If you're reading this, it can only mean one of two things:
1. The world did not end on Saturday, as advertised.
2. It did, but you have one HECK of a dedicated newspaper carrier.
By now, most of you probably know that Harold Camping, a Christian radio broadcaster and founder of Family Radio in Oakland, Calif., calculated that the world was supposed to end this year. Not content to wait for the unbridled chaos promised by next year's Mayan calendar fiasco-slash-U.S. presidential elections, Camping and his Unhappy Campers have been loudly proclaiming that Judgment Day -- aka "The Rapture," with its accompanying death, destruction and annoying Christian zealots screeching their I-told-you-sos -- would occur on May 21, 2011.
That was Saturday.
Not only that, but Mr. Camping was kind enough to give us a precise time for the world to come to a screeching halt -- 6 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (4 p.m. local) -- just in case we wanted to catch an early matinee or something.
The fun was to begin with a whole mess o' rapturing (people being caught up into the air and whisked off to their heavenly reward), which Camping guesstimated would include about 3 percent of the world's population. That would immediately be followed by horrific death and destruction for those of us left behind. Earthquakes. Fires. Floods. Pestilence. Jennifer Lopez invited back for a second season of "American Idol."
Oh, the humanity!
Now, due to newspaper deadlines, I'm constrained to write this column two days before Judgment Day. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that the Rapture did NOT occur on schedule. Which means, I suppose, that if it did, there's a very real chance that a true believer out there could be having one of those classic Dewey-defeats-Truman moments right now, holding up this naysayer's column with its "RAPTURE A BUST!" headline and grinning to beat the band.
So be it.
Still, I've seen a couple of small clues that told me Saturday was going to be just another day in paradise. For starters, only 48 hours before the scheduled Rapture, you could still make a tax-deductible donation to Camping's radio ministry. Maybe I'm wrong, but wouldn't you think if the world were ending, his accountants would have already closed the books and tied up any financial loose ends?
Not only that, but Family Radio was still listing its programming schedule for Sunday -- completely unnecessary if the whole shebang's coming to an end on Saturday.
To be frank, when I heard about this Judgment-Day-arriving-on-Saturday thing, my first thought was, "Oh great. Another weekend shot to that place prepared for the wicked."
I mean, honestly, my wife and I are constantly marveling at how it seems like we get perfectly nice weather during the week (when we're stuck at work), but bad weather on the weekend (when we want to get out in the yard or recreate).
But then to find out the forecast for this weekend was partly pestilent, with an 80 percent chance of fire raining down from the skies? Dude. The ultimate downer weekend.
Kinda makes our whining about "high 40s and a chance of precipitation" on yet another weekend seem petty and small.
So then, how did people spend their last day on Earth? Plenty of folks just went on with their normal, mundane lives. But some planned End of the World parties for the weekend. And in what I thought was a nice gesture, a few atheist groups were offering pet-sitting for those planning on being raptured up into heaven. (Seriously, that dog ain't going to walk itself, people.)
Me? I went backpacking in Southern Utah. When the moment of truth arrived, my wife and I were with another couple in the longest and deepest slot canyon in the world. Narrow walls rising hundreds of feet above us. Tons upon tons of rock hanging directly over our heads.
Basically, the ideal place to be in a planet-ending earthquake.
Still, the couple we went with are good, God-fearing religious people -- the kind who love and help their neighbors and live by the Golden Rule. And then there's my wife, whose continued marriage to me nigh on 30 years makes her nothing short of a saint.
So I figured if the deed did go down over the weekend, fully 75 percent of us were getting raptured. My plan, in all of the confusion, was to latch onto one of those three as they're caught up into heaven. By the time God sorts it all out and realizes I've crashed the party, I've already declared squatter's rights in a nice little heavenly mansion and I'm burrowed in like a tick on a bloodhound.
That's right, it's gonna take nothing short of a court order to evict me.
And hey, good luck finding a lawyer there in heaven.
What did you do with your final hours on Earth? Tell Mark Saal at 801-625-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.