Noted “end of the world” expert Harold Egbert Camping is waiting on the rapture. Just in case he hasn’t been good enough to skip the tribulation, of course, he’s stashed about $70 million of the Devil’s lucre. But if he and the other Elect of God are still here tomorrow, Harold’s gonna have some explaining to do.
So rather than argue with Harold, as some other evangelicals are doing (the better to save Christianity from ridicule) I say we should prepare to buck Harold up, on the day after the rapture, when we’re all still here. So what explanations can Harold use to assuage a confused, non-raptured world?
1. “Sorry folks, I forgot the carry the zero…”
Camping has said he based his calculations of when the rapture would take place on a mathematical equation. And since he messed up his math back in 1994, the last time he said the world was supposed to end, it should be simple enough to laugh off the non-end of the world with something on the order of “oops, I did it again.”
2. “God changed his mind.”
Camping wouldn’t be the first end of days predictor to have to explain why everyone was still around the day after he said the world’s freshness date would run out. Yisrayl “Buffalo Bill” Hawkins, leader of the House of God doomsday cult, based in Abilene Texas, has gotten away with three failed doomsday predictions in seven years, and his followers are still stockpiling food and handing over their life savings. Each time Hawkins has been wrong, he simply tells his followers events must have intervened to make Yahweh change his mind and spare the world.
3. “I’m sorry you took it that way.”
This is the classic “near apology” formulation perfected by offensive speakers and malcontents all around the world. It generally covers all racist, sexist and just generally stupid statements. Plus, it allows the user to not really apologize, which is always good for the ego.
4. “That was a hypothetical, baloney question!”
Also called “The Gingrich defense,” Camping could simply turn the questions about his wack prediction around on the questioners, blaming the media for his muddle. He could insist that some member of the press asked him a silly question that he shouldn’t have answered, and then he should declare that anyone who uses his bogus prediction of the end of days in a campaign ad is committing a falsehood. That should do it. If not, he could have his spokesman issue a flowery, defensive statement no one understands, but that sounds really funy being read by Sir John Lithgow.
5. “I’m running for president!”
We all know, based on the antics of Donald Trump, that the best use of media attention is to get more media attention, and what better way to do that than to enrapture (no pun intended) the Beltway press with a run against President Barack Obama in 2012? After all, the existing candidates are boring, and the media would likely jump at the chance to hype a Camping 2012 campaign. Camping could consolidate the doomsday evangelical vote (sorry, Rick Santorum) along with the crazy people vote (apologies, Michele Bachmann) and at the least, he’d likely do very well in Iowa.