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Call For Sympathy: To Each Their Own Apocalypse

Phantom Menace Apocalypse

May 19, 1999. That was my own personal day of apocalypse and why I feel we should show charity and understanding towards those people who banked on the world ending. Twice in one year, even.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now: one of two things happened yesterday. Option #1: the world did not end because it was never actually going to (the prevalent theory). Option #2: the Rapture did, in fact, happen–without the whole world blowing up or whatever portion–and nobody was taken because none of us were worth taking (my favorite theory). My point, though, is this: there are a lot of true believers who are feeling a bit fragile right about now and I wanted to speak out in their defense for a moment. Because I can relate to them.

My own particular apocalyptic moment was similar to theirs in a number of aspects. An awesome thing I was promised and had waited patiently and faithfully for…did not happen. I put money and time and effort behind this movement because I was a true believer. After that day in May of 1999, I too felt fragile, confused and perhaps lied to. My faith was shaken and I consider this the event that marked my pop culture loss of innocence.

[ad#longpost]Perhaps that date means something to you as well, dear reader. You see…May 19, 1999 was the day Star Wars Episode I was released to cinemas. I was there at a midnight showing. And the thing I had been promised–that shiny, special thing I was awaiting? That was to be a new and awesome Star Wars movie. And that simply didn’t happen.

Of course, when the theme music kicked in and the logo appeared, sometime after midnight on that fateful day–I felt moved. My heart soared. I felt a stirring in my gut. It was, for lack of a better term, spiritual. Having been both a Christian and a Star Wars fan both, I was ready for what we would term “a mountain top” experience.

But the emotional stirrings and the altitude adjustment of my heart were more for the John Williams score than what followed on the screen. And the gut stirring was, in retrospect, probably just gas.

So I understand the people let down by the lack of Rapture. Some of them may never look at their faith the same way again. They may look back to the days before Rapture Friday with a sort of wistful nostalgia, for a time when there were less questions. I too remember when sequels were to be welcomed, where franchises meant more doses of fun…those days are long gone for me too.

Some people will see this as a test of their faith. Just like some true believers in Rapture Friday are no doubt saying already, “Next time, it’s the next time…” just like they were back in May. I know some Star Wars fans who insist on quoting from The Gospel of Lucas: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour a decent movie may come.” And some actually defend the prequels–I have seen grown men do this with tears streaming down their faces, as if they know how absurd what they’re doing must be. They simply cannot stop themselves. I shudder to think of what their devotion must have cost them.

So whether you are Christian, atheist, Pastafarian or even just standing in line at Starbucks, spare a thought for those among us who had their lives changed this past Saturday. Give a little sympathy. And restrict your jokes to three.

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