And now for a break from the usual programming...
Woohoo! I'm so excited! Well, not really, but for a while now, I've been wondering what is going to replace the Mayan-inspired 2012-is-the-end-of-the-world craze that is due to expire in three months time.
We've had Y2K, an obvious bust, and 2012, which is about to go out with a whimper, but what's next? The only date that I could think of is around 2030, which would be the 2,000th anniversary of the Jesus's ministry and/or death and resurrection--approximately, of course, but there will be no end of people who will claim to know the exact dates in the years ahead, mark my words.
Now, that's still around 18 years away, and such a long lead time might not be good for the apocalypse business, but I'm at a loss for an intermediate date (preferably around 10 years from now, not too far, but not too near) that would mark a significant event that could double as the end of the world. The next computer-related date that makes any sense is 2038 when time runs out on the old 32-bit Unix clock (well, ticks over to zero), but there probably won't be any 32-bit Unix systems left by then anyway.
So, for the moment, we're stuck with 2030, which will undoubtedly be a big draw for conservative "Bible-believing" Christians everywhere, especially those of an eschatological bent.
Anyway, that was my own conclusion a few months ago, and I had to laugh earlier today when I actually heard someone on the radio confirming my hypothesis. Now, this was not on a religious radio station--it was one that specialize in crackpot conspiracy theories related to the New World Order, including 9/11 being an inside job--but the presenter was babbling on about some nonsense to do with increasing earthquake activity (an old, long debunked favorite of the religious right) which segued into talking about the End Times and his theory that it would happen within the next 20 years, to coincide with--you guessed it--the ministry and death and resurrection of Jesus!
Of course, this is not the most pressing problem related to the religious right in America, not by a long shot, but it will be interesting to see what happens in the months and years ahead. I suspect the pattern will be this:
- The lunatic fringe -- those who are not particularly religious, probably not even churchgoers, but who specialize in stuff like Nibiru (Planet X) and "earth-changes", i.e. the same folk who have been peddling the Mayan calendar 2012 connection -- will be the first to start marketing this as the next end of the world. They need something new to start writing books about and making their living on right away, and I've come to understand that while they don't really share the same beliefs and passions as the religious right, they are more than willing to accept Christian history and conservative Christian mythology as valid source material for their nonsense theories.
- The fringe religious right -- i.e. the one's who are not currently at the center of the political fight over who runs the country, will latch on to it and publish their own detailed timelines of the End Times, pinning down the date to between around 2028 and 2033.
- Finally, probably not for a few years yet, the belief will become widespread within the conservative religious community. The continuing "horrors" of socialism and rampant homosexuality in America will convince them that the End Times are approaching (as always), and finally, there will be a date near enough that most of them can look forward to seeing it (but not too close to shut up shop just yet). But I doubt there will be a huge bout of public date setting (too easy to be wrong). The fringe element will do that, but the rest will probably stick to "soon," at least in public, while they continue to lap up theories about the date in private.
Thinking about it, perhaps the late 2020s isn't too far away for it to be the next big date in the calendar of apocalypse-delayed. I wouldn't rule out an earlier date (around 2020) just yet, but if nothing else crops up by the end of next year, I think it's all but certain that around 2030 will be our next appointment for the end of the world.
The way things are going environmentally, let's just hope we all get to live long enough to see that one get canceled too.