If, At First, You Don't Succeed, Fail, Fail, Again
The explosion of apocalypticism in our “modern” 20th & 21st centuries
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David Silverman Quote

January 11, 2000 CE - According to the always trustworthy and responsible Weekly World News, in 1997 the CIA captured an alien from outer space who crash landed out in the New Mexico desert. The sole survivor of an advanced civilization light years away, the poor, lonely ET conveyed the warning that God (who clearly could do with a valium or sixty) was pissed off at all His creatures across the Universe and was torching each planet one by one. Petulant fella, that God. Anyway, it was naturally supposed to be only a matter of time before Earth got singled out as a cosmic s’more, too. Perhaps, God just ran out of marshmallows?

January 16, 2000 CE - Also found amongst the literary flotsam of the Weekly World News pages, were the ravings of one Dr. Marion Derlette who, we were told, made a scholarly study of every single religion that has ever existed ever, ever in the whole wide world, ever. Her conclusion; they’re all exactly the same! Yes, despite what the actual followers of other faiths think, in reality they all believe in the Christian God and Jesus and a Revelation-like Doomsday that would take place (so they all said) on January 16, 2000.

  And what a Doomsday! Doc Marion threw in everything but the kitchen sink for her all-purpose Armageddon. War, famine, plagues, earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, cyclones, freezing cold, searing heat, floods, draught, mass madness, killer comets, wandering continents and of course, everyone’s favorite,...a shifting of the poles! Certainly, no one could accuse ol’ Mare of being from the wishy-washy “less is more” school of thought. I guess my fave part of her End Times scenario was her claim that it wouldn’t be all bad, because once God wiped all humanity off the face of the Earth, He’d make the place a paradise for believers everywhere!

  If you were wondering what believers she’s talking about if every last human had been whacked, then give yourself a tootsie-pop for having a better eye for the fine details than our lil’ Miss Marion did. Though, perhaps she meant that God only planned to render ‘em all dead from the neck up?

January 20, 2000 CE - A total lunar eclipse occurred on this date. Not as flashy as an eclipse of the solar variety. Still, it did include a hint of red tinting effect on the Lunar surface (prophetically speaking, a seriously über ookie visual) which managed to elicit a bit of Revelation raving from the goof troops. It was a subdued sort of reaction, unfortunately, but one has to allow for a little self-consciousness so soon after Y-Turkay.

Sometime vaguely January-ish, 2000 CE - According to that font of checkstand wisdom, the Weekly World News, Edgar Cayce had this very month pegged for a mysterious “cosmic storm”. Said storm was to have caused 1000 mph winds whipping across the planet, starting a roller-coaster weather pattern that would wipe out millions. What? No polar shifts?

Again, ’round about January, 2000 CE - Not satisfied with Eddy’s rants, alone, the WWN pulled out that other news source fave, the vaguely defined “top scientists”, for deep background on that January Doomsdate. According to these unnamed astronomical experts, (who, we are told, were appropriately horrified by their findings) the sun was going to experience storms of unprecedented magnitude, which would cause killer, diller solar flares flinging our way. The upshot of this solar tantrum was supposed to have included satellites spinning out of orbit and hurtling into cities, planes crashing into each other, power grids shutting down, phone lines going dead and foreign tourists in satellite-mapping enabled rental cars having to stop and ask for directions. The end of world as we know it, indeed.

February 29, 2000 CE - For all those sad and sorry Doomdiggers who had their most ardent dreams pinned on the Y2K Bug, the leap year provided a hair-thin ray of hope for a blacker tomorrow. It seems those programmers back in the ’70’s Disco Inferno hadn’t prepared any better for the 400-year leap-a-thon than they had for a new, four digit century. Result? A repeat of the same heart-pounding Y2K excitement we had on New Year’s....Which should hardly be surprising. But, when you’re stuck living in a trailer-home “bunker” in the middle of East Armpit, Idaho with a ten-year supply of Dinty Moore, you’ll clutch onto anything.

