Tag Archives: disappointment

For Some People It’s Not So Funny

24 May

It’s almost too easy to make fun of Harold Camping. For the second time the world has, with absolutely no fanfare whatsoever, failed to come to an end despite his predictions. He was so sure of it this time. He said that “there is no possibility that it will not happen.”

Now, I am one of the most Biblically illiterate people around. I know some basics, of course, having been educated in a girls-only Catholic school that’s short on life training and high on guilt training. The Bible story that I know best is the one where Jesus turns water into wine, but I have a vested interest in that one.

As vague about the Bible that I am, even I know that there’s some passage in there somewhere that says the Rapture will pretty much sneak up on us without warning, and that even Jesus doesn’t know when it will happen.

Why Harold Camping thinks he knows something that Jesus doesn’t is beyond me. But anyway.

Now he is saying that his date was off by five months, and that the Rapture will actually happen on October 21st, the date that was originally supposed to be the earth-turning-into-great-ball-of-fire date.

What’s he going to say come October 22nd? That he had the year wrong?

I confess that in the last week or so, I have made much mockery of all of this. On Saturday I posted a Facebook status update suggesting that everyone fail to answer their phones after 6:00 p.m., just to mess with their friends. I posted links to post-Rapture animal rescue services, and I shared Rapture-related jokes. I tweeted about what I planned to wear to the Rapture, and pondered the question of whether I would still be able to go on Facebook when it was all over.

Not that I expected to go anywhere. With all of my skepticism and mockery, if the Rapture ever does happen, the most I’ll see of God is his middle finger.

As easy as it is to poke fun, though, there is a serious side to all of this.

There are people who really and truly believed Harold Camping’s prophecy. Some of them based their entire belief systems on the idea that they would be taken to Heaven on Saturday. Some non-believers might be tempted to dismiss these people as stupid, but that’s hardly fair. I would venture to say that many of them were vulnerable, and got caught up at a time in their life when they really needed something to believe in.

Can you imagine their disappointment when nothing happened? It must have been crushing for a number of Camping’s followers. They are now in a position where they are having to re-evaluate everything they believed in, and in some cases, cope with the onset of depression and anxiety. I think it would be a fair bet to say that there will be a sharp rise in mental illness among Camping’s followers, and that is so, so sad.

What about the people who spent their life savings in the belief that they would need the money after May 21st? Some of them are retired, and they no longer have the nest eggs that they had spent years working hard to put together for their old age.

What about the pregnant lady who gave up medical school, and who now faces life as a new Mom with her chosen career thrown away?

Harold Camping and his prophecy have cost many people a lot – both financially and spiritually.

What of Harold Camping himself? Is he an arrogant opportunist who knowingly deceived his followers, or did he truly believe what he was preaching? Is he deserving of sympathy or criticism?

(Photo credit: Kelly Beall)

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The Parent Who Disappointed

31 Jan

This weekend I had the dubious distinction of being The Parent Who Disappoints.  It’s not a nice feeling, I tell ya.  In fact, it’s downright awful.  I feel like someone’s reached down into my throat and twisted my heart around when I see my five-year-old son standing in front of me with fat tears rolling down his cheeks because of something I’ve done.  Or in this case, failed to do.

James was supposed to go to a birthday party on Saturday afternoon.  The party was being held for a little girl who goes to school and daycare with him.  She is a really, really lovely child with equally lovely parents.  James was excited about going to the party, but the catch was that I would have had to stay at the party with him. He’s not ready to be left without either of his parents at an unfamiliar house (and frankly, I’m not ready for it either).

It’s not that I mind staying at these parties.  In fact, I kind of enjoy sitting there chatting with the other parents while our kids run around and play.

On Saturday, though, I was sick. I was streaming with a cold, using up Kleenexes at the speed of sound, inhaling cough drops like they were Smarties, and feeling as if my head was about to explode.  And by Saturday afternoon I had started developing pink-eye, and my eyes were oozing in a very unsavoury manner.

Would you have wanted me hanging out in a house full of moms and kids in that condition? Would you have even wanted me driving in that condition, with my eyes pretty much sealed shut with gunk?

Gerard was not able to go, because he had an appointment with a client at work.

Gerard’s mom, the only other possible candidate, was at a funeral.

It fell to me, in my sick, dreary state, to break the news to James that I would not be able to take him to the party. James was not angry, and he did not throw a tantrum.  He just started weeping in a very, very sad way.

Now, in addition to being as sick as a dog, I felt like a piece of crap parent. I felt so sad for my little guy that I started to weep myself.

Just in case you were wondering: crying when you have pink-eye is not a good idea.

I apologized over and over to James.  I explained to him the dual problems of putting everyone at risk of illness and not actually being fit to drive.  Later, he assured me that he understood and that he didn’t hate me.  But still.  I felt horrible for disappointing my baby.

I asked him what I could do to make it up to him, and he said he’d like a birthday party of his own.  This works for me – I have plans to throw him a party anyway – but his answer has prompted me to step it up a notch, to make a supreme effort to provide him with a special day. He wants to have his party at an indoor playground, and he wants a Lightning McQueen cake.  I’ll provide him with a Lightning McQueen cake if I have to go all the way to Radiator Springs to get it.

James misses out on a lot. It must be tough for him, being the brother of a child with autism, and the son of a Mom who gets sick at just the wrong time.

The least I can do is give him a day that he can call his own, where he will be the centre of attention.