The best stories, headlines and takes about the May 21 Judgment Day

Jeff Winkler | Contributor

It seems the end — as prophesied by Harold Camping and his posse of unique Christian followers — was not very nigh at all.

May 21 came and past without the world coming to an end. Nonetheless, there was plenty of entertaining coverage leading up to and following the completely nonjudgmental occurrence. Much of it was snarky and prideful, but there were a few earnest and heartfelt takes.

As the world takes a deep sigh of relief, let’s go back a review some of the Internet’s best takes on the subject.

‘If World Ends, So Does Alternate-Side Parking’

At the very least, the excitement over the weekend afforded cynical journalists and headline writers a chance to be giddy and cheeky. Even the mayor of modern day Gomorrah, Michael Bloomberg, joked on Friday that New York City would suspend some rules if the apocalypse was indeed at hand.

Bloomberg said it was official “Doomsday policy” to suspend the much-derided alternate-side parking regulations, not to mention a few other materialistic concerns, according to the New York Times:

If the end of the world comes to pass, Mr. Bloomberg said, city residents will also not have to worry about returning library books or paying parking tickets. He noted that it would help ease the city’s traffic problems.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

The Family Radio leader, Harold Camping, has declined to give any interviews since “The End” has come and gone. ABC did learn that the 89-year-old prophet is “mystified” and “a little bewildered.” Family Radio International media representative and board member Tom Evans told ABC that:

… the public is owed an apology and he wants the board — and Camping — to meet on Tuesday to figure out what to say and do next.

Some followers of the prophecy were very much available. Robert Fitzpatrick who had made a name for himself as NYC’s Doomsayer was at Time Square at the appointed time. Lest heathens think Fitzpatrick hasn’t suffered for his sins, the slings and arrows of disappointment were great for him, according to the New York Post:

“I don’t understand why nothing is happening,” said Fitzpatrick, flipping through his Bible for clues to why Rapture failed to show up on time.

“It’s not a mistake. I did what I had to do. I did what the Bible said,” he said, looking increasingly disheveled and confused as he stood in Times Square before mocking crowds.

Religion reporter Jaweed Kaleem also followed up on several individuals who were convinced the world would end on May 21. Their reactions were a “mixed bag” of quiet disappointment. They also acknowledge that on May 23, facing reality means searching for new jobs and perhaps re-enrolling in school.

One consolation for believers of the May 21 prophecy  — there actually was an earthquake in New Zealand, as Camping had predicated.

The Rapture™

Even if the first wave of the apocalypse did begin on Saturday, America’s marketing savvy would probably still move full-steam ahead with businesses popping up all over the place advertising for Judgment Day oven mitts (“You may burn in eternal flames but don’t let your finger get singed cleaning up fire and brimstone from your front lawn!”)

Already in business before the latest round of End of the World news, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets got another publicity boost when the New York Daily News featured them late last week:

The post-doomsday pet rescue service, comprised of sworn atheists, already has 259 clients who have paid $135 for the first pet and $20 for each additional pet at the same address…
“Being an atheist does not mean we lack morals or ethics. It just means we don’t believe in God or gods. All of our representatives are normal folks who love and live for their family, are gainfully employed, and have friends of varying beliefs. Some of us are married to believers,” it reads on the site’s FAQ.


The news doesn’t end, even if the world is about to

Over at Raw Story, Megan Carpentier went through some serious trials and tribulations when she live-blogged the earth’s final hours.

From 5 a.m. on Saturday until 9 p.m. that night — when it became clear that not a single time zone was experiencing any kind of judgment — Carpentier kept readers updated with Rapture news, Rapture tidbits (“For Rapture-related technical questions, check out the Rapture Help Desk on Twitter”), flowcharts and more.

It’s a great source of Rapture material for anyone wanting to get a head start on the 2012 prophecies.

Plagues, pestilence and Hipsters

This story had to have appeared somewhere. But once a Hipster takes up the idea, you know Judgment Day is so over!

Post-Hipster publication, The Observer, had its own color piece late last week titled “Rapture for Radicals: Hipster Prophet Leads May 21st Proselytizers to Ninth Avenue Food Festival.”

It’s a fun read, although sadly, much too hipster for its own good — superficially earnest, annoyingly self-aware, and obsessed with past cultural icons. Nonetheless, it is potentially entertaining if you happen to “get” NYC and its quirky inhabitants. But the Second Coming of Tom Wolfe it is not.

Revelations isn’t just a book in the Bible

Over at The Awl, Maud Newton has an enjoyably personal take on the end of times. Newton, who celebrated her 40th birthday the same day of the would-be apocalypse, is intimately familiar with Rapture culture.

Apart from the wisdom gleaned after so many years on earth, Newton’s unique take comes from the fact that her mother “still believes the Second Coming is nigh.” Newton also comes from a long line of “misfits” with “a need to pursue our weird interests and passions whenever, wherever, and however we want.” This includes her ninth great-grandmother who “beat witchcraft charges—twice—in Northampton, Massachusetts.”

Like many others who woke up on May 22,  Newton’s “colossal hangover [with] all the wrinkles on my face cast into full relief by dehydration,” serves as reminder that there’s still a few more days left to make right with the world.

Email Jeff Winkler and follow him on Twitter

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