According to professional apocalypse predictor/silky-voiced radio host Harold Camping, the Rapture's going down today. But Camping's not alone in his doomsaying. Many kooks have made similar dire claims in recent years. Here's a Whitman's Sampler of apocalypse-predicting nuts.
So according to Family Radio grand poobah Camping, massive earthquakes should have already begun in the mid-Pacific and will be wending their way around the globe all day long. New Yorkers can expect seismic horror at approximately 6 PM. And just as your Friday night hangover loses its venom. Rats!
Until it explodes into a mushroom cloud of excrement this October, our planet will becoming a great rotting paella of unfathomably horrible shit for a solid five months. Presumably Mother Earth will be vajazzled with gossamer God lasers raining down from firmament. Endangered species will spontaneously combust into walls of angel bullets, and the flaming sword of Michael the Archangel will cleave the continents like so many limp slices of liverwurst.
Fortunately, all us heathens won't notice the Rapture's a-ripping. Camping believes in annihilationism, which means you and I won't spend eternity being harangued by the bad guy from Legend (while Bryan Ferry serenades us). No, our souls will sort of just fart out of existence. Maybe we'll fade into the void. Or we'll all be reborn in a universe that's a giant pinball machine. Only Harold Camping knows for certain!
In any case, Camping's heathen-baiting isn't anything new. Since time immemorial, people have been screaming about the end of time. Hell, folks have been doing this with clockwork regularity over the past 30 years.
Between all your Y2Ks and Nike aficionados trying to hitch a ride on Hale-Bopp, Camping's just a flash in a great big skillet of crazy. Here's a bunch o' bungled contemporary apocalypses.
1.) Harold Camping: 1994-1995
First, let's start with the Chicken Little of the day, Mr. Harold Camping, the Peabo Bryson of AM/FM radio apocalypse histrionics. Why do I say this? Because Mr. Camping's voice is like bundling yourself in an aural Slanket of fire-and-brimstone flapdoodle. His voice sounds like extremely judgmental shoo-fly pie.
Anyway, Mr. Camping previously used his own home-brewed eschatological numerology to predict that the world would end in 1994. Did it? Well, you can still buy Camping's book delineating his prophecy on Amazon. Also, he adjusted the date several times.
(Actually, after listening to his voice a bunch of times, I take back the Peabo comparison. Mr. Camping sounds more like the Shooby Taylor of end-times pitchmen.)
2.) Elizabeth Clare Prophet: April 23, 1990
In the 1980s, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, founder of the New Age movements The Summit Lighthouse and Church Universal and Triumphant (and self-proclaimed reincarnation of Marie Antoinette), was absolutely certain that nuclear war would ravage the world come 1990.
Prophet relocated with 2000 of her followers moved to a bunker near Yellowstone National Park and stockpiled weapons for the future wasteland, a move that didn't impress the US government. Incidentally, Prophet and her gang bought a lot of their equipment from the famous Oregon-salad-bar-poisoning Rajneesh organization. Is there some sort of cults-only swap meet I'm unaware of?
3.) The Unarians: 2001
Let's move on to a gentler, goofier prediction. The Unarians were a charmingly dippy organization who believed that extraterrestrial "space brothers" would descend to Earth in 2001 to usher in a new halcyon age of cosmic grooviness. These celestial visitors would bring enlightenment, benevolence, and — if you put credence in their public access-grade training videos — totally fucking rad costumes.
The above video explains the various reincarnations of deceased Unarian majestrix Ruth Norman. Among many historical notables, she was the rebirth of Mona Lisa, Ben Franklin, and Socrates. And thanks to the miracles of spirit gum, watch her play them all!
4.) Pat Robertson: 1982, 2007
In 1976, 700 Club head honcho Pat Robertson declared that there would be a great Biblical judgment sometime in the early 1980s. After those end times failed to materialize, Pat predicted three decades later that a massive terrorist strike would cripple civilization.
I couldn't find any archival clips of Pat talking about his predicted 1982 doomsday, so here he is poo-pooing Harold Camping's 2011 doomsday prediction. Watch the entire clip to learn how Pat's dog Blue keeps a silky luster! Pat's secret? Vitamin B and vanilla yogurt! The hell you say, Pat! Also, did you know Blue has a Facebook page?
5.) Benjamin Creme: 1982
In the early 1980s, pan-denominational spiritualist Benjamin Creme was super-psyched that Jesus was coming back in the form of "Maitreya, the World Teacher." In fact, he was so jazzed about this great revelation that bought an ad in The L.A. Times and several other papers proclaiming "THE CHRIST IS NOW HERE!"
After Maitreya failed to materialize, everyone stopped paying attention to Creme's ads and went back to reading Ziggy. Check out a clip of Bill Maher taking a big smug dump all over Creme's weltanschauung.
6.) Richard Noone: May 5, 2000
In his 1997 book, Ice: The Ultimate Disaster, claimed that planetary enlightenment and some ancient Egyptian and/or Masonic machinations would cause the Antarctic ice sheet to gravitate up to the equator or something. Noone may have been full of malarkey, but I'm pretty sure his book (which goes for a penny on Amazon) inspired almost all of Roland Emmerich's filmography.
7.) Wang Chao-hung: May 11, 2011
You think Harold Camping has a monopoly on 2011's pistachio-and-macadamia-tinged predictions? According to Wang Chao-hung, a fellow known to his followers as "Teacher Wang," a 14-magnitude earthquake was supposed to level Taiwan at 10:42:37 AM two Wednesdays ago.
What was Wang's solution for riding out the seismic destruction? Taking shelter — not in a bunker or hot air balloon or in a giant inflatable chalet — but in the kind of cargo containers drifters live in. When the earthquake failed to materialize, the prophet opined, "The earthquake will hit before the end of today. You'll see."
8.) Yisrayl "Buffalo Bill" Hawkins: 2006-2008
Thrice over three years, creepy cult daddy Yisrayl Hawkins predicted that nuclear war would break out in the form of a world-ending "nuclear baby."
I'm not sure Hawkins meant by "nuclear baby," but his plan to wait out the apocalypse was even worse than Wang's — Hawkins and his followers, the House of Yahweh, built a larger-than-average trailer park. Therefore, I'm just going to assume he prophesied that a literal irradiated infant would usher in Ragnarok.
9.) Pyotr Kuznetsov: April-May 2008
This one's morbid and sad. In 2007, members of a cult known as the True Russian Orthodox Church trapped themselves in a earthen bunker in Penza, Russia and threatened to commit suicide if government official intervened. The cultists followed preacher Pyotr Kuznetsov, who convinced members that barcodes and credit cards were the works of Satan and that the world would end come spring of 2008.
After the apocalypse was a no-show, Kuznetsov attempted to kill himself with a log and two women had died in the deathtrap bunker. If you're going to join a Russian cult, please at least join a totally ridiculous one, like that group that worships Gadget from Rescue Rangers.
10.) Jeane Dixon
Dixon was a psychic adviser to Richard Nixon and Nancy Reagan and, more importantly, the author of the literary tour de force Do Cats Have ESP? (which came with "SPECIAL CAT HOROSCOPES"). Anyway, Dixon predicted a ton of wacky shit, namely that World War III would break out with China in the 1950s, that the Antichrist would be born in the 1960s, and that a comet would smash Earth during the 1980s. And like any good clairvoyant with White House connections, she lent her talents to a 900 number.
For an extensive round-up of the several thousand times people have yammered about the world ending, A Brief History of the Apocalypse is a good place to start. Front page apocalyptic painting is Death on a Pale Horse by Benjamin West, apocalyptic font is Comics Sans.