Self-reinforcing delusional and Family Radio babblespout Harold Camping has predicted the "rapture" for tomorrow. (He predicted it for June of '94, but...never mind.) A - God help us - "radio evangelist" (I'm going to run out of quotation marks and parentheses before this is done, I can tell), he has junked up the American cityscape with billboards to this effect. (And seriously, dude, hire a graphic designer.) In fact, my friend's cousin was hired to put them up in Eugene, Oregon, inspiring a dual epidemic of eye-rolling and hand-wringing.
The Web has responded to this with its typical enthusiasm, combining the snackbar wisdom of the hipster with the maudlin goop of the true believer.
The rapture, if you don't know, is a theoretical end-of-the-world construct in which saved Christians rise "into the air" to meet Christ while the rest struggle through the Apocalypse on earth. It's lesser known to many, I think, that this is an idea that no mainstream Christian denomination follows.
My take on this is that it is not a religious thing. It is an idiot thing. But whatever, here's some stuff.
In the U.S., the rapture is the number one search trend on Google, followed by oxycodone. The third, fifth and seventh highest-ranking trends are also related to this particular imaginary event. (With the Mayan cycle misunderstood as an apocalypse thrown in there at #8).
#iftheworldendsonsaturday is the second-highest trending topic on Twitter worldwide.
On their blog, Hitwise Experian outlined some of the traffic trends created by interest in this date.
"Camping's predictions have caused the market share of daily visits to Family Radio to jump 215% for Tuesday, May 17th as compared to Tuesday, April 19th and ranked 13th among websites within the Lifestyles - Religion category, up from 56th one month ago. On Tuesday, 66% of visitors to Family Radio were new to the website or had not visited in the past 30 days."
As far as I'm concerned, life is so fragile and precious that Mr. Camping's species of intellectual and spiritual shabbiness is no less than an affront to God (or the dignity of Man if you prefer). Were I a less Christian man, I would suggest each and every person who sees Mr. Camping on Sunday give him a shot in the chops. But I supposed I'd have to recommend you all sock each other in the face as well, for being glib and adding to the overall baseness of our discourse. And to be honest, I'm going hiking on Sunday.
Incidentally, according to Isaac Newton, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest minds in history, the End will begin no earlier than 2060. So, if you're a believer in the rapture, you have to ask yourself who you'd rather follow: one of the greatest mathematicians to ever live, or some knucklehead who couldn't get his math right the first time.
Bridge photo by Luz VillaDiscuss