We'd forgotten the end of the world was nigh, and then, at the farmers' market on Saturday morning, we saw a dozen pairs of empty shoes placed around the X's. We were a little disappointed they didn't contain dry ice, fog emanating from them, as a Facebook group had suggested, hoping to scare Rapture believers into thinking they'd been left behind. There's nothing like the apocalypse to get our creative juices flowing.
This end-of-the-world mumbo-jumbo is actually nothing new for Missoulians. Some of us remember Leland Jensen, founder of a Baha'i sect called Baha'is Under the Provisions of the Covenant. Jensen predicted a nuclear holocaust would destroy the world on April 29, 1980. As the Indy reported, he turned his Stephens Avenue home into a bomb shelter, using sand and thousands of pounds of rock. Other Baha'i members made a makeshift shelter in a warehouse on the Northside. Several downtown businesses held end-of-the-world sales.
Now we have the internet to disseminate—and ridicule—harebrained theories like Harold Camping's. It was Camping who calculated that the end of the world was coming May 21. On May 22, he told The San Francisco Chronicle he was "flabbergasted." It's perhaps unfortunate that his doomsday prediction garnered so much media coverage, but with it came hilarity. On Facebook, hundreds of thousands of people RSVP'd for post-Rapture looting, and others for a pre-Rapture orgy.
Our favorite Rapture spin-off is a business called Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, a group of animal-loving atheists "committed to step in when you step up to Jesus." For $135—paid in advance, of course—the company guarantees that should the Rapture occur, clients' pets will be cared for. It's active in 26 states, employing more than 40 people. Founder Bart Centre, a New Hampshire retiree, tells the Indy it has five clients in Montana and five in Idaho, all covered by three "rescuers."
For some reason we thought there'd be more than five Montanans who'd sign up for this racket. Then again, even some of Montana's favorite fundamentalists didn't buy into Camping's prediction, including Kalispell trucker Kathleen Folden, who last fall drove to a Colorado gallery and took a crowbar to a controversial sexual depiction of Jesus. "This theory is based upon the alignment of planets," Folden wrote on her website. "That is getting into dangerous territory. Planet alignment, astrology, signs in the heavens are getting into Satan's realm...Judgment day does not occur until after the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth."
Good to know.