If, At First, You Don't Succeed, Fail, Fail, Again
The explosion of apocalypticism in our "modern" 20th & 21st centuries
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Richard Clopton Quote

December 1999 CE - Around the time that the small group of Denver cultists (a.k.a. "Concerned Christians") were tossed out of Israel, more info came to light on the group's bizarre "things-to-do-before-Doomsday" list. The word got out that their leader, Monte Kim Miller fancied himself Messiah material and prophesied his own death and resurrection to take place on the very steps of Jerusalem in December 1999. The honor of hosting this miraculous to-do was lost on Israeli authorities who, instead, circled, highlighted, italicized and underlined the CC Certifiables on their depressingly lengthy Foreign Flakes To Find And Fling Back list. Needless to say, they did and they did.

December 19, 1999 CE - Sun Magazine uncovered "Bible expert" Dotson Meade, who poured over the Dead Sea Scrolls (night and day, no doubt) to discover that WW III and an assortment of natural catastrophes would wipe out all life as we know it. He didn't mention what it might do to the life we're not so sure about or to the life we've never been properly introduced to.

December 31, 1999 CE at the very latest! - Knowing by now that you can't keep a good cult down, The Taiwanese "God's Salvation Church" (all 30 remaining members of it) bounced back onto the media radar screen when they insisted that Europe and Asia would be going seriously nuclear wintry by year's end. In the meantime, the group's leader, Hoh Ming Chen kept himself busy as a bee sending bizarre letters to President Clinton and scanning the skies for divine UFO shuttlebusses. Stay tuned for the next interplanetary pick-up date Hoh is sure to announce any day now.

January 1, 2000 CE - One would be hard-pressed to come up with a date that spawned more wild-eyed weirdness than this one. From the millennial hounds to the militia nuts, from "earth change" watchers to UFO fanatics, the sheer number and diversity of groups that locked onto this as their terminal target is amazing... and not a little scary. Bad enough, had it just been a flip of the calendar to kick the superstitious into heebie-jeebie mode, but then, what should come along but, the Y2K Bug! Now, I ask you, who knew so many loonies would jump to switch the number of the Beast from 666 to 00 overnight? It seemed as if there had hardly been time to blink before a simple little computer glitch got turned inexplicably into the ultimate Sign of Evil.

  And who did we have to thank for that, boys and girls? Well, right on the front lines of fearmongering was the Christian Coalition who, along with the standard hysteria about the collapse of the economy and all social and civil institutions, claimed that President Clinton (a.k.a. "The Great Fornicator") would use the disaster to make himself Crazed Dictator of the USA. Of course, neither Jerry Falwell nor Pat Robertson could restrain themselves from whipping up their share of pocket-lining panic. Both had books and videos for sale that painted Y2K as, in Falwell's words, "God's instrument to shake this nation, to humble this nation." Considering the total collapse they had in mind, it's odd that both Messrs. Falwell and Robertson were charging for their wares. Since money wouldn't mean anything after the apocalypse, you'd think they'd have been giving their warnings away free... Wouldn't you?

  Naturally, that towering edifice of shameless self-promotion Hal Lindsey began stumping for the End Times, again, with Y2K front and center in his collection of signs and portents. In addition, apocalyptic writers who otherwise couldn't have gotten published on a barroom bet sprang up like weeds. Ted Hall with his peppy survival guide, "Beat The Beast", (No, that's not what he meant, you randy lil' scamp, you! ) gave cheery, up-beat advice on apocalyptic preparations certain to have given the faithful one up on Old Scratch. Then, there was that Avon Lady of the End Times, Karen Anderson, who penned "Y2K For Women", a How-To guide for those simple, All-American gals who needed to know how they could face down the total collapse of civilization without sacrificing any of their femininity.

  This, of course, is just a small, swift rundown of some of the more notable nutjobs that fueled this pointless little bonfire of the inanities. For a more in-depth description of the lunacy that was Y2K, read on...

