ETA: The story mentioned in here is true, basically, other than that it appears to come from a one-on-one interview with Marilyn and Michael Moore. The link to "money quote" is here. The post will remain as is because I'm lazy.
There's a story - probably apocryphal, but most useful stories are - that after the Columbine shooting, Marilyn Manson and a bunch of talking heads were sitting around jawing about the incident. Manson was there because, of course, his music was somehow implicated in the incident.*
The question came up, "What would you say to those kids, if you had the chance?" The talking heads gave their answers and Marilyn (can I call him Marilyn? not sure on the protocol there) replied, "I wouldn't have talked. I'd have listened."
Regardless of the story's truth, like any parable, it makes a good point. When someone feels isolated, alone and depressed, as those boys did, it often does no good to just talk at them.
Tonight, beginning at 6 pm EST, Harold Camping believes that the Lord will be coming back to take away his faithful remnant. He has taken an already well-stretched eschatology and added into it his own special mix of numerology, Zionism and governmental conspiracies and concluded that the world will be coming to an end shortly afterwards.
The world will end, eventually - maybe in fire, maybe in ice - and it could sneak up on is, but the smart money says that he's wrong, which means that tonight and tomorrow morning every one of his followers is going to feel a little like those lost boys of Columbine: isolated, alone and depressed. And so tonight and tomorrow morning and for many days afterwards, we're going to have show them compassion.
You can argue that they brought it on themselves. I mean, no one forced them to believe Camping's lies, and surely a moments sensible though would have told them that is was utter foolishness, and one could argue that anyone so willfully deluded isn't worthy of compassion. I'd argue that it doesn't matter, that if compassion is to have any real meaning, then it must be given to those who need it and not to those who deserve it.
One of my co-workers has bought into Camping's line of bunk. On Monday morning, she's going to show up at the office, something she never thought she'd do again. All week I've been thinking, "I wonder what I should say to her." I think I've found my answer. And hopefully you'll find yours too.
* Of course, a lot of people, including me, listened to Marilyn Manson without shooting up a high school. I also listened to Stabbing Westward, Consolidated, Nine Inch Nails and a lot of other music that explains why to this day I tend to listen to music on headphones. I presume that I just wasn't listening to it in the way that makes you crazy, or perhaps Rich Mullins and Jars of Clay serve as some sort of harmonic antidote.