MCCULLOUGH: Countdown to extinction

Today’s headline comes to you courtesy of an album title of the same name by the heavy metal band Megadeth.

Megadeth had its heyday in the 1980s during the Cold War when songs like the title track and “Symphony of Destruction” spoke to disaffected teenagers with Kennedy’s nuclear sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. The album went double platinum, mainly because the guitar work was great, but also because, having left “American Bandstand” for darker pastures, us kids could bang our heads to it.

The album also was popular because of the other thing a lot of metal bands know: apocalpyse sells.

Those bands with their dark imagery and reckless lifestyles are at diametric odds with most churches, yet when it comes to the end of the world, heavy metal bands and some churches are on the same page. They both know they can increase the size of the flock by preaching apocalypse.

Enter Harold Camping.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Camping by now or at least seen his billboards proclaiming the coming of the Rapture, which he says is Saturday. Tomorrow, he says, you will either disappear from this mortal coil and find yourself in paradise with Jesus or you will be left behind, in which case you should pack a couple of coolers with ice water for the trip you’ll soon be taking.

This is a correction to Camping’s earlier prediction of the Rapture happening in 1994, by the way. Then, when the Rapture didn’t follow Camping’s schedule, he said his math was off. But now? It’s on, he says.

Camping has drawn a crowd, as most oddities tend to do. He and his followers have proclaimed all churches to be corrupt and that only those people outside of church are now capable of being saved. People have quit jobs, moved and given up normal lives and relationships to spread his message.

Various churches have always used different methods to get you on the straight and narrow. The prosperity crowd promises that if you’ll just give until it hurts God will shower you with Caddies and condos. Us Baptists get the hell scared into us from red-faced preachers. And we’ve all heard of Catholic guilt.

But the apocalyptic bunch takes the cake for drastic measures. They tell you to join them now or face the consequences. And it’s no gamble because when there are no consequences (1994 anyone?), they just tell you they got it wrong, and the sheep follow obediently to the next signpost on the road to the Twilight Zone.

It’s easy to laugh at all this nonsense. (I’m almost giddy with anticipation of the goofiness that will certainly preface next year’s Mayan apocalpyse on Dec. 21, 2012.) But when we get through guffawing, let’s remember the actual consequences of stunts like this: 1) Many of these folks ruin their lives in anticipation of something that’s not going to happen, at least not on their timetable, and 2) these false prophets give a huge black eye to normal churches and only fan the secularist flames.

End-of-the-world soothsayers, especially the so-called Christian kind, always choose to ignore a couple of Bible verses that have kept me from worrying for one nanosecond about when the apocalypse would come. I quote from 24 Mathew, verses 35 and 36: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

That’s straight from Jesus’ mouth. Only God knows when the end will come. It takes a pretty arrogant man to say he knows better than God. I wouldn’t want to be in Camping’s shoes whenever Judgment Day actually comes.

In the meantime, come Sunday, all these doomsdayers should try to make up for it by spreading a little love. But they won’t because their currency is fear, which brings me to the title of another Megadeth album: “Peace Sells ... but Who’s Buying?”

The answer to that will soon be no one if we keep listening to nonsense.

Email Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.