Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is the world ending...now?

Yesterday I wrote about my new favorite, love-to-hate-em, religious fringe group, Project Caravan, who are saying May 21st of this year is Judgment Day.  (Sorry Quiverfullers, you've been bumped off the top of my list.  Rest assured, I still think you're completely insane, too.)

As I promised in yesterday's post, today I want to take a little time to catalogue many (though nowhere near all) the times someone got a big head and thought they personally knew when the end of the world is coming.  Considering I'm sitting here with such luxuries as civilization and internet (as opposed to digging locusts out of my boils while accidentally stepping on all the frogs hopping around), they were obviously incorrect.

Without further ado, 8PP presents...

Times the World was Supposed to End
(and Totally Didn't)

Friday, March 25, 970 AD.  The Lotharingian computists (incorrectly) foresaw this day as the End due to the fact that, in the year 970 AD, the Annunciation and Good Friday both fell on the same day.  The world didn't end, and I bet the Lotharingian computists still alive looked very silly 22 years later, when the Annunciation and Good Friday fell on the same day again . . . Wait, they didn't?  Everyone just thought the world was due to end all over again in 992?  I know people didn't live very long back then, but 22 years still isn't a tremendously extended period of time.  You'd think the people who'd been kids in 970 would be reminding every in 992 what a dumb idea this was.

February 1, 1524.  You know how a lot of Americans like to think our country is chosen by God, and kind of the center of the world?  We totally get that from our imperialist British origins.  Back in the 16th century, a bunch of London astrologers convinced over 20,000 people to flee their homes for higher ground, because the end of the world would begin with a second Great Flood.  Apparently, astrologers make crappy biblical scholars, because, amidst all their calculations, they somehow missed that bit in Genesis where God Himself promised to never flood the Earth again.  (Though, in fairness, living in a waterlocked country where it rains all the time probably makes the idea of a flood especially worrisome.)  When the rain never came (at least, not in significant amounts as to cause severe flooding), German astrologer Johannes Stoeffler corrected everyone's predictions with his belief that they miscalculated, and the flood was actually coming on the 20th of that month.  He presumably did this in an attempt to prove that Germans can be insanely conceited, too.

1794.  Both the Shakers and Charles Wesley assumed the world would end this year.  This is a great issue to bring up any time you're disagreeing with a Methodist friend about anything, related or not.  "You really thought the Tar Heels deserved a #2 seeding?  What do you know?  The guy who started your whole church thought the world would end in 1794."  This is also a great way to have no Methodist friends, so only use it if it's really important you win whatever the argument is.

1836.  This is the year that John Wesley, Charles's brother, predicted the Beast to make his appearance and bring about the Great Revelation.  Use this to support your prior argument if your Methodist friend counters with something like, "What does any of this have to do with basketball?"

1874.  The first year the Jehovah's Witnesses predicted the end of the world.  Some of them had to have been related to the Wesleys, because they predicted the next end of the world a mere seven years later, in 1881.  After this time also proved incorrect, the Jehovah's Witnesses kind of adopted predicting the end of the world as "their thing", along with constantly changing their calculations on how many people can get into Heaven.

December 17, 1919.  Meteorologist Albert Porta, being an awful meteorologist but awesome potential cult leader, predicted that some sort of alignment of the planets would result in an extreme solar flare (approximately threeve gazillion meters long, according to what I'm just assuming he scribbled on a napkin) would incinerate the Earth's atmosphere.  Not wanting to sit around waiting for this instantaneous and painless death, some of the less logical people who believed him killed themselves, presumably just a couple of weeks before Christmas.  Porta didn't, because, come on, that would just be crazy.

January 1, 2000.  Don't even front.  You remember what this nonsense was about.  The good ol' Y2K scare.  Somehow all the numbers switching over to 000 would spontaneously implode every hard drive in the world and make everything that runs on computers go haywire.  Planes would fall out of the sky and the automated locks on all the prisons would open.  Power outages across the grid, etc.  For some reason, the best way to prepare for this was to stock up on canned food and gallons of water.  At least, that's what I remember my crazy mom stockpiling in the pantry.  She also wouldn't let me go to a Christian youth New Year's event, though I argued (unsuccessfully) that fellowshipping with other believers was probably the best place to be at the end of the world.  We went through the same rigmarole the next year when the New Millenia was coming.

Obviously, this is by no means a comprehensive list but, rather, just the examples that are most amusing to be.  There have been thousands upon thousands of predictions of the Apocalypse and, so far, they've all been false.  (Unless the Apocalypse has come and we just don't realize it because it's nowhere near as bad as we were expecting.)  So relax, take a deep breath, and go ahead and start planning for that trip to Disney World this summer.  Even money says you'll still be around for it.

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