Harold Camping's promised final show Thursday night was much like his others. For an hour and a half, before a backdrop of wood paneling and fake plants in an Oakland studio, the self-styled scriptural scholar fielded calls from the devout, the derisive and the curious. He is 89 and bone-thin, making the leather-bound Bible on his lap seem enormous, and his voice was slow and unflappable.
Near the show's end, Camping cut short a caller to announce that this would be his last appearance on the "Open Forum" TV and radio show he's hosted for decades. After all, he explained with a warm smile, the world would be ending Saturday night.
Then he shook hands with a couple of crewmen. "I probably won't see you again," he announced. "I won't be here again."
The apocalypse will strike, Camping teaches, on May 21, wherever it happens to be 6 p.m. That means it will be Friday night in America when what Camping calls "super terrible" earthquakes will hit the New Zealand region.
The earthquakes will then roll on, time zone by time zone. The saved, perhaps 2% to 3% of the world population, will be whisked to God, while the rest will be obliterated in what he calls "a super horror story."
Camping has announced that he will spend Saturday with his family in Oakland.
But he has acknowledged that his preoccupation with the apocalypse has alienated him from many of the people he loves. "It's so bad, most of my family I can't even talk about it with," Camping said.
Of his six living children, only one believes his message. "The grandkids aren't around that much," Tuter said. "I think Harold has a very sad life. I've been around him every day for 23 years. I do not envy his life."