It's a slight play on words, natch. But I have become curious regarding Harold Camping's miscalculation of The Rapture. When the trap door in the sky failed to open last Saturday, Camping, understandably nonplussed, went back to the blackboard and redoubled his efforts, to understand how he could have been so terribly wrong. First, however, he repaired with his wife to a motel to think things through, and, even at the age of 89, maybe to engage in still other things. That is not for me to know, anymore than it is for me to know the hour that the Lord returneth, other than as revealed by Harold Camping. Hats off to this eschatological expert, whatever his motivations.
I feel remorseful that some of my comments last week, before Rapture Saturday, were intemperate re: Mr. Camping. I suppose in part, as I mentioned, that I just think Saturday is a terrible time to schedule the end of the world. There are plenty of other days (six, I guess) to choose from, and I'll confess to you that there have been days (the reelection of George W. Bush in November, 2004, comes immediately to mind) when hearing a voice like a trumpet out of the clear blue sky would have been fine with me. But Saturday? Eggs, bacon, coffee, NY Times crossword Saturday? Gimme a break. So I developed a 'tude about The End. I objected mainly to its calendaring, that's all. We all gotta go sometime. Let us recall Shakespeare: "By my troth, I care not. A man can die but once. We owe God a death, so let it go which way it will: he that dies this year is quit for the next." Henry IV, I believe. Those who escape death altogether because of The Rapture can avoid unpleasantries like Medicare Death Panels and suddenly attentive heirs-at-law.
Yet still...I'm perplexed, especially now that Harold is back with a new date: October 21, 2011. Only a five month reprieve. It's like a call from the governor at the 11th hour, except instead of a commutation of sentence, we now have to go through the death watch all over again. (By "death watch," of course, I'm referring to the dead rising from their graves, all as foretold. Something you'd definitely want to watch out for.) It's not a Saturday, at least, but it's a Friday, offering further proof that Harold Camping is a major buzzkill.
The actual calculations are in the picture up above. Obviously, the words "atonement, completeness and heaven" play a major role. Atonement, which has 9 letters, is assigned a value of 5. Completeness, which has 12 letters, is assigned a value of 10. And heaven, which has 6 letters, is assigned a value of 17. All of this is straightforward so far. These are also the values I would have assigned to these words, if I had arbitrarily chosen these words and then arbitrarily assigned values to them. I don't see how anyone can doubt that Camping is correct about April 1, 33, unless you're Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, pagan, existentialist, or some other damned soul, in which case who really cares what you think? We then add 1,978 years since the Crucifixion to bring us to our current, End Times.. We then calculate the days from the Crucifixion to April 1, 2011, using (in a neat bit of astronomical precision!) solar years instead of just the sloppy calendar years, because Camping is an engineer. Naturally, we then would add 51 days; I see this addition as akin to the Cosmological Constant or other fixes necessary to make arcane calculations work, and there is nothing extraordinary about that. Einstein did the same kind of thing. Without Camping's Constant, the multiplications described below...okay, I'm getting lost.
We then take our words, chosen at random, and multiply them by the randomly chosen values chosen for each, then square the products of these multiplications (of course) and find that the number of days since the Crucifixion to April 1, 1978 + 51 just happens to equal exactly the square of the multiplied word-value factors chosen by Camping on the basis of deep study. That gave us May 21, 2011. Quod erat demonstrandum. I think what Camping has demonstrated, besides a marked paranoid-schizophrenic tendency, is that The Rapture is calculated more or less along the lines of Easter, which if I remember right is the first Sunday after the first full moon which occurs after the vernal equinox. The good pastor is thus arguing that The Rapture occurs on the first day which occurs after the 1,978th anniversary of the Crucifixion where the date corresponds to the number of days reached by multiplying Camping's word values to reach a product which is then squared. Nothing could be more obvious.
Why 1,978? you may ask. You're suspicious, aren't you, thinking that Camping just wanted The Rapture to occur on his own Watch, so he made sure it would happen, oh, around Now. Well, nice try, but you obviously are not a Biblical scholar or you would realize that May 21, 2011, is in fact the date which corresponds to the multiplication of atonement, completeness and heaven squared + 51 and I thought we already covered that. I can hear you begin to argue that this whole line of reasoning is circular, but I'm not buying it. Camping was spot on. His error is not in his calculations, which were pristine and elegant. He had it nailed. He shouldn't panic and "recalculate." It looks sketchy to grab another date which lacks the rigor of the first. The Rapture was just very subtle. Small trap door, toy bugle, quiet voice, and The Good Book may not have meant "all" the Dead will rise from their graves. The Dead could be just one, and I hope it's Jerry Garcia.