Coming Saturday: Jesus Christ?

Some people are saying that “The Rapture” will happen on Saturday, May 21.  That’s right:  they believe that Jesus Christ himself will reappear in two days, identify the faithful, and take them up to Heaven.

Apparently this prediction originated with an 89-year-old guy from Oakland named Harold Camping, who started Family Radio Worldwide, a radio ministry.  Camping performed some kind of complicated calculations based on his reading of the Bible and concluded — “beyond a shadow of a doubt,” he says — that Saturday will be The Day.  It sounds similar to the work of Bishop Ussher, who performed similar calculations and determined, with scientific precision, that the world began on Sunday, October 23, 4004 B.C.

The Rapture is not quite the End of the World, however.  As I understand the concept, The Rapture describes the event when all humans are judged and those found worthy go to Heaven.  Some believers envision the process as involving people disappearing as they go about their everyday lives.  (If it happens on Saturday, it won’t be a good time to be out driving.)  Then, after The Rapture occurs, the rest of us apparently get to stay on Earth to deal with a period of disaster and chaos and turmoil before the world eventually ends.

Wouldn’t you know it?  Russell is supposed to graduate on Sunday!

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous

Americans have always been interested in the lives of the rich and famous — particularly when the story involves their misdeeds.  The arrest for sexual assault of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the now-former head of the International Monetary Fund, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s belated confession to fathering an out-of-wedlock child are just two of a long line of tawdry scandals that have captivated American audiences.

The sordid tale of Strauss-Kahn provides an especially rich trove of detail.  He was staying in a $3,000-a-night hotel room when the incident occurred.  He flies first-class on Air France whenever he wants.  He jets around the world, passing judgment on the economies of sovereign nations and spending other people’s money.  He’s French, and a Socialist.  And, according to the hotel housekeeper who is his accuser, when she entered what she thought was an empty room he burst out of the bathroom like some Gallic satyr, assaulted her, and engaged in forced sexual contact.  His apparent defense is that the encounter was consensual.  And, to complete the required story line, his resignation statement professes his innocence but says he is giving up his post for the good of his wife, whom he loves “more than anything,” and the IMF.

One point that distinguishes the Strauss-Kahn tale from the others is that he is French, and therefore people from both sides of the Atlantic are reacting to his arrest.  Initially, many in France seemed to blame his arrest on American prudishness and to complain that he wasn’t being treated in a deferential way that acknowledged his lofty position in the world.  More recently, the prevailing view seems to be shifting away from reflexive sympathy for Strauss-Kahn having to deal with the unsophisticated, benighted Americans to a realization that the conduct of which he is being accused is, in fact, criminal and is properly treated as such.  If this incident causes the French to be a bit more concerned about sexual assault crimes, and a bit less willing to give a pass to the misconduct of the high and mighty, that would be a good thing.