January 1, 2000 CE - Proving that the prophecy business never flew on any believer's professional credentials was the Mount of Olives-squatting "House of Prayer". Convinced that Jesus would be swooping down for a divine landing on the first of the year, the HoP-heads all quit their jobs, their homes, their families, their friends, their pets, their potted plants and anything else remotely resembling a life, to join the growing ranks of the internationally indigent on the famed Israeli hillock. The object of this wholesale reality retreat was to get front row center seats for the apocalypse, so they could be first on their bluff to get suction-cupped up to Heaven. And who could've doubted them, when they were led in this pursuit by such fine Oracular specimens as "Brother David", an ex-refrigerator salesman, "Sister Sharon", an ex-Vegas showgirl and "Brother Raymond", ex-(so he said) thief? There's a warning in the Bible that reads, "By their fruits shall ye know them." I'm guessing that their nuts provide a pretty solid hint, too.

January 1, 2000 CE - Sun Magazine has a thing for Pope John XXIII. In their June 24th issue back in 1997 they troubled his ghost again by attributing to him a prophecy that WW III would break out after a Libyan terrorist did a nuclear number on a major European city. Not as colorful as their "Pope John prophesies the landing of space aliens" article, but certainly just as accurate.

January 1, 2000 CE - Amazingly enough, AZ-based militia crazy William Cooper decided to eschew the Y2K hysteria and manfully invent a hysteria all his own. On this date a secret chamber in the pyramid of Giza was to have been opened and Satan would pop up fresh and rested to become a major media celeb. The scariest part of Billy's mental meanderings was that he intended for the various militias to go on the warpath soon after. Travel advisory for new millennium: Give a wide berth to Arizona for a decade or so.

January 1, 2000 CE - Despite giving the heave-ho to some of the more overt imported airheads, Jerusalem was still chock-a-block with nutters on the eve of the common man's millennium. Folks like Bobby Bible of the Christian Brothers Church, a black robed, baseball capped bizarro who wanted nothing better than to get shot up to heaven like a badly dressed bottle rocket at the stroke of twelve and Ben Hai Ben Israel, late of Detroit, who preferred to wander about the Negev with a copy of The Bible Code for guidance.

  Of course, Israel didn't hold the patent on loner loons. Stateside, we had such peaches as Georgia from Colorado; who, after trying her gosh darnedest to get Christians and Jews to come together in prayer - against evil Muslims - bustled herself off to the Rockies to lie hidden in wait for WW III. Back east, an unnamed prison inmate in Concord, New Hampshire dealt with his millennial butterflies by sewing his eyes and lips shut with dental floss, covering himself in baby powder and huddling in a corner of his cell clutching a Bible. There's no saying just what these freelance flakazoids were thinking when midnight came and went with a no-show Jesus just like 1,966 others before it. But, I'd be willing to bet every one of them moved on to brand new "gotta-be" dates even before the jailbird could get his face de-flossed.
(Thanks to Chris Nelson and Susan C. Mitchell for the info on these.)

January 1, 2000 CE - Perhaps permanently scarred by the thought of all Imelda's shoes, 100 members of a Philippine Doomsday cult* spent the better part of their lives and life savings in the oh, so constructive effort of building a mole rat-esque warren of tunnels in the local hillsides. "Para qué?", you ask. Why, to escape from the apocalyptic rain of fire that would be pouring from the heavens on January 1, of course! It took a good six days into the new year before the squirreled sectarians finally resigned themselves to the fact that flamedrops weren't fallin' on anybody's head. Most of them had the sense to just wander back home without much fuss. Their fearless leader, Cerferino Quinte, on the other hand invited ridicule for his supernatural screw-up since all said ridicule would obviously be the work of Satan.
(*Note: The coding on the page for the link given here is screwed up. You'll need to scroll down a bit to the "BBC Jan. 6, 2000" article to read the relevant story. Sorry. Not my doing. Just letting you know.)

January 1, 2000 - January 1, 2001 CE - Well, just when I was certain that he must have finally fallen prey to the men with the butterfly nets, who should contact me by email but... Neal Chase! Baha'i big-wig and Armageddon go-getter his own bad self, assuring me he didn't vanish into the ether, after all! In fact, he told me he was still Doomsday dealing as busily as ever with a brand, spanking new website and Community Access TV call-in show, all-in-one!

