Well, I’m going to be a little snarky here and hazard a prediction that the world will not really end on Saturday. Or even that the rapture will occur, taking 3% of the world’s population now before the world really ends on October 22. Those are the cheery teachings of fundamentalist radio host Harold Camping.

If he’s right, there will be a 5-month gap between the rapture and mass destruction. Bad news: global chaos, collapsing infrastructure, and no sparkly Christians to stand in the gap for the rest of us schlubs. Good news: Camping’s radio show will be off the air. Hey, it’s important to always find the bright side.

What’s interesting is that we’ve been here before, and on a much larger proportional scale. In 1844, William Miller convinced thousands of people that Jesus would return on October 22 (clearly, he and Camper used the same Choose Your Own Apocalypse calendar system). People sold or abandoned their farms and prepared to meet the Lord. They donned white robes for the much-anticipated occasion of being swept up to heaven. And when Jesus didn’t show up, their sorrow was so palpable that historians now call the event “The Great Disappointment.”

I don’t wish that kind of disappointment on anyone. But it’s hard not to chuckle at the certainty some of the May 21 proponents express. Some of them can’t quite suppress their glee at being in the know, and escaping the five months of literal hell on earth that the rest of us will experience if they are right. I wouldn’t want to be them come May 22.

I don’t want the world to end. I mean, yes, I accept that there is an eschaton in sight for all Christians. But why, through the ages, have people been so determined to hasten the world’s demise? Especially when Jesus said clearly that we won’t know the day or the hour? Are we really driven by such a religion of fear that we expect a loving God to go to considerable lengths to catch human beings with their pants down?

I’m going to take Saturday as an occasion when it is especially joyous just to be alive, here on the earth for the limited time allotted to all of us. I’ll enjoy my family a little more, eat delicious food, and spend some time in nature.

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