My Bucket of Parts: "End of the world" hype just a fad

Vikidin anyone?

I'm assuming the general public needs it more and more -- just a little something to take the pain away.

"What pain?" you ask. "I just went running this morning and I feel fine." That's probably because you weren't around a television screen, a newspaper or a magazine. After checking the Excite poll this morning (a task I do when the title of the poll draws my attention -- and it did, especially with a title like "End of the World?"), I read that one-third of Americans are paying more attention to the news in lieu of the end of the world.

Exciting, isn't it?

Time magazine, in their most recent issue, throws a disturbing graphic of a cross with fire touching its base with the title, "The Bible and The Apocalypse," which is definitely a far cry from last week's issue with Tom Cruise on the cover.

Are they trying to tell us something? Watch out world: Tom Cruise is the antichrist.

Subliminal messages are all around us. Especially with the New York Times best-selling "Left Behind" series penned by Jerry B. Jenkins, and Tim LaHaye -- focusing on what we all love: Armageddon.

Could it possibly be that we've seen a counter-culture arise within the last decade? From pop-culture movies like "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact" which focused on asteroids plummeting toward Earth, which came out in the mid-1990s to the aforementioned Christian-pop "Left Behind" series, the end of the world is the best thing that has happened to culture since Elvis.

Was Elvis one of the 500 people believed to be the antichrist? I get so confused. There have been few already: Napoleon and Hitler (among others), and it is believed, through the writings of Nostradamus, that there are two more.

Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein come on down -- it's time to play the vicarious and paranoid game, The Price is, uh ... wrong?

The mindsets of Americans, according to the Time magazine article, "The Bible and the Apocalypse," show that since Sept. 11, many have grown more attached to this counter-culture: living life isn't worth a penny unless its lived in paranoia about some unseen end.

"There are times in human history when instinct, faith, myth and current events work together to create a perfect storm of preoccupation," Nancy Gibbs writes. "Visions of an end point lodge in people's minds in many forms from entertainment to superstitious fascination to earnest belief. Now seems to be one of those times."

This counter-culture doesn't seem like it will recede anytime soon -- especially with two more books coming from the popular "Left Behind" series and many more scholars cutting open books and brain cells trying to make sense of all this end-time madness.

Whenever events in world history make us turn left instead of right -- we look everywhere for answers, from religion, old scholars, prophecies, recent events, newspapers and magazines.

And that's when human nature and the mind doesn't know up from down. With all the news, talk of Nostradamus and Time publishing it's fourth article about the end of the world within seven years (we can't forget about the Y2K Bug, can we?), it's amazing people have the ability to laugh and enjoy their day.

With all these media whirlwinds and this culture backlash, I think people forget that we have the ability to think for ourselves and come to our own conclusions -- not just taking those conclusions handed to us.

All it takes is a library and some research -- I don't think the conglomerate media identity of CNN and Time hold all the answers, at least -- oh no, the antichrist could be the CEO of both!

With all this paranoia, I wonder if anyone takes NyQuil just to catch some Zs, or, perhaps, overdose on it to slip into a coma. No wonder Vikidin and a glass of brandy has become the new after dinner mint.

Although, the religious fanatics that usually show their face around campus haven't been as prevalent this past year, and I also haven't met a man with the cardboard sign around his body saying, "The end is near."

But, Big Bird is still on "Sesame Street," and "Friends" is going into one more season, so the end can't be anywhere as close as we thought it was.

Since that's the case, Michael Stipe of R.E.M. sang it the way it should be, "It's the end of the world and I feel fine..."

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