Saturday, May 7, 2011

Are You Ready For the End of the World on May 21? A Saturday Journal

There is a group of Christians who have interpreted Biblical messages to signify that Judgment Day will occur on Saturday, May 21  2011. (That's just two weeks from today.)

On that day, a catastrophic earthquake will hit the Pacific Rim (all countries that ring the Pacific Ocean, which would include the U.S. West Coast) at 6pm in each time zone. 

Following the catastrophe, believers will be "Raptured"--that is, their bodies will be taken straight up to the skies (I assume those in the Southern hemisphere will be taken straight down?)  

For the rest of us, the hope of salvation will end, and we will eventually wind up in a hellish existence when the earth and universe all come to an end 153 days later---roughly October 21.

And a pleasant Good Afternoon to you, too!

National Public Radio aired an interesting if disheartening story today about this event ("Is the End Nigh?", NPR May 7 2011), interviewing those who truly believe in the pending occurrence.  Various groups of people are carrying placards and pontificating in the streets; others are simply handing out pamphlets. 

Virtually all of those faithful to these prophecies fully expect to be taken up to the sky, and so they have cancelled any plans for life on earth after May 21st.

One man who was interviewed for the piece said, "I no longer think about 401(k)s and retirement...  I'm not stressed about losing my job, which a lot of other people are in this economy. I'm just a lot less stressed, and in a way I'm more carefree."

Another young woman said, "Knowing the date of the end of the world changes all your future plans..." She thought she'd go to medical school, until she began tuning in to Family Radio. She and her husband... lived and worked in New York City. But a year ago, they decided they wanted to spend their remaining time on Earth with their infant daughter. "My mentality was, why are we going to work for more money? It just seemed kind of greedy to me. And unnecessary..."

Family Radio, a Christian network valued at over 100 million dollars, has been making predictions and encouraging believers to prepare for the end.

I reacted to this story with a mixture of contempt (for a movement that encourages good people to succumb to their fears), and sympathy and sadness (for those who are simply giving up).

Those who are now speaking on street-corners and handing out leaflets ought to have the courage to appear in public on May 22, to offer an explanation to those faithful who find themselves stranded on earth, without jobs, retirement plans, or any semblance of a future.

I suspect we will see none of these "prophets", and not because they have been sucked into the clouds.

I also chuckled at the absurdity of it all. These prophecies have failed before. People are, after all, responsible for their own decisions.  As the NPR piece put it, "Most Bible scholars note that even Jesus said he had no idea when Judgment Day would come. But May 21 believers are unfazed."

(I shall refrain from cheap comments about Jesus not having had access to a good seismometer.)

And so I let myself be reminded of the amusing philosophy of a mildly depressed little boy named Alvy Singer.....


  1. Crikey, I won't even have finished my current contract, how disappointing. Actually as a Brit on the other side of the world I should be reasonably safe from a Pacific Rim disaster, unless it's completely cataclysmic.

    I think the saddest thing is that many of the people you mentioned seem to have chosen good ways to spend their time - relax about the fear of losing their job, spend more time with their children - it's a shame the reasoning is so misguided.

  2. Ben, that's a good angle on this story...that people are worrying less, and engaging in positive activity, in spite of a terrible reason.

    I think you will definitely finish your contract... I hope you will do another post about your play...and highlight yourself a little!