Time’s Up

I’ve wrapped up the English translation of another issue of Reflex, finished editing a scientific paper for a professor here, translated various bits and pieces for various websites there, and (drum roll, please) written the Deepwater Horizon article! Yes, I finally did it. I admitted to the author that I’d lost my notes and asked him for a copy of the journal article, and now the thing is done. I’d share its very interesting conclusions with you now, but I can’t because the article hasn’t been published yet. I promise I’ll tell you the latest bad news on the oil spill once the embargo has lifted.

For the first time in two months, a Monday morning stretches before me without a single deadline in sight. Freedom!

Imagine my shock when my Research Assistant (yes, I’ve given Dave a promotion!) unleashed this on me:

The world is due to end on Thursday. I should do my post then.

My first thought was of course logistical. Is this some new way he’s devised of getting out of doing his post on the E. coli genome? Setting his deadline for after the end of the world? Seems a bit extreme. But then I did a double-take. The end of the world?

Indeed. Dave was a little bit off, but his info is right. According to 90-year old Christian radio broadcaster, civil engineer and former Sunday School teacher Harold Camping, Jesus is going to return to Earth on Saturday, May 21, 2011 and sweep all the righteous up into heaven with him. Five months of fire and brimstone and much gnashing of teeth later, on October 21, 2011, the world and the universe will end. Finito. Just like that.

Although critics say his prediction is impossible (“no man knows the day or the hour of the Lord’s return,” and all that…), Camping apparently has solid evidence from the Bible to support his claim. I’m sure he does; he’s gone through six leather-bound copies of the King James so far in his research. (Research which also proves the world was created in 11,013 BC and the Flood took place in 4990 BC…)

So heads up, people: if you want to avoid some major unpleasantness, you have five days left to wrap up your affairs and get on God’s good side. There’s a countdown on Camping’s Family Radio website in case you lose track.

And I just finished up all my work! Coincidence? I think not!

I will probably send the invoices out anyway, just in case. Camping made a similar prediction in 1994 and it didn’t pan out.

I don’t want to mock the Rapture. Oh, okay, I do, but I’m going to restrain myself in public. I don’t want hate mail. But science and all its real, physical evidence aside, this warped view of geological history is actually quite thought-provoking. On a fundamental (as opposed to fundamentalist) level, living your life like the world might end in five days is not a bad exercise. What would you do? Or perhaps more telling, what would you not do?

Here’s my shortlist of what I wouldn’t do:

1. Pull weeds.
2. Accept boring translating jobs.
3. Play Scramble.
4. Worry about eating too much sugar.

Here’s a shortlist of what I would do:
1. Hug my kids.
2. Tell my loved ones that I love them.
3. Eat some Jelly Bellies.
4. Listen to some really good music.
5. Watch the sky.
6. Breathe the air, deeply.
7. Go for a long walk doing 5 and 6.

It’s kind of obvious, but in all of our lives, there is a given point (you could call it t minus 5), at which we will have only five days left to live.

The jury’s out on what happens at time t: Will you be swept up into the divine Embrace? Get to have endless sex with hundreds of virgins? Knock at the pearly gates, hoping that St Peter hasn’t lost the remote control? Make the transition into your next embodiment? Finally join the allness of the One and the oneness of it All? Simply biodegrade into your constitutive elements? Teleport to the mother ship?
It really doesn’t matter, does it? Thanks, Mr. Camping, for the heads up. I’m going for a walk.

UPDATE, May 16 16h30 GMT

One downside of being raptured is that your pets, not having souls, will get left behind. Not to worry! Eternal Earth-Bound Pets USA has it covered. For a mere $135 (good for 10 years), an avowed atheist pet-lover will come and collect your pet and care for it in the event that you get raptured. Read the Washington Post article (thanks, Ellen for the link!)

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