Sunday, May 22, 2011

No Darwin Awards Yet

Close, but no cigar. I wonder where that saying came from.

We had a good time here Friday making fun of predictions of the rapture. We weren't the only ones. The internet is rife with photos of piles of clothes left empty. At parties last night, people celebrated not being raptured. I heard of a gathering where they released 20 blow-up dolls filled with helium. Hilarious.

It's a tad less hilarious for those who believe(d) in this stuff. 

I don't think Harold Camping deserves 100% of the blame. Sure, he perpetrated a fraud (and collected $18 million from his followers to advertise it), but it's not like he forced people to believe him. Folks needed this. They ate it up. A few wanted so badly to leave this awful, awful earth that they sold everything they had and spent their life's savings in the process.

$18 million. Imagine if Camping had decided to do something good, like help people.

They say God helps those who help themselves. You know the story about the guy stranded in the flood who's sure God will save him? A boat comes by and he refuses to get in it, saying "God will save me." A raft comes along with friendly folks aboard. He says no to their offers of aid. "God will save me." A helicopter comes but he won't climb on. "God will save me," he says. Finally, when the water's up to his chin and there's no help in sight he calls out, "God, why haven't you saved me?" and God says, "Hey! I sent you a boat, a raft and a helicopter! That's all I've got!"

Some churches have offered consolation and counseling to those followers of Camping whose hopes were dashed along with their bank accounts and their pride. Maybe a few will see the hand of their God in that generosity, offering a life raft. But when Camping has disappeared from the limelight, the rest of the cowards who are too lazy or scared or just plain tired to help themselves will seek out some other Jim Jones, who will be more than glad to lead them by their noses to their ignominious doom.

I feel sorry for these people, I really do. It makes me angry to see them abused. But they make it so easy for the bad guys.

I post at midnight. I hope this story doesn't get any worse by morning.

If only the numerals in the photo said "2012." Close, but no cigar.

25 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

Great post, Petrea. And I love that story about God helping those who help themselves. Sometimes we can be so close to the forest, we don't see the trees. I think I'm in the mood to make a slogan t-shirt.

*Honest Abe said...

Antique city? Holy Moses, I haven't seen a parking meter since the 1950s.

ben wideman said...

Petrea, for someone who doesn't claim to affiliate with any religious tradition, you sure can speak like a true prophet. To borrow a line that gets used at Fuller when someone says something brilliant: "Well, that'll preach!"

I love the photo you chose today. Brilliant stuff as usual.

Vanda said...

Honestly, I don't feel sorry for them. People who take the bible literally are the ones casting stones at everyone different than themselves.

Bellis said...

The photos of clothes left behind were funny - but I was grossed out by the idea that everyone will be naked in heaven. I hope they get a nice, white cashmere/silk wrap to wear as soon as they arrive.

This Rapture non-event has been a lot of fun, but Camping should be arrested and made to refund the money he's taken. Or is it OK to steal when it's done in the name of Jesus?

Laurie said...

Amen, sister.

Petrea Burchard said...

Oh do, Shell. You would make something truly delightful. There are rapture t-shirts on Zazzle already, and not one of them is interesting.
http://www.zazzle.com/rapture+tshirts

I'm glad you noticed that, Abe. Isn't it great? I'm glad I got a photo of it; it's a true relic.

Thank you, Ben. When it comes to the real rapture you're going to be way ahead of me in line. But you know my philosophy: It's not god or God or whoever that's the problem. It's the people and their infernal organizations, trying to harness thought and tell people the "truth" about the unknowable. That make me crazy.

I get you, Vanda. I'm giving them space for things like bad upbringing and stupidity, in case they can't help it. But yeah.

That's an interesting question, Bellis. Was it stealing? I think Camping believed it. I don't think he was trying to get rich. What crime would he be arrested for? His wouldn't be the first Church that preached untruth, but then again advertisers do it all the time.

Thanks, Laurie. I don't know why this story has piqued my interest so much but it has me riled.

