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Closing time

You heathens who are going to be left behind tomorrow when the godly are swept up into the skies, if Harold Camping has anything to say about it, will want to straighten out your terminology about the event.

Apocalypse, from the Greek for “unveiling” or “revelation,” is the umbrella term covering the whole process of Christ being revealed as the world comes to the end of time.

Eschaton is the final series of events in history, the end of the world.

Millennium is a period of a thousand years, and Christian millennialists hold that there will be a golden age of a thousand years of Christ’s rule over the earth until the end of history arrives and the universal resurrection takes place and the Last Judgment is carried out.

The Rapture is not the end of the world, oh no, not by a long shot. Dispensational pre-millennialists believe that a select group will have a dispensation sparing them from the tribulation that will precede the millennium. Those are the people expecting to be carried away before the rest of us endure appalling hardships and suffering. All for the best, though, because it comes out right at the end.

So one apocalyptic sequence goes like this (there are other interpretations of the sequence, St. John not being distinguished for clarity in the Book of Revelation): Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, Eschaton, Last Judgment. Got it?



Posted by John McIntyre at 5:04 PM | | Comments (11)


Well, now I'm confused. Is it the case that those of us who are not raptured, if we manage to make it through the tribulation in one piece, then get to enjoy a millennium of golden-age living (as in a Phoenix retirement home, perhaps)?

Because I'll take that. Better than being raptured and stuck for all eternity with all the other rapturees.

Well, David, you're likelier to be killed off in the Tribulation.

As to the confusion, it's not as if Scripture provides a blueprint.

Is this the recent edition of "Spot the Loonie?" I for one am brushing up on my new Silly Walk.

Origen and now this? Your gnosis is beyond the scope of both Church of England attender and copy chief. J'accuse: You have studied religion, haven't you?

I can just picture the late, great NFL All-star/ TV commentator "Dandy" Don Meredith about now, up there on that great gridiron-in-the-sky, having a veritable hoot over all this recent rapture palaver, crooning away in that signature low baritone of his, the haunting Willie Nelson refrain:

"Turn out the lights
The party's over
They say that
All good things must end..."

............. as evangelist, Harold Camping, and his cult-of-believers eagerly anticipate the coming Great Rapture scheduled for tomorrow, May 21st, 2011. Oh, the humanity!

Prof. McI., thanks for laying out the basic chronological sequence of Biblically ordained, or more precisely, revealed, major end-of-times 'eventualities'.

Prognosticator Camping will surely have a lot of 'splainin' to do, to his gape-jawed, disappointed followers when this Saturday pretty much, comes and goes, w/ their much anticipated non-stop flight to Heaven having appeared to be have been canceled. (I'm sure guru Camping will offer some lame excuse like his el-cheapo Radio Shack calculator must have somehow malfunctioned when he was crunching the numbers while trying to confirm the specific, preordained date of 'take-off'.)

"Houston, we do NOT have lift off ! "

Oh, well. Back to the drawing (ouija?) board.

Hmm...... yet another end-of-days, doomsday prophecy goes up in smoke. But as long as there are upstart, loud, and fanatical 'rapturists' in our midst, the wild predictions will keep cropping up, particularly w/ the increased frequency and number of major natural disasters continuing to ravage our planet in the coming decades.

Surely, the confirmed doomsdayers would argue that these catastrophic events are precursors, or divine signs of the inevitable post-apocalyptic, eschatonolyptic (?) devastation that will befall our material world----- those sorry folks left behind being left to their own worldly devices on a planet run amok.

We humans just love a good yarn, don't we?


I think everyone can relax. It is now after 6pm Saturday in New Zealand. I've just checked the news websites there, and surprisingly enough, nothing has happened.

Disclosure: count me a believer. If you got to know me, you would probably count me fundamentalist.

