clarym29Love this stuff.....Sat Apr 21, 2012 20:0518.104.22.168A rather short list of the The End of Times--again and again.......
1901 CE - The new century got off to a flying start by giving a great, big thumbs down to Reverend Baxter's millennium.
1908 CE - Lacking that future fixture of the check-out line, the tabloid rag display, Pennsylvania grocer Lee T. Spangler began filling his idle hours at the cash register by telling his customers about his spiffy end of the world vision. Pretty soon, the local papers were printing his fire and brimstone babblings and in no time, the prophetic produce peddler found himself with quite a following. Certain that the world would come to a spectacular fiery finish in October, Spangler and his fans were quite put-out when the month came and went without so much as a heat wave.
1910 CE - Only backward, primitive people who lived in the Dark Ages feared the appearance of Halley's Comet, right? Well, best two out of three. The regularly scheduled passing of the famous planetesimal sent people all over the world into a tizzy. Mystic minded folk were bewailing it as a sign of imminent doom, while the more modern, "scientific" crowd were popping "comet pills" to ward off the dangers should Earth pass through the object's "toxic" tail.
It was over this event that Oklahoma began to assert itself as a bastion of American "rationality" with the appearance of a religious sect calling themselves the Select Followers. The SF determined that the only way to save the planet was to appease the angry ice chunk by giving it what it had clearly come for... a virgin sacrifice. Fortunately, the police got wind of the scheme and rescued the poor girl in time. The comet apparently decided not to take the slight too personally.
1914 CE - Probably the single most important and hyped-to-hades date in the history of the Jehovah's Witnesses, 1914 became the target for Charles T. Russell's Armageddon almost immediately after the 1881 date went up in smoke... or rather, didn't. Dropping pyramidology like a big, chiseled rock, Charlie fell back on the old End-Timer's standby; he picked out odd quotes from the Book of Daniel, assigned them random numerical values, totaled them up and spat them back out again as the "definitive" date for the Big Good-bye. It was during this period that the JW's really got themselves organized and their shiny, new Doomsdate helped them to win over oodles of followers.
Probably the single best advertisement the sect ever got was the outbreak of World War I. Truly, nothing cheers the heart of an apocalypse fan more than hearing that millions of their fellow human beings are about to be slaughtered like pigs in an abattoir, and the JWs were simply twirling in ecstasy at the news. Unfortunately, 1914 insisted on turning over into 1915, then 1916, etc. Still, the war was coming along swimmingly. The death rate was just (if you'll excuse the expression) rapturously high, and the atrocities, what with the trenches and the mustard gas and the attacks on civilians and all, were very nearly Biblical. Fortified by all this devastation, Charlie Russell gave one last try for a definitive cosmic kaboom.
1918 CE - It was a date poor Charlie Russell never did get to see. Despite his bolted-to-the-baseboard belief that he would never, ever die,... die he most certainly did on October 31, (Halloween! Another holiday the JWs don't celebrate) 1916. Before he went the way of all things, though, Charlie reset his apocalypse clock for 1918 and his followers dutifully fell in behind the re-drawn line. Hard as Charlie's supposedly impossible death hit them, the reality of the times gave the flock reason to hold out hope.
Besides the protracted nightmare of the war, 1917 also brought the Spanish Flu, a hideous disease that seemed to have come out of nowhere and perversely struck down those who were the most strong and vital. As the pandemic tore its fatal swath across the globe, killing some 30,000,000 people, the JWs took heart. It seemed they had good reason. I mean,... did all that calamity look like the signature blood-drenched, poxied hand of God, or what? Yet, before 1917 ran out, the flu ran its course and disappeared, and the only thing that came to an end in 1918 was the war. As the rest of the world celebrated the new peace, these became dark days indeed for the Doomsday deprived Witnesses...
