Monday, January 7, 2013

The End of the End

Calgary Sun - January 5, 2013

We’re almost a week into 2013 and so far so good. And by that I mean I have yet to hear anyone predict the end of the world is coming.

Maybe the whole Mayan calendar thing left a bad taste in the mouths of the doomsayers when it fizzled out in December.

My son was pretty convinced the Mayan apocalypse was a sure thing. That was mostly because he’s in grade five and he heard it from kids in grade six, who are always right when it comes to things like video games, where babies come from and the end of the world.

When it’s all anyone talks about, it’s pretty hard to convince a ten year old that there’s nothing to it. I tried to explain that all the end of the Mayan calendar probably meant to them was that they had to go out and buy a new calendar – maybe one with adorable kittens playing in wicker baskets.

I pointed out that sometimes the calendar on my cell resets itself to 1983, but that doesn’t mean we’ve gone back in time, although it would be nice to be 23 again.

However, he wasn’t buying it, and it took some convincing that the world wouldn’t end while we slept and there was a point to doing his homework the night before.

Maybe I’m a little cynical because I’ve seen so many "end of the world" apocalyptic predictions come and go. I’ve lost count of the dire predictions of comets, asteroids and sunspots. 

A couple of years ago self-styled prophet and American radio preacher Harold Camping predicted the end of the world not once but three times.

After originally predicting that the end would come in September 1994, he crunched his numbers again and came up with May 21, 2011 for the Rapture, beginning at 6:00 pm sharp. He came to the conclusion that the Bible says this world only gets 7,000 years from Noah’s great flood, which he pegged at 4,990 B.C.

Even though some of his followers gave all their worldly goods away by May 20th, May 21st came and went with nothing to show for it other than empty bank accounts. After another look at his figures, he said October 21st was it for sure, but that turned out to be strike three. 

Y2K came and went with a lot of people wondering what they were going to do with a small mountain of batteries, cases of canned beans and a portable generator the hardware store wouldn’t take back.

So far so good in 2013. A quick look at the Internet doesn’t even show any wild predictions that the end will come this year.

Surely there is someone out there who is even now adding all the shoe sizes of the saints and dividing by the number of books of the Bible to get 2013.

Maybe someone got a Ouija board for Christmas and is getting messages of doom through the cosmic ether from a cranky alien race on its way to Earth.

Or there must be an obscure monk from the Middle Ages who had a bad day 500 years ago and scribbled “it feels like it will take five hundred years to get this over with” in the margin of some ancient manuscript.

Whatever it is, I’ll be as ready as I’ve ever been to ignore it too.  

© 2013 - Stephen Lautens