While I definitely have a certain mocking tone about the whole thing in my head, I do actually feel some pity for the man and especially for the followers who fervently gave all they had to support him. Discovering that your certainties are all wrong, and being able to actually admit it, is a spirit-breaking event.
If you learn that the way you thought about something was based on false presuppositions through and through it upends your whole world and sense of yourself.
You gotta love this quote from Camping, though:
"I don't have any responsibility. I'm only teaching the Bible. I'm telling ... this is what the Bible says. I don't have spiritual rule over anybody ... except my wife as the head of the household."
Yippee for her! What a lucky woman! I send her my condolences.
On a serious note, I do wonder how he can so easily make himself blameless in his own eyes. No responsibility? While he certainly didn't make anyone do anything drastic by physically forcing them to give up savings, cars, houses, and jobs, he didn't seem to have any problem accepting the proceeds from people. He didn't hesitate to hasten the drumbeat of doomsday in his followers' ears, encouraging them to sacrifice for his message.
And now....well if they have nothing left, that's their problem. Maybe it's true, but it's awfully heartless.
Anyway, what does he care? The world's going to end again, for like REAL....I mean really, really, REAL in 5 months. So, his followers just have to squeak by for 5 months before they truly won't need jobs, houses, cars, etc.
So why does it all matter? AVI thinks it's not such a big deal, and I would agree on a very basic level that he may be right. No one was physically harmed. No violent protests took place. No one died as a result of this end-of-days fiasco.
I would argue, however, that the harm done by Mr. Camping was/is psychological, spiritual, and relational. Families have been separated. People have been brought up short by the failing of their leader to instruct them. The world of those followers who now recognize Camping is and has always been completely wrong is in shambles.
It matters because these people will not simply have to square the fact that Camping, as a human being, was wrong, but that what they think about God, who He is, how He works, and what He thinks of them is all up for grabs.