Agreeing with John, "blueprint" is a little strong a characterization. However, I do find scripture pretty clear on eschatology. To wit, if someone claims a date and time for "eventualities" (I really like that term; it's fun), they are discounting the element of surprise that the Bible portends. What are we to do? Ah, on this point the Bible is crystal clear: be about just what we are called to do in *any* season. Crystal clear precisely because key--*the* key! Most points around this end-of-world subject, if we sense confusion, are not central (we could say "are not in the focus of the picture"). Another aside: the fact that "yet future" stuff is scattered throughout Old and New Testaments adds to the aura of confusion. You kind of have to mark your place all over and then piece this and that together.

What interests me is that we can all call "hogwash" in our little civic communion and call Mr. Camping misguided (I include myself) and feel good about our own sophistication. All the "spot the loonies", "Sunday surely will be ordinary" calls across the Internet are amusing. I have not gotten to the bottom of the question: why is May 21 trending instead of ignored? To me, a fun and profitable meditation. My hypothesis: what an Oxford professor dubs "woodenizing" of humanity is at play.

My prediction: the Preakness will go on today, as scheduled. As to which horse will win, you're on your own.


There will definitely be a resounding 'eclat' of "THEY'RE OFF!" late this fine Saturday afternoon coming from the official Pimlico Race Course announcer, as fourteen frisky thoroughbreds charge out of the starting gate, only one worthy steed destined for Preakness glory. (So much for that wacko end-of-days prediction. HA! )

Odds are that Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom (No.11) will NOT win this second jewel of the prestigious Triple Crown 'trifecta' today. Although as a very casual horse racing fan, at best, I would truly love to see him double up, and have a chance at winning all three big-stakes races. Hasn't been done in an age. (Actually since 1978.)

Dahlink, i caught an informative NPR piece this early Saturday morn re/ the sorry state of the sport-of-kings in the state of Maryland-----specifically the continuing decline in fan support (attendance) at Baltimore's very own legendary Pimlico Downs. Of course the malaise in the sport is not isolated to your fair city, but seems to be endemic to the entire enterprise, w/ several once thriving tracks across the nation feeling the pinch of challenging economic times.

In the NPR piece, they claim that the folks running your local Pimlico operation are trying out various novel events-oriented enticements, such as wine-tasting parties in the infield, and such, to attract new fans, and hopefully bring back the old regular betting crowd.

Realistically, there are so many competing 'attractions' out there these days all trying to vie for the average consumer's limited discretionary entertainment dollar. Unfortunately, today,horse-racing (and betting at the track) has a bit of an old-school, unhip, dated air about it, and going forward might be hard-pressed to attract say a consistent sub-35-year-old demographic. The senior track aficionados are slowly falling by the wayside, either losing interest, betting more off-track, or simply dying off. (Ow! That was harsh.)

Like most Triple Crown runs, I'm sure today's event will be a tremendously exciting dash for racing glory. Few relatively short competitive events in all of sport generate the intense concentration of suspense, drama, and sheer vicarious visceral pleasure than The Derby, The Preakness, or The Belmont Stakes.

For me it's like electrifying bursts of pure sports magic. For the shortish duration of those three riveting races, it seems like all Americans are true horse racing buffs for that glorious stretch of time, witnessing the ultimate triumph of a singular beautiful, powerful animal, and a very elated (and much richer HA!) jockey.

I dare say, hardly as momentous, or spiritually uplifting as 'the rapture', but pretty darn exciting, nonetheless.

All I can say is, may the BEST horse (and jockey) win today at The Downs.

Dahlink, enjoy the race.

It will be a proud day in May for Charm City, no doubt.


Alex, I caught some of that NPR piece myself this morning as I was on my way to the gym to work out. I am afraid I am neither a betting woman nor knowledgable about horse flesh, but we will probably watch the big race on television this evening (assuming we are all still here). My big hope is that no horses are hurt by running on a track after rain every day this past week. Every year at this time my husband says "We really need to go to the Preakness one day."

It's now after 10pm here on the US East Coast. I just got home from an afternoon/evening out. There were, surprisingly, no vehicles with "In case of Rapture..." bumper stickers scattered willy-nilly about the roads.

And more than one church in this heavily-churched area of South Carolina has the pharase "The sun will rise tomorrow" on their marquee.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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