Thursday, May 19, 2011
Its the End of the World
Probably since the beginning of time, people have been predicting the end of the world. And since we're all still here, we can say with some certainty that they've all been wrong. The Christians especially seem taken with the idea, its been a major part of their faith since the Early Church. Many men have come forward all with their own ideas of where or when the End will occur and they're always mistaken. Millions of people have bought into the claims of these... I guess the only word for them is "Frauds". Whole religious movements such as the Seventh-Day Adventists and thousands of other odd splinter-groups of the Christian faith have been based primarily upon the idea that their leader figured out the mystery and could name the day of Judgment. People have given up everything in their lives, leaving themselves with nothing, based upon the idiotic assumption that the world will end next Saturday, or any of the other days that False Prophets have predicted. I know "idiocy" is not a good term to use for an article of faith, but if you're standing on the tradition of several thousand people who always have been wrong, to believe this stuff in the year 2011 isn't speaking well of your intelligence. You're suckers, that's it.
Hey maybe Christ will return one day, but it won't be this Saturday. Personally I rather doubt that Jesus would want anything to do with Revelations, you know, since the guy was all about turning the other cheek and being good to each other. Father God can't destroy the Earth again because of that Covenent with Noah, the promised that he wouldn't bring another Flood*. I guess that only leaves the Holy Spirit to blow us up on Saturday. If Christ does return, I'm pretty sure he won't be bringing Fire and Brimstone. (Can you imagine how many arguments Jesus must have with his Dad over all that Smiting that happened in the Old Testament? Must be really awkward dinners up in Heaven.) So if you've already sold your home, quit your job, and spent the last few weeks blowing your savings on this new Doomsday Cult, I suggest you keep your fridge stocked for Sunday, get your kids back in school, and beg your boss for your job back.
There's a long sad history of Doomsday predictions, coming in all shapes and all faiths. The Jews after the destruction of the First Temple and later in the Roman occupation certainly thought they were living in the End Times, thus the high popularity of prophets and holy men, one of which was Jesus himself. In the early Christian Church, most people assumed that the End was going to be in their lifetimes. However, after a few centuries, this kind of belief slowly faded away. When Christianity became the new culture of power amongst the Roman Empire's elite, the whole "the world is going to end" stuff didn't really translate all that well. You can't be a Universal Empire if God is coming down to smite us all in just a few years. Plus with the coming Dark Ages, the average person (most of whom were still pagan) really had more important things, like surviving, to worry about such ideas as God's Wrath. It wasn't until the Modern Era and the Protestants that people really started getting interested in the whole End Times predictions. Martin Luther himself guessed that the end was going to come around 1600 - it didn't. The Anabaptists thought it was coming in 1533, and so set up a violent religious dictatorship in the German city of Munster based on the assumption that their city was the New Jerusalem. Their Zion didn't quite last 1000 years, but the metal cages that the corpses of the Anabaptist leaders were kept in might - they're still hanging from the steeple of St. Lampert's Church 500 years later for all to see.
But no country loves End Times predictions like the United States. Personally I think its tied to our bizarre love of conspiracy theories, its all one giant web of interconnecting paranoia that refuses to see the world as it really is. William Miller is perhaps the most famous End Times false prophet. A baptist preacher, he predicted that Christ was going to come back on October 22nd, 1844, and it became a large scale movement of the Second Awakening. Evangelicals everywhere were convinced that the end was on its way... then October 23rd rolled around. Somehow or another Miller's disappointed followers managed to brush off their wounds and found several sects that last to this very day. God knows how many splinters there have been of the Adventist Churches. One of them was the Branch Davidians, a Doomsday Cult that met its end in the bloody Waco Siege in 1993. The Jehovah's Witnesses have been predicting the End Times since 1877, coming up with a new date of the Apocalypse every so often, though they seem to have given up since 1975. Modern Evangelicalism is generally obsessed with the End, in some cases considering the entire Bible to be little more than code for their prediction of the end. They're all certain that the end is coming in just a few years - and in some cases they've been certain of this for decades. Then there's the non-Christan Doomsday Cults like Heaven's Gate, who all killed themselves because they thought aliens would wipe the Earth clean in 1997. Fred Phelps and his massively non-Christian Westboro Baptist Church have predicted that God will destroy us all because of gay people for decades now. Notably all this wacky Doomsday crap only seems to be focused amongst White people, Black Christians never seem to be the ones involved with these End Times predictions. To them the world is still a battleground where justice and equality need to prevail before even considering Christ's return - a viewpoint that I believe is far more healthy.
