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Alex Beam

It’s the end of the world as we know it — again

The sun set behind the Rocky Mountains, as seen from downtown Denver, during a May 2012 eclipse.David Zalubowski/Associated Press

My friend Bruce plans to spend the week of Aug. 21 in Cookeville, Tenn., smack in the “path of totality” of the Great Eclipse. He and tens of thousands of other Americans have been scheming to catch The Big One for months if not years, and for good reason: Not since 1776 has a total solar eclipse been visible exclusively on the American continent.

(As the internet widget at shows, we in Boston will see only a partial eclipse, between 1 and 4 p.m.)

David Baron, author of the just-published “American Eclipse,” saw his first total eclipse in Aruba in 1998. “It changed my life,” he says. Baron has since chased eclipses to Indonesia and the Faroe Islands. “I’m not religious,” he explains, “but my God, a total solar eclipse is the most awe-inspiring spiritual experience you can imagine. It’s beautiful and humbling and makes you feel like a puny part of this enormous universe.”

There is no way the endlessly inventive coterie of conspiracy nutters and Rapturous Christian end-timers would let an event like this to go to waste. Nor have they! Suffice it to say that the people who brought you the terrifying Mayan apocalypse-asteroid-crash-that-didn’t-happen of 2012 are very much on the case.


Following up on a book called “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988,” the website has revealed “19 Reasons The Rapture Could be in 2017.” Reason number 5: “There will be a very rare total solar eclipse that traverses the entire United States just 33 days before the Revelation 12 Sign.”

I’m sure you remember Book of Revelation 12: the pregnant woman, the red dragon with seven heads and seven crowns, sweeping the stars from the sky. Just a year ago, it seemed as though 2016 would be the Date Certain for the Rapture: The 70th week of Daniel preceded Satan’s arrival on earth. . . . Send in your donations before it is too late.

Revelation also provides fodder for #Trumpocalypse hashtaggers, who have been purring along in fifth gear since the election. It has not gone unnoticed that the Kushner Companies are headquartered at 666 Fifth Avenue, “666” being the infamous name of the beast in Revelation 13:18.


In retrospect, I wish I had found work in the lucrative and sustainable End Times industry. Because the Final Days, or The Rapture, or the Bottom of the Ninth — whatever you choose to call it — is just the gift that keeps on giving. Remember Dec. 21, 2012? I’m sure you do. Hollywood honored the venerable Mayan calculation for the world’s end with one last, ghastly John Cusack (“No matter what happens, we’re going to all stay together”) movie, “2012,” released in 2009.

But just as there have been many more false apocalypses, we have also seen many more ghastly John Cusack movies. The moral of this story: The world will never end, and there will never be another “High Fidelity.”

I don’t want the world to end on Aug. 21. My wife’s family shares access to a lakeside house in New Hampshire, and that Monday falls inside our week. There is an Agatha Christie play that I’d like to see in summer stock, plus I have a dentist’s appointment scheduled for the 24th. Also, I just read that Idris Elba’s fantastic series, “Luther,” will be returning to TV for a fifth season.

So — can we reschedule? Pretty please?

Alex Beam’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @imalexbeamyrnot.