The End of Days - End of Ways

Oh, do mark your calendars on the day that Dr. Richard Loren Held launched his Sunday discussion by referencing Rev. Pat Robertson.

Now, I say this because, for those who may not know me, I teach a notably different Christianity from that of Mr. Roberts and I espouse a radically different ethic from that of Mr. Roberts.

Nonetheless, this televangelist alarmed no small number of people when he informed his 700 Club audience that there would be a judgement on the world by the end of 1982.

Imagine that - just in time for Thriller!  Not fair, I say.

Now, Mr. Roberts was neither the first nor the last to make such a prediction.  Nor are such predictions the sole property of religious voices.

It was in Leeds in 1806 that a hen began laying eggs, each bearing the phrase, “Christ is coming.”  Of course, countless people travelled far to observe this rather obvious miracle until, in the end the owner was discovered writing, “Christ is coming” on eggs and inserting them into one of his presumably irritable hens.

Following a New England farmer named William Miller, thousands of (they were known as Millerites) gave or sold all their possessions in preparation for a very specific April 23rd, 1843 end-of-days event – a date calculated from Mr. Miller’s study of scripture.

Of course, they disbanded, I assume beginning as early as April 24th.

Now, I can understand why I would give my stuff and things in preparation for an end-of-days reckoning.  After all, we’ve all been taught that regardless of where we’re going, we won’t need stuff and things.  I admit some curiosity, however, about why I might sell my stuff and things.  I won’t need stuff and things, but will I need money?

It was Joseph Smith who prophesized an end-of-days event for the late 1800’s and The New York Times among others who speculated that the entire planet would be bathed in deadly gas after sailing through the tail of Haley’s Comet in 1910.

I imagine a number of you remember rumors that an alien spacecraft was cloaked in the tail debris of the Hale-Bopp comet in 1997 as publicized by Art Bell on his talk show Coast to Coast AM.  This “visitation” of sorts - thought to be covered up by NASA - gave rise to the Heaven’s Gate cult whose members sadly committed suicide in the same year.

So, from irritable hens to comet gas to intergalactic visitations, it seems that the media has a history of predicting disaster and provoking fear.  Don’t you just wish you could go back in time and say, “People, people, people.  You would do well to consider that some of your media might be driven by people committed to matters such as financial gain over matters such as factual reporting?”

Don’t you just wish you could go back in time and say that?

Don’t you think that would have been helpful for them to know?

I like to play the game, that if someone from 100 years in the future were to return in time to speak to us today, starting with, “People, people, people,” what advice would they give to help us live more sanely?  To see the truth?  To help us heal?

My experience has been that when we play that game sincerely, we realize we already know the answers.

But I digress.

The writings of Nostradamus have been translated and retranslated dozens of times, arguably climaxing with a famous verse reading, “The year 1999, seventh month, from the sky will come great king of terror.”

I have to wonder if the artist formerly known as Prince had tuned into the same frequency when he penned his equally profound encouragement that humanity dedicate 1999 as