"Problems have become so big, with no solutions in sight, that we no longer see ourselves able as human beings to solve these problems," DiTommaso explained to the online magazine, LiveScience.
"From a biblical point of view, God is going to solve them. People feel that there is something dreadfully wrong with the world of human existence today. But there is also faith that there is a higher good or some purpose for existence, a hope for a better future. The apocalyptic worldview is an attempt to reconcile these two conflicting beliefs, and requires some sort of catastrophe."
This helps to explain how someone such as Camping can convince his followers that the end is near. Hundreds of his people are crisscrossing the country in motor homes as part of Project Caravan, spreading the news.
On a recent afternoon, a group of Caravaners from Montana was handing out "I Hope God Will Save Me" booklets in New York's Union Square. One of them, Rhonda, 64, looked flushed and exuberant in her flowered blouse, Mom jeans and Keds.
"Repent!" she shouted at a passing reporter, shaking the pamphlets in the air.
"How should I do that?" the journalist wondered, since God supposedly has already determined who among us is doomed or saved. That means any effort to change things now would be wasted.
Rhonda couldn't take this in. "Cry for mercy!" was her only response.
As I see it, P.T. Barnum was right, they're born every minute. And, like P.T. Barnum, Camping is ready to move the big tent after the circus leaves town and his flock is still intact.
According to a story making the rounds on the Internet and supposedly started on Wikileaks, the preacher's credit card files show that he has a trip booked to St. Barts for Saturday, May 28, 2011, complete with flight tickets, hotel and restaurant reservations. Guess he needs the vacation. Maybe to work on his calculation skills some more. Or maybe just to relax. It's been a busy year, planning the end of the world.