Monday, May 23, 2011

The End of the World

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Doomsday never came
by Robert A. Waters

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son but only the Father.” Jesus Christ.

Doomsday prophets we have with us always.

Respected meteorologist Albert Porta once predicted that on December 17, 1919, “the conjunction of 6 planets would generate a magnetic current that would cause the sun to explode and engulf the earth.” As a respected scientist, Porta’s pronouncements gained credibility among many. Suicides and mass hysteria led up to the non-event. But as soon as the hullabaloo died down, a disgraced Porta was summarily fired from his job. In his final years, the failed prognosticator took a job as a small-town newspaper reporter and faded into well-deserved oblivion.

In April, 1961, the insufferable Bertrand Russell predicted that if the great super-powers of the day didn’t change their policies, “it is in the highest degree improbable that any of you present will be alive ten years hence.” (I would have been seventeen-years-old at the time and I don’t remember this prediction, but then again, I don’t remember much about Russell except falling asleep while trying to wade through some of his ponderous philosophical treatises for yet another useless college course I took. I never liked him after that and was glad to see that he was as spectacularly wrong on this matter as he was on just about everything else.) An article in the Kingston Jamaican Gleaner summed up his history of foretelling the future: “Lord Russell is in the habit of predicting the imminent end of the world. Last time he gave it two years and demonstrated surprise, but little gratitude, when it lasted longer than that.”

Millenium Manor, or "Armageddon House," in Alcoa, Tennessee, was built in the 1930s for an end-of-the-world scenario that was, according to its creator, William Andrew Nicholson, to take place in 1969. The massive stone house was built to survive Armageddon and last another 1,000 years. Nicholson thought that everyone in the world would be destroyed except for him and 144,000 other righteous people. They would then live for 1,000 years before the return of Christ when they would be spirited into heaven and the earth incinerated. Nicholson died in 1965, thus cheating his critics of the chance to confront him. His house, however, built like a Roman fortress, still stands and probably will for several millennia.

The so-called “Grannis Vigil” took place between September 29, 1975 and July 16, 1976. It was in the little town of Grannis, Arkansas that approximately twenty-five residents quit their jobs, left their homes, and moved into a cramped residence to await the end of the world. They received quite a bit of publicity as they patiently awaited the return of Christ. For ten months they persevered, their homes falling into arrears and their cars being repossessed. Gene Nance, owner of the home where the watchers had gathered, eventually was evicted for not making his mortgage payments, thereby putting a screeching halt to the vigil. He and his followers blended back into Grannis society, their strange wait now just a footnote in local history books.

Lee Jang Lim, pastor of the Tami Missionary Church in South Korea, predicted that the destruction of earth would occur in September, 1992. Thousands fell for the shyster’s lies and seemed surprised when the old sphere kept spinning. A few weeks later, his followers were also surprised to find that Lim had $350,000 “in bonds due to come good in 1995.” He was arrested for fraud and mercifully disappeared from the public eye.

In 999 A.D., mass hysteria swept the earth. Many were convinced that at midnight on December of that year, the world would end. It was no different in 1999 A.D. As the doomsday clock ticked toward midnight on that last day of the year, millions cringed at the disaster that awaited planet earth. At one second after midnight, computers would crash, planes would fall out of the sky, and the world would go black as utilities failed. Chaos, anarchy, and crime would follow. Civilization would quickly become just a mere thought in the memory banks of the stragglers who survived. Y2K may not wipe us out, but it would certainly send us reeling back to the stone-age. On January 1, 2000, many awoke with hangovers and relief—the world had continued on as it has for thousands of years.

A few months ago, Harold Camping predicted that the “rapture” would occur on May 21, 2011. Five months later, the world would end. (Before this date, he’d also predicted that September, 1994 would be the end of the world.) An article written by a FOX News reporter summed up Camping's prognostication: “According to the Christian broadcaster, Judgment Day was supposed to bring a massive earthquake, powerful enough to throw open graves, followed by a slow death for all non-believers over the next five months across the globe. He went on to say only 200 million people will be saved and those left behind will die in earthquakes, plagues, and other calamities until Earth is consumed by a fireball on October 21.”

Next year, a long-suffering public will be afflicted with the “2012 Apocalypse,” supposedly predicted by the Mayan Calendar. According to believers, a cataclysmic series of solar storms and magnetic pole misalignments will bring about the end of time. While taking time off from sacrificing children to the gods, the great Mayan priests were allegedly able to see into the future for thousands of years. On December 21, 2012, the sayers said, earthquakes, mega-volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes and numerous other natural catastrophes will come together in a perfect storm of destruction, thereby sending the planet spiraling into the abyss.

So once again the end is near.

I’ve got a suggestion for those inclined to believe such prophecies of doom: keep paying that mortgage.

1 comment:

Zack said...

Very good. A leader at my church says that the only thing he knows about the end of the world is: It will come on a day that no one predicts it will come to an end.