If there's one thing every advertiser and politician knows it's this: Scare tactics work. Small wonder, then, that the imminent doomsday predicted for May 21, along with associated expectations of the Rapture, has spurred so many interesting new ventures. What could be scarier than that?
A Christian radio host named Harold Camping has predicted the Rapture for this Saturday. The popularity probably says more about the popular mood than it does about Christianity or Camping. This is the second end to the world he has predicted. The last one was in 1994. While Camping bases his forecast on an algorithm involving dates in the Bible, more secular types have also noted that Saturday is the day after Oprah's last show.
There are two key problems with the Rapture as a business opportunity: Namely, that the most devoted customers are looking forward to it, and also presumably won't be around for repeat sales. No worries. Mammon has ways around the lack of God.
Rapture businesses fall into two categories: Those that want to save you and those that want to make your Rapture experience as uncomplicated, worry-free -- and even profitable -- as possible.
Let's start with the second group, which includes:
- Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, which will take care of Fido and Fidette once you've been whisked off to bask in the presence of the Lord. The company charges $135 for the first animal companion and then $20 for each additional. Further, the company promises it will still be around on the 22nd because, "Each of our representatives has stated to us in writing that they are atheists, do not believe in God / Jesus, and that they have blasphemed in accordance with Mark 3:29, negating any chance of salvation."
- The authors of How to Profit From the Coming Rapture: Getting Ahead When You're Left Behind.
- The anti-energy drink drankÂ®, which is billing itself as "The Official Beverage Of The End Of The World." (FYI, the company actually has another rapture in mind: The alleged Mayan prediction that in December 2012 we will all be consumed by giant jaguars. Why hasn't The World Wildlife Fund co-branded with this?)
- A number of bars -- including Brightest Young Things in Washington, D.C. (a city unlikely to see any population decrease because of the R word) -- that have scheduled End Of The World Parties.
- Whomever posted the ad on Seattle Craigslist saying: "Are you attending the rapture on May 21st, 2011? I expect to be left behind when it happens, so if you aren't going to need your worldly possessions; be they money, cars, canned food, durable goods, etc; I would gladly take them off of your hands."
- Rapture Letters and You've Been Left Behind both let you say "I told you so" by email in order to spur the recipients toward salvation. Or, perhaps, just to alert, say, your boss and the good folks at Earth-Bound Pets that you're gone.
- Rapture Survival Kit offers free tips on how to put together a care package for those still stranded on the earthly plane. A "Basic Kit" includes a letter from you and a copy of the King James Bible. The deluxe version will have other books, videos and pamphlets. Don't feel slighted if you only get the basic. Your gift-giver was undoubtedly in a hurry.
- In The Post Rapture Survival Guide, author Jeffry Harbin provides a guidebook that explains "exactly what to expect during the seven years that follow the Rapture." Be sure not to confuse this book with P.J. O'Rourke's book Holidays In Hell, which describes only damnable activities. (Harbin does ask $14.99 for his book, presumably just to cover his expenses.)