VIDEO: Jon Stewart on the world ending

Will the world as we know it end on Saturday? No one knows. To help you in your weekend planning, though, we offer the insights of people who actually think they know, starting with Jon Stewart. We also sought out the sage advice of evangelical rapture author Tim LaHaye, who flat out calls end-of-world prophet Harold Camping a fraud and a false prophet.

From LaHaye, in a Daily Beast interview:

Well, coming from a two-time loser on date setting before, I’m not overly anxious. He’s an engineer, not a theologian. He’s got a very meticulous-type mind, and no one can tell him everything. He knows everything. He’s got his mindset that it’s going to be this way, but he’s just flat-out wrong. He violates a very, very important statement of Jesus in Matthew 24: “Surely I say to you this generation will by no means pass way until all these things be fulfilled… but that day and hour knows no one in the angels of Heaven, but my Father only.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times today profiles a family in which the parents have dedicated the last years of their life to the fact that the rapture will happen on Saturday. The kids are not so sure, leading to one very funky family dynamic.

The Haddad children of Middletown, Md., have a lot on their minds: school projects, SATs, weekend parties. And parents who believe the earth will begin to self-destruct on Saturday.

The three teenagers have been struggling to make sense of their shifting world, which started changing nearly two years ago when their mother, Abby Haddad Carson, left her job as a nurse to “sound the trumpet” on mission trips with her husband, Robert, handing out tracts. They stopped working on their house and saving for college.

Last weekend, the family traveled to New York, the parents dragging their reluctant children through a Manhattan street fair in a final effort to spread the word.

“My mom has told me directly that I’m not going to get into heaven,” Grace Haddad, 16, said. “At first it was really upsetting, but it’s what she honestly believes.”

While Ms. Haddad Carson has quit her job, her husband still works as an engineer for the federal Energy Department. But the children worry that there may not be enough money for college. They also have typical teenage angst — embarrassing parents — only amplified.

“People look at my family and think I’m like that,” said Joseph, their 14-year-old, as his parents walked through the street fair on Ninth Avenue, giving out Bibles. “I keep my friends as far away from them as possible.”

“I don’t really have any motivation to try to figure out what I want to do anymore,” he said, “because my main support line, my parents, don’t care.”

His mother said she accepted that believers “lose friends and you lose family members in the process.”

“I have mixed feelings,” Ms. Haddad Carson said. “I’m very excited about the Lord’s return, but I’m fearful that my children might get left behind. But you have to accept God’s will.”

The children, however, have found something to giggle over. “She’ll say, ‘You need to clean up your room,’ ” Grace said. “And I’ll say, ‘Mom, it doesn’t matter, if the world’s going to end!’ ”

She and her twin, Faith, have a friend’s birthday party Saturday night, around the time their parents believe the rapture will occur.

“So if the world doesn’t end, I’d really like to attend,” Grace said before adding, “Though I don’t know how emotionally able my family will be at that time.”

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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