Compassion for the Camping Camp

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by shodan, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. shodan

    shodan
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    A thoughtful article from the secular world on the Camping debacle. It made me pause and think.

    From 'The New Republic'
    http://www.tnr.com/article/88803/rapture-judgement-day-may-21-media-obsession

    Too Much Judgment
    The media’s shameful, cruel obsession with those awaiting the rapture.
    Tiffany Stanley
    May 21, 2011 | 12:00 am

    |

    More From this Author
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    The trumpets have sounded. Judgment Day is upon us. At least in theory. Harold Camping—an 89-year-old former civil engineer turned radio mogul who seems to command a number of followers—has predicted today, Saturday, May 21, as the day of the Rapture. And the media, as well as the people who consume it, have responded with barely contained glee. Yesterday, references to Judgment Day made up the entire top five of Google’s Hot Searches. At The Washington Post, a story about Family Radio—the Christian broadcast network that Camping owns—was the site’s most popular item. Another piece, on the group’s followers, was the most-emailed from The New York Times. Meanwhile, Huffington Post has devoted an entire webpage to doomsday coverage, under its standard heading: “Some news is so big that it needs its own page.”

    Here at TNR, we thought about joining the circus. Last week, when we learned that Camping was predicting the apocalypse, I was tasked with spending May 21—the day of the Rapture—with a few of his true-believing followers, who have been filling websites, billboards, and city squares, handing out pamphlets, and generally warning the world to repent. What an amazing story, I thought. I’ll spend time with people who believe the world is going to end, and then be able to watch their reactions when it doesn’t.

    But before long, I had second thoughts. First, I ran into some accessibility snags. While the media-friendly end-timers wanted to warn heathens beforehand, they really just wanted to spend their last day on earth surrounded by loved ones, in quiet preparation. Their response to me was something like: Why would you want to follow us around on Saturday? We’re not going to be here anymore. Yes, there was a certain humor to this. But the more I looked into the story, the more it began to turn my stomach to think of spending my Saturday evening in someone’s living room, waiting for that gotcha moment when they realized it was all a lie—leaving me to file a story the next day, poking fun at their gullibility. I decided I couldn’t do it.

    Yet the media coverage has continued, and now to me, the schadenfreude has turned sinister. Based on the high traffic the articles are garnering, it would seem as if many of us are intrigued voyeurs, gleeful in knowing the exact day when these people will experience their life’s greatest disappointment. We feel superior, knowing that even though they told us we were heading for death and destruction, now, they get theirs.

    While some news stories have been nuanced and evenhanded, others have opted for smug superiority and cheap laughs. The Daily Beast featured “Your Guide to the End of the World,” with such salient tips as “Where’s the best place to weather this sucker?” (Note: avoid fault lines.) In its “comedy” section, Huffington Post made an exhaustive set of lists, from “9 Ways to Tell the World is Over” to “21 Reasons Why May 21 is NOT the End of the World” (on the latter: “Justin Bieber wouldn’t let it happen”). A blog item on NPR—under the headline, “The Rapture supposedly starts tonight”—invited readers to take a quiz on who is most likely to be left behind. (By an overwhelming majority, politicians will feel the fiery furnace; journalists, surprisingly, are more likely to be spared, at least ahead of bloggers and those who talk on their cell phones.)
     
  2. shodan

    shodan
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    Another article

    And another article on Camping's Family Radio of which I was unaware:

    From Breakpoint blog by Roberto Rivera

    http://www.breakpoint.org/features-columns/displaced/entry/35/17200


    ... Camping and his network, Family Radio, were repeatedly referred as to “obscure” by both those covering the story and those critical of the coverage. Obviously, the people using that word didn’t grow up in the New York area, at least not when I did.

    When I was growing up in the 1970s, “Family Radio” and “Christian radio” were synonymous. A staple of the network’s programming was a call-in show, one of the few on the air at the time, where the Truly Reformed Camping would argue with his non-Reformed, often Pentecostal, and equally often African-American and Latino listeners.

