Apocalypse Now – Well, Actually, Next Saturday
So how are you celebrating the end of the world?
It’s closer than you think. The 2012 crowd may be surprised to find out that Judgment Day is slated for May 21, 2011. That is, next Saturday. Yup, it’s more than just the Victoria Day weekend for us north of the border.
I’ve been remiss. I should have warned you earlier. I’ve been driving by a roadside ad about it for about a month now. I even took a picture of it on my cell phone. But that’s okay: it’s not too late to make your own plans to celebrate the Apocalypse.
I think it’s fair to assume that most of my fellow Canadians intend to celebrate by barbecuing, drinking beer, and spending as much time outdoors as the weather will permit, as we do every Victoria Day. At least some, however, are almost certainly throwing atheistic Apocalypse Parties to play up the silliness of any faith-based doomsday scenarios. (Or perhaps it’s because any excuse to have a party is a good one. I’m tempted to throw one myself, except our annual Cuban Independence Day celebration is scheduled for next weekend. We’re not Communists; we just like our mojitos and empañaditas.) Others have made plans (Facebook-official, no less) for post-rapture looting, which seems reasonable under the hypothetical circumstances, even if it’s not something I really think I’ll need an invitation to get into.
What’s the logic underlying the theory that Christ’s second coming is scheduled for this weekend? Well, to start off, you have to believe that the Bible is the absolutely unerring word of God. Not just Godly, not just inspired, not just written by the wise, but actually word-for-word dictated by God, faithfully translated, and preserved in its original form and meaning for several millennia. No problem, right?
Next, you’ll have to zero in on a particular statement from 2 Peter 3:8, where the author (that’s God, don’t forget!) notes that a day is like a thousand years to God, and a thousand years is like one day. So when God told Noah that people had seven days to get into the Ark before the floodwaters came, he was also offering us a warning that we have seven thousand years until Judgment Day, since each day is as a thousand years to God.
Plus – get this – if we were going by the Biblical calendar, May 21, 2011, would be the 17th day of the 2nd month, which was also the day Noah had circled on the Biblical calender he hung on the wall of the Ark 7000 years ago. Could it be any more perfect? In the logic of Biblical prophecy, a coincidence like that is gold. Or, more to the point, it’s not coincidence: it’s God’s plan.
And to those doubters who bring up that pesky little moment in the Bible where Jesus told his followers that it wasn’t for them to know the times God had pre-ordained for events exactly such as this one . . . well, to be honest, believers in the Saturday Apocalypse may have glossed over that a little bit. That verse doesn’t say that it’s impossible to know when to expect the Second Coming, just that it’s not something believers should spend all their time calculating for. Plus, they claim that lately God has been revealing Biblical timelines that, in the past, we’ve never been able to understand. Ever hear of the seven seals of Revelation? Well, they’re becoming unsealed, which is why we’re learning Bible stuff we’ve never known before.
So say the believers. Honestly. They have a document. And you know it’s got to be serious because they offer it in a PDF and audio.
(Bonus material: because it’s currently de rigeur in fundamentalist circles to blame the gays, believers in the Saturday Apocalypse have written up a pamphlet about why gay pride is a sign that The End Is Near. One can’t help wondering why God is just so obsessed with making sure that various human appendages go into the proper foreordained holes. If I somehow became divine, that would be about the last thing I’d want to smite somebody for.)
My bottom-line take on this whole thing: well, they lost me at the very start, because I just can’t convince myself that the Bible is the literal, inerrant word of God. Even if it were, I’d wonder which version is consistent with what God actually said and meant, and how to interpret it. But I don’t believe that we can take the Bible as a starting place for knowledge about anything, except maybe the people who wrote, translated, and studied the Bible.
Beyond that, I know enough about religious history to know that people have been prophesying the Second Coming pretty well since the First Coming. They have a bad track record, evidenced by the fact that the world hasn’t ended. I don’t know why May 21, 2011, would be any different.
Plus, I believe in a gracious God, and planning an Apocalypse for the Victoria Day weekend when so many people already have plans – well, that’s just rude.
So, based on the logic that no one can know the day nor the hour – which may be in the Bible, but is also really just plain common sense – I’m not intending to expect the end of the world this long weekend. Having said that, I’m still hoping to live it out to the fullest, and if I’m invited to any Apocalypse Parties, I’m almost certain to attend. It’s just my plan to celebrate the here and now, as long as it lasts, rather than preparing for the Rapture.
And then I’m going to make plans for next Tuesday.