Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Harold Camping

Although the Dark End of the World Predictions Failed, There’s Light for Tredyffrin’s Special Election

If you are reading this, the end of the world predictions failed to pan out for Harold Camping. The religious broadcaster made the world’s biggest mistake, twice. Camping got the date wrong in 1994 when he said the world would end that year, and later explained its continued existence by saying he had made a mathematical error.

However, the May 21, 2011 prediction was different; Camping and his followers lavishly spent more than $100 million on billboards and radio advertising. Now Camping is left shaking his head, bewildered, that things did not go according to his prediction and the world did not end at 6 PM on May 21. With no Plan B in place, Camping may be forced to find some obscure, overlooked translation or an error in his math and then move the apocalypse date to a new date.

To follow up on last week’s special election in Tredyffrin, by the time you read this, there may be further news. It is my understanding that at 9 AM this morning (Monday), the two at-large supervisor candidates, Democrat Molly Duffy and Republican Mike Heaberg are meeting with Chester County voter service representatives. (The special election determined who would fill the vacated seat of Warren Kampf until January 2012). Also in attendance for the voter services meeting will be a representative from the local Democratic and Republican parties. Additionally, Duffy and Heaberg will each have an attorney present. Voter services will be conducting a hand count of the votes from the special election with Duffy, Heaberg and others in attendance.

I am not clear if voter services is hand counting the votes from all 17 precincts or only the precincts where is evidence of voting machine malfunctions. As it now stands, the unofficial vote count from last week’s special election indicates 2,266 votes for Duffy and 2,226 votes for Heaberg, a difference of 40 votes. The public needs to know that the total count in the special election is accurate and that all votes were counted, but . . . we as a community need to get to the other side of this issue and accept he voter services hand counting today.

Tonight is the Board of Supervisors meeting . . . will supervisor Heaberg remain on the dais as a member of the Board of Supervisors or, if the hand count with voter services supports the unofficial results that Duffy is the winner, will she take her seat as a supervisor? Originally, all indications were that the official results from the special election would be official and certified in 4-6 weeks. However, the special election hand counting is taking precedent over voter services handling of the primary election results; perhaps there will be an official vote count released today. Stay tuned.

The End of the World is Today, May 21, 2011 . . . Or Not

“Apply yourself both now and in the next life. Without effort, you cannot be prosperous. Though the land be good, you cannot have an abundant crop without cultivation.” ~ Plato

Plato’s words may be put to the test today. The AP wires and major news networks worldwide are running with the story . . . the end of the world is nigh; today, May 21, 2011, to be precise. At least today is the date that Harold Camping, a preacher from Oakland, California is predicting the end will come.

If Mr. Camping were speaking from any normal pulpit, it might be easy for us to dismiss him as just another religious eccentric. However, thanks to America’s airwaves, 2,000 billboards coast to coast and worldwide news reporting, we find his unlikely Doomsday message difficult to ignore.

Camping comes from a long line of seers, sages, preachers and prophets – all of whom time has proven wrong. What makes Camping different is the precision of his prognostications – an exact date and time, providing an uneasy sense of certainty in uncertain times. He is predicting that the end of the world will start today, Saturday, May 21. Camping believes the end will start in New Zealand at 6 PM (local New Zealand time) with the largest earthquake in human history. If we factor in the time difference, what does that mean for us on the east coast? Or . . . is it already Sunday, May 22 in New Zealand?

At 89 years old, Camping delivers his impending end of the world message out to his followers daily via the Family Radio Network, a religious radio organization funded entirely by his listeners, which he founded in the 1950s. Through the generosity of supporters, with assets over $120 million, the deep pockets of Family Radio now owns 66 stations in the US alone. Camping’s programming on Family Radio is delivered in 48 languages, and boasts tens of thousands of followers around the globe, with radio stations in South Africa, Russia and Turkey.

Camping’s prophecy comes from numerological calculations based on his reading of the Bible. When asked about his end of the world prediction, Camping is quoted in Britain’s newspaper, The Independent, “We’re not talking about a ball game, or a marriage, or graduating from college. We’re talking about the end of the world, a matter of being eternally dead, or being eternally alive, and it’s all coming to a head right now.”

Should we be planning how to spend our last hours on Earth?

Before you give away your car or make plans for your last shopping trip to the mall today, you should know that Camping has been wrong before. Yes, Camping’s last prediction for Judgment Day was September 6, 1994, and . . . 16-1/2 years later, the world remains. Such predictions are nothing new, but Camping’s latest has been publicized with exceptional vigor.

Preferring to take the positive, half-full approach to life, I choose to believe that we all will still be here tomorrow, May 22nd. But then again, maybe it already is tomorrow in New Zealand.

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