End game

First dead birds fell from the sky on New Year’s Eve.

And then fish washed ashore—also dead.

And then Anderson Cooper brought Kirk Cameron on to be a guest on Anderson Cooper 360° to talk about it.

And that’s when I thought that maybe the end really was near.

How else to explain The Coop’s decision to bring on the former child actor turned fundamentalist expert to discuss how mysterious fish and fowl deaths in Arkansas and other states surely signaled that the end of days were upon us?


This is how it went:

Cooper: You obviously starred in a series of films based on the idea of the [apocalyptic] Left Behind series. When you hear that, what do you think?

Cameron: Well, I think that they ought to call a veterinarian, not me. I’m not the religious conspiracy theorist go-to guy particularly. I think it’s really kind of silly to try to equate birds falling out of the sky with an end-of-times theory.

Silly, indeed—who thought that Mike Seaver would be the voice of reason in a Cooper-Cameron conversation?

Still, the mystery of the birds and fish has ramped up speculation that Judgment Day will occur on May 21—not 2012 as some theorists have suggested.

The May date was set by Harold Camping, a Christian radio broadcaster who runs the Oakland-based Family Radio network (available locally via KEAR 88.1 FM).

According to Camping, who uses mathematical equations to “decode” Bible passages, May 21 will bring about a spiritually fueled apocalypse in which the Earth will be destroyed.

Camping explains it as such:

“Seven thousand years after 4990 B.C. (the year of the Flood) is the year 2011 A.D. (our calendar),” or “4990+2011-1=7,000” because “one year must be subtracted in going from an Old Testament B.C. calendar date to a New Testament A.D. calendar date because the calendar does not have a year zero.”

Now, admittedly, numbers are not my strong point. But it should be pointed out that Camping previously used similar new math to peg September 6, 1996, as the date of for the rapture and, well, we all know how that prediction worked out for him.

But that’s the not the point here.

No, the point is that Camping’s not the only one indulging in apocalyptic fantasies; we all are.

Our pop culture thrives on the ashes of civilization’s demise—from movies and TV series such as 2012 and Firefly to the enormously popular Hunger Games book trilogy.

And why not, when we currently live in a world in which elected representatives and private citizens are gunned down and blame, at least in part, must be placed on the vitriolic nature of our nation’s political discourse? Why not, when we live in a world exceedingly decimated by ecological damage, warfare and cultural malaise?

It’s the kind of world many of us would like to hit the reset button on—the kind in which we long for a physical, emotional and spiritual nexus of change.

I don’t think the world will end on May 21, 2011—nor any time in 2012, for that matter—but I do understand why we look in horror upon violent crimes and a deteriorating Earth, the kind in which thousands of birds and fish mysteriously die, and wish, desperately, for the ultimate do-over.