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The Last-Minute 'Rapture' Reading List

May 20, 2011 | 11:23 am

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It's simple. You want to know about the "rapture"? Read the Bible. Turn to the Book of Revelation.

Of course, you won't see anything there about the rapture happening Saturday. But that's the scuttlebutt: The rapture is coming at 6 p.m. Saturday.

As just about everyone knows by now (save for Bret Easton Ellis, who was nothing but confused when asked about it at a reading Thursday night in Los Angeles) the date May 21, 2011, was picked as the rapture by Harold Camping.

Camping, who runs the Family Radio ministry, is a rapture guy. In fact, he once predicted that the rapture was coming Sept. 6, 1994. The failure of the end of the world to arrive at that time only spurred him to revamp his analysis -- and so he came to May 21. A number of Christian believers have been spreading the word that come Saturday, those whom God has saved will ascend to heaven.

As Maud Newton writes in the Awl, people who truly believe that the rapture is nigh make huge life changes; as a child, she was suffused with doomsday fear. NPR spoke to a couple who quit their New York City jobs and moved to Florida to proselytize about the end of the world. "We budgeted everything so that, on May 21, we won't have anything left," 27 year-old Adrienne Martinez told the reporter. The New York Times reports on a family whose teenage children were trying to make plans for college without the help of their parents, who believe there is nothing but heaven to plan for.

The rest of us sinners will be left behind. Which brings me to your Last-Minute Rapture Reading List.

1. "Left Behind: A Novel of Earth's Last Days" by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Published in 1995, it kicks off a 12-volume series of novels that illustrate the rapture. Worried you won't have time to read them all? Get a taste by watching the 2005 film "Left Behind: World At War" starring believer Kirk Cameron.

2. "The Book of Revelation for Dummies" by Richard Wagner and Larry R. Helyer. The yellow-and-black "For Dummies" series turned its attention to the Bible's Book of Revelation in 2008. But should you take seriously a book about the end times co-authored by a man named "Helyer"?

3. "The Late, Great Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson. Newton cites this as the granddaddy of end-times novels, and it sets the bar much lower for entrance to heaven than Camping's theology. It was a 1970 New York Times bestseller.

4. "1994?" by Harold Camping. In this 1993 book, Camping predicted the end of the world would arrive in 1994. But just in case he was wrong, he added that question mark to the title.

5. "The Bible." Go back to the source.

6. "The Inferno" by Dante Alighieri. It's the "Scared Straight!" of 14th century epic poetry. After you're done with this, you'll want to be saved.

7. "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell" by Tucker Max. If Dante doesn't scare you off sin, the prospect of being trapped in eternity with Tucker Max might do the trick.

8. "Heaven Is for Real" by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent. The story of a little boy who sees heaven and lives to tell about it has been burning up bestseller lists. I mean, flying.

9. "God Is Not Great" by Christopher Hitchens. End-time reading for skeptics and nonbelievers.

10. "The Survivors Club" by Ben Sherwood. Thinking you'll be left behind? Learn tactics and strategies from survivors of  mountain lion attacks, natural calamities and concentration camps.

11. "The Kama Sutra" by Vatsyayana. If the rapture happens without you, why not enjoy yourself? The ancient Hindu guide for lovemaking includes practical advice for sexual intercourse, including a number of illustrations. It's available for download many places, including Apple's iBookstore, where it's currently No. 12 on its free bestseller list.

RELATED:

Apocalypse when? May 21 and other doomsday dates on film

Five post-apocalypse TV shows to watch while you're waiting for the "rapture"

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Giving notice of the Rapture this week in Tampa, Fla. Credit: Jim Reed / The Tampa Tribune / Associated Press Photos

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