Sunday, June 27, 2010
Next Stop Armageddon
There’s a tombstone in St. Paul’s Cemetery on Fulton Street with a biblical quote reading “The Souls of the Righteous are In God’s Hands.”
It’s pretty hard to miss and whenever I see it, I can’t help but think “and the rest of you losers are in very deep shit.”
I’ve been thinking more about the End of Days these days. I suspect it has something to do with a pamphlet I recently read that predicted the Rapture is coming our way next spring.
I picked up this item while walking through the Grand Central subway station on my way to the shuttle to Times Square.
The passageway is a popular spot for musicians, prophets, and other assorted street performers who save souls or sing songs to the disinterested masses. You’ve got a built-in audience down there, especially during rush hour.
On this particular day I saw a sign taped to a pillar proclaiming “The End of the World is Almost Here! Holy God Will Bring Judgment Day on May 21, 2011!”
The world is going to end in less a year? Holy crap! I still haven’t read War & Peace yet. And should I do my taxes next year or tear up my 1040 and let the IRS haul me into the court? The world will be long gone before my case comes up.
A woman was handing out leaflets about this impending cataclysm and I took one to get the lowdown on this cosmic low blow. It was actually three separate pamphlets with extremely small type—front and back, thank you very much--explaining how exactly these people had arrived at this particular date.
“Judgment Day is feared by the world,” the pamphlet says, “and is the day God will destroy the world because of the sins of mankind.”
But I already know this, damn it. I went to Catholic school, which not only prepared you for the end of the world, but made you wish it would happen as soon as possible.
The specific date is a new twist, though. It has something to do with Noah and how May 21, 2011 is exactly 7,000 years after the Great Flood and how God plans “to destroy the entire world forever.” The Almighty is never one to do things half-heartedly.
I'm just so bummed because its going to go down three days short of my birthday. If God could just wait a little longer I’d have one hell of a party. I could blow out the candles on my birthday cake and take out the rest of the world at the same time.
I’ve been trying to read these pamphlets to see how these people are thinking—and I use the word "thinking" very loosely. It’s been tough going, though, since there's so much material and I’m afraid the world will end before I get through it all.
Save the Date
Although the Bible says no man knows the day or the hour, these folks apparently know better.
“We have learned,” the pamphlet said, “that May 21, 1988, was the last day of the church age and was also the first day of the 23—year period of Great Tribulation, during which Satan has been employed by God to officially rule all of the churches as well as the whole world.”
The missive goes on about the significance of the number 5 and something about redemption and “the five shekels,” which sounds like a Yiddish doo-wop band.
What really bothers me though is that while these geniuses have figured out the day the world will end, they don’t know what time it’s going to blow. At least they could ballpark it.
I'd like to know if I'll have time to go the gym and pick up my dry cleaning before the gates of Hell fly off their hinges and ravenous demons fly out of the fiery pits and start gnawing on my entrails.
Think your priest can help you? Sorry, priests, pastors, spiritual leaders are all neck-deep in the apocalypse, too, and “should go begging God for mercy for themselves.” So it’s every sinner for himself.
God is only going to rescue about 3% of the world’s population, or 200 million righteous souls. Those lucky few will get the Rapture treatment straight up to Paradise; they will not pass Go and they won’t need to collect $200.
If you want to catch that wave, you'd better start praying.
I have a vague memory of some psychic predicting the end of the world when I was a child. Being a natural worrier, I wondered aloud if this might actually happen.
I remember being in bed on the morning of the appointed day when my brother leaned over me and made a trumpeting sound meant to simulate Gabriel’s horn. I knew I should've kept my mouth shut.
I don’t suppose the people making this outrageous claim would ever admit they were wrong when all hell doesn’t break loose on this day.
I’m sure they’ll have a million explanations why nothing happened and then promptly pick another incorrect day. Life is breeze when you’re a fanatic.
When I reached the end of the shuttle corridor I saw a guitar player standing near the tracks. He was pretty good, actually, maybe not up to the Five Shekels, perhaps, but I’ve heard worse.
He had a sign, too. It was taped to his guitar case and it said: "It's okay to ignore me. I’m not here and neither are you."
Well, we are for now, buddy. But you may want to hold on to that sign because come next May, you might be right.