Back in the spring, you may remember, a man called Harold Camping informed the world that the Rapture was going to take place on May 21st. The Rapture according to Camping would consist of one day in which all true Christians would be raised up to Heaven, and then a six-month period during which the rest of us would suffer in the ruins of a fiery Earth. (I wrote a blog post at the time called You May Experience A Burning Sensation, in which I speculated that God's reason for the six months of fire was that he had some really big sausages to toast. Probably lost me a few brownie points in Heaven.)
Anyway, as you may also remember, the Rapture didn't happen. But as is the way of self-styled prophets, Camping is undaunted: his website explains that Christ did come to earth on May 21st - spiritually, of course, not visibly or publically or anything, that would be silly - and the Rapture period began then. It will climax, by which I mean actually be noticeable, on October 21st with the actual carrying-people-up-to-heaven part.
So far, so good. Well, no, not good, but it's impossible not to admire a man with such ability to bounce back from disappointment. I mean, seriously, Camping should write a self-help book. (Carry on, Camping? Camping in Heaven? The potential titles are endless.) Or if he doesn't have time for that before Friday, he could write an inspirational song. It could be called Don't Stop Believing In Camping.
However! Reading through his announcement, I noticed that the Camping has softened quite considerably since May. The original prediction has been startlingly revised. To quote:
"We have also learned that God is still teaching that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked and will not punish the wicked beyond what is called for in Deuteronomy 25."
Good news. Because I looked up Deuteronomy 25 and it doesn't say anything about fire, or the world perishing, or any of that. It says the loser in a dispute can be beaten - ok, not ideal, but we'll adjust - and it also has a few other laws which are frankly bizarre, but presumably aren't going to come up that often. I'm thinking of this one:
"If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you shall cut off her hand."
and this one:
"You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light."
I don't know about you, but I can probably manage to avoid those two sitations.
So basically, the prediction now is 1. All true believers will be taken to heaven (but you won't know if you are one till it happenes) and 2. Everyone else gets to stay as they were, except for obeying a random handful of archaic rules. No problem.
There is one more thing, though. I would like to alert Mr Camping to a potential issue he may need to be aware of. Has he heard of Project Blue Beam?
Project Blue Beam - of which you have probably also not heard, unless you like the odder corners of the internet or have read my book, in which it features - is a fascinating (if you're me) offshoot of Rapture theory. It holds that the New World Order is designing a false Rapture using special hologram-based technology. The purpose of which would be to make true Christians believe the Rapture has happened and they've been left behind, thus causing mass outbreaks of panic and atheism, which are of course what the New World Order likes best.
This would be such a great - if cruel - practical joke that I almost wish someone was designing it, but to the best of my knowledge they aren't. However, that doesn't stop these people believing it. Or these people. Or these people. Oh yes, there is a corner of the web that is forever Blue Beam.
I was going to write a paragraph that started "So, why are people so keen to believe these things?" but really, there's no mystery at all about it. It is blindingly, face-meltingly obvious that we all want to feel that we're being paid attention to and that we're special. This can manifest itself in becoming an actor, in writing a blog, in getting drunk and smashing things up, or in devoting your life to the idea that a huge, powerful and secret organisation is so obsessed with breaking you that it will create elaborate and wildly expensive schemes in order to destroy your faith in yourself. In fact, that could loosely describe so many movie plots that it's hardly surprising the idea is spilling over into real life.
Best of all, the fact that there is no evidence for it doesn't matter at all because a) obviously a secret all-powerful group would be good at hiding its tracks, and b) it hasn't happened yet. All in all, it's the perfect conspiracy theory in many ways.
So: if Friday comes and you see the people around you slowly ascending into the air, don't panic. It's always possible they may be holograms.