Between the Lines: Save the date – But don’t count on end times

We�re starting to receive �Save the Date� cards in the mail at home.

Vermillion High School seniors will be receiving their diplomas at commencement exercises on May 15.

Harold Camping, a preacher from Oakland, CA, wants us all to write a big reminder on our calendars for May 21.

That�s the day the world, according to Camping, will end. Which is sort of a bummer. I mean, just six days after we watch the Class of 2011 receive their diplomas, everything is going to go �poof?�

According to Camping, on May 21, Jesus will return and the righteous will fly up to heaven, leaving behind only their clothes.

That will be followed by five months of fire, brimstone and plagues, with millions of people dying each day and corpses piling in the streets. Finally, on Oct. 21, the world ends exactly as the Book of Revelation says it will � with a bottomless pit, a lake of fire and, at last, a new heaven and new earth.

According to Camping.

I personally don�t think the VHS Class of 2011 has anything to worry about. My doubt is not in what the Bible says, nor have I suddenly experienced a lack of faith about things divine.

It�s our ability to accurately predict, well, anything, that has me suggesting that our young women and men not continue with their plans to attend college or a trade school or join the military after graduation.

In other words, do what your heart desires. Don�t think you can squander away all of the money you�ve saved to pay tuition this fall on a weeklong party that begins May 15 and will end, according to Camping, on May 21.

That also goes for all of you USD students who will receive degrees at a May 7 ceremony in the DakotaDome.

After May 21, I�m certain, the world will still be spinning. It will still be filled with beauty and wonder, and problems that will need solving. Tragic things will continue to happen, too. Things that we can�t control, meaning efforts to try to pick up the pieces, to feed the hungry, to heal the sick, to provide shelter and clothing, must still be made.

In other words, to all of you soon-to-be graduates, the message is simple: We need you. We will be �saving the date� for decades to come to mark the commencement that regularly occurs in our young people�s lives each May.

People have been predicting the end of the world for thousands of years.

End dates have come and gone and yet ongoing public interest in doomsday forecasts seems to be as strong today as it ever was. I found dozens of news stories about Camping and his followers during a recent Google search.

And I think we all know, with certainty, that the accuracy of every doomsday predictor before Camping has been zilch. If you�re reading this column, you can bet the prophecies of the world�s end occurring on such-and-such a date have been wrong.

But, I�m willing to bend a bit, to give Camping a very small benefit of the doubt. I�ll put as much stock in his prediction as say, Punxatawney Phil, the groundhog.

On Feb. 2 (yes, Groundhog�s Day) at Gobbler's Knob in Punxatawney, PA, Punxatawney Phil the groundhog stepped out from his burrow and cast a shadow. Meaning six more weeks of winter.

In other words, spring should have rolled in the second week of March. Yesterday, with less than a week left in the month of April, I stood on the green, but soggy grass of The Bluffs Golf Course and photographed high school golfers in action.

I swear, I think my fingers were a bit frostbitten by the time I returned to my car.

A groundhog has been predicting the length of winter since 1887. You�d think he�d be quite good at it, but the statistics suggest otherwise.

According to the website, Stormfax, Phil has been right only 39 percent of the time.

Even with those lousy stats, as predictor of future events, I must confess I have more confidence in the groundhog than in Camping.

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