May 26, 2014

Harold Camping as (tragic) American hero

A new documentary on the last days and last prophecies of Harold Camping seeks to humanize the man who was widely, roundly mocked for his repeated false predictions.

Director Zeke Piestrup says that, at least from one angle, the false prophet could be seen as an American hero with a tragic end. Looking not just at Camping's 15 minutes of fame but at the arc of his whole biography gives things a different sense. In an interview with Kimberly Winston of Religion News Service, Piestrup says,
He is the son of poor, immigrant parents, graduates with a civil engineering degree from Berkeley, starts a successful construction business, sells it in his 30s to build Family Radio from one FM station and he built it into a worldwide ministry. If you look at that arc, that is a great American. But I guess he blew it up in the end.
The trailer:


If Camping is to be seen as a tragic figure, his tragic flaw was a common one. Piestrup says that Camping was driven, personally, by the need to be right. Piestrup says:
For Harold it was ego. He told me a story about living with some college students when he was young and their conversations always turned theological and it was very important for him to “win” those arguments. And attention. Attention and at the same time a serious, incredible love of the Bible. Like Sue (Camping's daughter) says in the film, he loved nothing more than to talk about the Bible and figure out this riddle.
The documentary, Apocalypse Later: Harold Camping vs. the End of the World,  is not available in Germany, but can be seen on a variety of platforms in the US.

See also:
Being spectator to the predicted end of the world 
Harold Camping is not sorry
Harold Camping, prophet of apocalypse, dies at 92