Okay, so we’re still here, which is a relief to me, at least. It seems a bit mean-spirited to beat up on an elderly man like Preacher Camping, but I would offer a piece by a friend of mine, a Russian journalist who writes for the on-line Moscow Times. She translated for me. She’s the first one to publish the bit about the pet-sitters, as far as I know, and I love the way she ended her story:
A U.S. radio station promises apocalypse May 21, 2011
By Polina Eremenko
On Saturday, May 21, 2011, at sunrise an earthquake will shake New Zealand. The Japanese cataclysm will be nothing compared to this. By 6 p.m. Moscow time it will reach the Russian capital. At the end of the day it will be California’s turn to suffer. Grocery stores and gas stations will be swept off the face of Earth. Pyramids will fall, the Eiffel tower too. Dead will come out of their coffins.
It’s going to be a good day only for the righteous Christians. They will be taken to a safe area — far away from planet Earth. But there are only 2% of those. All the bad guys stay put. About a billion of them will dye on Saturday — that’s how strong the aftershocks will be. The rest will fade away with the help of infections and volcano eruptions. For 153 days the planet will look like a battlefield. And on October 21 the there won’t even be a crumb left from the Universe.
That’s what an 89 year old Christian Priest Harold Camping is preparing the world for. He spent 50 years studying the bible, 5 of which he dedicated specifically to figuring out his rapture date. 7 years ago he completed his calculations. Then he decided that the world deserves to know. So during his show that he has been airing for half a century on the Christian Family Radio, he started preparing the world for the End. He really took it seriously — the site of the radio is translated to 82 languages. Camping got what he wanted: now thousands of Americans are glued to the Bible, obediently waiting for the end.
“There is no way that his calculations can be wrong”, – say’s Camping old like-minded friend Gunther Harringa in a conversation with MN. Camping himself has stopped giving interviews, cause has to many errands set for the last days. Harring talks about the preceding predictors haughtily: “Martin Luther, Isaac Newton – they were all simply wrong. God deliberately hid the information from them. Therefore, they could not properly read the Bible. But Camping — he managed it. God used him because he has a huge media platform. God knew that he would get the message through”.
Harring himself is not upset that the End is near. His last days are already planned out: he’s giving out interviews till Friday taking breaks only for lunch and Bible-reading. Saturday, he will devote himself to family and try to convince those of his children who don’t believe in rapture to change their mind one last time. He’s not concerned about his wife, for he’s pretty sure that she’s a believer. He is upset about the animals though: “They don’t go to heaven”.
Bart Centre who’s an atheist already had time to think about the pets. Two years ago he opened his business “Eternal earthbound-pets”. For just $135 (two for $155) he’s signs a contract with Christians: on Rapture day members of his crew will come to their houses, pick up their abandoned pets and adopt them. The agreement is valid for 10 years. It can be renewed, but no refund though. “Not everybody trusts us, – says Centre to MN, – some think we’re just going to eat these dogs, cause we’re atheists”. Nevertheless, it works – Centre has 259 clients. During the last few months the demand has risen by 27% which allowed him to raise prices by $20. He considers his business model successful: “Businesweek wrote an entire page about us last year”.
While Centre is profiting from the apocalypse, Harold Camping, in contrast, is saving souls at his own expense. He spends his money on hundreds of billboards across the country: “Have you heard the awesome news? The end is near! The Bible guarantees”. Well-wishers took up the initiative and now there are thousands of billboards across the country – no state snubbed. The number of those who are seriously preparing to ascend this Saturday, is unknown.
Organizers of the Apocalypse do not have time for calculations. Yet the number of volunteers, standing in the bright hats “Christ is coming back!” and posters “Don’t make plans for Saturday” has gone way over a thousand. And that’s if we do not take into account all the buses decorated with slogans about the end of the world strolling down the highways. Camping and his team even decided to go worldwide with the billboards. Now, they can be found in various parts of the world, for example, in Moscow.
This surreal story, surprisingly, is interesting not only for the tabloids. Reviews, columns and commentaries about the end of the world are done by the federal channels and such prestigious issues as The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. However, experts point out that this theme has always received recognition from the readers. Interest in it is supported by the widespread belief among Americans in the Rapture: a Newsweek survey, conducted in 2004, shows that more than half of Americans believe in this phenomenon.
However, people who are accustomed to operate on facts, not blind faith, find this American hysteria absurd. For example, the famous British atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins was outraged when Washington Post asked his opinion about the upcoming end of the world, asking them why such a serious newspaper pays attention to this nut?. An astrophysicist at NASA David Morrison was also not very happy to hears MN’s question: on whether there is anything troubling there in the outter space these days. “I refuse to comment on the religious prophecies,” – he snapped. However, Morrison then relented and explained that there is no real danger plans for Sunday don’t have to be cancelled.
But Harring does not wish to hear about Sunday. Saturday cannot just pass calmly, he is sure: “That’s impossible. And no, do not try to phone me, I do not plan to be here. And don’t forget that on Saturday evening all telecommunications will be severed forever. ”
P.S. Take a look at the post-apocalyptic interview with Gunter Harringa on mn.ru this coming Monday.