December 17, 1919 CE - Oh, those portentous planetary alignments! If the Earth had really been cosmically whomped on each and every time one of these babies occurred, there'd be nothing left of the old home planet by now but a pitiful little trail of space debris circling around the sun like litter 'round a cat box. This small detail somehow escaped the attention of Albert Porta, respected seismologist/meteorologist who publicly announced one day, that the conjunction of six planets would "cause a magnetic current that would pierce the sun, cause great explosions of flaming gas and eventually engulf the Earth." This info-gem resulted in a world-wide panic, isolated outbreaks of mob violence and even a few suicides. When the conjunction junctured and the Earth wound up no worse for wear, Porta's career as a respected anything was over. Instead, he spent the remainder of his working life banished to writing the weather column for a local newsrag.
1920 CE - Out with the old and in with the new. With the shy-of-immortal Charles Russell gone from the picture, J.F. Rutherford stepped in to take the Witness wheel. Assuming rightly that cult followers are long on trust and short on attention span, J.F. casually tossed out Russell's timeline and had all the JW publications re-edited. The old 1874 date for the return of invisible Jesus was erased from all the literature and in its place, 1914 was dropped in.
In the new and improved doctrine, the important thing to keep in mind was that the 1914 generation would not (entirely) pass without seeing the world's End. This point was emphasized in J.F.'s modestly titled tome, "Millions Now Living Will Never Die". So thrilled was J.F. at the brilliance of his logical contortion act that he made the mistake of jumping right in with his own apocalyptic deadline; one that was far too premature to be effective: 1920. He almost immediately started back-peddling, though, and upped the date a still-overly-optimistic tad.
1921 CE - Noted literary scholar, historian, philosopher and all-around curmudgeon Henry Adams was determined to get human history to make some sort of sense... even if he had to put a stop to it all to do it. Henry was a true Victorian at heart, whose desire for order in the face of chaos guided his life. He finally attempted to put reality into nice, neat and orderly ages that built to a comprehensible climax in two notable tomes: 1909's "Rule of Phase Applied to History" and the 1910 opus "Letter to American Teachers of History". Both of these promoted the idea of history separated into four distinct ages: Religious, mechanical, electrical, and ethereal. His description of "ethereal" was somewhat vague, but his Doomsdate was not. He set it at 1921 with an air of authority that can only come from a man who knows he's never going to be around long enough to have to live the mistake down. Sure enough, Henry died in 1918, and his literary fans have since preferred to see his End Times prophecy as a comfortably metaphoric one.
1925 CE - This was J.F. Rutherford's prophetic "tad". But, even by the dawning of January 1st, J.F. and his closest cronies were already starting to waffle, sermonizing to the faithful that this was, indeedy-dee, the big year... unless, of course, it wasn't. By the time the annum was halfway through, The Watchtower (the JW's main mag) was warning its members that the leadership had never, never, never suggested 1925 as the End Time and that anyone who said as much was a deluded tool of Satan. So there. Already becoming used to the game of musical chiliasms, the JW rank and file mostly just "bahh-ed" and went on glassy-eyed, god-peddling door-to-door.
Friday, Feb. 13, 1925 CE 12:00 AM PT - Meanwhile, out in La-La Land, a young girl named Margaret Rowan announced to the world in general that she had a vision courtesy of the angel Gabriel. Along with being one mean trumpet player, Gabe was a bearer of final tidings. At precisely midnight on February 13th, which, not coincidentally fell on a Friday, the world would be going out on a high note. It was a brief message, but for numerous people, a powerful one. One of the overpowered was Long Island house painter Robert Reidt who wasted no time in depleting every last dime of his life savings to buy billboard space advertising an eleventh-hour hilltop get-together of the faithful.
On the appointed eve, people swarmed to the hillside, all dressed up like escaped extras from a bad Bible movie. At the stroke of midnight, they lifted their arms skyward and shrieked "Gabriel! Gabriel!" as if they expected the busy seraph to stop and sign autographs for them. By the time 12:05 came around and nothing happened, the crowds got a might restless. Reidt calmed them down with the suggestion that little Margaret (being out in the wilds of Los Angeles) must have been referring to midnight Pacific Time, and that they simply needed to wait another three hours for the final mo'. When the extra wait time produced nothing more than a lot of soggy, dew-drenched shoes, the disillusioned throng finally dispersed, leaving Robbie behind to yell at the few reporters who'd shown up. He insisted rather pathetically that they'd scared Gabriel away with their Satanic flashbulbs. Apparently, even the angels are wary of red-eye.
