As I write this, Harold Camping is speaking to the press in the wake of his failed prediction that the rapture would occur on May 21, 2011. I have been amazed at how Camping’s false prophecy has become a cultural and media event. On Saturday night I was doing a book signing in Wilkes-Barre, PA and the entire staff at the Barnes & Noble could not stop commenting on the impending rapture. A fierce debate raged among the salespersons at the “Nook” table as to whether the great earthquake Camping predicted would take place at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time or 6:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. This week I received e-mails and Facebook messages from family and friends soliciting my thoughts on the matter. The preacher I heard on Sunday morning made Camping’s message the central theme of her sermon.
On Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. EST I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of a Panera Bread restaurant in Wilkes-Barre watching a man and a woman in the nearby parking lot of an Outback Steakhouse. They were looking into the sky. I have no idea why there were gazing in this way. Maybe they were watching a plane fly overhead. Perhaps they were noticing a unique cloud formation. But it sure looked like they were waiting for the rapture. At about 6:03 p.m. they stopped staring at the heavens, chatted with each other for a few seconds, and then headed into the restaurant, presumably to get their dinner. If they weren’t going to get their rapture, at least they could get a blooming onion.
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