“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven or the Son, but the Father only.”—Matthew 24:36.
When it comes to crazy folks, I tend to go back and forth between the notion that there really are more of them these days and the probably more likely notion that due to both innovations in mass communication and the advent of social media, I am just made more aware of them than I used to be.
This is particularly true when it comes to zealots, folks who are just downright fanatical about things, one of which increasingly seems to be the end of the world, or theories thereabout. People I’ve never heard of and others whom I know and always thought were walking around with good sense, more and more seem to be expressing their opinions that because of this, that or the other, the world is bound to be on the verge of ending—or as a lot of them put it, Jesus is on the verge of “coming back.”
But it isn’t, and He’s not, and folks really ought to quit getting themselves all worked up into a stew about it, because there are plenty more real and present dangers about which they might obsess, if so inclined.
I really do wish I had a crisp $100 bill for every time I’ve had to deal in print with one of these “end of days” outbreaks, which unlike measles, there appears to be no inoculation against, save the sort of reading/education in which most folks appear unwilling to invest.
Best as I can recall, the first was way back in 1988 when this joker in Arkansas wrote this little booklet titled “On Borrowed Time/88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988,” which foretold of the impending end of us all and which he tried to sell for $2 apiece.
It was typical, as these things go. One Edgar Whise-nant predicted that “the rapture,” the eschatological calling home of the most holy of us was going to occur between a given Sunday and the following Tuesday, that the antichrist was about his literally devilish business, on the verge of sealing mankind’s fate, and that first World War III would start the next month and escalate into Armageddon, the mystical final battle between Good and Evil by 1995.
And, poor, terrified folks lapped up two million copies worth of the foolishness with feelings that ranged from unease to alarm extending all the way to Clarksdale where I toiled at the then daily newspaper there.
And, of course, like all such things before and after it, this pseudo-soothsaying was nonsense, just one more in the long line of end-of-the-world “prophecies” which spring up whenever somebody spends too much time taking literally the Book of Revelation and listening to what P.J. O’Rourke quite colorfully refers to as “refried-Jesus-wheezing TV preachers.”
From the time of the mythological Cassandra, people have been predicting the end of the world. Some of them devise bizarre formulae involving Scripture and astrology and/or numerology; some of them claim to have discovered hidden sources of knowledge and some of them just listen to the voices in their heads. Some are well meaning but deluded people; some of them are just plain crazy and some of them are trying to make a quick buck. Ole Edgar turned out to be a retired electrician who got himself ordained by some off-the-wall outfit and who, as it turned out, was on “medication” for a not fully detailed “condition.”
He was no prophet, no Jeremiah or Apostle Paul. He was an ex-electrician from Arkansas who touched one too many wires and ended up needing a voltage regulator out of a bottle. And come on, folks, everybody from Alexander the Great to Hitler to Barack Obama was supposed to have been the antichrist, and people were spouting off Scripture and verse to back up all those claims, too.
I do not demean The Holy Bible. I do not claim to understand all of the mysteries and wonders of God and I am not about to take exception with, in print or otherwise, the Almighty’s prerogative to begin and end legions of worlds, this one included.
But, such would be in His time, not that of some old coot taking Thorazine in Arkansas or some Elmer Gantry wannabe on a Christian TV station or some self-proclaimed Internet prophet hawking his version of truth du jour.
A guy named Hal Lindsey went a spell there where he wrote a “judgment day is upon us” book about every year or so and then the two guys made a fortune with a series of “Left Behind” novels in which the profit motive appears much more evident than any evangelical one.
And you know what, folks?
Go back as far as you want. Read every apocalyptic text from John of Patmos’ to Nostradamus’ to the next one that comes along and you will find that all the end times predictions share one thing in common—nary a one has come true.
So relax, folks. Have a cup of coffee or have a stiff drink and give a healthy tug to your bootstraps, because barring our own foolishness, I’m pretty sure we are going to be at this for quite a spell longer.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.