Two weeks have passed since Harold Camping’s end-of-the-world predictions failed to materialize. As that day approached, I tried to think of something anime-related to blog about, but I couldn’t find anything adequate to write. Then, I read this entry the other day by the Cajun Samurai on the Christian Anime Alliance boards:
I feel the need to mention that I actually used an episode of “Kino’s Journey” to describe the [recent] “end of the world” prediction made; specifically Episode 3 when the entire population of a city Kino visited believed the world was going to come to an end the next day. Suffice it to say, the world did NOT end, and the explanation the priest gave as to his error was a textbook case of art imitating life.
And so, quite by accident (and two weeks late), I have some comments to share on Camping in relation to anime.
Kino’s Journey became a favorite series of mine after I watched it as part of Reverse Thieves’ Secret Santa project last Christmastime. It’s a show full of wonderful lessons and I’ve listed it as one of my recommendations for Christian viewers of anime.
Episode 3, titled “Land of Prophecies -We NO the Future-“, contains four short stories. In the first, Kino the traveler comes upon a people who believe the world is about to end. This is all according to a prophecy by the Priest of the South Tower. Because those living in the country believe in the idea so ardently, many give Kino whatever she wants (ex. lodging and ammunition) for free. After all, there’s no need for money when the world is about to end.
Many of Camping’s followers also forsook money and their earthly futures, including a man who spent his life savings and a woman who dropped out of medical school.
And also as with Camping, the South Tower priest’s prediction ultimately proved untrue. The people of the town threw questions at the priest as he embarrassingly proved unable to answer their queries. Similarly, when Camping first appeared to the public, his words and demeanor seemed that of a genuinely dazed man.
A couple of days later, Camping told the public that the real end of the world would be on October 21. In Kino’s Journey, it’s a different priest – from the North Tower – that explains the later date for the world’s ending. The latter priest seemed to be trying to usurp power from the earlier one, who appeared more genuine.
In reality, Camping is more than likely representative of one or the other – a timid sheep, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing. At first, I was naïve, convinced that this poor man was misguided and that it wasn’t his fault that so many people believed in him – we all have our own minds after all. Later, after reading about Camping’s worth and his refusal to return donated money, I’ve changed my view.
Additionally, each priest based his prophecy on certain calculations. Camping also had a strange way of figuring his end of the world date. In both cases, the equations and predictions seemed arbitrary. Of course, Camping’s biggest failure in his calculations was this: the Bible he claims to believe in emphasizes that no human (or angel) knows when the world will end (Matthew 24:36). As such, his ideas were destined to fail right from the start, from a Christian perspective as well as a non-spiritual one.
Meanwhile, many of his followers will hang on. And what will they do until Camping’s next rapture date (October 21, 2011)? Will they be like the townspeople in Kino’s Journey, asking “what do we do if the world isn’t going to end?” Will they walk through life, confused and bewildered, or live like there’s (almost) literally no tomorrow?
There’s a lesson to be learned here. This parable (after all, the entire show can be seen as a series of parables) teaches us to live life in the today without being crippled by the possibilities of the future. Perhaps Christians should take this to heart more than others in light of Camping’s predictions, being reminded that time on earth is limited – if not by the rapture, by the frailty of a finite life. Do what we should while we can, for there are some things we can’t do in Heaven.