Oh--and Bellis, if we have to be naked in heaven I'm not going. It's not so much because I'm self-conscious, although that's part of it. But I get cold very easily and the ideal temperature for everyone else will be too cold for me. Plus cashmere makes me itch, so I'll need to bring along a flannel robe or something.

J+P said...

I'm with Vanda—literalists of any religion are hemmed in by the course of history; hence the rock-throwing. They're like kids who won't come in from the schoolyard to the classroom, where the real learning is happening …

"Hey you guys! Recess is over!"

For individual forms of delusion, we prescribe medication. When a nation goes crazy, we control it with the correctives of isolation or invasion. But the Christian fundamentalists get uncounted hours of free PR and millions of dollars in donations …? Waking up from history is harder than we thought.

Speedway said...

Dark clouds roiling above, thunder in the back ground, wind gusts. Oooo... eh, not to worry. More rain, just the kind of weather we've "enjoyed" for the past two months.

Yesterday was different. Sunny and warm, spent in the company of family for my 4-y-o grandniece's birthday party. Now, how can one even entertain the thought of a so-called "rapture" when in the midst of the life force of happy children, smiling babies, and the promise of four more in the works?

Camping = unhappy, sad old man defrauding $$ from people of like mind. I'd love to see his tax return, justifying his BS expenses for his "non-profit" scam.

TheChieftess said...

I figured TheChief and I just didn't make the cut...and all the rest of the folk at the dinner party last night!!!

Ms M said...

Excellent post and point.

Steven said...

"Close, but no cigar."

Back in the early days of horseracing in Kentucky the owner of the winning horse was often rewarded with a cigar. When a horse owner lost a race by a nose he was often consoled with the words, "Close but no cigar." I heard this many years ago from a guy who often placed wagers on horses.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, everybody. Great comments.

Steven, I hope that's true. It's good enough to be so!

J.J. in L.A. said...

On the one hand, it's sad that people fall for that sort of thing. On the other, it's sad that some will take advantage of people like that.

Speedway said...

If I have to leave my clothes behind, I want a pale pink pashmina and a new pair of New Balance walking shoes, white, of course, in keeping with my "new residence.

Petrea Burchard said...

Agreed, J.J.

Speedway, don't you know in heaven there ain't no shoes? Or is that beer?

TheChieftess said...

Perhaps no beer, but since Jesus turned water into wine, there's got to be wine!!!!

Susan Campisi said...

Very thoughtful and insightful post, Petrea, as usual. I've thoroughly enjoyed the non-Rapture hoopla but when you look beyond the wackiness, it is pretty sad.

Shan said...

Yes, wonderfull photo/post combo! Not being very newsy, I hadn't heard much about Camping except that he named a date before and had to redo that one when it came and went. ;) I think I'll google him right now and see what we were all pretending to prepare for. ;D

Petrea Burchard said...

I'm not so newsy either, Shan, but something about this story really caught me. Camping's not the first and he won't be the last.

Margaret said...

Did you hear about the atheists offering pet insurance? Always thinking of the pets those atheists.

Karen said...

As someone who was at one time convinced the world was ending any second, I understand how folks become deluded like these did.

I feel badly for them, especially those who spend life savings to buy advertising and spread the word.

Camping didn't break any laws, that I know of, but I hope he can be persuaded (or shamed) into reimbursing at least some of his followers who had the biggest losses.

Petrea Burchard said...

Nice atheists.

He's not giving the money back or taking any responsibility for the pain he's caused. Camping has made some statements that give me an extremely low opinion of him and of his followers. Perhaps the media shouldn't give him any more attention. I include myself in that.

jb said...

The original expression was "close, but no rose petals", used for photographers taking blurred photographs of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Later, it was used in the practice of giving cigars as prizes at carnivals in the US in the 19th century; this phrase would be said to those who failed to win a prize.

Petrea Burchard said...

Ah! Thanks for the clarification, jb. Your second sentence makes perfect sense.