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  1. Politics
21 May 2011

Here at last . . . The Rapture

Five things to do before Jesus arrives and the world ends.

By Sophie Elmhirst

Harold Camping, you have a lot to answer for. Still, in the spirit of what-the-heck-if-it-really-is-the-end-of-the-world-we-might-as-well-enjoy-ourselves, here are some last-minute possible activities before all hell breaks loose (quite literally) at 6pm today.

1. First things first. Take a moment to remember that this is not the first time the Rapture (when Jesus will return and gather his faithful up into the clouds while non-believers have a gruesome time on earth) has been predicted with remarkable certainty. In 1988, Edgar C Whisenant published the boldly titled, but fundamentally flawed 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Is In 1988. Whisenant then went on to make further predictions for 1989, 1992 and 1995. Moral of the story: prediction is a mug’s game.

2. Note that the Rapture is taking place on the same day as the Progress conference in London. Does Ed Miliband know something we don’t?

3. Go to the Rapture “after party” in North Carolina, organised by the Central North Carolina Atheists and Humanists. Guest of honour? Probably not Camping, who has said he will be spending the day by a television or radio with his wife. “I’ll be interested in what’s happening on the other side of the world as this begins,” he told Reuters, which seems disconcertingly bold from a man whose statements about the end of the world have encouraged his followers to sell off their worldly goods and abandon their pets.

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4. Talking of pets. Please acknowledge the business-savvy gall in the form of the improbably named atheist Bart Centre, who has set up Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, which will take in pets soon to be abandoned by their Rapture-fearing masters. He already has more than 250 customers paying $135 each. Read an interview with the entrepreneurial genius here. Choice quote: “We never advertised. We don’t scam people. We don’t knock on doors, or anything like that . . . Except this 21 May Rapture thing has really given us another shot in the arm.”

5. Finally, this might be the last time you ever get to read salacious and pointless stories on the Daily Mail website. To save you precious time (for time is, today of all days, nothing if not limited), I have selected a delightful round-up of urgent news. Read all about: Michael Bublé’s second wedding (“It’s just another excuse to celebrate our love”); the scaffolding that looks like a stairway to heaven (“So much for ‘elf and safety”) and pole-dancing primary school teachers (“disgrace”).

Good luck!

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Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
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