Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 1, 2013

House of Burgess – The year the world doesn’t end

No, seriously, it really won’t

By Rob Burgess
Tribune columnist

— We are now officially two days into 2013, and the world has not, as of this writing, ended.

I felt the need to place this fact on front street because the prevailing wisdom up until this point has pointed in the opposite direction. According to several disparate sources, Jan. 2, 2013, should be securely nestled in the beginning chapters of the end of time.

Popular culture has been an unfortunate cheerleader for this end-of-the-line prophecy. A surprising number of post-apocalyptic films, including “Escape from L.A.,” “Book of Eli” and “The Postman,” are set in 2013.

Another movie which predicted 2012 would be the year of Armageddon was the 2009 John Cusack-starring disaster flick “2012.” Many people were caught up in this so-called “2012 Phenomenon” which pointed to Dec. 21, 2012, as the end of the line for civilization. I didn’t really understand this theory, and since we’re all still here nearly two weeks after the fact, I’ll never, ever have to either.

“There’s no greater sign of the failure of the American educational system than the extent to which Americans are distracted by the possibility that the Earth might end on Dec. 21, 2012,” said astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”.

Apparently, this line of thinking inspired some unexpected followers. Incarcerated Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints leader Warren Jeffs informed his followers from behind bars last month that the world would end before the new year began, according to CNN reporter Gary Tuchman.

“Though church members continue to work, Colorado City’s only grocery store — a gathering place for the town as well — has closed its doors,” reported KSL-TV’s Celeste Tholen Rosenlof. “Sam Brower, a private investigator who has represented more than 100 former FLDS Church members, told CNN that the closure of the store is a confirmation that Jeffs’ declaration is being taken seriously.”

Before 2012 was chosen as the last stand of humanity, 2011 was rapidly climbing the charts as the correct date. Then-president of the Family Radio Christian Network Harold Camping announced in 2010 that May 21, 2011, would be last call for alcohol for the people of Earth. Camping claimed to use numerology to decipher the Bible, but apparently skipped past the part in Matthew 24:26 which states “no one knows about that day or hour” the world will end. After May 21, 2011, came and went, he chalked it up to an accounting mistake and revised his prediction to Oct. 21, 2011. Conveniently, he also retreated from public life a few days before his followers could be disappointed a second time.

“Camping, who predicted Oct. 21 to be the day Christians would be caught up to heaven and that God would judge the world, said on Oct. 16 that he is no longer able to lead Family Radio Stations, Inc. or his ministry, and his wife has confirmed that the 90-year-old radio evangelist has retired,” reported Luiza Oleszczuk of The Christian Post.

Later this month, Barack Obama will once again take to the steps of the United States Capitol to be sworn in for the second time as president. While that may seem like the end of the world to some people, I can assure you this will not cause the magnetic poles to reverse themselves, nor will it cause a phantom planet to slam through our atmosphere.

Readers, take heed of my words. I have a prediction I guarantee will come true: 2013 will not be the year the world ends. What makes you think you’re so special? Since human beings could put such abstract thoughts together, our species has been dying to know exactly when it’s all going to come crashing down. If you don’t believe me, Google the words “failed end of the world predictions” and you’ll discover how unoriginal you are.

The world could end for you in 2013, though. Your life could come to a full and complete stop. And then it really would be curtains – for you anyway.

One person who took his final breath in 2012 was astronaut and first man on the moon Neil Armstrong, who once said, “I believe that every human has a finite number of heartbeats and I don’t intend to waste any of mine.”

Don’t waste your heartbeats counting down to zero either.

Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577 and via email at rob.burgess@kokomotribune.com.