Wednesday, May 11, 2011

11 MAY 11: Last and Ten?

"I'm done." That was the simple greeting Tuesday from a Columbus business owner. It's not because he's about to retire, even though he's 79. And it's not because he makes his living cooking steaks or barbecue....

Long-time blog readers know we've followed Elijah Johnson since 2009, as he prepared for what he considers the rapture and the end of the world [22 Oct 09]. If his thinking is right, today marks ten days until Jesus comes again. If it's wrong, he'll have to worry about Social Security checks after all.

A large asterisk fills the 21 May square on the wall calendar at Johnson's Camera Repair in the Mission Square Shopping Center. Customers might guess it marks a relative's graduation or wedding. But Elijah Johnson believes the teaching on Family Radio that "Judgment Day" is a week from Saturday - and for once, it's not referring to a pay-per-view pro wrestling card.

The black hat on Elijah Johnson's head said "30 days" Tuesday. But he pointed me to the Family Radio website, which showed the real countdown at 11 to go. There could still be time for Coke Zero to send him a hat for the 21st....

(Johnson listens to Family Radio online, even though WFRC-FM in Columbus is owned by the network. It tends to dominate the noncommercial side of the dial on my home radios - as if it's attempting to cover up "The Truth.")

Elijah Johnson told me someone else is behind the "Judgment Day" yard signs you may have seen around the Columbus area. One along Veterans Parkway downtown was removed the other day. But there's still one at the west end of the Dillingham Street Bridge - facing the amphitheater, as if Russell County government workers are major-league sinners.

Two women walked inside Johnson's Camera Repair while I was there Tuesday. One needed a camera repaired before her daughter gives birth in three weeks. Elijah Johnson admitted later he's not sure what to say at moments like that. Does he tell them the baby is doomed to die by October, as Family Radio claims? Or does he quietly staple a tract to the bill?

(While 21 May is the alleged Judgment Day, Family Radio goes farther and claims God will destroy the world 21 October. President Harold Camping is literal about that - as opposed to the world ending for Auburn football fans when several 2010 wins are revoked.)

What concerns Elijah Johnson more is the attitude of one of his daughters. She plans to take a grandchild to Valdosta State University 21 May, because the grandchild might enroll there. "From my perspective, that's a complete waste of time," Johnson admitted. Many college students in their first semester probably would agree....

Some people who believe the Family Radio timeline have suspended all their future plans, expecting a big earthquake to roll from east to west around the world when they're raptured in ten days. Elijah Johnson expects to be at his camera repair shop as usual that day. He explained he's following the Bible verse, "Occupy till I come" - only he plans to escape that talk of a future city occupation tax.

I left Johnson's Camera Repair telling the owner I'll see him again, either "up there" or "down here." Elijah Johnson didn't like the way I put that, suggesting it was irreverent. Admittedly, I told a church pastor later in the day I'm focusing on "praying instead of packing."

Let's assume for a moment Elijah Johnson is right and all the skeptics are wrong. If believers are raptured in ten days and this world has five months to go, what will the people "left behind" do? Will Southeastern Conference football fans lobby to start the season two months early, so their Iron Bowl tickets in November don't go to waste?

We'll follow the countdown to.... well, whatever. In the meantime, here are other things which had our attention Tuesday:

+ What's this I'm hearing about ambulances being called to Aflac, because the fast pace in the call center is making employees pass out? The bosses need to stop showing Carl Edwards in the Aflac stock car as a motivational tool.

+ Columbus tied a record with a high temperature of 94 degrees F. Yet I hung tough and refused to turn on the home air conditioner. We Northerners know you simply don't turn it on before Memorial Day weekend

+ Columbus Council unanimously confirmed Dr. James Worsley as the new Parks and Recreation Director. WRBL discovered Worsley's salary will be about $6,000 higher than that of Tony Adams. Is that because Worsley has a doctorate? Or is it because he's so tall, and the city is paying by the inch?

+ Chattahoochee Council Boy Scout leaders told WDAK's "Viewpoint" they're buying the old SouthTrust bank building at 13th Street and First Avenue. How convenient! The next time there's a "Scouting for Food" drive, scouts won't need to make a delivery to Second Harvest - because beggars probably will camp out near the door.

+ Paul Hampton of Columbus High School was named Muscogee County Teacher of the Year. Hampton is a drama teacher - so I assume he was treated like a Tony Award winner, and given only 45 seconds for an acceptance speech.

+ While teachers were honored at the Trade Center, the Ledger-Enquirer presented its Page One awards to top high school seniors at the RiverCenter. Shouldn't there be some way to combine these two events? We could have both groups march down Ninth Street, and give each other a big hug.

+ The Georgia High School Association voted to expand to six classifications in the fall of 2012 - which will mean a "Class 6-A." As if the state legislature didn't already have enough work to do this summer, with redistricting....

+ Victoryland announced it will end regular live greyhound racing this weekend. But you'll still be able to bet on televised horse and dog races elsewhere - and no, you will NOT be allowed to change the channel to the Milton McGregor trial.

+ The Atlanta Hawks were shelled in Chicago 95-83 in Game 5 of their N.B.A. playoff series. It's a good thing there's already a Rose Garden in Portland, because Derrick Rose's fan club might start a campaign to rename the United Center after him.

+ WTVM/WXTX news anchors wore purple on the air, to mark World Lupus Day. So please stop the speculation it was a sneaky statement of solidarity with Edward DuBose -- you'll only annoy some people.

+ Instant Message to WXTX: OK, I guess I'll have to humble myself and watch the 10:00 p.m. news tonight. You apparently know more about making money from blogging than I do.

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