Tuesday, May 24, 2011

24 MAY 11: Spring Race, Fall Race

He put small warning ads in the Columbus Times - but consider the things Elijah Johnson could have done. The Columbus business owner was ready to wrap his pickup truck with the message: "Judgment Day, May 21." But he never did it - which I'm guessing actually makes its resale value a lot lower now.

I went back to Johnson's Camera Repair on University Drive Monday, to get the owner's view on what went wrong over the weekend. Elijah Johnson bought into the Harold Camping timeline that Jesus would "rapture" true believers away. At least one of his relatives thought it happened Saturday - which is what happens when you're away from your phone for a while.

Elijah Johnson told me he ordered "Judgment Day" bumper stickers, for making one of those "auto wraps." But he never got around to taking his pickup to a detailing shop. "I'm glad I didn't," Johnson admitted. For one thing, trips to the car wash would have increased from so many teenagers throwing eggs at it.

The racks with Family Radio literature were noticeably absent from the front counter of Elijah Johnson's shop Monday. But he still had the network's Internet streaming audio on, as he waited to hear Harold Camping's explanation of what happened. It's a little like asking political candidates why they haven't fulfilled their promises.

Elijah Johnson admits one or two of the tracts published by Family Radio to defend "Judgment Day" didn't seem to make sense. Johnson gave me one of those tracts a couple of years ago -- "God Gives Another Infallible Proof." It fell in my white paper recycling bag during this year's spring cleaning.

But believe it or not, Harold Camping still may be infallible after all. After admitting he was "flabbergasted" by the lack of a great earthquake and rapture, Camping said on his live radio talk show Monday night "Judgment Day" DID begin - only with God judging the world in a spiritual way. Talk about giving new meaning to "the quiet storm"....

Harold Camping still insists we're now in the midst of 153 days of judgment, which will culminate with the salvation of believers and destruction of the world 21 October. He says the number 153 has Biblical significance - so please ignore the fact that his two momentous dates happen to occur around the times of NASCAR races near Charlotte.

(If I were Harold Camping, I wouldn't take that message of judgment and destruction on tour to Tuscaloosa anytime soon.)

So instead of apologizing and repenting for setting a date which he claimed "the Bible guarantees," Harold Camping is in effect saying he was right all along. He simply was too focused on physical things occurring -- as if his physical body was the one which was destined for heaven, anyway.

I didn't speak with Elijah Johnson after Harold Camping's "Open Forum." But Johnson told me another message on Family Radio earlier in the day made a lot of sense - that "God's timing is not our timing." Either Camping didn't hear that message, or he's found the first staff member to be eliminated as donations dry up.

Put yourself in Elijah Johnson's shop for a moment. Would you accept Harold Camping's explanation, postponing the salvation of believers five months? Especially since his prediction of a second coming in 1994 was wrong? After two strikes, Camping appears ready to go down swinging.

(When friends bring up Harold Camping's 1994 prediction, I note how one apocalyptic event actually did occur that year. The baseball season was cut short, with the World Series canceled.)

As of now, the 21 October date of "doomsday prophet" Harold Camping would occur at the end of a personal fall vacation. Maybe I should stay one extra day after all - but sleep outside. After all, I wouldn't want to risk being charged for extra nights while I'm covered by a crumbling motel room.

While you start preparing for another "end of the world" party, let's check other Monday news:

+ Phenix City Manager Wallace Hunter defended the practice of assistants working in multiple city offices. He told WRBL the extra positions have only $1,000 stipends, instead of spending $450,000 for separate people in those positions. So if these executives can multitask, can the rank-and-file city workers have permission to play computer games while on duty?

+ Leading Atlanta chefs visited "Georgia's Finest Organic Farms" in Waverly Hall. One of the founders of the organic farm is former Columbus car dealer Chris French - who's probably now saying to workers at harvest time, "Let's dig 'em all up."

+ Columbus torpedoed Thomson 6-0 and 16-0, to advance to the Georgia AAA high school baseball finals. Kyle Carter struck out 15 batters in Game 1 - and I'm sure the fans appreciated those whiffing bats on a hot May afternoon.

+ Columbus will host the finals beginning Saturday, taking on Spalding. It's time to make this a real rivalry, and make sure all the players have Wilson gloves.)

+ Instant Message to the Columbus Lady Wings: I guess you lost that first home game Saturday night. None of the TV stations seemed to pay attention to it. But at least you were honest enough to post the score on Facebook, without bragging about it being an "all-time high score."

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