May 24, 2011
Tuesday, 7:00 p.m.
Letter #176: End of Days Hype
I’m still here! The most recent Armageddon countdown by Family Radio head Harold Camping has come and gone without me. No real surprise to those of us who lived through his other notable end-of-days predictions, the complete non-event of the quiet evening of May 21, 2011 was an unfortunate playing out of poor (ahem!) judgement. That is to say: if Biblical standards for false prophets were adhered to today, dear old Mr. Camping would be getting stoned—the old-fashioned way—and no one would be paying any attention to him. Yet, millions of people worldwide took note. We have an innate fascination with the end of the world, whether propagated by ancient Mayans or ancient radio hosts, and we don’t seem to care so much about whether or not each self-styled prophet deserves the plausibility we so readily grant them.
So, another uneventful day passes. An embarrassed host claims to have “miscalculated” the Day of the Lord (ya think?!?), grabs the abacus and draws the bead on a new date he’s sure of, five months from now. At some point, he’ll get it right, and we’ll be headed home to glory. For we know that Christ is returning, and all signs do point to it being rather soon. Scripture after Scripture has been and is being fulfilled in our lifetime regarding everything from events in the Middle East to the proliferation of disasters throughout the world and wars without end. The season of Christ’s return is knowable, though I believe we will never know the exact date of His coming. The question and conversation shouldn’t be so much about when the Lord will return as much as it should be about what He wants us doing before that Day comes.
I’m also—brace yourselves—still in prison. Just as there are many people who jump on the End of Days theories’ bandwagon, prison has its own special breed of naiveté in the form of the “We’re Going Home Early” believers. Loosely disguised as strong faith, and often accompanied by phantasmal stories of “prophesies” and “words of knowledge,” the early-release crowd is certain that the Lord is coming back—and soon!—to open wide the prison doors; to set the captives free; to let His people go.
Some of you may recall me telling of my former cellie, Lorenzo, pacing in front of our cell door, chanting, “I’m about to get out, I’m about to get out,” every day. He’d tell me about all the things he was going to send me once he was released, and he offered to leave me his prison clothes. At that point, he was in year number three of 25-to-life for a non-violent walk-away escape off of the prison bus while the driver slept.
I don’t blame someone for hoping their appeal is accepted. I don’t blame someone for looking forward to freedom. I don’t blame someone for wanting to do less time than the California court system—notorious for over-charging cases—gave them, though most of you know that I’ve not ever asked God to reduce my time, nor have I opted to appeal based on procedural errors committed by the courts in my case.
It is rather sad—if not amusing—that so many of our chapel volunteers love to proclaim “the Year of Jubilee” (Biblically, when slaves are granted their freedom) happening soon, or—as a few have—proclaim to me personally that God is going to let me go home early. I’m sure they’re well-meaning and pure-intentioned.
I used to visit the San Jose Animal Shelter and tell all the sad-faced puppies and kitties the exact same line: that they’re gonna be adopted real soon, not to worry. And, you know, I really hoped it for them, and eventually, that cage would be empty because some nice family adopted them.
The latest hype is the recent Supreme Court decision that mandates the release of nearly a third of all California’s prisoners within the next two years—46,000 in all. Twelve years in the making, it is in response to the deplorable medical conditions in our prison system. Well, it sounds good, but the only reason I’ll be packing up this week is to transfer to another prison. Instead of being so concerned with how much time in prison I have left, or how many more months I have before Christ returns, I’m choosing to focus on what He wants me doing in the meantime. And I’m fairly certain it’s not pacing in my cage like a Shelter Pet, though I’m open for adoption. 🙂