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The Rapture Will Be Televised

Well now you see what you wanna be
Just have your party on TV

—Blondie, Rapture

Harold Camping, the 89-year-old civil engineer who has reported on his Family Radio network that humankind faces its judgment day tomorrow, says he plans to be watching the spectacle of the rapture on television.

In an interview on the online news program TYT Now, he tells the host, Tina Dupuy, that the rapture will actually begin about 6 p.m. local time, which is to say that it will start on the International Dateline and roll across the planet. By our calculations, that means we should begin hearing reports of devastation and ascensions shortly after midnight EDT tonight.

The idea of the rapture as an aerial event is based on 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which says that Christ will return to collect believers and carry them to Heaven: ”Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

Mr. Camping, who says “the Bible has been my university for over 50 years,” predicts a great earthquake, and asserts that those who are to be saved will be converted into spiritual bodies and summoned upward.

From the space shuttle Endeavour this would appear like a giant wave passing around a stadium, with people lifting off from east to west according to time zone, apparently respecting such constructs as Daylight Saving Time.

Plenty of people are upset by Mr. Camping’s attempt to pinpoint the beginning of the end times with the precision of the U.S. Naval Observatory Master Clock — evangelical Christians in particular.

Thomas B. Slater, a professor of New Testament at Mercer University, is among the critics. “The end of times is something that we all expect and hope for and look forward to, but most Christians aren’t in the business of trying to predict that date,” he tells the Christian Post. “They are working toward that date.”

In the same article, R. Albert Mohler Jr.,
 president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Ky., says the timing of the rapture is up to God, and He’s not telling anyone. “We are not to sit on rooftops like the Millerites, waiting for Christ’s return,” says Mr. Mohler. “We are to be busy doing what Christ has commanded us to do.”

The blog spoonbot.com has devised a helpful FAQ for professors to share with their students regarding Saturday’s forecast event. An excerpt:

Q: With the rapture coming, should I bother working on my final paper?

A: Yes. The odds are you will not be judged worthy of ascent to heaven, in which case your grades will still be a basis of judgment for rewards in this earthly sphere.

Q: What if my instructor is raptured?
A: None of our instructors bear much chance of being judged worthy. However, on the off chance your instructor is chosen, an army of unemployed secular Marxists is waiting to take his/her place.

Elsewhere, people are trying to figure out what cocktails to serve on the big day. Lauri Lebo, writing on Religion Dispatches, offers recipes for Death in the Afternoon and Blue Heaven. She’s also taking requests for a playlist.

So how about it folks — what do you plan to drink and listen to when the rapture comes rolling in? —Don Troop

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