Harold Camping in 2011
Here’s an MP3 recording someone captured of Harold Camping’s press conference yesterday, which was broadcast on Family Radio’s “Open Forum” program at 5:30 p.m. And here’s nearly nine minutes of it on raw video from KTVU.

As you no doubt have heard by now, Camping revised his prediction for the Rapture and its accompanying catastrophic earthquake to October 21. Yesterday, my dial twirled all the way down to KEAR 610 AM, a region it has rarely ventured to on the radio, I caught about 45 minutes of Camping’s remarkable give-and-take with the press. And as I listened to the laying bare of his extraordinary way of thinking, revealing of a mind so utterly captive to its own obsessions and, some would say, delusions, a couple of thoughts:

  1. To tap into one way of describing Camping, you have to turn to the people of the Old Testament, not the New. Going out publicly on a supernatural limb that’s already been felled by a reality axe, ignoring though not oblivious to the widespread mockery and condemnation — that takes chutzpah.
  2. Say what you like about the man, he’s a masterful communicator. As I took in his mild-mannered, flawlessly polite and slightly professorial deflections of all attempts to tag him with responsibility for what can fairly be characterized as a worldwide debacle, his appeal as a soothsayer briefly flickered into focus. Out of Camping’s mouth, fire and brimstone sounds a bit like hearth and home.

With a perfect record of 0-2 (he also whiffed on predicting doomsday in 1994), one tends to think Camping will attract much less attention with his tripling down on the new date. One sign of diminished expectations: The subject currently is nowhere to be found on Google Trends.


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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