Suffer, Little Children

One of the most exciting, joyful times of a young wife’s life is when she is expecting her first baby. So much anticipation, so much hope for a great future for the little one she is bringing into the world! As the happy day approaches, most such mommies will be found putting the finishing touches on the cheerful nursery where her bundle of joy will spend most of his time sleeping and playing for the first few months.

Young Marcia Paladines’ baby is due to be born May 27.

“She caresses the bulge of her belly, smiling and shedding a tear as she feels the baby’s slight kicks.”

But where is the cheerful nursery in the apartment she shares with husband John? And what’s that tear for?

The tear is because she expects she may never see her baby. And she sees no need for a nursery. For Marcia believes the prophetic scenario invented by Harold Camping.

According to the dogmatic preacher, on May 21 every true Christian on earth—all of those “elected” by God from before their birth to be “saved”—are “predestined” to be caught up in the air to be with Jesus and go to heaven.

I’m not sure how many people he thinks that will be, but some commentators indicate a tentative number he has offered is 200 million … out of almost 6 BILLION current inhabitants of the earth. And it appears he actually thinks something like 99% of those 200 million will actually be “resurrected” people from the past. They will come back to life and then be raptured with the current Elect—Camping seems to think those Elect individuals who are alive at this time may be a tiny group of somewhere between 2,000 and 20,000.

Immediately after the Rapture, huge earthquakes and tsunamis and volcanic eruptions will begin devastating the earth. These catastrophes will wrack the earth for five months. It will be so bad that those 5,800,000,000 or so men, women, and children “left behind” will beg to die to escape the pain and misery—but will not be able to. Only at the end of this period, on October 21, will they find relief. For on that day the earth itself and everyone and everything on it will be destroyed, along with the “heavens” too.

Camping’s scenario includes the fact that actually NO ONE, including himself, can know with assurance ahead of time if they are one of the Elect! Everyone who believes his message just has to hope against hope that they are. God evidently gives no hint. But meanwhile, anyone who has believed Camping’s prophetic message in recent months has been urged to be part of an army of “announcers,” spreading that message. By the thousands they have sent in money to help pay for over 3000 billboards around the world proclaiming the message. Others have volunteered to pass out flyers explaining The Truth. Still others have volunteered to drive a fleet of mobile billboards around the country spreading the word. (Use the links on the right on this page to see the three previous entries on this blog for more details on the Camping Campaign. )

Harold evidently has offered no clear explanation of what happens to a baby if and when its mother is raptured.

The Huffington Post May 14 interview with Paladines and her husband clarifies what has been going on in her mind as she awaits Judgment Day:

She caresses the bulge of her belly, smiling and shedding a tear as she feels the baby’s slight kicks.

This may be one of her last memories of him, she thinks. Judgment Day followers believe that for those who are saved, there will be no recollection of the pains or pleasures of earth while in heaven.

“God is in control. I have prayed for mercy on my baby,” Paladines says, crying. “But I don’t know what’s going to happen. If I’m here May 21, then I will suffer the consequences of the wrath of God. I know like anybody else I’ll deserve it because none of us are perfect.”

Watching the video interview and hearing Marcia’s trembling voice, I could  tell that she is a very emotionally fragile, very child-like young woman. Both she and her unborn baby are “little ones” who are battered victims of the insanity of the theories of Harold Camping.

For many people reading about Harold Camping’s Judgment Day scenario, it seems little more than a comical diversion from the boring news about politics and finances. It certainly is fodder for jokes, including routines on the late night shows such as Leno. Camping may seem like just a con-artist, and his followers like buffoons who will be getting on May 22 what they deserve for being so gullible.

Until you have a face to put to those followers. And … their children. And read their first-person stories. Here’s a young man who was posting earlier this week on a forum where Camping’s followers and detractors rub shoulders.

I used to believe in this date and worry about it ALL of the time .. I didn’t eat .. I didn’t sleep .. and then guess what, I found my sister dead in her bedroom. My sister, who I could have spent SOO much more time with if I hadn’t have been sitting around worrying about it.

He indicated he planned to spend May 21 going to the movies with his grandmother! I’ll bet his grandmother is one relieved lady!

But many young people, from children to teens to young adults, will not be able to push beyond what adults  have shoved down their throats. As one person on the same forum put it:

Unfortunately not all are backing off as they continue to scare a 15 year old teenager right into a doctor’s office. I’ve got friends whose daughter is so upset, so frightened about the end of the world that she needs sedation.

Then there was this young person, quoted in an earlier entry on this blog, who was 11 years old when her parents jumped on Camping’s previous bandwagon, when he was insisting Judgment Day would be in 1994:

I remember having trouble sleeping at night, thinking about my friends screaming in terror, begging for the boulders to fall and smash them so they wouldn’t have to face God, while the sky was burning, the moon was the color of blood, the heavens rolled up like a scroll, and the stars fell….need I go on? That’s some creepy stuff.

