Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not the way the world ends

You have to love WorldNetDaily. Since its founding in 1997, the site has emerged as the nation's premier source of information about the coming apocalypse and, more recently, secret plans by the Obama administration to steal your money and crush your soul. Where else are you going to get that kind of content? Diane Rehm? Wake up and smell the coffee! Bookmark the site now and refresh it every few minutes from your safe room down in the basement. At least until the power goes out.

Which should be any time now. On Sunday, WND posted an "exclusive" warning that global catastrophe is imminent. It came from Pastor David Wilkerson: "An earth-shattering calamity is about to happen. It is going to be so frightening, we are all going to tremble – even the godliest among us."

Presumably that would include him. Think about it: If even the godliest are trembling, then it's only a matter of time until the least godly start rampaging through the streets, screaming and rubbing their own feces in their hair. It's going to be that bad, people. The good news is that it should only last 30 days. According the the Rev. Wilkerson, that's how much food you'll want to stockpile. He doesn't mention firearms and ordnance, but when buying ammo one rule of thumb is to estimate the number of godless people in your area and multiply by 20.

I have some familiarity with predictions of the End Times. I was still a newlywed in the early 70s when my then-mother-in-law first thrust a copy of The Late Great Planet Earth into my hands. In the years that followed, she never missed an opportunity to proffer more books, and pamphlets and personal studies. All declared that doomsday was nigh. As each specific date quietly came and went, she always wrote it off to slight errors in Biblical interpretation and cheerfully set a new one a year or two down the road. As a prophetess of doom, her failure rate remains at 100 percent. Somehow, so does her faith in eventually nailing it.

But then, the same could be said for Hal Lindsey and David Wilkerson and the thousands of others who have been predicting the world's end for the past couple of millennia. Some people make a nice living doing that kind of thing; others just alienate their families and friends. All of them seem fascinated by the idea of the godless perishing in a rain of blood and brimstone -- while those with the foresight to heed scripture and hoard food are spared.

Someday, maybe, someone will get it right. Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn. But I'd put my money on T.S. Eliot before Pastor Wilkerson: When this world ends, it probably won't be with a bang. And the amount of groceries in your basement is unlikely to pertain.

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