So, no, the world didn’t end over the weekend. If you’re reading this, you’re likely alive and safe and well fed. You dodged apocalypse yet again.
Sept. 23 came and went, and you, like me, still have to pay bills, walk the dog, fold laundry and cook meals. Saturday was the date David Meade, a self-published author and the latest in a long line of confused prophets, claimed our world would end. Unseat, a Christian website, also marked the 23rd as the beginning of the end, while YouTube, the sometimes barometer of an unhinged society, was chockablock with videos predicting doomsday.
The predictions were based on calculations that sound logical but are far from. Meade, for instance, based his hypothesis around the number 33. Sept. 23 was 33 days after the solar eclipse, that celestial event we celebrated without knowing that it was the harbinger of the Rapture. (Silly us.) What’s more, Meade believed that a mysterious planet called Nibiru was on a collision course with Earth, despite the repeated assertions by NASA that no such planet exists. (Silly NASA.) With such irrefutable math in play, of course the end was nigh — until it wasn’t.
Sigh. Yawn. Been there, done that.
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I spent doomsday cleaning out the yard shed with The Hubby, a job both of us felt was pretty darn like the end of the world in the September heat.
Granted, these past few days has been so unsettling that I keep telling anyone who will listen that I’ve had to turn off both TV and radio because the news gives me vertigo of the soul. Scenes of devastation — earthquakes in Mexico, monster hurricanes in Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, wildfires in the west, and genocide here and there — can worry the most even-keeled among us. To add to the collective anxiety, nuclear war feels ever more imminent.
Why so many catastrophes menacing all at once?
“Whatever is happening to our world isn’t good,” a friend said, while driving to work last week. “It’s just one disaster after another.”
In that minutes-long conversation the tone of her voice spiked from plaintive to panicked, but she managed to recover long enough to reassure me that she was planning to attend morning Mass the following day — just in case. In times of fear, we hedge our bets with the Almighty.
Another friend confided that her elderly mother in Guatemala phoned to report that her hometown had been hit by a series of damaging hailstorms. “She’s very scared. She’s never seen anything like it.”
Predictions of The End are hardly new, probably because it’s more comforting to prepare for calamity than it is to accept the randomness of the universe. I’ve lived — and laughed — through a few world-ending days. Sadly, such prophesies are as common as a preschooler with a runny nose.
Remember the Blood Moon Prophecy, promulgated by the apocalyptic beliefs of Christian ministers John Hagee and Mark Biltz, which assured a skeptical world that four consecutive lunar eclipses would lead to expiration in September 2015? Then there was the handwringing back in December 2012, when some obscure Mayan calendar announced Armageddon. And in 2011, Harold Camping, a Christian evangelist, twice proclaimed doomsday, prompting his followers to sell all their worldly possessions in order to spread the word about the end of time.
Nothing happened. Apparently, Judgment Day keeps getting postponed, no matter how frequently somebody forecasts it.
Nevertheless, I believe these lunatic divinations can provide some valuable insight on how to live in troubling times and why we should remember that the sky, heavy with low-lying clouds, isn’t falling. When hurricanes and earthquakes and nuclear war threaten your peace of mind — actually when the mundanity of job woes, family worries and health concerns loom over the horizon — remember that no calamity is forever, regardless of how we feel while stuck in it. Suffering does pass, and despair isn’t permanent. We humans are amazingly resilient, capable of great courage and emotional muscle.
Don’t we survive the end of the world again and again?