Regular readers will be acutely aware that I have made many bold predictions (no link found) concerning the precise timing of the end of the world and will continue to do so repeatedly into the future. Specific dates have been set, and then re-set, for the rapture, appearance of Antichrist, great tribulation, Armageddon and second coming. Despite these efforts, which have been made without expectation of heavenly reward, only modest dollar returns, I now find myself under attack. Sadly, there are those who question my motives for all the date setting. Some even allege there are readers who have been swindled out of life savings. Although this kind of attack comes with the territory for a prophet, and indeed I welcome the persecution, it nonetheless seems necessary to address readers’ concerns and shortcomings. For now, time constraints preclude anything more detailed than a summary statement. A forthcoming book will provide the full scoop. April 1st 2016 is its forecast date of publication and $49.95 its likely recommended retail price. Both predictions remain subject to subsequent revision, which you all should be used to by now.
If truth be told, the greatest fallout has come from my most recent prediction of impending disaster. This in itself is a sign that we are living in the last days. A range of once promising dates extending back decades, including such classics as New Year’s Day 2000, Harold Camping’s May of 2011 and the Mayan calendar’s 2012 have all come and gone. However, it was the impeccably credentialed 23 September and/or 7 October of the current year that gave so many of us the greatest hope yet of a global cataclysm. As we now know, this was not to be. Galling as it is, doubters and naysayers everywhere continue to go about their daily lives oblivious to the sudden destruction that they are still sure to face but at a new date to be determined.
It is easy to suppose, in retrospect, that if prophets all these years had simply predicted that the world would NOT end, they could now boast an unblemished record of accurate calls. But in reality the matter was never so simple. A prophet who shies away from doom and gloom struggles to attract followers, which can result in poverty, especially in countries lacking decent social safety nets. Equally, those whose operations are built upon calling out alleged false prophets and warning their unsuspecting prey of possible deception would also go out of business.
All things considered, the present doomsday forecasting model, despite its pitfalls and weaknesses, makes a lot more sense than the alternatives. It’s a hard thing to say, but the fault, I would submit, is not with the forecasters but with those who make the mistake of believing our predictions even in the cases where they turn out to be mistaken, which so far has been every prediction. Please, people, a little caution is in order. I’m not saying expect to be disappointed, but at least keep in mind, when considering one of our many dire predictions, that the world might not end this particular time round.
With the apparent exception of the blogosphere, I believe this point is by now quite widely understood on the internet. Take the thriving community of end timers on YouTube as a case in point. Some prophets build their subscriptions base on the back of bold predictions of the end of the world. Others condemn them as false prophets or devil worshipers and, in doing so, perform just as well on the subscriptions front. Subscribers watch for the entertainment value, most of them at least suspecting that more dates will need to be set once the current ones expire. If anything, much of the fun appears to be found in listening to explanations of why previous predictions have failed and why the new revised versions will perform so much better. YouTube gets to sell advertising, the doomsayers and their condemners eke out modest livings and subscribers are entertained. When you think about it, the only event that could really upset things is if one of these predictions actually came true. The whole business would be over then.
So why has the reaction been so different – dare I say it, so unreasonable – in the blogosphere? Are blog readers really so much more reckless than their video-viewing YouTube counterparts that, on hearing one of my mistaken end time predictions, they would sell their home other than at the top of the market, quit their job with a heartfelt parting shot at the boss and give all their possessions to the poor, leaving themselves destitute? I’ll admit that the sober deliberations of a blog can sometimes seem more credible than the bleary-eyed direct-to-camera bedroom rant of a do-it-yourself-in-pajamas YouTube performer, but I assure the reader this is all an illusion. Blog posts can also be composed in pajamas and just as often qualify as rants.
In any case, each new prophecy on this blog has always come with a carefully crafted legal disclaimer, so frankly I fail to see what all the fuss is about. Yes, we’re still here. No, earth didn’t implode at the turn of the century, pop in ’05, shrivel to the size of a pea in ’08 or do a curtsy before a giant asteroid a few days ago. I ask that you deal with it. A prophet can only do so much by way of bringing on doomsday when the Universe continually refuses to play ball.
