In-the-know Americans have been getting ready for May 21, when Jesus is going to return to Earth and kick off the Rapture—aka "Judgment Day." Hopefully you're prepared for all the excitement to come, yes?

Or is this all news to you? It's true that not everyone has been lucky enough to live or drive by one of the eye-catching "Judgment Day May 21" billboards erected by So Family Radio, the outfit that's probably worked the hardest to make sure people are informed. Without So Family's helpful roadside reminders, you might not have even heard about May 21 at all.

It's also possible that you saw the news somewhere months ago and forgot. It's okay—you've got so much on your mind these days! Please start paying attention now, and focus.

You might also be afflicted with May 21 denial, which is somewhat excusable; anything that's described as a "gathering up of saved souls ... followed by five months of chaos and tribulation that will serve as a spiritual going-out-of-business sale," is a lot for the average person to process. Many Americans—including the residents of Atlantic City—refuse to believe May 21's happening. Even pizza-flavored GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain is acting like May 21's going to be just like every other day, instead of one marked by earthquakes and people being raptured up to Heaven.

How can anybody be sure that May 21 is the Judgment Day? Because the right people have done their homework. "I've crunched the numbers, and it's going to happen," says Brian Haubert, who's an actuary. There you have it.

According to Family Radio's special projects coordinator Michael Garcia, the most important thing you can do to achieve the best outcome on May 21 is to "grab a King James Bible and [plead] for mercy from God." That sounds kind of humiliating, though, so maybe you can just prepare a letter on nice stationery to give to Jesus whenever he starts "elect[ing] children to heaven," as Family Radio puts it, "and begins the day of Judgment on earth for all of those left behind until October 21, 2011 when He will destroy the world and all that is therein." Yeah, you should definitely dress your words to impress.

In addition to your letter to God, it's probably also wise to prepare a travel kit. With billions of souls affected, it seems like there might be some traveling or waiting involved. Be sure to include:

  • Sandwiches (PB&J really pack the protein)
  • A flashlight
  • Aspirin (might be stressful)
  • liquids (bottled waters, Capri Suns, six-packs of soda)
  • travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste
  • breath mints (first impressions!)
  • deodorant
  • neck pillow
  • books or magazines (King James Bible's probably your best bet)
  • sleeping bag
  • earplugs (could be noisy)

We probably forgot some things, because that's our way when we travel. So feel free to add additional necessary items in the comments.

[Baptist Standard, Press of Atlantic City, The State, NPR; image via Lord Jim]