Just a reminder: World to end in a few hours

The Rapture is upon us, and yet I blog on. Looking ahead to tonight’s schedule, I’ll have something on the debt-ceiling fight at around the time the first huge quake is shattering the continental United States, and then, later, an item on Mitch Daniels’s health-care plan just as “the Beast” is first being spotted in the night sky. We’ll also have a post about Palin hinting at a presidential run, but Ed and Tina may end up being Raptured before they can get to it. If so, that one’s on me too. Damn — I hate working late on Friday.

Needless to say, as a confirmed unbeliever, I’ll be here for the duration of the Tribulations, so if you guys have any loose ends you need me to tie up on your behalfs, leave ’em in the comments. I’ll try to get to all of them, but realistically, there’ll be other priorities for awhile. Don’t feel bad for me, though. In the end, it was all worth it.

The hour doth approacheth: 2 a.m. Eastern time, 11 p.m. Pacific.

The end of the world will be at exactly 6 p.m. on May 21, 2011, says Camping, who along with his organization, Family Radio, are behind those billboards across the country forecasting the Rapture this Saturday. The Rapture, the Last Days, Armageddon and the Final Days of Judgment are all interchangeable. It’s when God will destroy the Earth to show his love for humanity.

Is that Eastern Standard or Pacific Standard Time?

Neither, says Camping, whom I interviewed recently for my online news show TYT Now. The Rapture is at 6 p.m. on May 21, 2011, where ever it’s 6 p.m. first, with the “fantastically big” world-ending event taking place on a time zone by time zone basis.

That means we can expect the Rapture to start when it hits 6 p.m. at the International Dateline at 180 Longitude — roughly the between Pago Pago, American Samoa, and Nuku’alofa, Tonga. We’ll know it’s Judgment Day because there will be an earthquake of previously unprecedented magnitude, Camping predicts.

So, according to these calculations, the Rapture will actually begin like a rolling brown out across the globe at 11 p.m. PST on Friday, May 20th.

I’m curious to see how Camping explains the not-so-grim reality of continued existence come Sunday. The Millerites were famously greatly disappointed, but there’s no shortage of models to emulate when it comes to coping with an apocalyptic fizzle. Presumably he’ll say that he “miscalculated” by adding numbers from the Old Testament plus the gospels plus Revelation but forgetting to carry the two or whatever, and that the real doomsday is actually scheduled for the distant, distant future. All well and good for him, but what about the poor saps who bought it hook, line, and sinker?

The three teenagers have been struggling to make sense of their shifting world, which started changing nearly two years ago when their mother, Abby Haddad Carson, left her job as a nurse to “sound the trumpet” on mission trips with her husband, Robert, handing out tracts. They stopped working on their house and saving for college…

“My mom has told me directly that I’m not going to get into heaven,” Grace Haddad, 16, said. “At first it was really upsetting, but it’s what she honestly believes.”…

While Ms. Haddad Carson has quit her job, her husband still works as an engineer for the federal Energy Department. But the children worry that there may not be enough money for college. They also have typical teenage angst — embarrassing parents — only amplified…

The children, however, have found something to giggle over. “She’ll say, ‘You need to clean up your room,’” Grace said. “And I’ll say, ‘Mom, it doesn’t matter, if the world’s going to end!’”

I’m tempted to say that the kids should be able to sue Camping for tuition if it turns out mom and dad emptied their bank account in anticipation of the Big Day, but once we start blaming third parties for poor parenting, we’re well on our way to banning Happy Meals. A better solution, I think, is charity. Coming soon, hopefully: The “Yeah, Our Parents Fell For It” Scholarship Fund.

I’ll leave you with this Live Science piece assessing the economic and scientific consequences of suddenly losing 200 million people to the Rapture. Before you ask, yes, of course they devote some space to climate change. Exit question: How many GOP candidates will be gone by tomorrow? Will Obama get to run unopposed? See, guys — this is why we need more atheists in politics.