May 29, 1928 - September 16, 1936 CE - Yet another early fan of pyramidology, the noted Giza gazer, Basil Stewart went looking for mystic meaning in the old rock pile and came up with the usual. Besides finding creative ways to make random measurements look like they presaged important world events of the past, Basil went on to show how they could also predict events in the future; however little there might be left of it. According to Bas, the world's days were numbered... in cubits, to be specific, and the above noted dates were going to be filled with all the trials and tribulations of, well, the Tribulation. In truth, 1928 turned out a rather good year. It wasn't until October of '29 that things got a bit grim. Bad as the Great Depression was, though, it couldn't hold a candle to World War II; an event the pyramid was strangely silent about... along with all the other events that have followed since.
1934 CE - End Times aficionados par excellence, The Los Angeles Free Tract Society were fond of publishing pamphlets asserting that the Second Coming would be coming any second. One of these merry hand-outs contained a wild-eyed screed by Chicago preacher Nathan Cohen Beskin who painted elaborate paranoid pictures of the evil godless world sending its Satanic forces against a tiny band of saintly Christians in the Last Days. (circa. 1934) This "wagons-in-a-circle" fairy tale naturally climaxed with the Lord's Wrath being visited upon anybody outside Beskin's club, followed by a thousand-year opportunity to say, "Nya-nya! Told'ja so!". It seems his followers have had more time to work on those kindergarten taunting techniques than they planned on.
September, 1935 CE - In an Associated Press story of August 16, 1931 (must have been a really slow newsweek) professional doomwallower Wilbur Glen Voliva went off on a Gog/Magog = Russia rant and insisted that the communist monster would soon attack the Holy Land and cause the whole wide world "to go 'puff' and disappear". Of course, the only thing that went "puff" and disappeared was Willy's prophecy.
1936 CE - Marching in goose step with the rise of Fascism and white supremacy movements that were all the rage in the '30's, Herbert W. Armstrong founded The Worldwide Church Of God. With a doctrine that included such delightful attributes as racism, anti-Semitism and Anglo-Israelism, (The latter being the bright idea that when the Bible refers to the "Jews", it doesn't really mean the Jews. 'Cause those aren't really the Jews. It really means the "real" Jews... the Christians!) it should come as no surprise that millenarianism came with the package, as well. Although better known for their later, much-hyped 1975 Doomsday, Armstrong got the cult off to a brisk start right from the get-go with a quote in "Plain Truth", the church's official rag. Citing the Depression and the looming threat of war, Armstrong wrote of the year 1936, "We may expect to see heavenly signs of the sun and the moon becoming dark... which shall be followed by the 'Day of the Lord'." When no such day arrived, Herbie just did some Bible math and re-set his Armageddon alarm for 1975.
September 6, 1936 CE - Some people are just slow on the uptake. That's the only explanation that can be given for George Riffert and his inability to learn from ol' Basil Stewart's mistakes. He didn't even wait for Basil's full Trib term to run out, either, before jumping in with his own silly pyramid-prompted prophecy. Of course, '36 did have its ups and downs. It was decidedly not a good time to be a Jew in Germany or anybody at all in Spain. Still, as the old newsreels used to say, "Time marches on".
Halloween, 1938 CE - Panic erupted amongst some of America's slower radio listeners when Orson Welles's broadcast his Mercury Theatre production of H.G. Wells's The War Of The Worlds. The story was presented in a newsy style, "interrupting" the broadcast of another show for a slew of increasingly frantic bulletins. It was pulled off with such an air of authenticity, that it convinced thousands of people the Earth (or, at least, New Jersey) was being invaded by Martians bent on global conquest. Numerous disclaimers were run during the course of the show saying that this was only a dramatization by an acting troop, but that just didn't seem to stick to a lot of people's gray matter. Hysterics jammed up the roadways in a mad panic to flee from the evil aliens and pinheads galore called or stampeded the radio station and their local police. It got so bad that the next day, Welles was compelled to make a public apology for scaring the public witless... Though, arguably, that would have been a redundancy.
