I wondered what would happen when May 21 came and went and Harold Camping’s predicted Rapture failed to materialize. (Or is that dematerialize?) Would he mysteriously disappear, perhaps leaving some empty clothes behind, and slink off to a tropical island with some of Family Radio’s millions? Would he and his followers go for some Jim Jones/Heaven’s Gate-type mass suicide? Or would he just pretend the whole thing never happened?

Well, after proclaiming himself “flabbergasted” and taking a few days to consider, Camping decided on a different tack:

In a special broadcast Monday night on his radio program “Open Forum” [Camping said] that the rapture he predicted was “an invisible judgment day“ that he has come to understand as a spiritual, rather than physical event.

“We had all of our dates correct,” Camping insisted, clarifying that he now understands that Christ’s May 21 arrival was “a spiritual coming” ushering in the last five months before the final judgment and destruction.

During the 90-minute broadcast, Camping walked listeners through his numerological timeline, insisting that his teaching has not changed and that the world will still end on October 21, 2011.

“It wont be spiritual on October 21st,” Camping said, adding, “the world is going to be destroyed all together, but it will be very quick.”

Very smart. Camping has clearly enjoyed all the attention this prediction has brought him, and this way he (and we) get to go through it all again in October. And after that? Who knows; Camping’s 89, and I think neither he nor I are inclined to plan that far ahead.