March, 2000 CE - Oooh, solar flares! Always an annoyance when one rears up right in the middle of a TV show you’ve been watching. The paranoid set tend to look toward them, though, with an almost pitiful aching hopefulness, wishing that maybe there’ll be enough of them one day to cause power failures that will take sinful civilization out for good. March was supposed to be a peak time for these reception-busters and many of those folks who were left at the apocalyptic altar back in January cast longing (and ultimately vain) gazes toward the springtime skies.

Somewhere in between November 29, 1999 and March 21, 2000 CE - Back in ’96, former Soviet Bloc siren of prophetic fluffery Dumitru Duduman was paid a little visit in the hospital by a couple of his very special invisible friends. From the Vorlon-speak that invisible friends are classically given to, Dummy was able to deduce that the world (starting with the United States, a.k.a. “Babylon”) would soon be coming to a satisfyingly blood-drenched, and deserving end. Visions of mushroom clouds danced in his head...along with an unlisted cocktail of seriously heavy meds, and he wasted no time spreading the “good news”. Since then, Dums had the dignity-preserving grace to go belly-up before his prophecy could do the same. An all-too-rare display of perfect timing...“Perfect” being a radically relative term in the doompeddling profession.

April, 2000 CE - Look out! It’s another horrible planetary conjunction! This time, the offending heavenly bodies were Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. And their offense was...um,...loitering?

May 5, 2000 CE at 8:08 UT - As if the April conjunction weren’t enough to make any astrology fan wet their planetary charts, all five of the classically recognized planets, plus the sun and the moon aligned themselves on this date in a great, big geocentric arc. Kind’a cool, one would think. Well, unless you think like R.W. Noone, who apparently never took a real science class in his entire life and believes that planetary alignments can cause ookie stuff like Earth to spin out of its orbit or form a new pole or some other such nonsense. In his palpitating terror tome, “5/5/2000 - Ice, the Ultimate Disaster”, Noone fixated on all that frosty stuff at the South Pole and asserted that it was putting terrible pressure on the Earth’s crust. According to R.W., all it would take was for this bad news planetary alignment to increase the Earth’s centrifugal momentum and it would upset the planet’s axis and send kadillions of tons of ice spilling down the shirt collars of everyone on the planet. Pretty scary stuff, huh? Especially if you’re wearing an outfit that’s dry clean only.

May 5, 2000 CE - Bryan Elder, an Arkansas hydraulics specialist and Y2K flipper-lid, not only expected Hell to be relocated to ground level by Jan. 1, but expected the May time planetary alignment to burn up the Earth. (in which case, R.W. Noone’s planet-wide ice flow would’ve come in really handy) He was last seen preparing for the big event by searching for a cozy cave to squirrel himself away in. Yes, truly, all the best and brightest go for this Doomsday stuff, don’t you agree?

May 9, 2000 CE - Remember Toshio Hiji? He of the Nostradamus-inspired October Satanic alien attack? Remember how well that panned out? Well, hang on, ‘cause he’s back, again! This time with a Nosey-nudged Noah-ish flood that was supposed to wipe out everybody in the whole wide world. Well, those who hadn’t been bumped off already by Hell’s ETs.

May 13, 2000 CE - Poor ol’ Weekly World News. Seems they must be running low on batboys, alien-impregnated trailer trash and world’s fattest transvestite gymnasts, because lately they just can’t seem to crank out anything but apocalypses. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Save, perhaps, in an “embarrassment of riches” way. After all, what’s not to love about a government conspiracy to suppress news of an impending Armageddon and the identity of the Antichrist and the “fact” that crimson space dust was heading our way to turn the moon blood red and plans to plant the Mark of the Beast on everybody’s wrist? According to the WWN, (who, if nothing else, know their readership) Bill Clinton, the FBI and the CIA were all in on the big “Spiritual Cover-up” and one Dr. Robert Calke, author of...something Revelation-ish...wanted to blow the lid on the whole satanic business. Okay, so it’s no “Alien Mates With Rabid Mutant Weasel! Gives Birth To Presidential Frontrunner!” But, it will do...even if it didn’t.

