2011.05.18 Is this our final issue?

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

There’s a pastor in California who knows this newspaper you’re reading is the last Observer you’re ever going to see. This is it; the final edition.

That’s because the world as we know it will end Saturday. No more newspaper, no more nothing. Everything devastated by a tremendous earthquake.

Actually, I’m rushing things a little. The earthquake comes Saturday. One-hundred and fifty-three days of death and horror will follow and maybe I’ll have the opportunity to get something published during that time. It’s not until Oct. 21 that all life is extinguished and the official end of the world takes place.

Harold Camping is the 89-year-old leader of Family Radio and his followers seem to be looking forward to the event.  A photo of his followers shows some pretty happy faces as they prepare to travel across the country to exalt in the  good news that Earth is about to be destroyed. They’ve given up their jobs and possessions—many have left their families—to embark on a nationwide tour to announce the “Awesome News.”

It’s good news to them because they’ll be among two to three percent of the world’s population that will be taken to heaven by Jesus. At least they hope to make the cut.

And don’t tell them they’re nuts because they’ll tell you the proof is in the Bible. Their slogan, “The Bible guarantees it,” appears in large print on the sides of their three large RVs driving across the country.

Here’s how it works, twice over.

Proof One: Noah's great flood occurred in the year 4990 B.C., what they say is exactly 7000 years ago. Don’t check their math; just believe. God told Noah the flood would begin in seven days.

Jumping ahead to the New Testament, Peter explains that for God, a day is like a thousand human years. Therefore, Mr. Camping reasoned that seven “days” equals 7,000 human years from the time of the flood, making 2011 the year of the apocalypse.

Proof Two narrows things down to the exact day: The date of the crucifixion is said to be April 1, 33 AD. There are exactly 722,500 days from April 1, 33 A.D. until May 21, 2011. That number can be represented this way: 5 x 10 x 17 x 5 x 10 x 17 = 722,500.

Don’t forget that numbers in the Bible have special meanings, with the number 5 signifying atonement or redemption, the number 10 signifying “completeness” and the number 17 equaling Heaven.

Mr. Camping isn’t the first person to practice Bible math. One of the most famous was Vermont pastor William Miller who predicted that Judgment Day would arrive somewhere between March 1, 1843, and March 1, 1844.

When the prescribed time passed, Miller announced that he recalculated and set Oct. 22, 1844, as the big day. He missed again but soon realized it was actually coming in the spring of 1845. Perhaps this went on and on through 1849 when Miller finally did die an ordinary death.

Miller’s preaching was influential, however, and one of his followers founded the Seventh-day Adventist church. Adventists, through history, have had many doomsday dates of their own.

The 16th century psychic Mother Shipton said the world would end in 1881 and her followers thought it was right on due to a meteorite crashing to Earth, some big earthquakes and unusual weather.

There’s still Dec. 21, 2012, to prepare for. Some say the ancient Mayan calendar ends that day, leaving nothing more of future history.

There’s some Awesome News about Mr. Camping’s prediction—or totally disheartening news, depending on what you’re after in life and death. 

Back in the 1990s, he made the news with another prediction: The world would end Sept. 6, 1994. So if you’re still around Sunday morning, don’t despair. He’s recrunching the numbers one more time and a new date will soon be unveiled.

I’m not sure how I feel about all of this. Maybe just tired. My prediction? I’m going to have to put out another newspaper next week.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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