Tag Archives: end of the world.

Harold Camping’s Church

I watched Harold Camping respond to reporters yesterday after the earthquakes and the rapture never came on May 21st. The poor reporters didn’t have a chance. Harold has been answering questioners like them for years. At the end of the interview he thanked them for being so gracious. They didn’t rattle him at all.

His answer to their main question was that everything occurred spiritually. There was a spiritual earthquake. He hasn’t given up.  The world’s going to end in October. He’s sure of it.

Harold claims to know all this from his calculations from the bible. He’s also dead against the Christian churches–all of them–which he says are inhabited by Satan. All you need are the bible and Harold for going through this world and  getting into the next.

In one way, Harold is a perfect example of why we need churches. He’s also an example of why private interpretation of the bible is rejected by the Catholic Church. Once you say that every individual has the primary role in interpreting the bible, you are on the way to creating as many churches as there are people like Harold.

The other danger Harold illustrates is that he make the bible he holds on his lap the sole authority for everything spiritual. Yes, it’s God’s word. But where did that  book come from, you want to ask him? It didn’t appear mysteriously from heaven. It was a book that came from believers. Parts of it were “memoirs of the apostles,” parts of it were “writings of the prophets,” letters from Paul and others. It’s a library of different experiences and expressions.

You need a living church to help you interpret it and give you balance. You need a living church to express and develop its wisdom. You need more than Harold.

Harold Camping’s Judgment Day

Harold Camping is predicting judgment day today around 6 PM. Signs are up in the buses and on billboards in our area.

I watch his program every once in awhile because he’s an unlikely prophet. He’s an old man with a face like shoe leather and a gravely slow voice who always thanks those who call in to his program “for sharing.” But really there’s not much sharing. It’s mostly Harold shuffling through the bible he has on his lap and droning out his commentaries on bible verses. His big news is the end of the world coming today.

He’s dead against the Christian churches of any denomination. Satan’s got into the churches, he says. He’s arrived at today’s judgment day by an absurd set of calculations. But unfortunately he’s got an big audience out there who have lost confidence in institutions like churches and governments and are afraid.

Harold preys on their fears. He announces a God who only will save a few. Get ready, Harold says. He’s coming today in earthquakes. And while you’re getting ready, send some money in to Family Radio so that they can announce the news to the world.

It would be laughable, if you did not listen to the callers on Harold’s show. Last night a couple were asking about their three year old baby. “Will our baby be saved?” Their baby can’t speak yet for herself and can’t pray so they have her close by as they read their bible and pray fearfully for salvation. But how can they help their baby be saved?

“Let not your hearts be troubled,” Jesus said in our readings at Mass yesterday. “In my  Father’s house there are many mansions.”

Harold’s God isn’t mine.

St. Joseph

For awhile, I’ve been studying a television preacher on one of the cable stations we get– Doctor Harold Camping, who is predicting the end of the world on May 21, 2011.  He’s found this news in the Bible, he says, and tries to prove it through fast and far-fetched calculations. He’s against churches and their services and their sacraments, like baptism. The age of the churches is over, according to him, just believe in the bible, it’s all there.

Questioners call in and he ends the session thanking them for sharing, but there’s not much sharing going on. It’s Dr. Camping’s monologue.

He’s not interested in recent biblical scholarship either. His main point is to get ready for May 21th by living a good life, otherwise you’re going to be burned to a crisp.

Today’s the feast of St. Joseph and I’m sure Dr. Camping isn’t interested in saints either. In fact, when he talks about the bible, he pays little attention at all to the people in it. The bible is just for us, waiting for the world to end.

But a world of witnesses produced this book, and Joseph was among them. He’s a guide, not only to the bible but the faith it represents. He’s a “son of David,” whom God calls from the small village of Nazareth to play an intimate part in the birth and life of Jesus.

In fact, in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth, Joseph is more prominent than Mary. He provides Jesus with a genealogy going back to Abraham. He is told by the angel not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife; he shouldn’t divorce her as Jewish law called for, and he should name the child, Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins.”

After the visit of the Magi, he’s told to take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Then, the angel tells Joseph to return to Israel after Herod’s death. Finally, he makes his home in Nazareth in Galilee, where his family would be safer away from Herod’s heir, Archelaus, who ruled in Judea.

Clearly, according to Matthew’s gospel, Joseph has a major role in the birth and early life of Jesus Christ. Is that role over?
“Whenever the divine favor chooses someone to receive a special grace, or to accept a lofty vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the Spirit needed to fulfill the task at hand,” says St. Bernardine of Siena in the readings for today’s feast.

“This general rule is especially verified in the case of Saint Joseph, the foster-father of our Lord and the husband of the Queen of our world, enthroned above the angels. He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying: ‘Good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your Lord.’”

St. Bernardine goes on to say that the church today honors Joseph as the fulfillment of the “ noble line of patriarchs and prophets” of the Old Testament. Christ honors him in heaven as he did on earth.

“Remember us, Saint Joseph, and plead for us to your foster-child. Ask your most holy bride, the Virgin Mary, to look kindly upon us, since she is the mother of him who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns eternally.”

Joseph was blessed with a wonderful interior faith. I don’t think he was too interested in calculating the end of the world.