Just another apocalypse

It’s kind of a downer to be told the world is going to end on your birthday. That if you don’t perish in the apocalypse while blowing out the candles on your birthday cake, and if you’re not immediately transported to heaven, you will have to endure five years of hell on Earth, complete with all kinds of pestilential torment before the final judgment.

It’s kind of a downer to be told the world is going to end on your birthday. That if you don’t perish in the apocalypse while blowing out the candles on your birthday cake, and if you’re not immediately transported to heaven, you will have to endure five years of hell on Earth, complete with all kinds of pestilential torment before the final judgment.

I’m going to take that to mean that I won’t be able to retire as planned, and I’ll be forced to remain here at my desk searching for words of consolation to Canadians, while the Harper government closes down the CBC.

California-based non-profit Family Radio has searched the Bible for a calculation of the Last Day, and they have settled on this May 21 — the day I turn 57. They are so certain of their calculations that they have devoted all their resources to buying billboard space and radio time all around the world, to warn us all about the end of days.

For them, there is no tomorrow. They have told reporters they have not hedged any bets; they are not saving anything to allow them to operate past May 21, just in case they were mistaken in their predictions. Nor are they asking for any donations. What would be the point?

Evangelicals sometimes open a conversation with the question that if you knew you would die very soon, how would you spend your last moments? The point of the question is to guide the listener to thoughts of a hereafter.

Myself, I prefer not to think about the End of Time all that much. It’s not as if we have control over such things. Instead, it’s far more productive (and sane) to simply do the good that you can do while you’re here and able to do it.

Besides, this is not the first time the world has ended. Nor will it be the last.

There have been dozens of predictions made about the impending apocalypse over the past century or so, and it is still pending, despite the passing of numerous deadlines.

In 1997, the International Association of Psychics reported 92 per cent of their 120,000 members had the same dream, that the oceans would shrink into deserts and a worldwide plague would eliminate humanity in 2001.

Denver, Colo., was predicted to be wiped off the map on Oct. 10 1998.

In 1982, a unique alignment of our planets was to create massively destructive tides, a firestorm on the sun would fry us, and TV stations would go off the air.

Here’s a hint concerning the veracity of Family Radio’s prediction. The head of their organization, Robert Camping, once wrote a book proving the world would end in 1994. Instead, we entered the North American Free Trade Agreement, a photo of the Loch Ness monster was proven a hoax, and U.S. President Bill Clinton launched a campaign to reform the American health care system.

Mind you, we’ve already had the wars and rumours of war, earthquakes, flooding, famine and flu. What’s more, the price of gasoline is going through the roof.

And even if we do get the garden in under these sunny skies, there’s still the ancient Mayan calendar that ends in 2012, and Sir Isaac Newton’s apocalypse remains scheduled for 2060.

Still, with all this, it’s a better bet that a whole lot of Albertans will huddle around campfires in rain-turning-to-snow over the coming May long weekend than being snuffed in a one-off event of global holocaust.

It’s only the end of the world. And my birthday — and me with a lot still left on my bucket list.

We’ll get through this. We always have.

Greg Neiman is an Advocate editor.