Tomorrow is our sixth wedding anniversary and we celebrated with dinner out. We are now contentedly full of delicious sushi and our sleep-resistant child has been lulled into dreams by her babysitter. We even exchanged our gifts: an ice cream maker from me to Joy, and oh, amazing, an album full of our wedding photos, at long last, created by Joy for me (us). We’ll be too tired tomorrow, after a full day at the Maker Faire, and besides, we thought we’d better fit our celebrating in before the beginning of the end of the world.

Why do people think the world is going to end at all? In the eighties, when I was in high school and Reagan and the Soviet premier-of-the-month were playing chicken, I figured it would end in a full-scale nuclear war before I was old enough to have grandchildren, but I didn’t think it was going to end end. I didn’t even think human beings would be entirely wiped out. I just figured anyone within a large radius of a major city would die, either immediately or fairly quickly. Lots of the world’s people would still survive, some maybe even without significant ill effect, and the rest of the biosphere would reel but still be here. In other words, T. S. Eliot had it right: we would end not with a bang, but with a whimper.

And yet there is evidently something appealing about the scenario spelled out by Harold Camping and Hal Lindsey and all those Left Behind books, because end-of-the-world predictions keep on being made despite the obvious failure of all their predecessors. Heck, Christianity is founded on one such failure, when some people were sure the Messiah had come and it turned out he would have to come a second time.

I grew up Jewish, and such Messianism as I have comes out of that religion’s much more positive version. No lake of fire, no angry judge on the divine throne pointing some to the left and some to the right, no clash of armies, but peace radiating out from every heart and over the whole world.

I’m afraid I don’t believe that either disaster or universal peace is going to befall us tomorrow, but either one can begin then, depending which way we decide to steer this world of ours. The way I’m feeling right now, I’ll put my money on peace.

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