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Published: 2/24/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

culture shock

I'll take end of the world for Y2K, Alex

BY KIRK BAIRD

Harold Camping Harold Camping
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Shhhh. Don't tell anyone, but the end of the world is coming soon. Very soon: May 21. An 89-year-old Christian radio broadcaster from Philadelphia named Harold Camping says God told him so, and that's good enough for me.

Never mind that God also told Camping the world would end in 1994. This time Camping says his mathematical formula, which points to the May 21 deadline, is foolproof. Let's hope for his sake he's correct. Giving an end date to the world isn't like taking a math test; you don't get credit for showing your work. It's your final answer that counts.

Being wrong about doomsday has never stopped anyone from trying to be right.

Predicting the end can be oddly lucrative as people are willing to pay good money to know just how little time we have left on Earth.

Hal Lindsey cashed in on that need-to-know phenomenon and made a name for himself in the process with his 1970 best seller, The Late, Great Planet Earth, in which he and co-author Carole C. Carlson predicted the end of our planet and the new reign of God occurring sometime in the 1980s. Lindsey also made similar predictions with the book The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon.

We're still here. So is Lindsey, by the way, who has a half-hour show on biblical prophecy, news, and current events, The Hal Lindsey Report, airing Friday nights on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Meanwhile, The Late, Great Planet Earth continues to sell. On Amazon.com, for example, it's a top-100 seller among Christian books. Did no one clue in these readers that Lindsey was wrong?

And speaking of worthless predictions … I remember all the media fuss about Y2K crippling our technology-dependent world, thereby marching us backwards thousands of years to live again as cave dwellers hunting the woolly mammoth. I didn't know my wife then, but she told me she was nervous enough about the computer bug to buy extra jugs of water and canned goods in the event of a long-lasting power outage. At least she didn't buy a gun to protect herself from the hordes of zombies that would roam the land after they lost their Internet connections.

I've never understood survivalists who prepare for the end of civilization. They build a bomb shelter, stock up on food, water, and supplies, and arm themselves to the teeth only to wait. And wait. And wait. And for what? To meet other survivalists and trade goods, like tomato soup for cream of mushroom, and then hurry back into the dimly lit shelter before freezing to death from the nuclear winter? Now that's a lifestyle worth surviving for.

I've seen the Mad Max movies and a post-nuclear apocalypse isn't pretty. It'll be a wasteland with souped-up hot rods driven by Mel Gibson-wannabes with mullets scavenging the highways for food, ammo, and fuel. The only social order remaining will be a shantytown run by a crazy Tina Turner impersonator saying things like "Break the deal, face the wheel."

What kind of future is that?

So here's hoping Camping is wrong. Here's hoping that humanity is saved once more from doomsday, and that we can settle back in our comfy chairs and do what we do best when it comes to our finale: nothing …

That is, until December, 2012, when the Mayans predict we'll live out the end all over again.

The Blade's blog Culture Shock is a three-times-a-week riff by Pop Culture Editor Kirk Baird on pop culture news, events, and trends. The blog will appear most Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, with the odd night or off-day posting if something is merited.

Agree or disagree with a posting? Let him know. Have a topic or suggestion? Let him know that, too. Send an e-mail to kbaird@theblade.com, call 419-724-6734, or follow him on Twitter @bladepopculture.



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