Harold Campling captured a whole lot of air time and captured a heap of ridicule by daring to declare that Christ would return and the world as we know it would end on May 21st. I am wondering how the people in his operational center are answering the phone today. Whoever is on duty is deeply devoted or a masochist. Triumphant atheists, frightened parents, angry followers probably have the phones pretty well tied up. There are probably a few less anchor men, however, camped outside his door. We’ve now been here for more than 30 hours since his predicted “end time” (unless he got it wrong by a few hours) and my prescheduled post will only be read by those Left Behind.
The tragedy is that many of us truly believe that Christ will return some day, exactly as he said he would. Not that we’re in a hurry to escape or that we could care less about the planet. We are just so in love with Christ that we long to meet Him face-to-face in His time. Mr. Campling’s insistence on rooting his claim on some obscure interpretation of the “codes” found in the Bible add to the tragedy. There is no hidden knowledge to be unearthed by the super-intelligent or spiritually-enlightened. The first century Gnostics tried to steal authentic and life-transforming Christianity by claiming such secrets. Later Dan Brown would disturb a whole lot of people’s faith and confuse many genuine seekers by writing fiction purported to be history, essentially proposing more mystery than the Bible ever claims.
So a whole lot of people will stop expecting His returning and ridicule those of honest faith who are trying to prepare themselves and our world for that event. I wish Mr. Campling had not been so unwise. (If you wish to read an excellent reflection on this whole matter, go to this link from Timothy Dalrymple. He says it very well.
Now Mr. Obama, who has frequently criticized his predecessor for taking on the autocrats and dictators of the Arab World, is taking on Bashur-al Asaad. “It is time for you to go.” It is a message he has also sent to Khadaffi and one he apparently quietly sent to Mubarak. Mr. Obama has the benefit of taking on these dictators at a time when revolution is afoot in the Arab world. Unlike Mr. Bush, who was dealing with a situation where all of these regimes had thoroughly repressed dissent and the tyrant he was taking on was threatening not simply his people, but his neighbors around the world. I wonder why we seem to be applauding Mr. Obama when we felt it necessary to demonize Mr. Bush. Nonetheless, I think that we do need to start telling these autocrats to free their people. Unfortunately, there are darker and more freedom-despising forces in the Arab world waiting to take their place. Geopolitics is never simple.
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the School District has announced that it is eliminating 25% of its teaching positions. And if they cannot balance their budget, there may be more cuts. Many of these teachers will be in the elementary schools, precisely the age where student-teacher ratios are critical to laying foundations for an educated lifetime. This scenario is being repeated throughout the state. Only where teachers have accepted voluntary wage freezes has this momentum slowed a bit. The situation was created in part by a failed economic stimulus package that did not produce a better economy, but then withdrew its incentives precisely when the economy was slowing (and thus reducing tax revenues to support the schools). In Pennsylvania it was precipitated by newly elected Governor Tom Corbett’s huge cuts in education funding for short-term fiscal and political peace but driving another nail in the coffin of competitive excellence by tying the hands of public education. The ensuing crisis has pitted senior citizen vs parents, fixed incomes against families struggling to work and yet see that their children are educated. A fine mess we are in.