviously, he did not live with the burden that most people, who are influenced by religion and some who are not, lived with and live with today! Too many people are trying to figure out how to get to Heaven, while wasting their lives and potential here on earth.
Why do Christians, and other groups engage in this type eschatological religious canard? One of the reasons that I will speak to, which will explain why they do so in my opinion, is because most religious people are fascinated with this particular theme. Most religious people, from most denominations ... expect to, someday, be beamed up to the Mother Ship!
Religious Christians, not the only religious people mind you, believe that Constantine's Canon is the inerrant word of God
They will tell you that God, not man inspired everything that is in the canon. And even in the face of evidence to the contrary, don't try to convince them otherwise. Action is predicated upon belief, and Christians, I repeated, believe that the book comes from God ITself! When Paul make the apparent statement, roughly 75% of what we refer to as the Bible today did not exist. He would likely be surprised to find out that his letters for example, were considered to be holy scriptures - he even denied in one place that they were, and Peter referred to Paul's writings as just that, writings!
It is for the rest of us, who believe that there is some thing that we refer to in our culture, as the God phenomenon to figure this thing out while at the same time being accused of being apostates, heretics, backsliders, never-were-saved, hypocrites, existentialists, atheists .... by our religious counterparts, who genuinely believe otherwise. Jesus experienced the same kind of hatred. We know that what dyed-in-the wool religious people believe in, is far bigger than, and light years past where most religious people, even Christians, take their points of departure, that is a heal my leg, enlarge my territory, make me a rich preacher, take me to heaven ... point of heaven!
We know, that it will be for us to sensibly pursue an understanding of what IT is, and to join with what we refer to as God (something that might appear to be abstract but is real). Who was the secularist, who wrote the book several years ago: The God of the Brain? I have forgotten his name, but the brother was on to something. Perhaps, the connection exists in the brains, of some of us as he proposed, but not in the rest of us. The rest, I would have to agree, may not have a brain - that was not nice. Okay, he didn't say that! He believed that God was hard-wired in certain human's, brain, perhaps!
My thing is this, I don't care about all of this eschatological stuff, oops, I said it. I've seen what it has done to people, typically only to harm them even more, and to make them look down on other people who do not see things the way they do. Remember, amillenialists, postmillenialists, pretribbers ...., all of them have one thing in common, and it is the "I KNOW" spirit. Why are they right, even though they all disagree, it is because they are too much in love with their own intellect. The reason we call it faith, is because we don't know. Unless, like Mr. McLaughlin used to say, "We have stumbled into the truth"!
Jesus, pretty much said, with respect to the day and hour: "don't worry about it, nobody knows, just do your thing while you are here on Earth, because otherwise you will be overly preoccupied", and to live according to love, and you will fulfill all of the commandments. Let's see, how many human beings have for many years, hours and days predicated their lives upon love, or instead simply waited for the blessed event to occur - knowing that like Charlie Tuna, Starkist will be looking for them?
A friend, who lived in Alabama, shared a true story about a religious relative of his. She apparently joined he and his family on a long trip across the state of Alabama one day. His rural grandmother, I believe it was, had never seen, been to or near a drive-in theater before. To make a long story, while they were traveling, she woke up from her nap and saw a figure of a man on a drive-in theater screen in the distance. She had never seen a drive-in screen before either.
And she spoke these words: "Yonder come Jesus"! This woman believed that she was finally witnessing Jesus' advent into the world. The family laughed and explained, "no mam, that is what we refer to as a drive-in theater, and what you are seeing is a movie".
This woman was a perfect example of how serious people are about the expected blessed event, just as some people were in the common era, given the oppression ... that they were experiencing. It also explains why one would be wasting their time to try to tell some religious people otherwise, or that the book that they rely upon to tell them all things about the past, present and future, would be a waste of time.
Reverend Camping, is playing on sacred ground. And if it is as some of us understand it, that what we refer to God exists outside of our 3-dimensional time-independent world, then if there is a rapture, it is taking place all the time. In other words, in the past, in the present and in the future, all at once. Why? The God phenomenon would be time-dependent, and observing past, present, future and outside of the past, present and the future all at once!
Perhaps Reverend Camping and others like him are already there, and not there, and somewhere else, if you were to use stepped outside of time theory. Or perhaps, Jesus was wrong because he didn't have Constantine's Canon to rely upon, did he?
So why am I writing this piece again? It is, first of all, to thank Reverend Camping for making my point about religion, pro and con. It is what I have been writing about, and saying before, that is: Within a 21st Century Context, we simply need to move on, because much learning about Constantine's bible, has made too many of our peers mad!
The second reason for writing on this topic is to say, that we cannot possibly understand all of what was being said or written 2000 years ago, or what was written, and has been translated over and over again, years later. Have you noticed all of the bibles today, and that if you were to compare them, they all mostly say something different, the same as most religious groups do and practice. And this is just one other reason that religious people need to move on, in terms of searching for God in the present, and to stop looking back. Thank you Reverend Camping!
In conclusion: I repeat, perhaps in a non-linear or 3-D world, perhaps what we refer to as the Rapture, occurs everyday in a parallel, time independent world. Remember, we believe that God is time independent, and has the ability to view and be a part of the past, present and future of our world, all at the same time - without relocating in space. Wouldn't that explain how it is possible to see future events before they occur in a linear 3-dimensional world?
Clearly religion, and most religious teachers are not helping, and some of them have become an embarrassment to what we refer to in general, as God! Reverend Camping will prove that Constantine's canon, should not be our only source, and I thank him for that!
By the way, does anyone else have any claims on South Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay? If not, I will take them both when everyone else is gone! Remember this scripture that I am fond of in the canon,: 'We will know them by their love', and not as a result of scripture memorization, theosyphying, scriptural memorization, preaching, teaching, standing when they pray, performing miracles, yelling at people... I embellished a bit!
So, beam 'em up Scotty', so that we can have peace on Earth - and who knows, then Jesus might come back and live 'in earth' with us. If he came today, he would likely end up on the cross again, or at least be shot at or robbed! And if we all get beamed up, I will be the brother in the hat, with sunglasses and a beard - don't forget to say whass up!
BTW: I asked this question in one of my earlier writings: Did you know that the first human to die, if you accept the canonical story as being literal, died as a result of differences between 2 brothers about religious issues, and the last person or persons to die, will do so the same, as a result of a religious conflagration, apparently between the religious easterners and westerners? Can't we all just get along?