May 17, 2000 CE - Venus and Jupiter got super friendly on this date. Unfortunately, seeing as how it was only 7° from the sun, it didn’t look like much from our POV. So, what was the big deal about it? Well, it’s a Christian thang. Y’see, once astronomers calculated that the very same kissin’ conjunction happened way back in the year 2 BCE, lots of theologians decided that it simply must have been the “Christmas Star” that led the three wise men to Bethlehem. So, you can see where a heavenly replay would get lots of people’s Second Coming juices flowing in eager anticipation. Nothin’ like an air-tight tourniquet of reality to staunch that kind’a thing PDQ.

May 17, 2000 CE - When White Buffalo Calf Woman (or Mitakuye Oaysin to her pals) got her prophecy laughed right out’a the reservation by her fellow Lakotas, Buffy turned in desperation to the wilds of the Internet to spread the word of Jesus’ imminent return...in a UFO...which the evil government was supposed to try to shoot down...naturally. Oh, but they (and anyone else who didn’t join Buffy’s club) were to get righteously thwapped for their sins when ET-Jesus touched down. All the standard-issue disasters were set to ensue and evil (ie. non-club members) were to be wiped from the face of whatever was left of the Earth. Buff’s whole theology was a rich, coarsely ground mulch of Lakota spiritualism, Christian mysticism, UFO mania and paranoid conspiracy craziness. I can think of no better example of her tenuous grasp on reality than the name she chose for her own church, the “Universal Sanctuary Salvation Enterprise”, which shortens to...yes, that’s right...the “U.S.S. Enterprise”! Buffy and a slew of other similarly untethered types were once happily housed in the virtual padded playpens of The Millennium Resource Report, a site that's gone sadly missing lately. I don’t imagine its disappearance had anything to do with so many of their prophecies swan diving head-first into the drained concrete lap-pool of reality, do you?...Naaah.

June, 2000 CE - Millennialism just attracts all the best sort’a people. Such was the thought that ran through my mind when I read of the arrest of hundreds of members of a Ugandan Doomsday cult who call themselves the “World Message Last Warning Church”. It seems that their unshakable belief in a wedding weather Armageddon inspired them to all sorts of deeply devout and spiritual behavior...like kidnapping and serial rape. Ah, whatever would the world do without religion to light the moral way?

June 9, 10 or 11, 2000 CE - Yes, folks, Marilyn J. Agee popped up to prove once again that you can’t keep a good loon down. This time, she actually gave herself a whole three-day window to squirm in before reality slapped her clean off the sill.

July, 2000 CE - In the mood for a summer solar flare? How about one that’s a real killer? Prophesied by Confucius, no less! Well, at least that’s what it is according to the Weekly World News...and who would think to question a source like that, I ask you?

August 11, 2000 CE - One thing you gotta say about the Weekly World News; they surely do know their audience. Even starting out with a “scientific” (however pseudo) apocalypse involving a NASA-discovered Black Hole of Doom, they were constitutionally incapable of keeping the whole solar-sucking enterprise from degenerating into a Revelationsy bit of Bible burble, complete with heaven and hell on the hole’s nether end. Clearly, someone at the WWN has been spending way too much time picking old Disney movies out of the Blockbuster bargain bin.

Summer, 2000 CE - The Weekly World News heaved still another load of seasonal riches upon us with the prognostications of Mother Seaton who, we were told, saw that Washington DC would be overcome by an evil stench rising up from the very bowels of hell, driving all the politicians in the city mad...Well, like, duh! It was an election year.

September 13, 2000 CE - The date of the big ka-boom, according to the propeller-heads of The House of Yahweh. (see here for ref.) No doubt you quaked in fear as I did.

October, 2000 CE - Pastor of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and endlessly prolific writer of prophetic twaddle, Jim Searcy not only set an October date for the beginning of the end, but fingered Prince Charles as the Antichrist. Actually, that was kind of a flattering promotion for a guy whose greatest professed ambition up ‘till now has been to turn into Carmilla Parker Bowles’ tampon.

