Friday, December 21, 2012

The End of the World?

If you're reading this post, you either have a few minutes left or the world didn't end as predicted by the Mayan calendar. You should also know that throughout history, the end of the world has often been predicted by lots of people -- all over the world. Just think of the chaos when the calendar changed from the year 999 to 1000, if anyone really was aware of it at the time instead of worrying about where the next meal was coming from, or surviving a common cold, or getting slaughtered by barbarians.

Every time a new century dawned, in fact, people held their breath or sold their goods/houses and waited for the end to hit. Then they had to start all over again, if they didn't die of embarrassment from being wrong. Or maybe they moved in with relatives, who might have thought "oh boy, here's the end of my world!"

I have to admit, I watched the movie 2012 with my curious hubby - and laughed at the incredible totally unbelievable plot. Cool special effects, though, if you're into that. I found Cowboys and Aliens more entertaining with a better message.

But hey, the Mayan calendar RUNS OUT on December 21, 2012. Lots of jokes about they ran out of room, or couldn't find another stone, or what have you.

And for heaven's sake, what about the possibility of Planet X changing course -- Nibiru that is -- and hitting Planet Earth!! Who wouldn't believe that NASA is just part of the conspiracy?

How about looking back between 1800 and 1900 in America for other End of the World events -- you might find it enlightening, to say the least. And these are just a FEW examples.

From April of 1843 until October of 1844, Millerites were rooked into following a charismatic leader. William Miller (1782-1849) -- a plain old farmer, plus a former atheist -- studied the books of Revelation and Daniel from the Bible and chose April 3rd, 1843, as the end of the world. Shooting stars in 1833 and a comet in 1843 seemed to confirm his prediction. Thousands of "Millerites" waited in New England -- although a few murdered their relatives and committed suicide to save time -- until the next day dawned.

Miller moved the "end of the world" to July 7th and began selling "ascension robes" of white. You get the picture -- July 8th came. Miller kept changing the date to March 21st of 1844 and then October 22nd -- but that day failed to bring more than a thunderstorm. And -- you guessed it -- 100,000 disappointed folks went home grumbling. A few formed new factions like the Seventh-Day Adventists. Miller made a fortune selling his robes and delivered over three thousand speeches. A true American con man.

In 1881, experts had used the measurements of the Great Pyramid of Cheops to predict a Second Coming and Day of Judgment. I'm math-challenged, so go figure how they figured this out. Supposedly they based their opinion on a couplet from the writings of Mother Shipton -- published in 1862 by Charles Hindley, and soon proved a forgery in 1873, that "The world to an end shall come in eighteen hundred and eighty one." Didn't even rhyme, either. So much for that prediction when 1882 rolled around. Conned by another con artist. He probably sold tons of books. You just can't trust authors! (insert winking smiley face here)

And in 1899, plenty of other idiots expected the world to end when January 1st, 1900, rang in a new century. Thank goodness the year 1999 had only Y2K problems. Some people believe that was a huge hoax now, and others believe the government used it as an excuse to install tracking software. Uh huh.

So hang onto your hats, people. Sure, look into the sky -- but don't expect to see much except a few moving airplane lights. You can always buy a tee shirt -- from Zazzle!


Alison E. Bruce said...

I read this last night when I went to post my article... which was off by one week. (Look for Christmas Carols next week.)

Anyway, thank you Meg. I read bits out to my son who was a bit caught up in the hype. He said he didn't believe it, but he couldn't sleep until he was sure.

Eunice Boeve said...

Interesting article. I think I've lived through two "ends of the world" not counting this one. About 1956 my future sister-in-law was in high school. Homecoming was scheduled the same day as the end of the world. She was upset that she'd have to miss homecoming.(-:
Religious off-shoots (like Jim Jones' Kool-aid drinking crew in Guyana) and "end of the world" crazies will always be with us...even unto the end of the world. :-)

Anonymous said...

Intriguing post, Meg. I also liked the trailer and was delighted to see some good writers listed there.

Meg said...

LOL -- get him that shirt, Alison!! ;-)

Meg said...

Ain't that the truth, Eunie!! Good grief. I'm always suspicious of cons. I doubt I'd have bought that ascension robe, LOL.

Meg said...

Ginger Simpson put that trailer together and did a great job! We're in good company, indeed. MERRY CHRISTMAS to y'all and thanks for stopping in.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Meg, what a clever post. There have been at least two predictions in my lifetime. Probably more, but I knew of two. This couple in my hometown believed that October something in 1976 would be the end. A couple in the town in which I now live believed the wold would end in the mid 1990's. There are a lot of both con men and sincere goofballs out there. ☺

Ciara Gold said...

Fascinating post, Meg. I was at Mayan ruins about 2 years ago and I remember the guide talking about it. He said the Mayans basically ran out of room and laughed at how silly folks were for believing the world would come to an end. I think folks just need something to create excitement in their lives from time to time.

Lyn Horner said...

Timely post, Meg. People seem to thrive on doomsday predictions, don't we. I'm as gullible as the next person and I confess to wondering if there would be a Dec. 22nd. Now I've learned from a TV documentary that Isaac Newton predicted the end of the world would come in 2060. Guess my kids or grandkids will have to wait that one out.

Meg said...

Goofballs are as common as end of the world predictions, LOL! Thanks for visiting, Caroline.

Meg said...

Oh yeah. Love that cartoon showing the Mayan telling a carver that he ran out of stone. LOL

Meg said...

Good old Isaac - maybe that apple hit him on the noggin a bit too hard? ;-) "Eureka!" Can't argue with gravity, but I have a feeling the world will be around until the sun burns out.