How do you picture the end of the world? If you’re at all religious, it’s probably some cataclysmic event impossible to ignore, especially for the wicked.
As a Latter-day Saint missionary 50 years ago, I imagined the sky would peel back and Jesus would appear. The worthy would fall to their knees in gratitude, while the wicked would burst into flames and die a horrible death.
Going to hell might be embarrassing. If it happened at a zone conference, all the other missionaries would shout “Hosanna” and wave their arms rejoicing. Elder Kirby would be the only one in the room to spontaneously combust.
Fire, smoke, airplanes falling out of the sky, people disappearing, dogs howling, darkness, the dead getting out of their graves — there are countless ways the world is supposed to end, according to religion.
Even nonreligious people have end-of-the-world scenarios. There could be an asteroid, a plague, nuclear war, aliens (of the extraterrestrial sort) or the next presidential campaign.
Personally, I hope it ends the way it did early Friday morning, when two earthquakes jolted the Wasatch Front. The epicenter was a few miles from my Herriman home. It freaked everyone out.
Not me. I was yanked out of a deep sleep at 2:39 a.m. by a text from Mom asking if I would pick up a prescription for her later in the day? Mom’s old, so this sort of behavior doesn’t bother me. I went right back to sleep.
I slept through the quakes that occurred a couple of hours later. When I finally woke up at 7 a.m., everyone was texting and emailing, “Did you feel the earthquakes?”
It was all over the news. Houses shook. Things fell off shelves. Windows rattled. Doors wobbled. Pets scrambled for safety. Somewhere the easily frightened ran screaming into the street clad only in their underwear.
Am I sorry I missed such a singular natural event? Nope. That’s exactly how I want the end of the world to occur — while I’m unconscious.
Skipping the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and just waking up in hell is my idea of a perfectly acceptable send-off. Being “left behind” might actually be a good thing, since all the annoying people will be raptured up.
The wrinkle in this plan is what I’ll do if the end of the world (at least as we know it) is entirely a secular one? For example, something awful like a flesh-melting pandemic or an asteroid strike in Nebraska. The idea of wickedness being punished goes out the window, and I’m left having to face the aftermath of a collapsed world.
My immediate concerns would not be inconveniences — like Mom texting me in the middle of the night. I would happily dig through the rubble to find a generator to keep my wife and grandkids warm. Then it would be foraging in our ruined basement for food and water.
Parts of it might even be fun. For example, the idea of Sonny and me being able to shoot cannibals doesn’t sound half bad.
Since Friday’s earthquakes didn’t bring the end of the world, maybe we should consider them advance warnings. Preparation for “whatever” is key.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.