In fact, if you put in a quick call to Bryan Smith, who owns a printing company in Altamonte Springs, Fla., hell loan you his survival bunker. Its so sophisticated that it will be featured in an episode of National Geographic Channels reality series Doomsday Preppers that airs next year. It sleeps 12 but could do 36 if it was really raining fire and brimstone from hell outside, says Smith. But hes more worried about conventional geopolitical crises down the road that will bring on hyperinflation and food rioting, so hes not using the bunker this week. As long as you clean it up on Saturday when you move back to the world, its yours.
Americans mostly seem to be manifesting their interest in the calamitous calendar-calamity by looking at the Internet a NASA debunking site drew 4.6 million views in less than a week. (Though the New York Post did devote its entire Thursday front page to a photo of bosomy model Niki Ghazian, clad in a severely overworked red bra, who has been sending out wistful Twitter messages about her wish to have a lot of sex before the world ends.)
But Stuart Z. Charmé, a religion professor at the Rutgers University campus in Camden, N.J., says apocalyptic mania is worrisome even when it appears to be a harmless diversion. Charmé, whos been tracking doomsday themes in religion and popular culture in a course he teaches called The End of the World, says its a recurring American fascination.
Watching zombie movies may be fun, but this can get a lot more serious, he says. One problem is that some people take it so seriously that they harm themselves: Waco, Jonestown, the Heavens Gate group who all killed themselves so they could board a spaceship they thought was following behind the Hale-Bopp comet in 1997.
The other, he believes, is the possibility that apocalyptic beliefs could influence political decisions. Ive got a whole shelf of now-obsolete books that argue Saddam Hussein was the anti-Christ and his sudden prominence in world politics was a sign that Armageddon was near, says Charmé. Now, its one thing to say that Saddam might have weapons that could harm us and we should go to war against him. We can argue about that.
But its another to decide that hes the anti-Christ and declaring war on him will help bring about the return of Jesus. Thats, to me, very alarming.