Tom Bartlett wrote a powerful, heart-breaking article entitled “A Year After the Non-Apocalypse: Where Are They Now?“, which discusses Harold Camping’s end-times prediction of May 21, 2011, and the fallout of the failed prophecy.
Here is an excerpt:
“If you’re absolutely sure the world is going to end on a specific day, and it doesn’t, what do you do? How do you explain it to yourself? What happens to your faith in God? Can you just scrape the bumper stickers off your car, throw away the t-shirts, and move on?
In order to find out, I got to know a dozen or so believers prior to the scheduled apocalypse. I sat at their kitchen tables, attended their meetings, tagged along on trips to Wal-Mart, ate pizza in their hotel rooms, spent hours with them on the phone. Then, after Jesus was a no-show, I stayed in contact with them — the ones who would talk to me, anyway — over the following days and months, checking back in to see how or if their thinking had changed.
I learned a lot about the seductive power of radical belief, the inscrutable vagaries of Biblical interpretation, and how our minds can shape reality to fit a narrative. I also learned that you don’t have to be nuts to believe something crazy.”
As an ex- Seventh-day Adventist, a denomination that is forever connected to the failed prophecy of the Millerite movement, I have many friends and relatives who believe the end of the world is just around the corner – one going so far as to recently tell me that he is “100% sure” that Jesus will come in the next 10 years. So this is a topic that is very dear to my heart.
I have been studying the psychology behind end-times beliefs for a few months now and am planning for it to be the next topic that I address in my “Featured Documents“, but that is still quite some time away. However, I can’t imagine I would ever come close to covering the issue as eloquently as Tom Bartlett did in his article today. So go ahead and check it out.