Friday, May 20, 2011

Graduation and the End of the World: May 21

By Jesse Poole, Class of 2011
Gordon College News Service
(This opinion column appeared Saturday, May 21, 2011, in The Salem News.)

The ­­ countdown to graduation is upon us. Do I have time to do the math? No. Do I have time to search “familyradio.com” on the web? Yes. And what I find is a countdown to the end of the world. Doomsday is apparently the day of my graduation.

If I were to believe the giant billboard—the one off of Cabot Street in Beverly—telling of this final, final event, I suppose I’d benefit . . . in some ways. For example, I could stop studying for finals and cease writing papers. I could sit back and enjoy spring, waiting for the Lord to ride down from the clouds on a chariot.

So with two significant events on one day, how do I plan? After all, one is filled with a lot of sitting, smiles and applause. The other probably leans more toward the clapping of thunder, chaos and death.

But because I am as learned as I amand an aspiring journalist­­­­––I knew I had to investigate.
The end of the world all began with a man named Harold Camping, 90, the founder of Family Radio, a commercial-free, listener-supported, religious broadcasting network, based out of Oakland, California. He made a mathematical equation using biblical digits, events and presumed historic dates to predict the Lord’s coming.

Graduation usually involves a lot of joy, but it also includes the sadness, stress and tension of the end of a world––school––and the beginning of a new one––job (and for me, marriage). But this whole doomsday thing might just push us graduates over the edge.

I mean, there are billboards all over the nation screaming at us: “Judgment Day is May 21, 2011. The Bible Guarantees it!” Of course, proclamations such as this are not new. In fact, Camping himself originally predicted the rapture to be on September 6, 1994. When the world continued spinning, he confessed he might have got it wrong and predicted the new end would definitely come with a 2011 rapture.

As a communication arts major, I admire the marketing of Camping’s doomsday prediction. Billboards everywhere. Interviews constant. The word is out. I even saw it advertised on the side of an MBTA bus in Boston.

Of course, many of Camping’s followers have donated much of their money, if not all of it, to Family Radio, since money will be meaningless after the 21st. And we all know that with enough money, anything can happen.

I’m an artist and a writer, however, and do want to make this final observation: the billboards look like they’re advertising the next Schwarzenegger flick. Perhaps they should have hired a graphic designer to create a more artistic image. Something more eye-catching. I’m looking for a job. I could have given it a quick face-lift before the billboards come tumbling down in fire.

Nonetheless, since I’m graduating at 10:00 am on Saturday, May 21, from Gordon College, having spent countless hours earning this degree, I’d at least like to know one thing. If the world is going to end, could the judgment of Massachusetts­ come later in the afternoon? It’d be nice to celebrate first.

And in case the world doesn’t end after graduation, I’m now officially accepting job offers.

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