Monday, December 9, 2013
By Edward D. Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org
PORTLAND — With all the doomsday theories swirling around, it’s a perfect occasion for turning to someone for a practical, down-to-Earth perspective.
On Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, Mainers answer the question, "Do you think the world will end on December 21?" Cornelia Walworth, left, Mark McCain and his daughter, Chase McCain, respond in different ways in the foyer of Becky's Diner in Portland.
Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer
“I assure you, the world will go on,” said Jewel Miller, who runs the Psychic Connection in a small storefront at the base of Exchange Street.
Despite Miller’s nay-saying, Dec. 21, 2012, has become Ground Zero for those who like to predict the end of days.
First, there’s the Mayan calendar theory, which says that because a centuries-long calendar ends on that date, the world will end, too. It’s kind of like deciding doomsday will be Dec. 31 because that’s the last day on the insurance agency calendar hanging on the kitchen wall.
Mayan scholars have since debunked the theory, saying the ancient civilization’s calendars run in cycles. Although one cycle does end on Dec. 21, another begins, predictably enough, on Dec. 22.
But there’s no shortage of other theories calling for Earth-altering events this month, many of which seem to have been adjusted slightly to take advantage of the Mayan apocalypse frenzy, from visits by rogue planets and exploding stars, to solar flares causing the magnetic poles to flip, to odd planetary alignments.
Actually, put Miller down for that last one, which suggests the Earth is being pulled toward the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. But she predicts the short-term effects will be relatively benign, with some weather patterns beginning to change.
Al Gore called for the same thing, although for less celestial reasons.
Either way, it’s not exactly the kind of cataclysm that’s going to cause people to sell their worldly possessions and head to Tibet.
“Buy Christmas presents. Buy a Christmas tree. Pay your bills,” Miller advises. “It’s life as usual.”
Many Mainers seem to agree with Miller, apparently, since the end-of-the-world theories seem to have few adherents on the streets.
Mark Hiebert of Bethel thinks the Mayans messed up.
“I think there’s an error in the Mayan calendar,” he said, confiding, “they didn’t move the decimal point.”
Alec Goldsmith of Standish hopes the Mayans are wrong because “I’ve really got the rest of my life to live.”
Goldsmith clearly doesn’t embrace the reasoning that because the end of the world comes before the end of the next billing cycle, now’s the time to max out the credit cards and take off for exotic destinations.
“I’m spending money, but that’s normal,” he said. “And I really don’t have any money to do anything, so …”
Eric Smith of Portland thinks the world is coming to an end – someday – but subscribes to the Bible’s admonition that no one on Earth will know when that time comes, it will just happen.
“It’s not our time” right now, Smith said. When it does happen, he said, “really, I don’t think anybody’s going to be ready for it.”
But there is one believer out there: Chase McCain of Portland thinks Dec. 21 is the end, “totally.” And it’s not because she hasn’t begun her Christmas shopping yet.
“The Mayan calendar got, like, 20 other things right, so we’re all going to die,” she said good-naturedly after enjoying what – if she’s right – was one of her last breakfasts at Becky’s diner on Portland’s waterfront.
Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be reached at 791-6465 or at: