By now most of us have probably heard of Harold Camping and his Family Radio Ministry. Mr. Camping has proclaimed that, through his expert study of scriptures, he can confidently state that Jesus is coming back to Earth on May 21st. After a similar prediction in 1994 didn’t pan out Mr. Camping blamed a miscalculation.
I’ve had experience with only one other Doomsday deadline. Back in 1973-74 my junior year of high school coincided with the arrival of the Comet Kohoutek. I was moderately excited because this was the first comet I was going to have a chance to see and, after hearing so many tales about the majesty of Haley’s comet, I expected that the night sky was going to be illuminated by a fiery ball with a long glowing tail. I didn’t expect to hear that the comet was to be the end of us all.
Word came to us via some orange index-sized cards that someone was handing out to students as they arrived at the high school. Kohoutek equaled game over. The halls buzzed with chatter the way they did when any unexpected shift in the routine, like an assembly, occurred. The only thing that I remember beyond that is that, when the day of reckoning arrived, I felt a little giddy like some momentous finish line had been reached. If the world was going to end would it do so before I had to go to gym class? Ultimately the day passed as we all really knew it would; tests were taken, cafeteria food was served, and homework assigned. Kohoutek, never much of a spectacle as a comet, was even less impressive as a portent.
End of the world prophecies are nothing new. The following titles from our library system will help shed light on this tendency through history.
- A Doomsday Reader: Prophets, Predictors and Hucksters of Salvation edited by Ted Daniels
- Will the World End in 2012? by Hundley, Raymond C.
- 2012: Extinction or Utopia: Doomsday Prophecies Explored by Danelek, J. Allen
- Questioning the Millennium: A Rationalists Guide to a Precisely Arbitrary Countdown by Gould, Stephen J.