If you knew the world was to end tomorrow, what would you be doing tonight? Putting panic and hysteria aside, you are left with three sensible choices: praying, making survival preparations, or partying like it’s 1999. Nearly a quarter of the US population believes the world will end during their lifetime, so I am not alone in my concern.
Eight years ago, there was a wide-spread notion that earth’s final day would occur on December 21, 2012. This date was chosen by ancient Mayans who studied astronomical alignments and complicated mathematical formulas and were able to create the “Long Count” calendar which ended in 2012. The Earth was to end by being swallowed up by a massive black hole or by a collision with a mythical planet named “Nibiru”. For some odd reason, a large portion of the population actually believed this prediction. So many that a Hollywood blockbuster named 2012 made a whopping $791.2 million that year.
Scholars and scientists dismissed these predictions of cataclysmic events. Mayan scholars insisted no Mayan accounts forecasted doom, but despite these assurances, doomsayers on street corners remained convinced the end was nigh. One wild-eyed man with long unkempt hair said, “I’m not really sure what nigh is but I’m fairly sure it’s coming.”
Due to the popularity of this prophecy, early on in 2012, I created a temporary online store called 21dec2012.com. Embedded in the header of my website, there was a count-down clock ticking away the seconds to that dreaded day. The header background had an exploding planet.
I established accounts with drop-shipping companies and in the left column of my home page, I had a selection of religious items. Crosses, Bibles, candles, etc. In the center column, I had everything you needed to survive any apocalyptic event. On the far right, I listed items that you could use to party down. Quite a few folks took advantage of my “End of Days Sale” and I made a few bucks. My party items far outsold the other two categories.
We’ve been hearing doomsday predictions all our lives. My first realization that we could go up in a ball of fire at any given second was while I was enrolled in Will Rogers Elementary School. We would practice ducking under our desks whenever we heard the big yellow siren blast its warning in preparation for the impending nuclear war. We never knew if it was a drill or the real thing. If it were real, the drills wouldn’t have mattered anyway. It’s highly possible one day we’ll feel the same about the shields and masks kids are currently wearing to classes.
My fear of nuclear fallout paled in comparison to the nightmares I would have on Sunday nights after listening to Brother Lemmon’s fiery sermons from the Book of Revelation on Sunday mornings down at the Tabernacle Baptist Church. If the bomb didn’t get us, I was sure the good Lord would. There didn’t seem to be much to look forward to back when I was a boy, but still we’re here. Against all odds.
People have been predicting the end of time for a long time. I found nearly 200 documented doomsday predictions made by various groups and individuals since the year AD 33. Not surprisingly, 22 predictions for the Day of Reckoning have been made for the year 2020 alone. One of the earliest predictions of doom was for the year 100 because it was 100 years since the birth of Christ. When that date passed, it was changed to the year 133, which was 100 years from His death. Date revisions seem to be the norm for doomsday predictors.
A famous psychic, Jeane Dixon, prophesied the world would end on Feb. 4, 1962. Several Indian astrologers also believed this, and mass prayer meetings were held in India. When the world survived, she then predicted Armageddon would take place in 2020. I’ve yet to see her prediction posted on Facebook.
Notable predictions include one made by Camille Flammarion who said that the 1910 appearance of Halley’s Comet “would impregnate that atmosphere and snuff out all life on the planet”, but the planet itself would remain intact. “Comet pills” were sold to people who believed they were protection against toxic comet gases.
And then there was Mary Bateman’s prophetic hen who in 1806 began laying eggs on which the phrase “Christ is coming” was written. It turned out to be a hoax when it was discovered the sly Mrs. Bates had written on the eggs with corrosive ink and reinserted the eggs back into the poor bird, after which the hen would re-lay the eggs before a patiently waiting audience.
Except for God, no one really knows when the holocaust will come, but like the old song goes: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
Steve Reece is a contributing writer for the Reporter and a known crime fighter. Email him at email@example.com.