    My late mother was taken aback by Camping’s dour persona: She would say things like “Roberto, a Camping le falta gozo.” (“Camping lacks joy.”) That didn’t keep her from listening: Decades later, when she visited me here in Virginia, she would invariably ask “¿Roberto, me puedes poner Family Radio?” (“Can you turn on Family Radio?”)

    There’s plenty to criticize about the coverage, especially what the New Republic called its smugness and cruelty. And, yes, Camping’s following is small. But calling Camping “obscure” is not only factually questionable, it doesn’t help us to understand what is going on.

    What’s going on is this: while Camping’s prediction for the 21st didn’t come to pass, the events of that day did fulfill an ancient prophecy, the one from the Book of Pythia. That one says, “All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.”

    The “this,” in this case, is millennialism. In 1844, the followers of William Miller anxiously awaited the Second Coming. Miller himself had predicted that it would occur “sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 22, 1844.” When the latter day came and went, one of Miller’s followers, Samuel Snow, armed with calculations based on Miller’s methodology, fixed the exact date for October 22, 1844.

    Unlike recent events, this really was a big deal: Miller had as many as a million followers and, as Daniel Walker Howe documents in What Hath God Wrought, antebellum America was a place that took the Millennium seriously. In anticipation of October 22,
    many Millerites declined to plant their fields in 1844, believing that the world would end before winter arrived. Of those who had planted in the spring, many left their crops to rot at harvest time, acknowledging before God that soon neither the righteous nor the damned would require earthly sustenance. Cattle and other farm animals were slaughtered to feed the hungry. Believers settled their worldly debts and gave the remainder of their money and property away, often to help their poorer brethren pay their bills. . . . In the final days before the expected end-time, families abandoned their homes and moved into churches, fields, and other communal places of worship to await judgment among the devout.

    When October 22 also came and went, the response to the “Great Disappointment” was varied. Some people lost their faith altogether; others kept their Christian faith but lost faith in Miller and his followers; and still others came up with explanations for why Christ hadn’t visibly returned on October 22, the most popular being that his return had been a “spiritual one” and that “October 22 marked the day that Christ had assumed his place in the holiest compartment of the heavens, from whence he would begin judging conditions on earth in preparation for his return.” This explanation gave rise, among other things, to Seventh Day Adventism.

    If some of the explanations sound familiar, that’s because we are already hearing similar explanations from Camping’s followers. But the similarity ends there: Nineteenth-century millennialism was a very different kind of beast than its contemporary counterpart....
     
  3. TCassidy

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    Camping, in my opinion, is an unregenerate (believes Christ is the incarnation of the archangel Michael) conman who has bilked his followers out of $117 million dollars in the past 15 years. I don't have a lot of pity for him or for those so spiritually blind that they followed him as he made a fool of himself, his followers, Christians, and the cause of Christ. :(
     
  4. Jerome

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    An interesting perspective from the president of Westminster Seminary (Calif.), who was led to the Lord by Mr. Camping:

     
  5. billwald

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    Camping's theories are far from "reformed."
     
  6. shodan

    shodan
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    The closing quote from the Westminster article:

    "After Camping began to work full-time with Family Radio, he spent much time studying the Bible. His knowledge of Bible verses is impressive indeed. But his study of the Bible was undertaken in isolation from other Christians and theologians. He adopted a proud individualism. He did not really learn from Bible scholars. He studied the Bible in isolation from the church and the consensus of the faithful. As a result his understanding of the Bible became more and more idiosyncratic. No one could help, direct, or restrain him. He was really an autodidact, that is, someone who teaches himself. He never really submitted his ideas to be challenged and improved by others. He was truly his only teacher. He has repeatedly said that he would be glad to change his views if he is shown that he is wrong from the Bible. But this humble statement covers a very arrogant attitude, because no one can ever show him that he is wrong. He alone really understands the Bible."

    Just to note, also, that this thread was not in anyway defending Camping. The focus was on the 'camp' not the man and the point was that this travesty is not something to make sport of.
     
    #6 shodan, Jun 11, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2011

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