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Bringing on The Rapture

May 23, 2011
Wow! If Joan thought the liberal media was too sympathetic to Ignatieff – in the sense that the “liberal” media runs the daily-news-spin-cycle and favours all things liberal – I would counter that I thought the media tended to be generally indifferent to Ignatieff because he was a totally forgettable politician; anyway, if Joan thought the media was too sympathetic to Ignatieff, how do we describe the media’s recent infatuation with California preacher Harold Camping and his Family Radio International, and their [surprise!] failed prophecy for the May 21st, 2011 – 8:00pm (pst) Rapture and Christian Apocalypse?

What the fuck was that all about?

I have to tell you that the daily media countdown I witnessed last week, and the larger font size used by the newspapers the closer the heralded day came, was just plain creepy!

Not as creepy perhaps as the recent revelation that the US Military is experimenting with how to use insects as weapons of war – and that American universities receive funding for the research that is currently building super-insects for the coming chemical warfare.

That’s creepy!

(Cockroaches – not surprisingly – have had the most favorable results. But then, cockroaches have always been the supreme soldiers and survivors. Now they have humans actually helping them improve their DNA in order to better survive the coming chemical war between humans. Cockroaches outlived the dinosaurs and with this kind of support they’ll most definitely outlive us.)

Anyway, off topic. – Back to my question: Why was the media so hyped about covering nutjob Camping’s prophecy of the coming of The Rapture? Why all of the news coverage, front page headlines, and editorial comment?

Everyone eagerly played along. Even the New York Times and the Globe and Mail gave it print space.

I assume the Nihilism of it all is apparent to everyone? And that maybe we are all just a bit too eager for that shit to arrive!

Maybe it’s all just another name for the Environmental Endtimes we all see not-so-slowly creeping up in our rear-view mirror glimpse of the future?

And don’t think you don’t know about the environmental end-times! You do know it! You feel it! And, if you’re over forty-years-old, you’ve been around long enough to see it happen.

In my own time – just off the top of my head – I’ve seen the end of fireflies as I knew them as a boy on the farm. Our backfield, a forty acre rectangle surrounded by a sea of maple, oaks and pines, birch and poplars, – aglow on a wet August eave – after a day of storms and cloudbursts and summer heat – when the sky smelled of grass and water – when I was young enough that the ferns were still as tall as my nose – the field aglow like a flickering Milky Way – and somehow I had become a god and I was walking amid a universe – floating stars flickering into, and out-of, existence – lime green sparks exploding into the navy blue-black space all around us.

Time-lapse photo - fireflies in Ontario

A flashmob of fireflies. Thousands of flickering lights. Hovering in the air. Throbbing in the grass. Landing on my arm.

Those fireflies are gone. My mom says she hasn’t seen a dozen fireflies in the last decade. They’re gone.

I haven’t heard a wip-o-will at the farm in thirty years. Apparently, they still exist in Ontario– but we don’t hear them anymore.

Yearly “tornado seasons” in North-eastern Ontario is not something ever before locally known. Sure Hurricane Hazel brushed by in ’54, but this is thunderstorm, rain, and occasional hail country.

My childhood was all about “Waiting-for-Godot” kind of summer weather. Warm. Moist. Occasionally intemperate, but like most Canadians, essentially reserved.

A couple of years ago nineteen (19!) tornadoes ripped through the region. We’ve had them every year now since about 2000, and usually get 4-6 of them every summer.

The Arctic Ocean now swells in-land some 200 kms during summer storms. The local Inuit are awestruck, saying that this has never happened before. Like ever! It has never happened before. Geologists at the University of Ottawa confirmed their observation. It had never happened before. Not, at least, since the last ice age ended.

Shit is happening to the environment.

We all know its hotter now. We have the statistics to prove it. There used to be three to five  30ºC days in eastern-Ontario every summer and they were cherished like gold. Those were the days we made sure we made plans to go to North Bay Beach on Paudash Lake. The heat used to be warm – like a summer shower from a barrel of sun-heated rainwater – but rarely more than that.

In 2005 the farm was pounded by a solid month of 30º weather – and only half the month’s average rainfall.

My mother said watching the heat’s effects on the environment was like watching someone take a punch to the gut.

Full grown maples died where they stood.

The grass went brown, and then turned a color of bleached straw. Almost white.

Farmers had to import July hay from the Eastern Townships to feed the horses in August.

The earth turned to dust. Farmers went broke.

In the last 5,000 years we have eliminated 80% of the world’s forests. And we continue to cut down another 200 square kilometres every day. We have now fished – eliminated – 80% of all fish stocks in all the oceans, and through the burning of fossil fuels, we have added carbon to the atmosphere to the point were we have returned to the carbon levels of the dinosaurs. And these are just the basic verifiable statistics we all acknowledge as commonplace.

Yea baby!

So, we all know why we think the Rapture is coming.

And just like Revelations proclaims, we are all responsible for bringing it on.

But for the media to place the May 21st Rapture within the context of Christian Fundamentalism was simply ludicrous.

Guys like Harold Camping speak in truths but they preach lies.

There is no deeper Divine Plan going on here. What we do to the planet, we do to ourselves, and we are doing it consciously, helplessly, even joyously (the sooner the end-times the better).

Prophecies of The Rapture play into our deep-seated sense of nihilism. Of our fantasies to wipe the slate clean; to start again. It plays to our deep instinctual (biological) need for a Father-Protector, coming to save us from ourselves.

But that age of innocence is long over now. Thomas More wrote in 1516, (Utopia), that the then rapid removal of the forests from the British Isles (for sheep farming) was changing the weather in Britain.

500 years later and the 200 million listeners of Camping’s radio broadcasts all joined hands on May 21st and asked for Divine Intervention to save us: to separate the clean, from the wicked, and start over again. In a new Garden of Eden.

And the media covered it with its same neutral voice it used for covering the spring wild-fires that destroyed Slave Lake, Alberta, the new in-land flooding of the Arctic Ocean, and the nuclear disaster in Japan.

And not a few of us were disappointed when 8pm Pacific Time came and went on Saturday and nothing happened.

But wait! Do not fear! Camping thinks he may have got it wrong (again). The Rapture is coming on October 21st!

Just in time for Halloween.

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