You may have recently seen a billboard announcing "Judgment Day, May 21, 2011." You may have dismissed it as just-another-end-of-the-world-nutcase.
The billboard is only one of two thousand such billboards in the U.S. and its originator, 89 year-old Oakland-based radio preacher Harold Camping, is anything but a run-of-the-mill nutcase.
Camping is the founder of Family Radio Network and owner of nearly 70 U.S. radio stations with $120 million in assets. With an unforgettable speaking style – his creed apparently rejects as un-Biblical the notion of strong and weak syllables – Camping believes that Judgment Day will arrive on May 21 at 6:00 p.m., with the end of the world following in October.
Based on his own mathematical system of Biblical interpretation, Camping's calculations reveal that the world will end 722,500 days from April 1, of the year 33 CE. Why 722,500? Because it's the result of squaring the product of multiplying holy numbers 5, 10 and 17. Got that? (If you have spare time on your hands, you can download Camping's 80-page treatise at www.familyradio.com/PDFS/waat.pdf for a full explanation.)
If Camping is right, my biggest concern personally isn't my eternal destination – Camping's calculations also reveal that only two percent of us will be pressing the UP button on the Judgment Day elevator – but whether my tax refund will arrive in time for me to spend it at DSW Shoes before I'm consigned to eternal perdition.
Of course, there's a chance that Camping is mistaken – like all others to date – in predicting the end of the world. So far his batting average isn't encouraging. On September 6, 1994, Camping's followers gathered in Alameda to usher in the Second Coming. No word yet on whether they've decided against renting the auditorium in advance this time around.