Let's talk about Harold Camping himself. He first guessed that Christ was coming back in 1994 - he didn't show. Like all these Doomsday frauds, he immediately claimed that he messed up on the math and went back to the drawing board. To the False Prophets, all sorts of various numbers in the Bible can be put together in such a way so that Jesus can conveniently return in just a few years or decades. Camping, an eighty-nine year-old radio host, says that he got the 1994 date wrong because he didn't factor in the Gregorian Calendar. I'm sure next time he'll be saying that he should have used a lunar calendar next. I don't know if Camping is a conscious con-man, but it does not really matter. If he's an honest swindler or deceiving himself as much as his followers, it doesn't matter, he's still just as wrong either way.
Now Camping's idea of what's going to happen on Saturday is actually pretty interesting. The Apocalypse will begin at six o'clock PM sharp, local time**. As in local time all around the world, so it will begin first in the Pacific and take twenty-four hours to destroy us all. A great earthquake will occur, knocking open every grave worldwide. Those who died Saved will go up to Heaven along with the living True Christians***. As for the rest of us, its Trumpet time. Open the Seals! The seas will run red! The great Whore of Babylon and all the rest. But when its over and we're all dead, we're not going to Hell to burn with the Beast and the Antichrist. No, we simply cease to be. Yes, death is final. We've failed that badly that God won't even torture us.
What will I be doing at six o'clock on Saturday when the Earthquake hits the Eastern Standard Time Zone? Playing "Ogre Battle 64" that's what. If the world ends, I'll be dead and I'll die happily. If the world doesn't end, then I can still be playing "Ogre Battle 64", so it all works out. Or who knows? I might get Raptured by accident.
See you at the end. This might just be the last Planet Blue post ever.
* Now some of you might say, oh God only said "Flood", he can do everything else to wipe us out. Come on, that's splitting hairs. Are you really going to turn God into a trickster genie? "Ha ha, you weren't specific enough, Noah! Now your descendants are screwed! Bring on Wormwood and the Horsemen!" We obviously haven't broken the Covenant because the symbol of humanity's treaty with God, the Rainbow, still exists. I'm sure some theologian will try to tell me otherwise, but I'm pretty sure this logic is foolproof. The Book of Revelations isn't even a prediction in the first place - its a message of hope during the persecution of Christians in the reign of Nero. St. John of Patmos wasn't writing for Harold Camping and his radio audience of suckers, he was writing for those seven churches he addresses at the beginning of the Book.
** God, apparently is absolutely in love with the concept of Time Zones, which only have been around since the 19th century. The means that the Earthquake will have to make a few weird twists and turns when it comes to Asia, because as you can see, it gets complicated. This means that Irkutsk, Russia will be destroyed at the same time as Japan, even though Japan is a thousand miles east of Irkutsk. All of China will fall in a single hour. Kaliningrad will fall one hour before the rest of the Baltics. Venezuela will die a half hour before Guyana. And the earthquake will stop at national borders worldwide, while the angels are apparently taking short breaks, I guess. This leaves me with the humorous image of a cherub with a stop-watch conducting all the other angels with fiery swords ready to reap humanity.
*** Obviously a "True Christian" cannot be just anybody who believes in Jesus Christ and loves thy neighbor. No no no, you need to believe in the exact blend of Calvinism that Harold Camping believes in. So ultimately only 3% of the world's population will go to Heaven, which is actually a rather high 200 million. Everybody else, including a lot of Unbaptized Babies, are going to remain on Earth to enjoy the ride.