There is plenty of chit-chat lately about The Rapture, which some say is imminent. In fact, they’re saying it’s going to happen on Saturday. According to these sky watchers, the “saved” will rise into the air on May 21 while the remaining wretched will suffer for five months until October 21, the official end of the world. This dire forecast comes to us from an elderly fellow named Harold Camping, an engineer-turned-Christian radio broadcaster who, through complicated mathematical calculations, has determined Jesus is heading our way tomorrow. In the preface of his book, Camping warns: “Every unsaved person will experience the full wrath of God.”
I’m little put out by this prediction. I was all set for the world to end next year, on December 21, 2012, per the prophecies and unfinished calendars of Nostradamus, the Maya, the Hopi Indians, and, of course, Hollywood. Recently, in fact, I got so caught up in The History Channel’s Armageddon Week, which quoted all of these end-of-time “sources,” that by the fifth day of hearing the clock is ticking I was despondent and thinking of upping my cigarette intake because, you know, the world was ending anyway, right?
Since the turn of the millennium – and indeed, long before – end of the world talk has been rampant. Nostradamus, a French apothecary and reputed seer, was busy with his quatrains back in the early 1500s, penning convoluted insights that in the last couple of centuries, and certainly in recent years, have been pointed to as accurate predictions of future events…always in hindsight of course. From what I can find online (a dubious authority at best) Nostradamus has supposedly predicted that a comet or other space object is going to come close to or hit Earth in 2012, causing earthquakes, sinking continents, shifts in the planet’s rotation, misbehavior by the sun and, as you might imagine, all sorts of other collateral trouble. Nostradamus was, by the way, a pharmacist turned occultist and astrologer. No put-down there, just informational detail.
The cosmic alarm clock of the Maya, we’re told, also appears to be set at 2012, the year they stopped keeping track of time. The Maya are generally considered to be an advanced people whose way-back-when civilization up and disappeared. Their long count calendar ends on 12-21-12. Nobody knows why. Some say the Maya ended their calendar on that date because there’s going to be an apocalypse. Others suggest the date marks the beginning of human enlightenment. For my part, I’m opting for door number 2.
Then we have the Hopi, an Arizona-based Native American tribe whose name is said to mean variations of peaceful ones or those who live in the correct way. The Hopi have supposedly predicted the coming of the white man, nuclear weapons, and world wars. These folks also believe that something big is going down in 2012, coinciding with the Maya and, if you buy into his quatrains, Nostradamus. Could be a golden age, could be major human distress. Another 50/50 chance.
And now we have the octogenarian engineer cum radio fellow Harold Camping yapping about rapture and convincing followers to board buses, one of which was pictured on the Internet with the message: “End of Days: Have You Heard The Awesome News?” From what I can find out about Mr. Camping, he is not giving us an either/or situation like the Maya and Hopi, nor is his prophecy vague, like that of our friend the French apothecary. To put a fine point on it, Camping has said that God intends to destroy the entire world. Forever.
As I said, end of the world predictions are not new. What is new is the Internet, and this particular tool’s ability to spread information fast and far. In conducting online research for this supposed event (either taking place tomorrow, in October, or in December of next year), I spent no less than three hours clicking around the web to discover hundreds of predictions since 30 AD relating to the world’s end, and dozens of websites by astrologers, alleged scientists, raving lunatics, and one blogger disputing Camping with this, and I quote: “89years old Harold Camping a christian radio broadcaster says the rapture will took place this coming May 21, 2011, and the end of the world will occur on October 21, 2011. Harold Camping was known for his failed predictions. And now he was telling people to leave their churches for he believed that churches was taken over by Satan.”
As Ricky Ricardo would say: ay ay ay.
With the glut of this comic and often preposterous information, here’s my plan: Between right now and December of next year, I am going to work, plant a garden, improve my golf game, clean my house, tend to my dog, write, plan for the holidays, socialize, assume my next birthday is still in the works, and continue to save money for my old age. I’m going to assume that Nostradamus, the Maya, the Hopi, Harold Camping, and the rest of the apocalyptic kooks are wrong. I am not going to hoard cans of spinach and jugs of water. I am not going to cower under the bed and wait for the sky to rain fire. I think all of this is nonsense and that people riding a bus that asks if we’ve heard the awesome news are not only misguided but should be horsewhipped for using the word “awesome” in such a manner (ref blog post of March 11, “Dude, It’s An Awesome World!”).
Then again...you never know. So just in case, assuming the prophets of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Kwansa, Shinto, Taoism, Sikism, Druidism, and other legions of God won't mind if I have a muffin top when I stand before them, I'll wait until December 22, 2012 to start my next diet. If I'm going down, I'd just as soon go with a cupcake in my hand.