Monday, May 23, 2011

LOL: The End of the World, Again

Being Catholic, before the 1950's we didn't hear much End of the World  stuff coming from the pulpit and it wasn't until I started dating a  protestant girl in high school and attending her church that I encountered the imagery and metaphor from the Book of Revelation, wars and rumors of wars, The Antichrist, Armageddon, the Seven Seals, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, earthquakes, fire and brimstone, and The Rapture.

My mother told me I was going to hell for attending another church but I decided to risk it for love. "Te vas ir al diablo", she would warn. But secretly I was enthralled with all this stuff I had never learned in mass. I even bought two Bibles, one the King James translation and the other, the Catholic Douay version and compared key passages in the New Testament!

One day, as I was telling her of the signs before the end time, war, earthquakes, famine, things I was reading about for the first time despite the Catholic Church's warning not to read the Bible for ourselves. "Se va acabar el mundo", I told her. I'll never forget her answer immersed in sarcasm, "Yes, the world es going to end alright, when you die!" And she laughed. It seemed a little sacrilegious to me because that is not what I meant. She seemed to derive pleasure from her ability scoff at things I was learning from the Devil's church.

"Beware of false prophets" the scriptures warned and of all the soothsayers who will arise in the end times, predicating the day and time regardless of Christ's admonition: "Of that day and time no one knows except the Father in heaven."  I looked for Antichrists, Hitler? The Pope? My neighbor? I trembled at the thought of the Heavens parting, and Jesus descending on the clouds, the dead rising from their tombs, and His parting the masses in two, the chosen whose names are written and the Book of Life, and the cursed damned to eternal damnation in a fiery hell!

I was puzzled by Christ's words "Behold, these things will come to pass before this generation ends." But many generations have passed and the end still looms, despite countless predictions like the latest one by Rev. Harold Camping who predicted our demise would occur at 6 PM (Eastern or Pacific Time?) on May 21, 2011. If he had been correct I wouldn't be writing this (or maybe I would if I had not been one of the chosen selected for the Rapture). But as far as I know all my buddies, family and neighbors are still here, except my compadre who I haven't seen since that day! Odd, because he doesn't go to church at all.

The whole thing must be embarrassing for believers since the fiasco served as a perfect opportunity for skeptics, atheists and non-believers to mock the faithful. Twitter and Facebook subscribers went nuts. Said one local believer "Something went wrong. God didn't give us the understanding correctly." That's right, blame it on God! He must have erred in communicating the details. I would say that Mr. Camping is the one who didn't "get the understanding right". Yet, I feel even sorrier for all the pitiable souls who sold their houses and belonging to follow this misguided fellow.

Yet, I'm going to confess something to my reader here. Though I too scoffed the whole idea, I didn't snicker too loudly in case the dude was right. I mean, he could have been right and had the last laugh. Reminds me of a religious billboard I once saw on Highway 99 which usually touted scripures. But this day it said: "I would rather believe in Hell and be wrong, than not believe in Hell and be wrong". In the former, if were wrong we have nothing to lose, except to perhaps have been a bit better person in life?

So I think I will continue to chuckle at these recurring prophets, but I will avoid laughing too loud just in case one of them gets it right! If enough people keep predicting the end of the world, one of them is bound to get it right. So I'll give it a shot, next Sunday at 9:AM. Pack your bags.

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