I've got to give Harold Camping credit for being original. Having predicted the end of the world on May 21, 2011 – at 6:00 pm Eastern Standard Time - the California prophet of pessimism was forced to explain as of May 22nd, why the world had not ended. Usually the mystically mistaken spend the rest of their lives rationalizing their inexplicable existence – much as the rest of us do normally. But Howard has found a new way to avoid facing up to this reality check. On May 23rd, 2011, the day after the day after doomsday, Howard went on his church's radio network and assured his confused followers that, in fact the world had ended two days earlier, just as he had predicted. The rest of us just hadn't noticed it yet. And I think that is a groundbreaking philosophical position to take.
Of course Harold then negated his achievement by declaring we will all notice when the Pearly Gates of Heaven officially slam shut on October 21, 2011. And for Harold's sake, I hope that prediction comes true. But if not, then I would suggest that Dorthy Martin could teach Harold a thing or two about dealing with cognitive dissonance, which is what happens when what you believe does not match up with what you know. You see, for Dorthy, the end of the world was just the beginning.
Dorthy Martin, a fifty-four year old housewife, received notice on August 27, 1954 that the world was going to end. She received this terminal revelation via a letter from a complete stranger – as in a stranger from the planet Clarion. And you can't get much stranger than that. The missive arrived at Dorthy's home at 847 West School Street in the north side of Chicago in the Lake View neighborhood, not by United States Postal Service - something with a return address or a postal stamp to indicate the point it entered our world - but via the mystical and untraceable communication mode of “automatic writing”, “...the process, or product, of writing material that does not come from the conscious thoughts of the writer.”
The notice sent to Dorthy explained that before dawn on Wednesday, December 21st, 1954 the sea would rise up and consume England, France and the underpants of everybody in Chicago. An inland ocean would form between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains, joining Hudson Bay in Canada with the Gulf of Mexico. Needless to say this geological cataclysm would doom all of humanity, and Dorthy had been singled out by The Guardians from Clarion to deliver the eviction notice.
It is interesting to note that unlike Harold's heralds, the followers of Dorthy (called Seekers) felt little compunction to spread word of the approaching apocalypse, except for a single article in a Chicago newspaper. Still the validity of the prophecy was reinforced by a stream of letters "The Guardians" mysteriously left in Dorthy's apartment over the following weeks. These helpful aliens even started calling Dorthy via the primitive technology of the Illinois Bell telephone system. In any case, as the final destination date approached the members of Dorthy's little group suffered the emotional pendulum swings between joy at meeting their savior to the horror of meeting their savior. Devotees sold their homes and belongings, and even abandoned spouses and family. And then on December 17th The Guardians of Clarion threw Dorthy and her followers a lifeline.
In a crucial phone call, Dorthy was told that at midnight on December 20th, several pea-pod shaped space craft, each big enough to hold ten passengers, would land in the nearby suburb of Oak Park. Presumably this location was picked by The Guardians because it was the birthplace of Frank Loyd Wright, Ernst Hemingway and the voice of Homer Simpson. Every human chosen to be saved from the coming devastation must be waiting in her apartment at the appointed hour to be transported to the Oak Park spaceport. But first they must remove all metal from their bodies, including zippers, bra straps, cigarette lighters wedding rings, ear rings, even eyeglass frames held together with tiny little metal screws. And that was what they did.
At the stroke of midnight about fifteen people were standing in Dorthy's living room wearing their overcoats, the few men holding their pants up with one hand, the majority women with crossed arms to support their belatedly liberated breasts. Their excitement grew as the minutes ticked by until...nothing happened. No Guardians appeared with boarding passes. No pea pod space ships arrived. As the hour of doomsday passed over them Dorthy's back yard remained just another random void along the space time continuum. Dorthy was observed crying. A few people walked out. By 4 AM the remaining would-be passengers were offering competing explanations as to why salvation had not yet arrived. But forty-five minutes later, they are all proven wrong when Dorthy received yet another missive from The Guardians, via automatic writing.
However, this missive was different. This one came from one Guardian in particular. He gave his name as Sananda, and his message was one of great joy. Doomsday had been canceled. Because of the devotion and dedication of the Seekers it had been decided by the “God of the Earth” to not end the Earth. It was a Christmas miracle. But, for some strange reason, when Dorthy's little group tried to spread the good word that the world was not going to end, the news media was not interested. I guess, as the old saying goes, no news is good news, and really good news is no news at all.
Dorthy retreated from Chicago to familiar territory, a Dianetics training facility in Arizona. She stayed there a short time before, after changing her name to “Sister Theda” she moved to Peru and established a religious retreat on the shores of Lake Titicaca. She called her new community the Abbey of the Seven Rays. Then in 1965 she returned the United States, to Mount Shasta, California and then in 1988 back to Arizona. Outside of Sedona, she formed “The Association of Sananda and Samat Kumara”. She preached there for a small congregation for the rest of her life, preaching of the approaching doomsday and the rescue of faithful via flying saucers, before“transitioning” to a higher plane in 1992 - 38 years after she saw the world end. And that is what you call a successful second career.
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