1940-1941 CE - Not to be entirely left out of the prophetic paranoia business, the folks down under managed to produce a Mr. Leonard Sale-Harrison. Lenny was a Bible teacher of otherwise little distinction, who managed to win himself fifteen spotlighted minutes of glory by declaring that the world would end on or about 1940-41. Of course, it can't be ignored that he did have to come Stateside to find a suitable audience for his announcement. So, the Yanks aren't entirely off the hook for this one, either.
1940-ish CE - Desperation and extremism go arm in arm like dance partners in the tacky Ballroom contest of Life. Neither seem to care which leads, but as soon as one really starts to cook, the other will swing in step to match it. For the Jehovah's Witnesses, nothing worked to drive up those desperation levels like five failed End Times prophecies and when World War II broke out, they simply could not contain their enthusiastic declaration of a sixth. Not that they intended it to be a failed prophecy, mind you. Why, if wishful thinking alone could bring on Armageddon, the JWs would have been able to give the cosmic zap to whole galaxies.
That's where the extremism comes in. So great was the need to convince themselves that their latest prediction was true, that the leadership feverishly sermonized the flock day in and day out, warning them not to marry or have children, go to college or seek a job. If they had a job, they were encouraged to quit. If they had homes and property, they were encouraged to sell (and donate the proceeds to the JWs) or give them away (to the JWs). All because the End was coming any minute now, and it might look bad-ish to intimate that you doubted God by actually trying to have something like a life 'till then.
As 1940 became '41, then '42, '43, '44, '45, etc. without the world graciously ending as it was supposed to, the leadership
- Good point ... Baruch, Sat Apr 21 01:52another man's dogma is another man's apostasy. Christianity has been in apostasy since 325 CE, when it was taken over by the Greco-Roman Mafia. But for them, that is when their Nicene Creed was... more
- Love this stuff..... clarym29, Sat Apr 21 20:05
- Speaking of Halley's Comet sai ram, Sat Apr 21 22:26back in the 80's about one year before Halley's Comet was to return, I was awaken about 2 AM with a poem in my head. I had never wrote a poem in my life...nor since..but this one came in a dream. It... more
- You were probably channeling Mark Twain ... Baruch, Sat Apr 21 23:33who died during the visit of 1910. Shalom
- Quite the poem clarym29, Sat Apr 21 23:30full of such good cheer. :)) Do you always have such optimistic dreams???
- Don't mix up sai ram, Sat Apr 21 23:49realism and optimism....just think from Halley's view from passing earth in 1910 until 1986...all the changes that had occured.....WW 1 and 2....smog.....cities growth...man even traveled off the... more
- What's the difference? clarym29, Sun Apr 22 09:46What is real to me may not be to you. So, who knows what realism really is???? Don't we all make over the world just about every day, in the image we want? Your sentiment kind of reminds me of those... more
- Reality is like porn ... Baruch, Sun Apr 22 15:59you can't define it, but you know it when you see it ;-) In the West we have tried to achieve consensus on what is real, thru science. But it turns out science can't even tell me what I should have... more
- Ah but sai ram, Sun Apr 22 12:29"Your sentiment kind of reminds me of those who say that the end is near because of the natural disasters, man-made disasters, weather, pestilence, famine, wars and chaos.".......ah, but just like a... more
- I like your PS better than your BS ;-) Baruch, Sun Apr 22 16:03If life is an adventure, then choose to be an adventurer ... get out there on the veldt, graze, wait and see what happens. At least the lion will make you jog a little. Shalom
- The lion is clarym29, Sun Apr 22 14:38always out there--and one day will get you. But that is true for all people of all times--it's one of God's Laws--so why worry about it.
- I do and I don't worry ... Baruch, Sun Apr 22 16:05keeping an eye out is not the same as having a panic attack. All things in moderation, someplace in between inattention and panic. But you are correct, nobody gets out of here alive ... and good... more
- Yeah, but if you were a zombie that would rule...... clarym29, Sun Apr 22 17:52Moderation is all things. So trite. Yet I have nothing that is better to live by. when I stay moderate in all things I am closer to being in balance, and being in balance is what leads me to be... more
- Humanity is a weed, not a blight ... Baruch, Sun Apr 22 07:22we are more advanced than fungus, but not as advanced as the animal kingdom. Shalom