  Neal's latest divine deadline was one of those 365 day optional affairs. Based, from what I gathered, on that old, shopworn favorite, pyramidology and the unshakeable belief that a Dr. Leland Jensen is the incarnation of Christ du jour. Dr. Jensen, who served prison time for child molestation, is Head Honcho of the Baha'i splinter group, “Bahá'ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant" and I would guess that the fact he's getting a bit long in the tooth nowadays (he was born in 1914) was a major motivating factor in Neal's deep desire to see the End in post haste. It's always so annoying, after all, to have the world keep spinning drearily on even after one's current Christ keels over. Unfortunately, not long after Neal's latest Doomsdate vanished into the void, his much-vaunted new website toddled off after it. All that remains behind is an entertainingly loopy screed about imminent (if logic defying) "World Civil War!!!".

January 1, 2000 CE - If these lovingly collected prophetic bon-bons can be thought of as children, then I, like a bad mother, must confess to having favorites. Such a one is this, a perfect little powder puff of pyramidiocy from the international tag team of David Icke and Texe Marrs (ya' gotta love the names, alone). A former BBC sportscaster turned prophet of Nile-side doom, Dave... or, Mr. Ickee, as I like to think of him... found an immortal soulmate in Texe, a retired U.S. Airforce officer turned self-appointed pastor/conspiracy junkie/over-aged Hitler Youth. Together, they hatched the bright idea that the Great Pyramid of Giza displayed prophetic highway flares for the coming New Year's Eve bash.

  And dire prophecies they were, too; warning that ex-President George (I'm Not "W") Bush and his band of evil Illuminati (who are really mutant, human/reptile alien hybrids and whose members include Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, England's entire royal family and, of course, the Pope) were going to hold a Satanic black mass deep inside one of Cheop's private party rooms to summon up loads of Last Days nastiness to bother good right-wing Christians with. Texe and Icky's master plan for thwarting this Illumi-naughtiness was to zip off to Egypt for the New Year's fest armed with the spirit of the Lord, a well-worn Bible and a certified Zulu shaman... Don't ask, I don't know. Well, whether or not they actually tried to carry out this less-than-secret mission is unknown to me at this time. But, in any case, the only signs of millennial bother that night turned out to be a fog front that put a wee damper on the holiday light show. Not what one would expect from a Satanic extraterrestrial cabal. But, well, in these days of downsizing...
(Thanks to J. Ashe for the link look-see into David Icke's dementia.)

January 3, 2000 CE - This was the "optimistic" outside date for Gary North's Y2K concocted Doomsday. Gary's one of those sorry little losers who thinks he’s never gotten enough attention in life and who, as a consequence, spends nearly every waking moment pining for the end of the icky, ookie civilization that has the Godless audacity to ignore him. Being a devout Christian Reconstructionist, (sort of a modern-day Fifth Monarchy Man, only minus the funny hat and knickers) his usual baddie-whomper of choice is God's Wrath. But that got set aside under a tactical tea cozy once Gary laid his eyes on Y2K. It was love at first byte. Envisioning scenes of global electronic anarchy bringing the whole secular world to its nasty knees, he immediately set out to spread panic about the bug as far and wide as he possibly could.

  Subscribers to Scary Gary's pitiful newsletter and listeners to the Art Bell show (you didn't think he'd be the crank who got away, did you?) were treated to a litany of kooky catastrophe claims and even nuttier suggestions for dealing with them. From running off to build survival fortresses out in the boondocks, to buying diesel Mercedes Benzes, North's fans and followers had no dearth of pointless and bizarre activities to keep themselves busy with right up to Jan. 3. What they'll be doing nowadays is anyone's guess. But, don't be surprised to find a slew of Mercedes diesels cluttering up the used car section of your local classifieds in the coming years.

2000-ish CE - Like the old song goes, "Where do I begin...?" A popular time period, the year 2000, and it made for a crowded field. There were those who went so far as to give really specific dates. But, there were also some Doomsayers who apparently felt that the numeric magic extended to pretty much anything in the 365-day range and left their augury at that. To start with, there were the Numerology natterers who got all orgasmic over the "stunning" fact that if you divided the mystical, magical 2000 by 3 you got 666.6666666666666.7. Which, I suppose, was the number of the Beast, plus a whole lot of little fractions of the Beast. I'm not sure what the .7 indicated in all that. I thought 7 was supposed to be a lucky number... well, when it's not associated with werewolves, anyway... or samurai... or seals. And personally, I’m rather fond of seals. I've never understood why anyone would want to "break open" one these charming pinipeds, let alone seven of them.

