My latest photo essay at Pajamas Media:
The media has been in a tizzy over the Rapture predictions made by end-times prophet Harold Camping, whose followers expected to ascend to heaven after God destroyed the world on Saturday at 6pm. Mostly, it’s just been a convenient excuse to bash Christians, even though the vast majority of Christians think Camping is a kook:
I suspect that the media feeding frenzy … has less to do with an impulse to lampoon the ridiculous than an impulse to ridicule Christianity in general. Despite Camping and his followers being an extremely small fringe group, the media has covered this story as if the entire Southern Baptist church made this prediction. Stanley also concurs that this should be an extremely small story, not a dominating narrative, but also predicts that we’ve just seen the beginning of it. Come tomorrow morning, we’re going to see a deluge of snarky reports about the silly end-timers who got left behind — excuse me, Left Behind — which will all carry an unstated theme of “oh, those silly Christians and their silly beliefs!”
So, the media have a self-serving justification for turning a small story into front-page news. But they do have a big logistical problem with the Rapture: it has no locus, no “main stage” where the whole drama will play out. Instead, Camping’s followers are scattered one-by-one across the country, each waiting for Rapture or disappointment in private. So where can you as a reporter stand facing the camera with a meaningful backdrop to show you’re in the middle of the action?
Well, Oakland, California famously has “no there there,” but it does have the only “there” for the Armageddon story — the headquarters of “Family Radio,” the Oakland studio where Camping records his radio shows which are then broadcast around the world. So I — along with a veritable circus of pranksters and true believers — decided to await the rapture at Armageddon HQ, the Family Radio offices on Hegenberger Road near the Oakland Airport. (Two other photographers also showed up and contributed their pictures to the report below.)
Turns out that neither Camping nor any of his followers were on hand, but that didn’t diminish the completely ridiculous media circus that ensued — a self-feeding fiasco that encapsulated the Armageddon-mockery frenzy we’re witnessing on a wider scale across the country.
Read the rest here!
Some photos to whet your appetite:
A man wearing a priestly cassock positioned himself in front of Camping’s offices and began to pompously declaim in churchly Latin — but who’s going to take you seriously with pornographic love dolls drifting in the background?
Bishop Joey held court in his Oakland A’s-styled “Atheists” shirt, the perfect interview subject for the throngs of media crews looking for something to focus on.