October 9, 2000 CE - Sometime financial planner, insurance broker and tax consultant turned prophecy teacher Grant Jeffrey has never really stopped being an accountant at heart. Determined to work out the due date for Armageddon, he knitted together a weird and wildly arbitrary set of “Biblical” dates for God’s ordained Jubilees, added, subtracted, multiplied and divided at will and decided to finish it all off at predicted Jubilee #70. Scheduled, so said’th the G-Man, for October 9, 2000. Still, the end of the world was no reason to ignore your financial portfolio. So, in Jeffie’s little Doomsday text, “Final Warning”, he took the time to dole out economic advice for every Christian’s pre and post apocalypse needs. I guess in Grant’s Great Beyond you can not only take it with you, you can accrue interest on it, as well.

November, 2000 CE - The Weekly World News attributed to Nostradamus a prediction for a killer comet that just wanted to set the world on fire. Does any such quatrain actually exist?...Does it matter?

February to December 2000 CE - I don’t know about you, but when I want to go straight to the source of global news and solid, quality reporting, I look for the nearest pre-pubescent psychic with a hot-line to the Weekly World News. Prime example: little Donna Sulmond of Richmond, Virginia who, at age 10, receives regular, top notch, divine visions of the world’s imminent icky poo-poo moments. Last Feb. f’rinstance, Donna saw some two billion people world-wide being wiped out by a passing meteor shower. And lest you imagine the survivors got off too easy, millions of them were scheduled to get wacked later in the month by a sudden plague of poisonous snakes. All of which should’ve cleared the airways for a June Rapture and a December Second Coming n’ Smiting. And to think, when I was 10, I just envisioned owning a pony...and maybe not getting killed at dodge-ball. But, then, my mommy monitored my sugar intake.

Late November/early December-ish, 2000 CE - A Dr. Hannu Ritvos of Helsinki, Finland wanted to warn the world at large that, due to global warming, the polar ice caps were melting at a super-speed pace. How super-sped up was that? Well, if one went by Hannu’s painstaking computations, the better parts of Africa and South America and every last itty-bit of Australia were to have been sharing space with Davey Jones’ locker by late summertime. Further, ardent Ark recreationists got the head’s up that they only had ’till December-ish to get their pride and joys sea-worthy before the whole wide world sank beneath the waves. One might’ve suggested to ol’ Han that he lay off watching Waterworld just long enough to use his pocket calculator. That way, he might’ve clued in to the fact that there is not enough water (in any form) on our entire planet to completely submerge all land...Oh, and did I forget to mention this prediction was found in the Weekly World News?

December 25, 2000 CE - What is it with Sun Magazine and Pope John XXIII??? This time around, the rag insisted he prophesied that Jesus would return on Christmas and appear in the sky over New York City to announce that he was bringing 1000 years of peace to the world. Unfortunately, his message was drowned out by pedestrians shouting, “Jump! Jump! Jump!” and pissed-off drivers leaning on their horns and screaming, “I GOTTA F****** GREEN LIGHT, HERE, YA’ F****** D***S***!!! GET’CHA F****** A** OUTTA DA F****** STREET!!!...OH, YEAH??!!!...WELL, SAVE THIS!!!!!” **HOOOONNNNKKK!!!!**

January 1, 2001 CE - Although Jim Jones and the People’s Temple may hold the record for worst single-event doomsday cult bloodbath of the 20th century, that still leaves the field wide open for contestants in the multiple-disciplinary death-cult decathlon. And I think it’s a safe bet that Joseph Kibwetere and his “Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God” will be bringing home the gold...That is to say, they would...provided there are any of them still alive, by now.

  Y’see, back in 1989 Joe got the prophet bug after getting a gander at Ausie cult wackadoo William Kamm and ever since, traipsed around Uganda selling Christian eschatological snake oil to the mystic-minded masses. His biggest selling point was, naturally, an imminent doomsdate and Joey pinned his star on the faddishly popular January 1, 2000. When that went over like a lead savior, he just did the standard date swapping dance and re-pegged the End for Jan. 1, 2001. Still, many of his flock, who he’d already thoroughly fleeced, took exception. Soon after which, they took a powder. Local authorities never bothered to look into any of the disappearances. The fact that a number of the local police were cult members, themselves, just might have had a little something to do with that laid back ’tude.

