2020年3月31日

byRobert?

Lanham

Ascrazyasitseemsnow,whenIwasafreshmaninhighschoolIwasconvincedthatmylifewasgoingtoend,healthyandunadulterated,sometimebeforeDecember31st1988。

Ofcourseit’scommonforsensitiveteenstoconsidertheirmortalityduringthosetumultuousyearswhenthehormonesstarttokickin。

ButIwasdifferent。

Whileotherkidspondereddeathintheconventionalfashion?

—?

thatis,contemplatingsuicidewhilelisteningtotheSmiths’“HeavenKnowsI’mMiserableNow”?

—?

Icametotermswithmymortalitytheoldfashionedway。

Ilearnedaboutitin?

church。

ThespecificsofmydoomwererevealedtomewhenIwasfifteen,inthebasementofBonAirBaptistintheexurbsofRichmond,Virginia。

Iwasamongagroupofabouttwenty-fiveteenswho’dassembledinthechurch’sdarkbasementforWednesdaynightyouthgroup,primarilyforthefree?

pizza。

“TheAntichristisaliveandwelltoday,”BonAir’syouthministerMikeHonakerstatedassuredly,wavingabookcalledTheLateGreatPlanetEarthabovehis?

head。

Honakerwasaruddy,trollofaman,approachingforty,whomaintainedabushybeardtoconcealaprotrudingbottomlippackedtightwithSkoalBandits。

HewasconductingaseriesonHalLindsey’sTheLateGreatPlanetEarthanditsapocalypticinterpretationofbiblicalprophesies。

TheslimpaperbackhadapictureoftheearthinflamesonitscoverandtwohundredpagesofprosedevotedprimarilytotheAntichrist。

Abreezy,beachtowelread,perfectlysuitedforkidsofallages,TheLateGreatPlanetEarthspokeofaterrifyingmonstercalled“thegog”thatwaspreparingtoinciteWorldWarIIIandkillalltheJewsandliberalartsprofessors。

Itwas,somehow,thebestsellingnonfictionbooksoftheSeventies?

—?

itspawnedadocumentarynarrated,curiously,byOrsonWelles?

—?

andwasmyyouthpastor’scurrentobsession。

“TheAntichristispreparingtorevealhimselfandthiswilllikelyhappeninourlifetime。

”Honakersaid,spewingalittletobacco?

spittle。

GrowingupintheBiblebeltduringtheReaganyearsI’d,ofcourse,heardsimilarproclamations。

ItwastheEightiesandfundamentalistsallacrossthecountryhadtheirgrannypantiesinabunchaboutthe“moraldecline”oftheprevioustwodecades。

Theso-called“Satanicpanic”wasinfullswinganditwasn’tuncommontohearsensationalallegationsofdemonicactivityonthenightlynews。

AsatanicallyoperateddaycarecenterinEdenton,NorthCarolina。

ADungeonsDragonsgamegonemurderouslyawryinLafayette,Colorado。

GeraldineFerraro。

Beforelong,MiddleAmericawasconvincedthateverychildwhoownedaJudasPriestrecordwaspartofacoventhatsacrificedgoatsinthewoodsbehindtheAP。

Sure,wemaynothavebeenworriedaboutterroristsintheEightiesbutwehadSatanists。

Andwhentheyweren’tbusystuffingourHalloweencandywithrazorblades,theywereincahootswithSatanplottingtheapocalypse。

Honakerseemedtorevelinthetension。

AttendinghisWednesdaynightyouthgroupwaslikewatchinganOmenmarathononFoxNews?

—?

ablendofendtimesparanoiacoupledwithcurrentevents。

AccordingtoHonaker,theAntichristwasabouttotakeholdoftheUnitedNations(anorganizationfoundedbySatanists)andcreateaoneworldgovernmentunderhis?

command。

“NobodyknowsexactlywhentheAntichristwillcometopower,”saidHonaker?

“butChristianscantakecomfortknowingtheRapturewillwhiskusawaybeforehedoes。

Mr。

HalLindseyhasdoneusthegreatservice,”continuedHonaker,“ofdecodingsomeofthemysteriesofRevelationinthisbook,TheLateGreatPlanet?

Earth。



Andthat’swhenhedroppedthezinger。

Thenuggetofprophesythatwasgoingtoescalatemyteenageanxietiesformonthsto?

come。

“AccordingtoLindsey,praiseJesus,thesignsareallinplace。

WewillseetheRaptureinourlifetime。

Sometimebeforetheendof?

1988。



1988?

Ithoughtwithpanic,scramblingtoputthingsinperspective。

Itwasalreadymorethanhalfwaythrough?

