I’ve been listening to Harold Camping on Family Radio since the early ‘90s, tooling along Route 84 in the wee hours—half-soused, eyes weighting heavy and deep in contemplation about my mortal soul and some girl I was trying to bed. These were heady times, and Camping, with his comprehensive knowledge of scripture, chapter, verse and queer interpretation, was my beacon. There’s only so much highway wind and rock and roll a mind can handle without numbing.
And so Camping’s monosyllabic baritone delivery, weakened now by the advanced age of nearly 90, has been a lifeline to those of us whose sweet embrace of insomnia is ceaseless. His kind barely knows the lives he may have saved or the property his distant broadcasts kept intact; the disc jockey preacher man’s words resonating out over Marconi’s sacred device. Once in late ’93 I flipped a Toyota truck off an icy curve on the back roads of Hudson Valley, NY, and as I crawled from the wreckage and looked back from the darkness, it was Camping’s voice, booming as if God were calling Abraham to murder his son for a lark, that I could clearly hear emanating from the flickering dashboard.
As I say, my dear friends: heady stuff.
This is why when Camping says that Judgment Day is coming on May 21, 2011, I listen.
Hell, I know all about the Rapture, jack. I understand quite well how the shitstorm will go down. I know my Revelations inside out and upside down. I love, as my late friend and mentor, Doctor Thompson, used to say, “The wild power of the language and the purity of the madness that governs it and makes it music.” It may well be the finest piece of literature printed in English; completely insane and a dangerous thing to digest at all hours in lonely hotel rooms; Gideon style.
Do yourself a favor when you’re done reading this; go find a copy of any version of the Bible you have around and open Revelation to a random page and enjoy. All the best psychopaths from Hitler to Manson to Billy Graham were well acquainted with Revelation. It is the reason Western Civilization is obsessed with drugs and religion, guilt and agony, violence and masturbation; it expertly explains weird shit like politics, money and Colonel Kurtz’s horror.
But pick up the pace, because according to Camping you shall be judged on May 21. In fact, when most of you read this in print it will be too late. And for that, I am truly sorry. Even Noah had friends and readers; and none of them made it onto the ark; every last one of them drowned, a terribly agonizing way to go—God style.
Me? I’m ready to be judged. My moral house is in order. The cosmic shift in the spiritual muse is a personal liaison. It’s all part of the divine plan, and the main reason there are times when I find myself hoping to be judged, harshly. Bring it on. I just want to see my score. It will be high. Very high. This comes from an almost expressly comfortable intimacy I’ve forged with sin. “Love your enemy;” this is my motto. That, and “Do not drive Toyota trucks on icy roads whilst balancing a tumbler of Bombay Sapphire on your lap.”
Trust me when I say, God’s waiting on me.
Firstly, any true God will recognize my kind; demanding and irritable with completely unrealistic expectations. I have anger issues and am not particularly fond of explaining myself or what the hell I want from people. Let them figure it out. I also love claiming to have done stuff that I cannot particularly prove I’ve done. I basically take credit for anything that I can think of and then get pissed when challenged on it.
Secondly, I’ve spent the last 40 years sharpening my ego skills and have developed a megalomaniacal streak similar to that of any worthwhile omniscient being. I also have a concrete set of obligations to worshiping me: Have no other scribe before thee—Use my name in vain, and—Under no circumstances kill me.
Finally, I have not ignored the main aspect of humanity, and that is, as I have written in this space numerous times over the past 13 odd years, it is wholly overrated. My personal correspondence with the omnipotent one has broached the subject of the feline versus the human. I have clearly stated and I think fairly laid out a strong argument that it is far better to lick one’s balls and sleep 18 hours a day than to develop a computer chip. And reason? That’s for the birds. The birds or Plato, who thought it a good idea to make up the concept of an afterlife, effectively infecting every world religion for the next 2,500 or so years. I know for a plain fact that this “reason” thing is wasted on us. For a prime example, put on cable news; you pick one, any will do.
This brings me to my own judgment of how the current deity has run things; badly. I have plenty of critiques about famine, war, earthquakes, the Pope, whatever the hell the Mormons are, Stonehenge, what went down with Lenny Bruce—never mind Jesus—my distressing lack of height, the general disarray of all supposed holy lands, and lima beans.
Okay, there’s the good stuff too.
So on Saturday, I plan on cranking up AC/DC and dancing with my daughter, lather up a good sweat and shred our throats, before taking a minute to explain why at three years in she has to be judged and then plunged into some weird Rapture kick. Then I’m going to read the best paragraphs of The Great Gatsby to the wife, smoke an Ashton to the nub, pour some celebratory wine into a clay jug and go out in style.
Then again, there’s always a pretty good chance Camping is a nut and I’m a wiseass prick who will both be waking Sunday feeling cheated.
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus and Midnight For Cinderella.