Saturday, May 21, 2011

This is the way the world ends ...

PETA members waited outside the Family Radio headquarters to deliver vegetarian Last Supper meals in Oakland, Calif., on Friday.

I had a last supper, so to speak, and it was anything but vegan.  A few days before my gastric bypass surgery eight years ago, we headed over to a very fine steakhouse where I shkoffed down Oysters Rockefeller, a large steak with sides, home baked bread, and some kind of dessert involving chocolate.  I might have also had a salad.  I know I had a drink.  Today, I would have problems getting down any of that foodly bountitude.  Seriously, half a drink, one cooked oyster, and a bite of steak. Is it worth it?  Yeah, it's worth it.  It's just not always comfortable.

Whether tomorrow is Judgment Day, or the world ends on December 21, 2012, or I die at my desk at age 100, I really would like to have a last meal worthy of the occasion but in keeping with my altered gastric state.  There is one food I can eat reasonably well with a minimum of discomfort, and that is lobster.  I want lobster, lots of lobster with lots of butter, and more lobster with that white sauce they serve you at Kobe's Japanese Steakhouse, and then more lobster the way they used to make it at Al Steiner's on Chestnut Street in Cedarhurst, stuffed with exquisite crabmeat.  Lobster and butter, is there any better way to go out?

Dystopia are a writer's best friend.  For some reason, almost everybody really gets into those stories about the future where everything goes wrong.  Some disaster flicks are awesome.  Others are barely so-so.  My all-time favorite disaster flick is the appropriately named "Armageddon", with Bruce Willis and a disturbingly normal Billy Bob Thornton.  Runner up is "I am Legend", a film so frighteningly real that I've only watched it once.  The scariest part for me, besides the zombies, is the price of gasoline at the abandoned stations.  Is it just coincidence that the price of regular gas is approaching $6.66 a gallon?  I think not ...

To a great number of Christians, however, the story of Judgment Day is not a work of science fiction, but a future event as real as death and taxes.  The thing is, God is a bit whimsical, and to keep his children on their toes, he left clues to all these signs and portents but failed to provide the date and time of the main event.  So for over two millenia, humans the world over have been trying to parse the truth out of Biblical passages which can be read any number of ways.  Apparently, there is one dude who is so sure that his truth is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, he has spent a good part of his fortune on getting the word out:

The end of the world will be at exactly 6 p.m. on May 21, 2011, says (89-year-old Oakland-based Harold) Camping, who along with his organization, Family Radio, are behind those billboards across the country forecasting the Rapture this Saturday. The Rapture, the Last Days, Armageddon and the Final Days of Judgment are all interchangeable. It's when God will destroy the Earth to show his love for humanity. . .

The Rapture is at 6 p.m. on May 21, 2011, where ever it's 6 p.m. first, with the "fantastically big" world-ending event taking place on a time zone by time zone basis.

That means we can expect the Rapture to start when it hits 6 p.m. at the International Dateline at 180 Longitude -- roughly  between Pago Pago, American Samoa, and Nuku'alofa, Tonga. We'll know it's Judgment Day because there will be an earthquake of previously unprecedented magnitude, Camping predicts.

So, according to these calculations, the Rapture will actually begin like a rolling brown out across the globe at 11 p.m. PST on Friday, May 20th. "Everyone will be weeping and wailing because they'll know in a few hours it'll come to their city," said Camping.

Which I think makes it 2 a.m., EST on Saturday, May 21st.  Since I'm almost always awake at that hour, I'll let you know what happens.

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river . . .

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

                                             - T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"

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