Something caught The Shad’s eye the other day as I made my way to work from my new home base in Cambridge to downtown Boston where I am doing my part to eradicate poverty in the world and promote social justice (www.OxfamAmerica.org). It was a billboard that told me the world was going to end Saturday; not any Saturday, this Saturday. Imagine my disappointment. I’m supposed to fly to El Salvador Sunday—what a buzz-kill for the trip if the world ends the day before I leave.
Turns out the message, which tells us to “cry out to God,” is the work of Evangelical Christian broadcaster (and crunchy-nut bar) Harold Camping. Camping owns the Family Radio Network and what says “Family” more than putting up a billboard so the kiddies can see it and toss and turn Friday night (that, and blow off homework for the weekend because, hey, who’s going to be around to collect it)?
But apparently, Camping is not a one hit wonder. He has billboards all across the country and his followers have purchased hundreds of RVs to go to cities all across the country to spread the word—it’s check out time Saturday, people! One follower spent $140,000 for a subway signage campaign in New York City.
It’s lucky that Camping is even around to pull off this con job. He originally predicted the world would end back in 1994. He now says he didn’t have all the info back then but is sure now (he says he calculated the May 21, 2011 through the bible). He was reading Revelation in bad light back in ’94 is all.
The thing that gets me about all this “end of the world” stuff is that the doomsayers—and I mean that literally—can’t seem to get on the same page. Many people believe the world will end in 2012 because that’s when the ancient Mayan calendar ends. Didn’t anyone ever consider that the Mayan guy in charge of the calendar simply got sick of the gig? There’s even another cult that says the world will end this fall (preferably after the World Series).
Let’s have an end-of-the-world summit, get all the people whose lights are on but have nobody home in one room and agree on a date. That way, I can max-out all my credit cards and spend it all on Red Sox tickets, ice cream and pizza, and then follow Entrain around for a while (the summit would have to give us some lead time on this).
Some MBTA commuters weren’t so amused by the Boston billboards. Some even filed complaints with the state, asking that the signs be taken down. Sorry, I’m with the First Amendment on this one. Besides, I need good material.