To be completely honest, if I’d realized how distressed and resentful a blog’s readers could become in the face of repeated disappointment, I might have thought twice before entering the prophecy game in the first place. It’s easy to forget that, early on, things were actually humming along quite nicely. When the blog’s first predicted date came and went, back in the nineties, I was impressed by the loyalty of readers who had pinned their hopes on the date but, with maturity, were able to re-set their sights on a new one. True, a few readers became disaffected and were lost forever, but many more came into the fold, bolstering our ranks. Skeptics were attracted by the spectacle of another doomsday prediction gone wrong. Condemners urged readers to unsubscribe from the blog or risk eternal damnation. Subscriptions rose healthily.
Unfortunately, with the rise of YouTube, the skeptics and condemners appear mostly to have deserted the blogosphere, leaving it over-represented by true believers who, as it turns out, can really become quite angry when their hopes of global extinction are repeatedly dashed.
Don’t get the wrong impression. It’s not all bad. Unlike skeptics, true believers rarely pose awkward questions in the comments, such as why I would charge for books when the world is about to end? What good will money do after that? Skeptics could never see – or pretended not to see – that it was the principle of the thing. Hundreds of hours had gone into writing those books, not to mention countless hours refining the predictions. Did they really expect all this work to be done without financial compensation? And what if it turned out – as in fact it always did turn out – that the predictions were wrong? I would certainly be needing the money then!
There were those who claimed that whenever a prediction turned out to be wrong, customers should get their money back. But be reasonable. When the money-back guarantee was first promised, I never thought it would be necessary to follow through, because I honestly believed my predictions to be accurate. Now that we realize the predictions were not true, not even close, and probably were never going to be true, it should be obvious that honoring a money-back guarantee would break the bank. Does a lawyer only get paid if the case is won? Well, sometimes, yes. It’s different with lawyers. Does a teacher get paid when the student fails to learn? Does a doctor get paid when the patient dies? You get the point.
Perhaps what hurts the most are the accusations that I’ve swindled certain readers out of their life savings. Although I welcome that persecution, it still hurts. The fact that a prophet happens to be turning a good dollar does not necessarily prove that anything untoward has occurred. There is one allegation in particular that needs to be tackled head on, as it appears to be fast growing legs on Facebook. It is, as many will have guessed, the case of an ex-reader going by the internet identity Dr Doomsday.
Longtime readers may recall that Dr Doomsday was a regular commenter back in the early days of the blog who always exhibited an insatiable hunger for doom but, against that, occasionally showed signs of mental imbalance that may be coming back to haunt the blog now. What many of you may not have realized is that, in those days, I was verging on homelessness. That will no doubt come as a surprise to many of you. Perhaps, on learning this, you will suspect profligacy on my part, but the truth is the Lord puts his servants to the test. At that time, nothing seemed to be going right for me. What I didn’t lose on the track was gobbled up by the stock market.
And so I was in dire straits. If we must be specific, I was about to be evicted from a trailer park on the outskirts of town for failure to meet site fees. The size of the financial shortfall is no longer important. Suffice to say that the necessary funds had been diverted toward the setup costs of this blog.
Please understand that there had been no intention on my part to leave the trailer park owner empty handed. One still night by the lake the Lord assured me in a clear, audible voice (less booming than might be expected) that the blog, once up and running, would generate a modest revenue just sufficient to cover the cost of living. The trailer park owner would be happy, the Lord would be happy and I would be happiest of all.
For a time, my situation did not improve. It seemed that this word from the Lord might prove to be the first of what has since become a long line of false predictions on his part. For this, I harbor no real grudge, but it does rather tick me off. In any case, these were the circumstances under which Dr Doomsday stepped in, volunteering to clear my debt with the trailer park owner and, yes, gift me a modest amount of cash with which to purchase a used van, which I lived in for a while by the beach on the other side of town.
Despite Facebook rumors to the contrary, it is untrue that Dr Doomsday, a building society employee at the time, arranged for an off-the-books home loan while paying out of her own pocket the deposit on my current residence. Yes, perhaps she could have slipped such an arrangement under the radar of management, if she had been so inclined, but that is not what happened.
While it may be true that Dr Doomsday is currently performing a short stint of community service for an unrelated matter, I have no doubt that the Lord would have told me if anything illegal could be traced back to me, especially considering how accurate he has been on everything else. Having lost touch with Dr Doomsday, I’m afraid I can’t evaluate the truth of the story one way or the other.