4 January 2012_2012: End of the world?

Will 2012 be the end the world as we know it?

2012 promises to be a fine year despite it being the last for what Hal Lindsey called “The Late, Great Planet Earth.”

I admit I haven’t read Lindsey’s work. Since it was published 42 years ago, I’ve been busy…teaching, cheering the Broncos, writing columns among other things—in other words “living.” Nonetheless, I apologize for not reading my planet’s, albeit premature, obituary.

I’m not big on apocalyptic predictions. They remind me of Mark Twain’s line when he learned he was supposed to be dead: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

According to Matthew (24:36) Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Since then, about 100 generations have passed, which might’ve disappointed original Christians but have been a relief for the rest of us.

The classic treatise on end times is the Book of Revelations. My favorite motif in it is that of the four horsemen riding white, red, black, and pale horses representing conquest, war, famine, and death, all pretty grim stuff.

There was a lot of predicting happening at the time of Revelations, even over here in the yet-to-be-discovered New World unless you’re Mormon, which is a whole other story.

The Mayans predicted the world would be reduced to cinders on December 21, 2012. I don’t think so, but if next ski season’s snow accumulation is as meager as this one, it might as well be the end of the world.

Since then, there have innumerable dire end-time predictions including Sir Isaac Newton’s. I understand he said the year 2060 would be it, which would certainly make the Social Security and Medicare funding debate moot.

“About the time of the end,” said Newton, “a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation, in the midst of much clamor and opposition.”

I hate to take issue with one of the greatest intellects in history, but what’s new? History has been replete with men and women who did and do exactly that sort of stuff.

Black Elk of the Lakota Sioux told of the vision he experienced as a youth that like Revelations drew on colored ponies: black, white, sorrel, and palomino. Riders rode in groups of four from each direction and danced and sang. It was very uplifting. One verse went like this: “Where you are always facing, an elk nation will appear! May you behold! A horse nation will appear. Behold!”

Things, though, would not work out well for the Sioux. Instead, they got conquest, war, famine, and death. So it goes.

In the Y2K millennium scare, every computer was to crash when its date flipped from 99 to 00. My old Apple bit the dust shortly after, so perhaps there was some truth to that prediction. Since then, I’ve only owned PC’s, but I assure you there’s no correlation between the two events—I think.

The folks at Religious Tolerance identified 42 end-time predictions for 2000 alone and many times more since.

Harold Camping made the biggest splash in 2011. He predicted we would go up in a puff of smoke on May 21, 2011, and when his prediction went up in a puff of smoke, Camping said, “Oops!” a line Rick Perry would later borrow. May 21 was merely Jesus’ “spiritual coming,” he said afterwards. October 21 would definitely be it.

Unfortunately, Jesus had to miss his appointed return because two days later the Broncos would be playing the Miami Dolphins and he would have his hands full arranging the first of Tim Tebow’s miraculous finishes. So I guess the Rapture is TBD.

End-time predictions have been remarkable in that their accuracy is exactly 0 percent. But I hear that one date we can count on being the end of the world or at least the end of the world as we know it—love that old R.E.M. tune—could be November 6.

I recall one sister’s husband emphatically stating in 2008 that if Hillary Clinton were elected, he would hightail it to Australia. Barack Obama saved him from the need for becoming a Down Under Illegal, for which I don’t believe he ever thanked the President, nor have I forgiven him.

Should Obama prevail, Republicans will sing, “It’s the end of world as we know it” on November 7, and Democrats will respond with, “And I/we feel fine.”

Those dreading Barack Obama’s re-election ought not to despair though. As “Peanuts” creator Charles Schultz said, “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”

307 days to Election Day and the fun has already begun. Happy 2012!

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