2000 CE - He's baaa-aaak!! Charles Taylor, after a break of six year's duration got his lil' ol' self back on the date-setting stick with a promised Armageddon for the new millennium. Not that he ever disappeared off the apocalyptic radar screen entirely, mind you. For Chucky, the End is always a nigh kind'a thang. He simply shied away from giving any hard and fast whens for a spell. But, ah, the sweet siren song of 2000 proved too alluring for Charlie to ignore... Reality, on the other hand, was obviously tuned in to a different station.

2000 CE - The Rev. Sun Myung Moon made another futile stab at predicting the groundbreaking ceremonies for his Kingdom of Heaven. Well, ya' lose some and ya' lose some...

2000 CE - In Hal Lindsey’s literary doom-wallow, "Planet Earth - 2000", he pegged the big 2-triple-0 as the target date for the battle of Armageddon... Though, since that pooped out per all his earlier pip-squealings, he has contingency dates going all the way up to 2048. At which point, barring cryogenic freezing or personal resurrection, he should be safely dead and impervious to the gales of skeptical laughter that will follow.

2000 CE - Falwell fawner Ed Dobson, who once had little use for date-setting, threw what paltry standards he had right out the window in his book, "The End: Why Jesus Could Return by A.D. 2000". A supremely silly and simplistic look at recent world events through the weird and wacky prism of Biblical prophecy.

2000 CE - Lester Sumrall was a veritable giant in the world of Christian prophecy pushing and general Dark Age revivalism. His oeuvre oozed with such muddle-minded mulch as, "The Three Habitations Of Devils", "Unprovoked Murder - Insanity Or Demon Possession", "Exorcism: The Reality Of Evil And Our Power Over It!" and "10 Reasons Why A Christian Can't Be Demon-Possessed"... this last tome missing amongst its top ten the seemingly obvious, "because demons are fictitious, you slack-jawed, medieval morons".

  Odd omissions aside, in 1987 Les also scrawled out "I Predict 2000 A.D.", an amusing little tract written in very large type in very bad rhyming meter for very, very tiny minds. The best description I can give of this opus, is that it's kind of like the Tribulation meets Dr. Suess via the New World Order... only minus any fun pics of Star-bellied Satans or North and South-going "Saveds". Showing better judgment than the usual prophetic bedbugs, Les up and had his own Last Day in 1996, insuring that he'd never have to personally see his cloddish couplets curdle as they passed their expiration date. The ministry which survives him (Yes, Les made himself something of an industry. Does that surprise you?) doesn't have any shame issues in that regard, however, and continues to happily hawk that book along with all his others on Amazon.com. You can even find an audiotape of Les's apocalyptic prattlings, proudly released post mortem, called, "Countdown To Armageddon".
(Much obliged to "GLS" for setting me straight re; Mr. Sumrall's scribblings.)

2000 CE - Psychic Ruth Montgomery picked out 2000 as kind of a back-up date, in the wildly unlikely event that her polar shifting plans for late 1999 fell through... Ooh, who'da thunk it, Ruthie?! Any odds on whether or not she ups it again? Or do you have something against betting on a sure thing?

2000 CE - Thousands of truly bizarre housewifey types with not enough daytime soap operas to obsess over dubbed themselves the "End-Time Handmaidens" and attached themselves to a 72 year-old biddy named Sister Gwen Shaw. See, the Sis' went and promised the lot of them that the End would be moseying on down the road come the turn of the millennium. (forget the whole 2001 argument for the moment) And having such full interior lives, they had nothing better to do in the meantime than gather at conventions, (Heck yes, for a fee!) dance around in silly robes, pray like maniacs and blow on collectible ram's horns like tone-deaf two year-olds. They were also encouraged to relentlessly pester all their friends and neighbors to join in the "fun"... or else fry in eternal hellfire like the evil, godless, no account heathen they knew them to be. Oooh, nothin' like that genuine Christian love, is there?

