Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The End of the World Was Neither Here Nor Nigh (May 26, 2011)

   Did you feel the Earth move under your feet as the seconds passed 6 p.m. on Saturday? Me neither.
We’re still here — not that I expected not to be.
Besides, if the end came, you wouldn’t be reading this.
Small groups of doomsday advocates carried signs that read, “The End is Nigh,” but in the end, the End wasn’t — last Saturday anyway.
The only place where the ground rumbled more than usual in the U.S. on May 21 was at the Pimlico Race Course in Maryland at about 6:20 p.m. when 14 horses galloped down the stretch in the 136th Preakness Stakes.
If you believe in the hereafter, Heaven will have to wait because the Pearly Gates remained shut. May 21 came and went without any catastrophic events.
(In a twist of fate, botched apocalypse notwithstanding, the Iceland volcano that disrupted air travel last year erupted on Saturday, accompanied by a series of small earthquakes.)
I don’t think anyone, except a few nuts, seriously thought a life-threatening event was imminent, despite weeks of dire warnings from doomsday prophet Harold Camping. A California radio evangelist, Camping repeatedly insisted his biblical calculations forecast Judgment Day, The Rapture, End Times, Doomsday or whatever you choose to call it. According to his analysis, the Bible guaranteed it. However, the Good Book doesn’t precisely indicate the date. That was Camping’s fantasy.
Basing his prediction on a New Testament passage, Camping proclaimed that on May 21, 2011 — beginning at 6 p.m. in every time zone — earthquakes would rattle the world as the faithful would ascend to heaven, leaving nonbelievers behind to deal with a multitude of destructive events for the next five months, when the world will be obliterated.
Incidentally, the 89-year-old preacher first predicted the end of the world in 1994, but when it didn’t materialize, he reconfigured the numbers and came up with 5/21/11. Back then, he never explained why he was off by 17 years; this time he insisted he was absolutely sure, but he was wrong again. This week he said his forecast was “off by five months” and reset Doomsday for 10/21/11.
Since his religious forecasting failed again, the rumors that Camping was going to open a chain of palm reading stores is unlikely anytime soon.
Evangelical leaders, devout Christians and anyone with any sense scoffed at the reverend’s prophecy, which has recently been a frequent source of widespread ridicule.
Religious leaders condemned Camping, stating that it was incredibly arrogant for any human to claim he could determine God’s timing for the End of Days.
If you were one of the few who paced and sweated it out last Saturday until the clock struck 6:01 p.m., you have about six months before you might get anxious again. But, if you believe in prophesies and rejoiced over this abortive event, you may want to delay long-range plans because another doomsday is just around the corner. The Mayans predicted centuries ago that 2012 would be a cataclysmic year for Earth.
Since my religious inclinations declined after my bar mitzvah, and Judaism doesn’t preach any world ending catastrophe, I presumed most religions had given up on such dire forecasts until Rev. Camping was thrust in the media spotlight.
Let’s hope, in its constant pursuit for 24/7 breaking news, the media doesn’t give Camping or another false prophet any more consideration.
Personally, the only Doomsday I foresee in 2012 is if the GOP wins the presidential election, which looks as hopeless today as Judgment Day has of being nigh.
So, for now, sing these Beatles lyrics with me, “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on…la la how life goes on.”