The Saratoga Sun -

It’s the end of the world as we know it ... and I feel fine

 


Apocalypses have been predicted pretty much since there have been civilizations to cower in fear of them. Since one of the “biggies” is just around the corner I thought this week timely to explore some earlier world-shattering (or not) prophesies.1

Rome’s End. The Romans thought the world would end in 634 B.C. because supernatural eagles told Romulus, Rome’s founder, his civilization would only last 120 years. Romans panicked as the city neared the eventually uneventful anniversary. Really. How could the world have possibly ended then? Hard for Jesus to return if he hadn’t even been here the first time. Silly Romans.

Innocent Lost. Pope Innocent III proclaimed the world would end in 1284. He arrived at this date by adding 666 years (a devil of a long time to be sure) to the rise of Islam. It wasn’t the last time a pope was wrong.

Salem Old Song and Dance. Cotton Mather was a Puritan minister who played a part in the Salem witch trials. Cotton figured that, based on events he thought were fulfillment of biblical prophesies, the end would come in 1697. When that fell through, he changed doomsday to 1736. He then went with 1716, then 1717. I think folks learned not to put this kind of Cotton in their ears.

Not Miller Time. William Miller, a Baptist preacher during the 19th century’s Second Great Awakening, told his followers (Millerites) that Jesus was definitely booked for his return engagement and that the world would end in 1843 or 1844. After giving away all of their worldly goods, 50,000 Millerites went on to experience what came to be summed up as “The Great Disappointment”. I have nothing funnier to add to that.

Comet, not Cupid (or Donner & Blitzen). In 1910, astronomers proclaimed Earth would pass through the tail of Haley’s Comet. Crackpots spread tales of the tail’s poisonous gas dooming everyone. Snake oil salesmen capitalized by selling “comet pills” and “anti-comet umbrellas” that would preserve users from the harmful fumes. Okay, I kinda do wish I had a cool anti-comet umbrella.

Push it Back, Push it Back ... Way Back! The founder of the movement that gave rise to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Mr. Charles Taze Russell, told folks Jesus had already returned without fanfare and the world would wrap it all up in 1914. When that somehow failed to occur, other Jehovah’s Witnesses just started adding doomsday years. These include 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941 and as recently as 1994. Sounds like my writing style ... make it up as you go along.

All Lined Up and No Place To Go. Respected meteorologist Albert Porta created havoc (including suicides and mob violence) with his prediction that a conjunction of six planets on Dec. 17, 1919, would rend our world asunder. No rend. No sunder.

Shh! We’re Going to Write About This. The Seekers were a cult founded in the 50s by housewife Dorothy Martin. Dorothy told her group that aliens had let her know Earth was to be destroyed by floods Dec. 21, 1954. On the appointed day, the Seekers gathered at Ms. Martin’s house to await salvation in the form of a flying saucer. After it became clear nothing was going to happen, Dorothy let her flock know their faith had swayed the “God of Earth” to refrain from destruction. The Seekers soon disbanded to seek their own ways. What the group didn’t know is that they had been infiltrated by psychologists doing a study on apocalyptic beliefs. The psychologists’ paper, When Prophecy Fails, became the seminal work on the results of people’s strongest convictions being disproved. So be sure when you form your cult you screen out those pesky psychologists.

Party Like it’s 1999. Nostradamus (if you haven’t heard enough about this guy, where have you been?) prophesied a “king of terror” would descend from the sky in July 1999. I don’t remember that, but then, I don’t remember much of 1999.

WhyTooWhat? Everything connected to a computer was supposed to explode Jan. 1, 2000, because computers were not ready for the skip from 1999 to 2000. This was popularly called Y2K. Remember it?

Camping at The End of The World. Evangelist and radio “personality” Harold Camping said the bible guaranteed Judgement Day on May 21, 2011,2 and spent $3 million spreading that word. Suicides and murder/suicides were connected to this prophesy.3

Okay, so much for all those failed cataclysms.

But this one ... this one has traction.

This one has Mayan calendars ending, Nostradamus and his blank book of life, a planet named Nabiru headed our way, a Universal Alignment and a governmental denial.

The Mayans were indeed a brilliant people4. Brilliant at agriculture. Brilliant at architecture. They were also extremely cunning at astronomy. The Mayans just pretty much completely failed at remaining a functioning empire5. What do you do when the folks that made your calendar aren’t around to make you a new one? Announce the end of the world of course.

I saw a show about Nostradamus depicting some drawings he had made showing him next to an empty book of life after Dec. 21. Just because a book has no writing in it does not signify an end. What it can mean is something needs to be written there. But if this means hearing no further Nostradamus malarkey ... Hooray!

The Sumerians came up with a planet named Nabiru6 that is supposedly heading our way. Nabiru was originally scheduled to arrive in 2003. Can we just change its name to “Tardy”?

As far as galactic alignment, there is pretty much always something aligning somewhere.6

The government denial is true though.7 That, in and of itself, is pretty scary ‘cause if the government denies it, you know it’s going to happen.

Anyway, if the end actually is near please try not to go crazy and kill yourself or others. If the rapture actually does occur, I assure you God knows where to find you and most likely wants to take care of matters Himself.

Just try not to do anything you can’t take back ... just in case the world, somehow, keeps on spinning.

1. Apocalypses That Weren’t, May 17, 2011, History.com

2. 12 Failed End of the World Prophesies, http://www.ranker.com

3. If The End of the World is Not on May 21, What Will Camping Followers Do?, Elizabeth Flock, May 20, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com

4. 2102, History.com

5. The Rise and Fall of the Maya Empire, History.com

6. Beyond 2012: Why the World Won’t End, Nov. 13, 2012, NASA.com

7. Scary Rumors About the World Ending in 2012 are Just Rumors, blog.USA.gov

 

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