  The matter was taken out of local hands on March 17, when 530 cult members, including children, were found burned to death inside what remained of a ramshackle church. Suicide was ruled out days later when still more bodies began turning up around the area and in towns and villages all over Uganda. It seems Father Joe had a really serious no-refunds policy on church donations and found a more creative way to deal with dissatisfied customers than setting up a complaint desk. At the time of this writing, the Father is still on the lam and the death count has reached over the utterly numbing 1000 mark, with reason to suspect it could go higher. Ain’t faith grand?

January 31, 2001 CE - Sun Magazine managed to tear themselves away from Pope John XXIII long enough to dish out an article on the discovery of a perfectly preserved Noah’s Ark roosting all comfy cozy on Mt. Ararat. Inside were three scrolls dolled up in precious metals that foretold of the world’s fiery demise on this date after the sun turned up the thermostat and the polar ice caps went all soft and runny. Hmn...Must have skipped that one. And I hate it when I miss a perfectly good “beach day”.

July, 2000 - March, 2001 CE - Dr. Dale SumburËru pegged the Second Coming for any ol’ time within this span...give or take...more or less... Kind of a laid back approach to prognosticating, had Dr. Dale. Seems Jesus took on the same ‘tude, too, since he not only proved to be a no-show for the party, he didn’t even bother to RSVP.

May 5, 2000 to May 5, 2001 CE - Are you blue over being a financial failure, honey? Had a bad marriage or three? Feeling ignored and under-appreciated? Lack of any real talent got’cha down?...Then, being a wild-eyed, fanatical fringe cult leader may be the job for you! It was certainly the job for Pittsburg-born Tony Delevin (a.k.a. Gabriel Of Sedona), who thunk up his own religion, complete with Doomsday scenario, and headed for the wilds of Arizona to stake out his private little corner of the Twilight Zone. Gabe is your typical delusional, ego-maniacal, control-freak, cult guru with New Age/Christian/UFO obsessions, and his earth changes/End Times prophecies run the usual follow-me-without-question- and-rule-the-earth-as-a-god -or-disobey-me-and-die-horribly-and-be- reborn-as-a- cockroach-on-the-planet-Fred scenario.

  Naturally, his followers can’t get enough of this kind of mental abuse and turn over their lives, life’s savings, children, supermarket coupons, etc. with unbounded glee. Up until recently, they were all quite certain that sometime between May 5, 2000 and May 5, 2001, the Earth would undergo more disasters than an Irwin Allen film festival and they, as the enlightened elite, would be swooped up to safety via intergalactic limo service. Guess their ride must’ve got caught in traffic somewhere out around Orion’s Belt. Anyways, their site is more fun than a barrel of ETs. Definitely worth the mouse-click. As is this posting from a Union-Tribune newspaper article.

April, 2000 - July, 2001 CE - A former NYC schoolteacher and Jamaican native who now calls himself “Brother Solomon” chucked it all to go to Jerusalem, bunker down on the Mount of Olives and wait for Jesus to join the wrap party. Brother Sol didn’t come all by his lonesome, though. Helping him to keep the seats warm were another two dozen 7th Day Adventists who made up his flock. Sort of like an extended church outing for people with no lives.

September 11, 2001 CE - Oh, get a grip. No, not a single psychic quack or religious whack divined the horror of the terrorist strike that took place on this day...Not prior to the event, anyhow. In its wake, of course, all the vermin came crawling out from under their respective rocks trying to prove that it had been prophesied by themselves or some other font of wankdom somewhere, and that all of it was redolent of deep, dark and portentous meaning...favoring their personal ideologies, ‘natch.

  The most popular of the lot were a pair of faux Nostradamus doom ditties that swept across the Internet at warp 9.9. They were ravenously swallowed whole by countless scores of the chronically gullible until being thoroughly debunked by various sites, such as Snopes, which also uncovered the (un)amazing lack of substance behind the Texas Schoolboy Twin Towers Prophet, the Microsoft Wingdings conspiracy theory and the usefulness of looking for meaning in the numbers 9/11.

