by Ray Bendici
Dec 14, 2012
06:24 AM
Unsteady Habits

The End is Nigh. Again.


Below is something from a blog I wrote last May, you know, when we were facing the Rapture as predicted by preacher Harold Camping, which I assume didn't happen, although after a few hurricanes, earthquakes and the advent of Honey Boo Boo, I'm not sure so sure.

Anyway, I dredged this article up because, unless you've been busy rapturing and haven't heard, the world is supposed to end on Friday, December 21 according to a few sources. The most popular "theory"—and I used that term loosely because it's been widely debunked—is that it's the end of the Maya long calendar, and that means ... the world must end, for reasons that aren't exactly clear. As our close friend Dr. Ken Feder has repeatedly pointed out, that yes, it's the end of a cycle of the Maya long calendar, but like with our calendar on December 31st at midnight, the Maya expected to raise a drink, give a cheer and then flip the page over to the first day of the new calendar. No destruction or end of the world, although if there was too much celebration, it certainly might feel like it.

Of course, others have also looked to get in on the current End Times action, forecasting all sorts of Doomsday scenarios for the 21st of December, all of which have also been thoroughly debunked. Crazy how science works like that.

Clearly, this isn't the first time that the end of world has been forecast—actually, there's a pretty substantial list of predicted world end dates on Wikipedia. (I suppose if you keep guessing, you may eventually be right.) One event not on the list is what I wrote about last May, involving a Connecticut connection.

From last May:

In a 1905 issue of The Connecticut Magazine, Emily S. Gilman tells the story of "An Eccentric Character of The Old Days," a Rev. David Austin, who also made such bold predictions. Austin, who had been born in New Haven in 1759 (or so) and graduated Yale in 1779, was eventually installed as pastor in a Presbyterian church in Elizabethtown, N.J. While "somewhat eccentric," he served the parish well until he came down with scarlet fever in 1795. He spent the months during his recovery intensely scrutinizing the prophesies, and from his fevered mind came the revelation that the second coming of Christ would be on the third sabbath of May 1796.

Well, when he announced this discovery to his congregation, it caused quite a stir, as you might imagine. During the weeks leading up to the big day, attendance at Austin's church increased, with believers even coming from nearby towns to hear him speak—and do a little last-minute repenting, no doubt.

And then, from the article:

"On Sunday morning, May 15 the sun rose bright and clear, and a multitude of people filled the church to overflowing. Some distance peals of thunder were heard during the day, but the hours rolled away without any signs or portents, and when night came most of the congregation were convinced that it had all been a delusion.

"Not so the preacher; he readily found reasons why the Lord had delayed his coming, and continued to proclaim the near approach of Christ's personal reign upon the Earth. He believed himself called, as was John the Baptist, to be the forerunner of the Messiah and bring in the glorious millennium. He proposed to establish a new church, independent of all ecclesiastical control and . . . his congregation accordingly petitioned the Presbytery to dissolve the relation between pastor and people, Mr. Austin acceding to the request.

"The Presbytery expressed the kindest feelings towards Mr. Austin while they regarded his enthusiasm and delusion as unfitting him for usefulness in the gospel ministry."

Austin returned to New Haven to pursue his grand plans, but they failed miserably, and not able to pay for them, he spent time in debtor's jail. After his release, his eccentric beliefs got him into a few more predicaments with both church leadership and local authorities, but eventually, he was able to work through his issues, and once again, became an admired preacher. He was awarded the pulpit of a congregational church in Bozrah, where he served in good stead for many years.

Shortly before his his death in 1831, Austin admitted that "he had been mistaken in his interpretation of prophecy." He suggested that "the wheels of providence had moved more slowly" than expected.

I have a feeling that the wheels of the current Maya providence are rolling along the same slow path.

The End is Nigh. Again.

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About This Blog

Connecticut may be one of the smallest states, but it's also one of the most diverse. No one knows this better than content manager Ray Bendici, who is always ready to learn more about our eclectic home, be it by exploring a roadside oddity, discovering a new book or uncovering a bit of little-known state history.

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