A friend asked me if I remembered where I was and what I was doing when the world didn't end. I thought for a moment, and then had to ask, "Which time?" The world doesn't end so often now days that it's hard to keep track. In fact, the world not ending has become so commonplace that some of us are starting to get the idea that it might not.
My friend was referring to the prediction by Harold Camping that the world would end on Saturday, May 21, 2011. I have to admit, I'm not sure what I was doing. I simply let the whole thing slip by. A part of me that looked forward to the whole end of the world thing, and I was disappointed that I missed it entirely, even though I knew I wouldn't have really enjoyed it anyway, sort of like watching Dancing with the Stars. You want it to be spectacular, even though you know the odds are it will just be embarrassing for everyone concerned.
A few friends, who were better prepared if not wiser, decided that the best way to see the end of the world was through the bottom of a bottle of tequila. As might be predicted, they heartily wished the world had ended come Sunday morning.
Like Harold, I was also slightly surprised that his prediction was wrong. After all, the guy's got his own Wikipedia page. How much more qualification do you need than that? His track record, though, isn't that great. Apparently, he predicted the world would end in 1958, then when it didn't, 1992, and again in 1994. There's little indication that he's getting closer in his predictions, though he insists that we're getting closer to the end. Which, admittedly, is like saying each of us gets closer to death every day. Can't miss on that prediction.
Rev. Harold should have taken a lesson from Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, who said Christ would return in 1874 to be followed by the end of the world in 1914. When Christ didn't show in 1874, Russell blandly insisted that he had actually returned, but no one had noticed because he had been invisible. I'm not sure how he handled the world not ending in 1914. Perhaps it ended and we haven't noticed.
There hasn't been a shortage of predictions for when the world would end but didn't: William Miller predicted 1843 and when that didn't take, 1844; Pat Robertson, 1982 (Word is, he then predicted the Anti-Christ would be purple and have television set where his stomach should be.) Hall Lindsey, who wrote the book The Late Great Planet Earth, was a little more circumspect. He predicted the world would end sometime before Dec. 31, 1988. Which, had it happened, would have bit into his royalties, since his book has gone through five printing since then.
And let's not forget the Y2K virus that was going to destroy all our Xboxes -which would have ended the world for most teenagers. (My daughter tells me her world has ended on a weekly basis, and for some reason, it's always my fault.)
Nostradamus, who predicted everything else that has ever happened (at least according to his Wikipedia page) didn't weigh in on this one - which should clue in the rest that specifying a date is bad PR.
For those who despair that the world may never end, take heart. We still have the Mayan prediction to look forward to. The Mayans' own civilization died out mysteriously in 910 A.D., but they nevertheless took time out from the collapse of their own civilization to predict the end of ours. Interestingly enough, according to National Geographic, their civilization died from global warming, something they apparently couldn't predict.
Experts on the Mayan prediction, who also have their own Wikipedia page, tell us the Mayan's predicted the world would end on December 21, 2012, or 12212012, which in binary language would be 100101010001001010001. Just to be sure, I've e-mailed this number to Harold Camping to see if it is actually the Mark of the Beast. (Not to be confused with the Larry or Mo of the Beast.)
As much as I try, I still can't remember what I was doing when the world didn't end on Saturday, May 21. I may have been mowing the lawn. I'm pretty sure I was mowing my lawn in 1992, and again in 2000. Which means the world isn't ending way too often, or I'm mowing my lawn too much.
If the world doesn't end again in 2012, I'm thinking about getting a tee-shirt that says, "The world ended and all I got was ... " Of course, you know what comes next, just like we know what comes after the world doesn't end in 2012, the next day. In fact, I'm predicting the world won't end on 12/21/12. The way I figure it, if I'm wrong, at least there won't be anyone around to make fun of me.