2000 CE - Sixty members of a Columbian Doomsday cult called the "Stella Maris Gnostic Church" toddled off into the Sierra Nevada mountains in July of '99 for a secluded rendezvous with a friendly UFO... and haven't been seen since. Convinced that the world would be going kaboom for the millennium, the Gnostic bunch figured their only means of escape lay in hitching a ride with some passing ETs. Authorities scoured the mountain range for months afterwards, searching in vain for wayward cultists, their remains or, when all else failed, saucer landing marks and some stray "Visit Beautiful Alpha Centauri!" brochures.
(Thanks to Chris Nelson for the info.)

2000 CE - Way, way back in the dim, dark days of 1297, extremist Franciscan monk and ascetic party vegetable Petrus Olivi penciled in Gog and the Last Judgment for a millennial appearance in the big 2 triple-zero. I’m assuming this is where the tradition of prophets with really bad hair started.

2000 CE - Just because a person is an expert in one field, doesn't mean they're a perfect font of wisdom about everything else. Case in point, Sir Isaac Newton, who really should have stuck to math and physics and left prophetic punditry alone. But, being an inquisitive kind'a guy, (and possessing an ego large enough to generate its own gravitational field) he wasn't about to tolerate limiting his intellect solely to useful pursuits. In a book entitled, "Observations Upon The Prophecies Of Daniel And The Apocalypse Of St. John" he squandered a truly depressing amount of time and energy working out the details for the End Times. Page after page of nonsense abounds on "the seventy weeks of Daniel" representing 490 years and where, what and when all that began and ended and yadda, yadda, yadda... All of which amounts to nothing, but which modern Doomwacks (particularly those of the Biblical literalist variety) adored to harp on as "scientific" proof of their nuttiest notions. It's enough to make one wonder if it wasn't an apple, but an anvil that fell on Izzy's head that day.

2000 CE - A bit further up the timescale, eighteenth century Protestant minister Jonahan Edwards tabbed the year 2000 for his big millennial event. Of course, he also had 1866 marked down for the fall of the papacy. A tidy reminder that prophets tend to see what they wish for.

2000 CE - A chip off the old blockhead was Timothy Dwight, grandson of Jonathan Edwards, president of Yale University and brimstone blasting Millennialist flipperlid. His tenure as uni prez was distinguished by his publishing a less-than-best-selling apocalyptic primer and making frequent speeches to captive undergraduate audiences on Christ's big Year 2000 millennium bash and the evils of just about everything else.

2000 CE - Also in the eighteenth c., but a bit off to the right in France were a group of hyperventilating, literally Mesmerized, faith healing fanatics called, "The Convulsionaries". So named for the alarming jolts, ticks, twitches and eye-rolls they were given to while deep in ecstatic trance. Though mainly interested in magic boo-boo-kissing, it was only a matter of time before one of their number, a certain Jacques-Joseph Duguet, had a vision of the apocalypse that they could all go prophetically squealy over, if only in the casually distant sense.

2000 CE - In 1972, former insurance salesman turned Catholic priest Father Stefano Gobbi took himself a trip to Fatima, Portugal and almost immediately started raving to anyone who'd listen that he was picking up holy messages from the Virgin Mama herself. Stefie's brush with sacredness wasn't one of those tacky day-glo floating Virgin or blaring trumpet affairs, though. No, his encounter was of the more quiet and personal variety. So quiet and personal, in fact, that no one outside Stefo's cramped little cranium could see or hear any of it. They call this kind of thing "interior locutions"; where the sacred celeb-in-question communicates some vitally important, Earth-shattering, Life-altering, Priority One Alert message that everyone in the world absolutely MUST know, not via global vision or international TV, but via holy secret brain waves into the noggin of one lil' lucky (usually lowly and obscure) believer.

  In other words, he made it up.

  This being a religion thing, neither his total lack of evidence nor his background as an insurance salesman called his credibility into even the teensiest question. In no time flat, he was off and running "channeling" top-selling books of Virgin-dictated prophecy and starting his own Fatuous Lady fan club dubbed the "Marian Movement of Priests". Well, fans, press and papal photo-ops aside, by 1997 Stef must have been running out of steam, because he announced his retirement from the interior locutus biz with the Lady's Final Message. Aside from the usual don't-be-an-evil- atheist-or-a-naughty-heretic-God-loves-you-so-shaddup-n'-pray falderal, this farewell Marian missive laid down a bunch of pretty strong hints that the year 2000 would be the one in which Mary's baby boy would be bouncing back at last. Of course, there was still enough vagary in it for leeway, so even if nothing particularly Second Adventurous happened, (Aw, again?!) they could carry on undaunted right into the next year... and the next, and the next, and the next...

