“Is something supposed to have happened?”—Jane Banks in Mary Poppins. The world was supposed to have ended yesterday, but I haven’t yet looked out my windows to make sure. I suspect that everything is pretty much the way it was on Friday. Nevertheless, I have to admit to a tiny bit of relief. I do not believe in a mythic end of the world, and yet there is always that taunting doubt that maybe somebody knows more than me. To calm my jitters, I watched Chicken Little last night. This particular Disney movie has never been one of my favorites, but yesterday it struck me as a parable for our times. Even better, the original folktale is a parable for our times. No one knows when the story originated; it is an example of a folktale that belittles paranoia and the mass hysteria that tends to accompany it. A common ending has a fox eating all the concerned animals as they make their way to the authorities.
Our culture is rife with end-days beliefs. Since this is an idea clearly traceable to non-biblical origins, one might suppose that Fundamentalists would eschew it, but as we have seen the last few days, quite the opposite is true. Those who like Chicken Licken or Cocky Lockey go around declaring the end of all things clearly believe they will be rewarded for their special efforts. Instead, history will class them along with Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey—those who are easily led. Perhaps the oddest result of this recent scare is that many people will not abandon the belief, but will simply push it off. We have another scheduled apocalypse for the end of 2012. Is it because we are now so closely connected by the umbilical Internet that our natural fears have become international?
The claims seem to be arriving thick and fast. I remember the end of the world scare of 1979 when I was in high school. There seemed to be a hiatus until 1999, and since then the dates have begun to bottleneck. What we are seeing is the role-playing of a Christian mythology, and herein is the real danger. A true believer can try to initiate the end times. We only need recall 9/11 to test that. Like most religions, Christianity has developed its own unique mythology that freely borrows elements from both other religions and popular culture. The apocalypse has a history, you know. Overall the false scare of the end of all things has been good for this blog. It was not without irony that I noticed my post for May 21 was number 666. But like the clock that is still ticking, this post will clear that hurdle, and the world will be around for a long time yet to come. Now I need to go and pull back the curtains, just to make sure, and keep an eye out for Foxy Loxy.