I don’t know why I’m bothering to write this column at all.
On Saturday, May 21, the day it’s due to appear in The Telegram and the Western Star, the world as we know it is coming to an end. By the time the other papers get it, Judgment Day will have come and gone and most of us with it.
You know that sign you sometimes see on licence plates and the back of some cars —“If you can read this, you’re too close”? Well, folks, if you’re reading this in the vicinity of The Northern Pen or the Nor’wester, you’re too late. I’m sorry to say you’re not there anymore. I don’t know where you are, but you are not where you normally would be.
The doomsday prophets say that on the 21st, a series of earthquakes will begin in New Zealand and Australia and spread throughout the rest of the world. These will be no little tremors, you understand. They’ll be strong enough to spew caskets out of the graves. Some of the bodies in those caskets, the “saved,” will be hurled directly into heaven, while the rest of us, the unworthy, will be unceremoniously dumped out on the ground.
It does not look like a good day for the unworthy.
Given the length of time some of those bodies have been buried, especially in the old world, that’s going to be quite a mess. Perhaps that’s being crass, and I do apologize. But if you can’t be crass in the face of imminent Judgment Day, when can you be? Answer me that.
The people behind Family Radio, the voice of this rather fringe Christian group in California (where else?), are without question deadly serious about this. They have erected more than 20,000 billboards proclaiming the end. They’ve spent a fortune sending teams all over the world trying to save as many people as they can from the coming apocalypse.
VOCM doesn’t care as much as they do.
After May 21, we're told there will be 156 days of absolute horrors. Those of us who were kicked to the curb on Saturday will either be dead or wish that we were.
The leader of this group insists that his predictions are infallible. That puts him right up there with the Pope, for goodness sake. Some nerve!
I haven’t heard what the Pope himself has had to say about it. It might be worth seeing because he’s infallible, too. One infallible prediction against the other would be something like the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.
Actually, I think the Pope would disagree with their predictions. If he did, Saturday would shut one of them up.
So, where are the boys getting all this information, and why didn’t the rest of us get it at the same time? It’s coming from the Bible, and the answer to the last question is that the rest of us don’t read it enough or carefully enough.
Their leader has gone back to the days of Noah’s Ark and bases calculations on various verses in the Bible. He says God put them there deliberately to guide us and to tell us when the Day of Judgment would be.
I don’t know what they say about Jesus’ statement that nobody knows the coming of the Last Day, “not even the angels in heaven.” They’ve obviously learned more than Jesus knows. That takes almost as much nerve as contradicting the Pope.
Mainline religious leaders, scholars and academics point out that predictions of this kind have been around since the invention of the first bow and arrow. However, they seem to be particularly worried about this one.
The problem, they say, is what happens to those thousands of sincere believers when they wake up on May 22 and find that, despite all odds, California is still there and so are they.
Evidently, many people have already quit their jobs, divested themselves of their assets and are sitting back waiting for Saturday. If their predictions come true, no worries. OK, there will be worries for the rest of us, but not for them.
But what will they do if they’re still here? In the past, people who have been so disillusioned and misled have committed suicide and otherwise gone off the deep end.
The established churches say that it is impossible to predict the end of the world from verses in the Bible. An equally important question, therefore, is what will they do if it turns out the California dreaming crowd was right after all?
Come to think of it, they won’t have to do anything — it will be done to them. No big decisions to make there.
You may be thinking that I’m living dangerously here, that I’m risking a lot by making light of this whole thing. The people who organize these events, Judgment Day and the like, don’t take kindly to having their plans not only questioned but ridiculed by mere mortals like me.
Actually, I don’t think I’m all that mere. As one of God’s special creations, made in his likeness, I figure I count for something. Further, I was always taught that the Christian God is love.
I’ve heard of tough love, but this is ridiculous.
Still, there was the Ark, and before you think about dismissing that little story, perhaps you should look up a definition of the word “tsunami,” and remember Japan and southeast Asia. There may be more to this stuff than any of us understands.
Remember, Hamlet’s words to his friend: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
So, if you agree and your end is near, simply kiss it goodbye.
Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.