2000 CE - "Why, almost five minutes have gone by and nary a word from the Weekly World News?!" I hear you cry. Never fear, reader mine, they're never gone for long. According to their December 13, 1999 issue, buzzing swarms of angels were seen by thousands of boggled tourists, winging their way to Jerusalem to spread the good news about the imminent return of the boss's kid. Heartwarming stories abounded of the angel's loving deeds, such as healing the sick, restoring the maimed, raising the dead, rescuing the doomed, converting the Satanic and decapitating rapists in front of crowds of cheering devotees... Okay, so it's still not Streisand in Vegas. But, hey, a show's a show.

2000 CE - Michael Drosnin, obviously bored and in want of a crossword puzzle, played "find the mystery words" with his home computer and a copy of The Good BookTM and inflicted the results onto the ever-gullible world in the form of his tome, "The Bible Code". It was in the process of futzing with the Pentateuch that he puzzed out the miraculous message that WW III was coming up on the social calendar and the world would be gasping its radioactive last in the year 2000... Or possibly 2006... Or possibly not at all, 'cuz, like, the future's not written in stone, or anything...

  It would seem that Mikey wants to have his Fate and cheat it, too.

2000 CE - When his valuable time wasn't being taken up by dreamland chats with the Almighty and doing lunch with buddies who spontaneously morph into Jesus Christ, Marvin Byers was busy banging out apocalyptic tractates like "The Final Victory: The Year 2000". Marv jumped headfirst onto the millennial bandwagon with this odd little opus, deriving inspiration from the Bible, Isaac Newton and a view of world events that most people would require heavy-duty hallucinogens to duplicate. Proof that with religion in your life, you don't need drugs... they're redundant.

2000 CE - Off in Ontario, Dory Tan had been passing notes from the Virgin Mary to the faithful since 1992. According to Dory, the End was coming up fast and furious and the Virgin Mom wanted nothing better than to have everyone join her and her son for the big post-apocalypse party in the sky scheduled for the year 2000. Oh, yes, and as long as they were busy groveling around with all that last-minute desperation salvation business, the Big V also wanted the faithful to build a spiffy new chapel dedicated to her, too. Just why building a chapel would be important mere moments before the world ended was not a detail included in the missive. Best not to look too close for logic in these sorts of things anyway.

2000 CE - One rainy day back in 1975 Dannion Brinkley was chatting on the phone when lightening hit and traveled right down the line into the receiver he was holding. In a split second, Danny became the proud recipient of several thousand volts of electricity and his char-broiled brain never was the same. Ever since that fateful phone call, he'd tirelessly rave to all and sundry about the 13 angels with the teletubby-like VCRs in their chests who screened a slew of Doomsday demo-tapes for his Near-Death Experience pleasure.

  From the election of Ronald Reagan as US President (an awfully convincing sign that the End is nigh, I'll grant you) to Desert Storm, Danny managed to get his vague, airy-fairy prophecies grafted onto loads of recent and semi-recent news events. Even Bill Gates was nipped and tucked into a convenient corporate Antichrist niche as Danny's designated distributor of Satanic brain-implanted microchips. From there on, the seraphic cassettes reveal bio warfare, famine, earthquakes, tsunamis, WW III and the gore-drenched end of everything. Danny did give the world an out, though. So long as we mended our ways (i.e. lived by his personal moral code) the Lord might refrain from getting his wrath in gear. Gee, ya' think we collected enough brownie points to count?

2000 CE - Back again for more is the ever-reliable Weekly World News. This time, Billy Graham was to be tortured to death by terrorists, Pope JP II was to have been vaporized by a mini-nuke in North Korea and Jesus Christ, his very own self, was supposed to be mowed down by evil, UN-controlled National Guardsmen wielding AK-47's, all as the Last Days come chugging to the finish line in 2000. At least, that was the word according to the WWN-touted "Bethlehem Scrolls", a super-secret collector's edition of prophecies by no less than the Three Wise Men... I'm guessing they mean Larry, Moe and Curley. I just can't see Shemp's style in that at all.

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