September 17, 2001 CE - For who-knows-what mystically measurable reason, this was a serious fave date of current pyramidologists shooting for the Second Coming. Well, you know these folks, you give them a pyramid inch and they take a miracle mile.

2001 CE - Almost sweetly loony, the Unarius Society is a group of dotty UFO worshippers based in Southern California who lately had been awaiting the landing of the Interplanetary Confederation on Atlantis (newly risen from the Bermuda Triangle) in 2001. But, hey, you know aliens and deadlines... Founded by the archangel Uriel (better known to the IRS as Ruth Norman) a somewhat glassy-eyed elderly lady with a huge poof of carrot red hair and fashion sense straight out of La Cage aux Folles, the Unarians spend most of their time channeling friendly ET’s, angels, dead celebs and Atlanteans. They also make very odd videos that turn up every once in a while on cable access channels. Uriel passed on back in 1993. But that didn’t cause any of the remaining Unarians to believe she wouldn’t be back on hand for the big Interplanetary Confab. They really must be seen (or, at least, read) to be believed.

2001 CE - Oh, it’s just Edgar Cayce shifting the poles around, again...Move along, folks...there’s nuthin’ here to see...

2001 CE - Retired psychology professor Charles Spiegel lives virtually right around the corner from the Unarius Society and loves to blurt out an amazingly similar prophetic tale. He expected 33 spaceships from the planet “Myton” to land on Atlantis in 2001 and spread their joy and wisdom across the world... Must be something in the San Diegan water...

2001 CE - Spaceships do appear to have been the theme for 2001. Though they weren’t nearly so pleasant and lovey-dovey in the view of Tynetta Muhammad as the Unarians or Charlie Spiegel would have them. Tynetta, y’see, is an Islamic numerologist with ties to the Nation Of Islam. So, in her view, the millennium would mean Rapture via Ezekiel’s Wheel-esque UFOs for all enlightened people of African descent and gruesome death via cosmic super ray gun zaps for all the lowly “white devils” left behind. No mention was made of what’s supposed to have happened to all those folks who didn’t fit precisely into either of the above categories. Not surprising, since NOI folks tend to have color vision that’s restricted to black and white.

March 24, 2002 CE - In probably the most creative tactic ever attempted to shorten the Oscar telecast, Orthodox Christian Paul Smirnov sent oodles of emails to Industry types warning that a Doomsday asteroid would be zooming its un-chauffeured way smack into the new Kodak Theatre on the appointed night. Siting bits and pieces of Rev. 18 he recast sorcerers as producers and Babylon as LA (the latter not such a stretch for anyone who’s seen the new, über-kitchy Kodak) and bewailed a terrible death toll, since he also predicted no one would listen to him.

  Well, that’s one out of two.

2002 CE - Evangelist George Curle decided that the Tribulation ought to be starting up around that year. Of course, that was somewhat in conflict with both reality and...

2002 CE - Capetown’s Rev. J.S. Malan. Who was pretty darn certain that Jesus would be waltzing back into town just about the same time. Ooh, who'd'a guessed they could both be wrong?! Dang!

January 16, 2003 CE - Ever think sometimes that the minutes, hours and days are getting longer and longer and time just seems to be slowing to a standstill? Well, according to Dr. Joseph R. Kopeski, (by way of the Weekly World News) that wasn’t just a side-effect of a long work week, a dull school lecture, or a broadcast of the Academy Awards. “No!” said Joe, "The fact is, we are slowing down. Yes, the whole darn planet!" And unless something could be done to give our cosmic rip cord a good yank, the home world’s rotation was just gonna keep tapering off until we stopped dead as a UPN sitcom. Not that the majority would have to worry about the results of that terrible terminus. The good news, according to Dr. Joe, was that what with all the floods, fires, earthquakes, assorted other earth changes and mass starvation that would happen in the interim, most of us would'a been long dead by the time the Jan. deadline rolled around...Well, damn, blink and ya' miss it.

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