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The End Is Nigh

Make sure you see Armaggedon coming with handy end-time-monitoring Web sites

By David King

 

‘We are all going to die!” That’s what I screamed when the Internet informed me the world was scheduled to end earlier this year, on June 6. But then I got excited, motivated! It was time to do everything I had put off doing. It was time to get up and really experience the joy of living. I was going to wash my car, do sit-ups, vacuum. . . . But like everything else I get excited about, instead of going out and doing something about it, I spent hours fiddling around on the Internet.

As you know, the world did not end in June. Still, things have really gotten exciting lately out in Internet-apocalypse land. The message boards on raptureready.com have been brewing over with sure-fire indicators, undeniable harbingers, in-your-face omens, and perfect portents of the sweet suffering we will all soon surely face.

Throughout human culture, there have been end-time cults. They set a date, wait, and then get disappointed. But thanks to the Internet and modern communication, every day can be the last day for end-time enthusiasts, and every day can end in sweet, sweet disappointment.

It has become impossible not to have a significant end-time indicator once or twice an hour. Message-board threads like “Breaking News: NK tests Nuclear Weapon,” “Why The U.S.A. Isn’t in the Bible—or Is It?,” “With the World Spinning Out of Control What About a Bomb Shelter,” and “Small Crash in NYC could be a Signal!” keep popping up.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Well, the members of the rapture-ready message boards are definitely getting busy dying. Members with names like Stevangelist, Ifnot4him and ohhappyday, members with blinged-out, spinning-cross icons and images of the Israel flag, debate the finer points of whether the “antichrist is to rule the entire globe.”

Although there is a decidedly Christian bent to the sites, the posts vary ideologically. Some insist the decline of America’s moral values will soon incur God’s wrath. Others muse about whether a “lame-duck U.S. president” would fit into an end-times scenario.

Apparently, things have gotten so bad that raptureready.com has been getting a lot of attention from media types like me—so much that the webmasters have begun warning visitors to think before they post. “With all of the publicity this site is getting right now we must all (including me) watch our words carefully? Our Christian witness (or lack thereof) might make the difference with someone coming here for answers,” posted raptureready.com moderator Kathe.

The biggest draw for Armageddon enthusiasts, the Rapture Index, does not require lengthy posting. It catalogs and calculates the level of “end times activity.” Forty-five categories, from “False Christs,” “Apostasy” and “Moral Standards” to “The False Prophet,” are given ratings. The current rating for “Arms Proliferation” is 5. (The scale is not indicated.) These ratings are then calculated into the index, which produces the single Rapture Index number: As of Monday, Oct. 16, it was at 157. Following their handy chart, you can tell that this rating indicates we are in some hot water:

Rapture Index of 85 and Below: Slow prophetic activity

Rapture Index of 85 to 110: Moderate prophetic activity

Rapture Index of 110 to 145: Heavy prophetic activity

Rapture Index above 145: Fasten your seat belts

While it may be frightening to know that we are currently in “Fasten your seat belts” mode, you may not want to start building your rapture raft quite yet. You should know that, according to the index, we have been through much more rapture-worthy times. The Rapture Index high was on Sept. 24, 2001, when it clocked in at 182.

The Rapture Index’s record low was 53, on Dec. 12, 1993. While it may be possible to follow a general rise in “rapture-related” incidents from 1993 to today, the unexciting truth is probably not that terrible incidents in the world are increasing and that we are headed for destruction of biblical proportions. Yes, the world’s population is increasing; yes, the United States has a confrontational president whose staff, according to Bob Woodward, are wholehearted followers of end-time theory. But in reality, the truth probably has less to do with the message and more to do with the way the message is delivered.

Sorry to say, but there were probably just as many “rapture-worthy” incidents on Dec. 12, 1993, as there have been every day this year. The difference is that more people are hearing about them today, and hearing about them faster than ever before. Thanks to Al Gore and his invention, the IntraWeb, everyday citizens are privy to the not-so-pretty things that happen every second around the world, from teenage Satanist suicide cults to child molesters to military coups. It has simply become easier to find out how terrible things are then it ever was before. So if you ever get in an end-times funk, feel free to peruse the wealth of apocalypse-predicting Web sites out there. It’s almost a comforting sort of thought for me; if I decide to start looking for the end of the world again, Google will always be there waiting to help me find it.

dking@metroland.net


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