Call me ignorant, but until I talked to Dave Richards the other day, I really wasn’t up to speed on this “End of The World” thing.
I was vaguely aware it had something to do with the Mayan calendar. Given my ongoing difficulty with keeping track of the Gregorian calendar, though, it didn’t strike me as a high priority.
And, heck, the End of The World’s preseason game, “The Rapture,” didn’t take place as scheduled on May 21, 2011, so why would I put much credence in an astronomical Super Bowl?
As you may remember, The Rapture was when The Big Guy was going to handpick a small percentage of us to be shipped off to heaven in advance of the world’s demise — a sort of cosmic preboarding pass.
That date was widely trumpeted by syndicated radio preacher Harold Camping. His 2011 prediction is not to be confused with his earlier Rapture prediction for Sept. 6, 1994.
Nor with his official post-Rapture, End of The World date, Oct. 21, 2011.
Too bad Camping didn’t learn anything from 19th century pastor William Miller, who confidently predicted God’s patience would run out on Oct. 22, 1844.
At least Camping has a better track record than the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who at various times have informed the faithful that The Large One would swoop down in anger in 1914, 1918, 1925, 1942 and 1975.
Now, I have talked with Richards a few times over the years and consider him a good guy and a bright guy. He has always been a big-picture guy, too — never more than in his current job as director of the Hoover-Price Planetarium, part of the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Canton.
But I’m beginning to wonder whether Dave has been spending too much time gazing out into the galaxy.
He contacted me to express his concern that a significant portion of the population is getting all worked up about this latest sign-off date, Dec. 22.
Seriously. Richards says he is genuinely worried about the number of people who are fearful, citing the continuous drumbeat of “2,658 books, thousands of websites and millions of lines of type” devoted to our impending demise.
He is urging his colleagues in the space-gazing biz to spread the word that this particular planet is unlikely to cease operations Dec. 22 despite all those assertions to the contrary.
Richards says his push to present a large-scale public rebuttal has received good feedback from Dome-L, a moderated mailing list of nearly 900 folks in the worldwide planetarium community, and from the Cleveland Regional Association of Planetariums.
I will try to refrain from focusing on the latter group’s acronym.
Anyway, having somehow managed to overlook all 2,658 books and those thousands of websites, I figured it was time to get with the program.
And I’m sure glad I did.
I thought we were just talking about the Mayans! What a rube I am!
Our demise will be traceable to any number of things: the heretofore unknown planet Nibiru ... the shifting of the poles ... the Earth moving through the Galactic center ... St. Malachy’s Prophecy of the Popes ... even the 2012 Olympic mascot.
When you Google “end of the world 2012” (be careful not to put in some other date), one of the first things you encounter is December212012.com, which bills itself as “The Official Website.”
One wonders why, given our brief life expectancies, this website is so interested in self-promotion.
But we digress.
The highly informative site gives us the lowdown right off the bat:
“There are so many things going on around the world that you may not be aware of. The mainstream media only tells you what they have to and downplays the rest to prevent mass panic.”
Well, if the mainstream media “only tells you what they have to,” seems odd that the end of life as we know it would not qualify as a requirement. But I guess we all know how the dirty, rotten mainstream media operate.
The more I read about this cosmic emergency, the more I began to wonder about Dave’s psychological well-being.
His advice to adults is to “ask questions and demand clear answers. You and, especially, your children deserve to live without fear.”
Dave, Dave, Dave. Really?
“I just get a slice of the public in the planetarium, and I know a number of children have expressed concern.
“I still think it’s an opportunity to expose 13th century thinking.”
Actually, given the number of Americans who put more credence in astrology than astronomy, and the number of Americans who believe virtually everything they read on the Internet, perhaps the passing of the centuries hasn’t really changed much thinking.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or email@example.com.