Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The End Of The World !s Nigh!

I've been quite perplexed about the seriousness with which some people seem to have taken the end of the world predictions. Perhaps that's overstating it though, as I had no idea anything out of the ordinary was expected to happen last weekend and I've only more or less caught up with the whole kerfuffle this week.

I read something on FB about people wondering which time zone something they referred to as Rapture was referring to ... New Zealand? Eastern Australian time? or where the prediction was coming from which seemed to be the USA. My friends seemed to be idly wondering which calendar was being used for the prediction as well. there are quite a few in use after all - it was all a little perplexing.  If I'd spent more than 2 seconds thinking about the so-called prediction, I would have come to the conclusion that it was all a bit sus.*

Anyhow, it was my hubby's birthday and we were going to celebrate, end of the world or not!

You may wonder why I am so sanguine about THE END OF THE WORLD which I'm sure will be accompanied by dramatic and extremely atmospheric organ music.

My mother was born in 1916 and used to tell the following story.

As a little girl she remembered being dressed in a new white frilly Sunday Best dress. Except it wasn't Sunday, and she wasn't used to having new clothes. Mostly her clothes were hand-me-downs from her older sister. She was absolutely delighted and wanted to twirl and dance, but the atmosphere was sombre. Her older sister helped her with her new socks and shoes, brushed her hair till it shone, then tied it with a bow.

The whole family, sisters, parents, aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, many neighbours, farm workers and mill hands all dressed with extra care. Those who could afford it were wearing new clothes. They then proceeded with great solemnity to trek to the highest point of the highest hill near their small village in Norfolk, England.

Hymn sheets were passed around, prayers said, absolution made. Then they raised their voices to heaven and waited for the light of Jesus to carry them to heaven.

They raised their voices to heaven again and waited   and waited   and waited

I often think they must have felt a little awkward when they finally came to the realisation that nothing was going to happen and they'd need to pick up the hymn sheets, go home and get dinner for the no doubt confused and possibly squabbling children.

Some people had apparently sold all their belongings including houses and all their goods and chattles. I wonder what happened to them? Did the preacher apologise, put them up, feed them and help them find their feet again afterwards? I don't understand the motivation other than an abnormally greedy desire for power and the enjoyment of having gullible people fawning over your empty words.

I remember my mother saying that their particular preacher continued to change the dates and claim that the next time was the right date. Some parishioners believed him, but there were less and less as time went on.

My mother's family never went up to the top of the hill again. They emigrated to Australia instead. I think they were right to be skeptical after being duped once, and I'm confident mum would have smiled at the latest doomsday preacher.
A good spot to hang out and wait for the end of the world.
* suspect or suspicious


Jan Morrison said...

I spent the end of the world getting my chicks with my family. One of the chicks was raptured up apparently. I asked my fella something about the end of the world being a bust and he said 'how do you know? Maybe it did end and we're just carrying on in a delusion" for a non-buddhist he is pretty budhistic!
I love your mum's story. My mother was born in 1916 too...a bad flu year and the year of the Halifax explosion I think - so perhaps people felt like it might be the end of days...

baygirl32 said...

your mother's story is great!

every so often the stories of rapture recirculate, personally I've never paid much attention to any of it. Would much rather just be my delusional self, come what may

Bob said...

End of the world? Why wasn't I told? I'd have made some sandwiches for the trip, maybe a cake.
Can't trust these forecasters!

Better is Possible said...

Apparently the date has been adjusted to sometime in be continued.

Eve said...

I love your Mother's story! I find these doomsday preachers foolish at best and criminal at worst..since time began people have been predicting the end of it..what I can't believe is how many people believed it! I also heard that the new date is in October..

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. reading a book too - looks a great place to me too! Cheers - people are so gullible .. Hilary

Dafeenah said...

I also found out about it "after". I don't know whether to laugh at or feel sorry for those who believe such nonsense.

Kickboxing Los Angeles said...

I hung out at the beach when the world was supposed to end, too. Apparently now it's in October, but let's just say I'm more apt to believe Isaac Newton's theory of 2060.

sue said...

