Live it up, everyone. The world is going to end... again!
According to Biblical scholar — or conspiracy theorist, depending on whom you ask — Mathieu Jean-Marc Joseph Rodrigue, the world is scheduled to end on June 24. As evidence, he cites a passage in the Book of Revelations: "And a mouth was given to [the Beast], speaking great things and blasphemy, and it was given authority to act forty and two months.”
“I heard a voice in the middle of the four living beings,” Rodrigue said. “This is wisdom. He who has intelligence can interpret the figure of the beast. It represents the name of a man. His figure is 666.”
From this information, Rodrigue combined 666 with the number 42 and somehow arrived at the date June 24. (Don’t try that math at home.)
It’s true that the beasts have been busy in June 2018, and they have indeed been given mouths. On June 13, a raccoon climbed a 20-story office tower in St. Paul, Minnesota, captivating the entire planet with its determined, death-defying feat. And it was given a mouth, of sorts, by National Public Radio’s local affiliate station, Minnesota Public Radio, which kept up a lively Twitter feed chronicling the beast’s eventual rescue (via cat food). Does Twitter count as a mouth? Don’t tell the president. Also, the station sold raccoon tote bags (as one does, in public radio) and a local musician wrote a song about her.
Other, more terrifying and less marketable beasts have also been given mouths. In Indonesia, a reticulated python managed to get his mouth open wide enough to swallow a woman as she tended her corn. When her family reported her missing, villagers discovered her shoes and gardening tools, and nearby, a grotesquely swollen snake. In a disturbing video, the village is seen confirming its worst suspicions.
In Georgia, a rabid bobcat used its mouth to bite a 46-year-old grandmother, who had gone outside to photograph the beast when it attacked her. She strangled it with her bare hands. She did not use her mouth to call for help because her 5-year-old granddaughter was in the house. “I was scared if I screamed for help that my granddaughter would come out and I didn’t want that to happen,” she said.
So, Rodrigue might be on to something with the bit about the beast. Or beasts. But his calculations seem a bit vague, and his ability to market his prediction hasn’t been able to attract much attention amid a nonstop flow of news about torrid love affairs, tariff tantrums, and slimy business deals. Even though none other than Nostradamus also predicted that this would be the big year, June 24 doesn’t seem to be getting much traction as a deadline.
Other apocalypse theorists have done much better with riling up their believers with Biblical predictions for the end of the world. In 1994, Harold Camping predicted that the Rapture would occur on September 21. The Christian radio broadcaster and the Family Radio network spent $100 million of listener-donated dollars convincing believers that the big day was nigh.
Not only did they believe, they gave away their money, quit their jobs, sold their houses, and made life-altering decisions based on his prophecy. When the day came and went, he crunched the numbers again, collected and spent another $100 million dollars on an advertising campaign that included 3,000 billboards, and announced that the world would end on May 21, 2011. Again, true believers gave up everything they had worked for in life. "It was probably one of the saddest things that I'd ever read, the idea that there's kids out there whose parents spent their college savings funds, who sold their homes," one woman told the BBC.
The end of the world is predicted all the time, actually. The Mayan calendar predicted it would happen on December 21, 2012. In 2013, on August 23, the Rasputin prophecy was supposed to come true. In April 2014, the Blood Moon prophecy scheduled the end. The viral End Time Prophecies on Youtube told people to get ready for July 29, 2016. Conspiracy theorist David Meade said September 23, 2017, was the last day to wrap up your bucket list. Then he updated it to April 23, 2018, but retracted it, saying that prediction was fake news. Now he says that the big day will be sometime before December 2018, but it won’t really be the end, just the Rapture, followed by seven years of “tribulation,” followed by 1,000 years of “peace and prosperity,” and then the world will be destroyed.
“So the world isn’t ending anytime soon – in our lifetimes, anyway!” Meade said.
But even conspiracy theorists who rely on the Bible for evidence need to concede that, according to that book, no one knows when that day will come. In Mark 13:32, Jesus says, “Concerning that day or the hour, nobody knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the son, but the Father.”
Then again, the Bible can be vague, contradictory, outdated, and stretched and flexed to explain or justify just about anything. If the end of the world is coming, perhaps we ought to look to science rather than literature.