1986。

IfyoubelievedTheLateGreatPlanetEarth’srevelations,Honakerexplained,thebiblepredictedthattheRapturewouldoccurwithinagenerationoftheJewsreturningtoIsrael,aneventthatoccurredin1948。

SincemanyChristiansbelievethatabiblicalgenerationisequaltofortyyears,establishingacutoffdatefortheRapturewassimple?

math。

Now,ifeveranargumentwastobemadeagainsttheeffectivenessofChristianabstinence-onlyeducation,I’mit。

Tellinganimpressionablekidthathisdaysarenumberedis,nodoubt,cruelandterrifying。

Itcausedmemanyasleeplessnight。

ButafterIcametotermswithmyownapocalypticanxiety,therewassomethingmorefundamentalIhadtoconsider。

Myvirginity。

TherewasnowayIwasgoingtojustfloatawayintoHeavenbeforeI’dhad?

sex。

AndthisiswhereIranintoapredicament。

Havinggrownupamongfundamentalists,Ibelievedsexoutsideofwedlockwasasinthatwouldprocuremeaone-waytickettothefieryabyss。

Still,Iwasrunningoutoftime。

TherewassimplynowaythatIwasgoingtobeabletomeetmyfuturewife,getmarried,andhavesexbefore1988。

Ihadagirlfriend,I’llcallherAmanda,butwe’donlybeendatingforafewweeks。

Ididn’tknowhermiddlename,muchlessherthread-countrequirementsforthesheetsontheregistry。

What’smore,Iwouldn’tevenbeabletolegallygetmarrieduntilIturned18…whichwouldn’thappenuntil,um,1989。

Ironically,I’ddatedgirlsbeforeandhadsuccessfullysidelinedmytemptations。

ButthatwasbeforeIfoundoutthatIwasabouttogetcock-blockedbythe?

Rapture。

Predictably,Ibegansecond-guessingmyfaith。

Sexisnotasin,Irationalized,iftheworldwasgoingtocometoanendbeforeIwasoldenoughtowed。

TheremustbeanArmageddontechnicality。

I’dalreadybeguntoquestionthelogicofwhatI’dbeentaughtinchurch?

—?

whywouldaforgivinggodsendpeopletohell?

HowcouldtwoofeveryknownspeciesfitontotheArk?

WhydoChristiansgetstucklisteningtoallthehorriblebandslikePetraandRuscha?

—?

butdenyingmyselftheurgesthatgodhimselfhadcreated,justdidn’tmake?

sense。

I’mnotsureiftheconcernsofanuclearapocalypsedroveColdWar-erateenstoshedtheirclothes。

(IsuspectmanyfeltthetimecrunchwhilehidingbeneaththeirdesksduringtheCubanMissileCrisis。

)Butwhenfacedwiththechoiceofhellandremainingavirginforallofeternity,Imadetheobviouschoice。

Youcan’texpectakidinthethroesofpubertytowalkthestraight-and-narrow,ifhisrewardisaneternityofremorseforhavingnevertoucheda?

woman。

Inthedaystocome,IbeganspendingmoretimewithAmandaand,thoughIwasconflictedaboutthesanctityofpremaritalsex,IknewthatIonlyhadabriefwindowoftimebeforemyworldwouldcometoanend。

Inhindsightwhoknows,hadHonakernotscaredthebejesusoutofmeinthatchurchbasement,Imayhavestayedchasteallthroughhighschool。

Asanyonewhoknowsmewillattest,Iworkbestwhenunderastrictdeadline。

Ofcourse,1988cameandwentand,withtheexceptionofthereleaseofCrocodileDundeeII,nothingevenremotelyapocalypticoccurred。

BythetimeIwassixteen,I’dabandonedreligiousfundamentalismformorecompellingthingslikelogicandfacts。

AsIbegantoquestionthethingsI’dbeentaughtgrowingup,IbecamecuriouswhyaneducatedadultlikeHonakerwouldownanabsurd,mean-spirited“bookofprophecy”suchasTheLateGreatPlanetEarth,or,forthatmatter,aspittoon。

Andwhen1989finallyarrived,IwashappytohavequantifiableproofthatHalLindseywasa?

fraud。

IftheMayansaretobebelieved,2011willbethepenultimateyearofmylife。

It’salsotheyearIturnfortywhich,unlike17,isaperfectlyreasonableagetobewhenfacinganapocalypse。

(Author’snotetoimpressionableyouth:nothingtoworryabout。

)Ihaven’taccomplishedeverythingI‘dhopedfor,butI’velivedlongenoughtoappreciatelife。

Plus,I’mtoooldtobedraftedinourimpendingwaragainstasteroids,aliens,antichrists,RandPaulsupporters,orwhateverelseisslottedtoturnourworldintoacacophonousBruckheimermoviein2012。

Bestofall,whentheMayancalendarcomestoaclose,I’llhavemadeit26yearslongerthanI’deverthoughtpossiblethelasttimeIconfrontedanapocalypseinthebasementofBonAir?

Baptist。

RobertLanhamistheauthorofthebeach-towelclassicTheEmeraldBeachTrilogy,whichincludesthetitlesPre-Coitus,Coitus,andAfterglow。

MorerecentworksincludeTheHipsterHandbookandTheSinner’sGuidetotheEvangelicalRight。

HeisthefounderandeditorofFREEwilliamsburg。