Jan, no doubt the chick is living a better life away from all care and worry. I like your fella's approcah, very sensible. I don't know anything about the Halifax explosion - off to google.

Baygirl, I'd never heard the word rapture applied to the end of the world. I can't help but think of Star Trek "beam me up Scotty". I wouldn't use the word delusional for not believing the latest panic merchant!

Bob, your comment makes me wish I'd asked mum if they took a picnic! Untrustworthy charlatans the lot of them - similar to the scammers we've spoken of, preying on people's insecurities and desire to trust.

BiP, I'd like to say "I wait with bated breath", but I expect I'll be doing something more interesting. Perhaps we could all get together for a coffee and a chat and wait for that to pass too.

Eve, Mum's story does put it in perspective doesn't it. I'm sure some of the preachers are criminal and get people to will their goods to ... guess who ... the preacher or his church. Who's the 'winner' here?

Hilary, there's not much point getting het up about it is there. One may as well try to finish the last chapter before it happens. But if it's not till October we can all get a few more books read.

Dafeenah, I found it a bit weird to discover that I had little idea what was going on till after the event. May as well carry on regardless.

Kickboxing LA, 2060 sounds possible for the end of what we know. We'll have used many of our natural resources and they'll probably be either severely rationed and practically unaffordable or we'll be scrabbling trying to make up for lost time and find alternatives. Interesting times ahead. I must have a look at what Newton said, he was undoubtedly brilliant, but had some funny ideas.

Hubby just found "Isaac Newton, the Last Sorcerer" on the bookshelf. Now I know what to read next! Just need to find a warm beach to lie on ;)

Cheers everyone, thanks for visiting! said...

It's all so ludicrous, I can only laugh. This is a great story. I didn't know the whole rapture thing has been repeated.

sue said...

Robyn, I do wonder how many times it's been repeated that we haven't heard of. Somehow, I suspect many, many times! Cheers, Sue

Liza said...

My understanding is the whole thing was "developed" by a fundamentalist preacher who also predicted the end of the world in the early 90's. Probably would have been a great big nothing this time too, but now we have Facebook, and Twitter, and Blogger.

Hart Johnson said...

I did a fair bit of JOKING about the end of the world, but have enough awareness I know if it's coming (most likely via asteroid) that the warnings will come from a scientist and we will be able to watch what is coming. Anything via priest (or imam or rabbi) not so much...

I love this story of your mom's family though--it would make a FABULOUS story story.

Helen Ginger said...

Loved the story about your mother. It seems to me that in this day of instant information people would be less likely to believe a charlatan, but apparently not.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. just glad you're going away - but not because of this! Hope you have a great time .. see you soon .. Hilary

sue said...

Liza, I suppose it means that even more people can see that it was a con, but I doubt that he will be at all repentant.

Hart, my friends were enjoying the spectacle and poking fun at it all, but it's sad that some people get caught up in genuine fear. I can't imagine any of the religious leaders agreeing on the timing of the end of the world! As for a story story ... wouldn't know how to begin.

Helen, It'd be interesting to analyse ins and outs of the fear mongering wouldn't it. I would have assumed that you'd need to be personally involved to believe, but it seems that it was not so in this case.

Hilary, hehe, thanks :)

Take care everyone, I'll log on when I can.

Ms. Becky said...

I heard the first of this a few weeks ago, and found it a bit intriguing. I didn't recall it again until the designated time had passed. oops. the story of your mother's experience is too funny. I've actually had a few dreams (as a young girl) that involved similar experiences. only when I was older did I realize it was "the rapture". thanks for sharing this delightful story. the part about those who believed and then lost all is sad though. have a great weekend Sue.

Pearson Report said...


I got chills when I read the story your mother told of the villagers heading up the hill. I was thinking the worst and wondered if they were planning on jumping.

Sad, isn't it, how some people give their lives, and control of it, over to another mere mortal! Perplexing to say the least.

This was an excellent post.

I see that you are taking a blog break to attend a conference on happiness and its causes - enjoy!

I look forward to reading your posts upon your return.

Happy Thoughts,