October Column Winner

Tough question: To mow or not to mow?

David Burgess, Vinita Daily Journal

Harold Camping says the world is going to end Friday - probably.
That could be worrisome, if he hadn't already been wrong twice before.
Camping predicted doom in 1994, but somehow the world survived.
Then he predicted doom May 21 of this year, but the world again dodged the bullet. Camping later blamed the world surviving on some faulty calculations on his part, some miserable math. You know, two and two equals four and a half.
But Camping says he's got his math down right this time. The world is toast Friday.
Maybe.
Maybe?
You've got to do better than that, Harold. You've got to give me something I can work with.
Because my wife said last weekend the lawn needs mowing and I said Friday. But, of course, that was before I heard that the world was going to end Friday. That puts a whole new spin on things.
Because if the world is going to end Friday, I'd be pretty stupid to waste my time mowing the lawn. After all, who's going to care if I've got a nice-looking lawn when the world is going down the tubes?
And another thing: Our dryer died Sunday. Just up and died after only 17 years of service. My wife says she's found the perfect replacement for - a drumroll, please - only $950. It's a Maytag and it could last 30 years.
Sounds good. But we were going to buy it you guessed it - on Friday. And if the world is going to end Friday, we not only won't get 30 years out of it, we'll be lucky if we get 30 minutes out of it before we're history.
Now, this is probably of small concern to Harold Camping, who runs a little outfit called the Family Radio ministry in California. Well, actually it's not so little anymore.
According to the latest tax returns, it now has assets of more than $104 million. That's a lot of money. But the odd thing is, that's $30 million more than Family Radio had in the collection plate a year earlier.
In other words, Harold Camping's off-the-wall, end of-the-world prediction for May 21 turned out to be a gold mine - even though it was wrong, bad math or no.
Which makes me wonder: If a prophet of doom can be wrong and still have millions of dollars thrown his way, why not be wrong a lot? Say, every five or six months or so.
It could be very, very profitable. A wise man, Jake, of Jake Says fame in the Journal, says don't ever let anybody tell you that you can't take it with you. Because they might try to take yours with them.
Which is apparently how Family Radio came up with the extra $30 million this year. Some people believed Camping's doomsday forecast and thought, "If the world's going to end, why do we need this money? We'll give it to Harold and the boys."
But the world didn't end. And Harold and the boys still have the money, minus what they spent on billboards and such advertising the end of the world.
The Bible covered this thousands of years ago: Despite what some men may say - and it's always men saying it; no woman ever predicts the end of the world - nobody knows when the world is going to go belly up.
So when it comes to my lawn, it comes down to this, to paraphrase Hamlet: To mow or not to mow? That is the question.
And here's the way I've got it figured: I can listen to Harold Camping and let the lawn go Friday, with his assurance that the crack of doom is coming any minute. But he's been wrong twice and I don't have to live with him.
Or I can listen to my wife, saddle up and start mowing. I do have to live with her.
Hmmm. That's a tough one.
A real tough one.
"Honey, where's the gas can? And don't buy the $950 washer that'll only last 30 years. Buy the $1,250 one that'll last 40 years."
That will take us through at least a couple dozen more end-of-the-world predictions.


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