She is talking not about “evil men” some day facing the wrath of God. She is talking about her grade school friends who she expected to be “left behind” in a 1994 Doomsday.

We may be able to joke about Harold Camping and call him a foolish old goat. Which he is. We may be able to gleefully hope that he and the most cantankerous and blustery and self-righteous among his followers will get their comeuppance on Sunday morning when the only thing destroyed will be their own plans to be winging their way to Heaven.

But Marcia Paladines’ situation is no joke. She is truly in emotional pain that she doesn’t deserve. Her unborn baby may even be adversely affected by the swirling chemicals in her blood caused by the emotional stress she has been under. And it will be born in a week or so to a woman who will no doubt be in shock and emotionally crippled from the disillusionment when May 21 comes and goes with no great cataclysm. Into a family setting where both parents gave up their jobs and spent all their savings to be part of spreading Camping’s nonsense. Will they be able to get their jobs back? Will they have money for groceries—and diapers—next week and the rent at the end of the month?

And Marcia is only one public face on what no doubt is a large faceless crowd around the world of equally innocent and naïve people.

In January 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt gave a State of the Union speech commonly referred to as the Four Freedoms Speech. In a world teetering on the edge of all-out World War, he proposed that America promote the idea of four “essential human freedoms” that every nation should embrace and promote also. Artist Norman Rockwell was commissioned to paint pictures of the Four Freedoms, which were featured on the covers of four consecutive issues of the Saturday Evening Post: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear.

The US Constitution itself guarantees freedom of religion. I’m pretty sure that the Founders never really intended this freedom to result in the freedom of religious charlatans to run amok. But it’s hard to get around that without trampling on the freedoms of sensible people. So yes, people like Harold Camping are free in America to teach damned ungodly, unbiblical foolishness. And adults in America are free to believe in and guide their lives by damned ungodly, unbiblical foolishness.

But when they do, it is the Little Children … both physically little children, as well as child-like, naïve people … who suffer the most.  And by permitting this freedom, one of the other Freedoms is trampled under foot.

Rockwell’s most famous and beloved painting in the series is this one, representing Freedom From Fear. In a world of turmoil such as that during WWII (as seen in the headline about bombings on the paper the dad is holding … ) we instinctively realize how desperately important it is for parents to provide a sense of security for their children. We can’t shield them from all suffering, but we can do our best, especially to give them hope for the future. British parents in the darkest days of WWII couldn’t shield their children from the War, but they did their best, and gave them hope for the future. “There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover tomorrow … just you wait and see,” as the wartime song went.

Would it not be mind-boggling if all those British parents instead put their kiddies to bed each night with stories about how they were very likely to be taken prisoner by the Nazis and tortured … if they weren’t bombed to smithereens tomorrow in a blitz?

THAT is what is done all too often by the ignorant parents who get swept up into the false prophecies—and utterly warped theology—of the likes of Harold Camping. They lose the “natural,” God-given, inborn affection they should have for their children, the natural “mother bear” instincts that would kick in under any other circumstances! And they end up all too often warping their children for life … long after the old goats like Harold Camping are dead and in their graves, and their prophecies are all but forgotten. Except in the nightmares of the grown children who lived through the fiascos in their childhood.

After the prophecies fail, some parents may get around to realizing how stupid they had been. But from the evidence I’ve seen, many if not most of those disillusioned people who get on with their lives never get around to apologizing to their children, asking their forgiveness for putting them through such unnecessary Hell, and helping them work through the aftermath. All too often these incidents are just swept under the rug by embarrassed parents, and the kids left to “work out” their own emotions over their lifetime.

The Apostle James had some very wise words in James 3:1 …

My brethren, be not many masters (the Greek means “teachers”), knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.  (KJV)

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (NIV)

The Bible does convince me that there IS a judgment day coming some day, for every single person.  And I am also convinced that those fellows who have set themselves up as teachers, and led others to cause their own precious children to live in mind-numbing fear are indeed going to find out just how “strict” God can be as a Judge!

There is a very revealing passage in Luke 18 describing what Jesus thinks about those who would brush off the importance of the little ones.

15And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

16But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

17Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

The old English word “suffer” in the King James Bible in this context didn’t have anything to with “painful suffering.” It was a word that meant “permit” or “put forward.” As the NIV puts this passage…

15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  (NIV)

Those self-appointed religious teachers whose foolish, ignorant, unbiblical, ungodly, damnable teachings cause little children to suffer, and who cause naïve parents to cause their own children to suffer … may find out that Jesus wasn’t fooling here when He described who will NOT be entering into the ultimate Kingdom of God for eternity. On May 21, 2011 or any other date.

Find out how Harold Camping and his followers dealt with the failure of his May 21 prophecy in the next entry in this series:

Titanic Denial 

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One Response to Suffer, Little Children

  1. Pingback: Suffer, Little Children | Currently StaRRing …

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