We were waiting for the end of the world/Waiting for the end of the world/ Waiting for the end of the world/Dear Lord I sincerely hope you're coming/Cause you really started something.
There's nothing worse for a columnist than to invest blood, sweat and tears into penning a piece no one even bothers to read.
Now, I'm not so vain to think that a piece or two that I've sweated over the past eight years hasn't — because of timing or subject matter — suffered that cruel fate.
Talk about an exercise in futility.
But I'm a professional. So, I intend to try to fill the space with something worthwhile.
Waste of time that it is.
After all, few will waste precious time this morning contemplating my observations over a cup of joe.
Not when tonight marks the end of the world as we know it.
No one's going out like that.
But we're all going out today — one way or the other.
That is, if you buy the apocalyptic vaporware Harold Camping is selling.
The civil engineer turned religious broadcaster (his Family Radio is one of the world's largest Christian radio networks) has proclaimed that at 6 p.m. sharp the ground will tremble mightily around the world and graves will give up 200 million believers, who will ascend to heaven. Christians call it the Rapture, marking the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Those poor souls left behind will endure a cataclysmic denouement. Come Oct. 21, Camping says it's curtains for Earth.
He has labored to share that revelation with anyone who'll listen through thousands of "Judgment Day" billboards. True believers have fanned out around the country warning of Doomsday. Like the earnest fellow last week at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., who handed my 10-year-old son a tract as we dashed for the Delta gate.
Tonight, Camping plans to turn on the tube and watch as the curtain falls.
Perhaps he has the unlisted number to the Holy Hotline.
That's coming from one of those simps who believes in the "fairy tales" that give know-it-alls like Stephen Hawking the giggles.
My skepticism rests with the Gospel of Matthew, which declares unambiguously, "… no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows."
William Miller thought he knew. The American Baptist preacher, later credited with sowing the seeds of what became known as the Adventist movement, predicted Christ's return between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. He later stretched the deadline to October 1844.
Jehovah's Witnesses turned out the world's lights in 1914, 1918, 1925 and 1942.
John Hinkle, pastor of Christ Church in Los Angeles, declared the end would come June 9, 1994.
And some fellow named Harold Camping, in his book "1994," pegged Sept. 6, 1994, as Doomsday.
He wrote, "When September 6, 1994 arrives, no one else can become saved, the end has come."
And when it didn't, not so much as a "never mind."
Indeed, as The Huffington Post recently reported, Camping now says, "I always said if it wasn't 1994, it would be 2011."
As a Christian, these unamazing Kreskins make me fume. They bring ridicule to our faith and give ammunition to guys like Hawking.
I understand why folks might latch onto the date-setters. Hard to blame people for craving an ejector seat to escape a world that seems increasingly racked with war, economic and racial strife, and hostility.
The Bible admonishes believers to be ever ready for Christ's return. Should Camping prove wrong — again — I bet time would be better spent seeking out opportunities to shore up the decaying world where you live instead of watching the Doomsday clock.
In any case, we'll know something soon enough.
If this space is vacant next week, props to Camping.
And if it's not, well, there's always 2012.
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