Harold Camping Should Have Listened to Son House

Eddie James "Son" House (1902-1988)

There’s a particular kind of error in reading apocalyptic literature that seems to be especially American. We see it in all the end-times celebrities, including Harold Camping. That errant approach reads apocalyptic literature like Indiana Jones reads clues on an ancient staff, as if it is a code to be cracked.  So Harold Camping used his engineering degree to say things like:

 …from April 1, 33 A.D. to April 1, 2011 there are exactly 2011 – 33 = 1,978 years, each having 365.2422 days. This equals 722,449.07 days. From April 1, 2011 to May 21, 2011 inclusively (including the first day and the last day) are 51 days. Adding these 51 days to the number 722,449.07 gives us exactly 722,500.07 days, from April 1, 33 A.D. to May 21, 2011 inclusively.

The number 722,500 is made up of two sets of identical significant numbers. Each number is intimately related to God’s salvation plan: 5 x 10 x 17 x 5 x 10 x 17 = 722,500.

(Don’t even get me started on the 153 fish in John 21.) The idea seems to be that, if we can only crack the code we’ll have a pre-written history, the Anti-Christ will lose the element of surprise, and we’ll know when to start painting scripture verses on our vans. Or something like that.

But let’s take a different look at the much-abused Book of Revelation. It was written to an audience suffering under persecution who needed encouragement and assurance. “Is God really in control? Will there be judgment for earthly atrocities? And please tell us again that God will be triumphant.” When read this way, the peek into the heavenly realms and the extraordinary imagery in the book are the stuff of awe, not abstract code-cracking.

Speaking of awe:

 Tell me who’s that writin’? John the Revelator

Tell me who’s that writin’? John the Revelator

Tell me who’s that writin’? John the Revelator

Wrote the book of the seven seals.

You’re not awestruck? Maybe because you haven’t heard Son House singing it. His voice is passionate, authoritative, and even a bit menacing in this story of Adam’s fall, Gethsemane, and the resurrection separated by the refrain. And it’s strictly a capellla. So is Grinnin’ In Your Face:

You know they’ll jump you up and down
They’ll carry you all round and round;
Just as soon as your back is turned,
They’ll be tryin’ to crush you down.
Yes, but bear this in mind,
A true friend is hard to find;
Don’t you mind people grinnin’ in your face.

Those are the words, but the voice says more: being betrayed really does hurt – a lot – but we can’t give way to the anger that fuels retribution. Warning: if you have some unresolved betrayal issues you may start crying. Actually, if Son House sang Mary Had a Little Lamb you might start crying.

So where was I? Oh yeah, trying to win a bet that I can write about Harold Camping and Son House in the same blog entry. Anyway, if you are prone to Indiana Jonesing the Book of Revelation, listen to House’s John the Revelator then try it again.  It’ll cost you 99 cents to buy it but you’ll get that money back when you don’t buy a book by the next Harold Camping.

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1 Comment

Filed under Blues

One response to “Harold Camping Should Have Listened to Son House

  1. Lily

    You won. Hands down. 😉

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