Nothing gets the blood pumping for an ex-Evangelical better than a good old-fashioned End of the World prediction.
You’ve no doubt seen the billboards. The End of the World is scheduled for May 21, 2011. And if you’re having trouble believing that, you’d better check out the little gold seal in the corner that says “The Bible Guarantees It”, because everyone knows that a gold seal doesn’t lie.
It’s not a silver seal.
It’s not a copper seal.
It’s a gold seal, motherfuckers—like the hand of God, Himself, reached down and notarized that billboard hovering halfway between the Village Inn and the Wendy’s and somewhat adjacent to the Church’s Fried Chicken.
I’m making that last bit up. I have no idea if the signs posted all over this country’s roadways are hovering anywhere near a Church’s Fried Chicken. I took my kids to the zoo last week and happened to pass one along the way. I had no idea Church’s Fried Chicken still existed. For a minute I thought I was in Colorado Springs around the year 1988, which would be about the last time I saw a Church’s Fried Chicken. The thought that people still go there to sink their teeth into chicken fried a la “The Church” explodes thought particles all over my otherwise delicate existence.
Church’s Fried Chicken. Mind blown. Ka-pow!
As a matter of fact, it is entirely possible that the last time I passed a Church’s Fried Chicken might very well coincide with the last time I stared down the barrel of the End of the World.
It all started with a pamphlet. The pamphlet was called 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988 in which the Bible College student who wrote it, one Edgar Whisenant, claimed that the Rapture was going to happen between September 11-13.
For those of you to whom thank-your-lucky-stars this 1988 prediction is unfamiliar, the Rapture involves a return of Jesus Christ predicted in the New Testament, at which point all of the saints—both living and dead—will rise up to meet Him in the air. Depending on where you place this event on the End Times timeline, Armageddon, culminating in the total destruction of the world by fire, should happen anywhere from 0-7 years after. Simply put, it was a damn fine reason to make sure we were right with God and an even-damn-finer reason to make sure that any of our loved ones who died before that event were buried in a clean pair of underwear as there would be a lot of dirty-minded, earthbound heathens looking up.
Of course, Whisenant had many reasons (88, to be exact) why the Rapture would take place that year. Not least amongst them was an escalation in wars, floods and earthquakes. (Sound familiar?) Gorbachev may have been Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, but to anyone paying attention—I mean really paying attention—it was as clear as the birthmark on his forehead that he was the Antichrist. Also, there was that little detail about the nation of Israel celebrating its 40th year anniversary.
Now, if you don’t want a spoiler, please stop reading here.
. . . . . .
The Rapture did not happen.
At age 15, I was admittedly relieved. There were a number of reasons I can attribute to this relief. They were, in order: 1) I was scared I wouldn’t make the cut, 2) We were supposed to go to the beach for Thanksgiving, and 3) Season 2 of The Wonder Years was about to start and I kind of wanted to see what happened with that. Also, I had not had sex yet. Come to think of it, bump that reason up to number one.
So, now that the real Rapture is about to happen (gold sticker, mo-fo’s!), I’m getting kind of excited. For a “devangelical” like me, it’s a bit nostalgic. It’s like seeing a sign advertising that the circus is coming to town. Like spotting a Church’s Fried Chicken on the way to the zoo.
And anyway, who’s to say it won’t happen? Who’s to say this Harold Camping guy who is championing this whole thing isn’t smarter than Edgar Whisenant? Who’s to say he’s not going to hit it squarely on the honker this time?
Sure, Camping made a failed prediction before in 1994.
Sure, both he and his shadow are a dead ringer for Mr. Burns.
He’s got a gold sticker, people.