Since last December Balladeer’s Blog has been featuring some of the crackpot end of the world scares of the past in honor of the latest big-time fraud, the December 21st, 2012 “Mayan Apocalypse”. Since this is the Big Day here’s a look at how persistently foolish human beings are when it comes to end of the world hysteria. The Millerites stand as an all-time tribute to the way large numbers of people can be persuaded to believe ANYTHING and keep on believing it no matter how many times it’s proven false.
WILLIAM MILLER was the most famous and tenacious “Prophet of Doom” from the 1800’s and his thousands of followers were known as Millerites. Miller, who was born in 1782, was originally an atheist, but later in life began intensely studying the Biblical books of Revelation and Daniel. By 1831 he began issuing warnings about the imminent end of the world but few paid attention. That changed in 1841 when Miller correctly predicted a shower of shooting stars and followed this up by accurately predicting comet sightings later.
Now possessing what some regarded as credibility William Miller began attracting chumps – I mean disciples – who bought into his prediction of the End Times. Miller even persuaded the New York Herald to run his prophecy that the world would end on April 3rd, 1843. Conveniently, Prophet Miller sold specially- made “Ascension Robes” that he promised would facilitate the wearer’s ascent to Heaven when the end came. Belief that the dead would enter Heaven first prompted scattered suicides and a few murders on the part of fanatics believing they were hastening loved ones to God’s kingdom by killing them. One Millerite attached turkey wings to his arms and tried to fly to Heaven, but succeeded only in falling and fracturing one of his arms.
APRIL 3RD, 1843- Thousands of true believers climbed hilltops throughout New England, waiting for the end of the world (see what I did there). By evening nothing had happened but suddenly a blaring sound was heard, convincing many that the angel Gabriel’s trumpet had sounded, kicking off the end. It turned out to be the local village idiot (insert your own Michael Moore joke here) blowing a horn as a joke. Like any good religious nut William Miller was completely unmoved by this real-life exposure of his irrational beliefs and simply moved the date for the end of the world up to July 7th, 1843.
JULY 7TH, 1843 – Luckily Miller still had plenty of white Ascension Robes to sell (whew, how fortunate) and plenty more gullible Millerites willing to buy them. As a new bit of idiocy this time around plenty of the Prophet of Doom’s followers dug graves for themselves and their entire families and patiently waited in them on the designated day, some in coffins they had bought. The world did not end, however, so, while his disciples clambered up out of their freshly-dug graves Miller simply moved the date for the end up to March 21st, 1844.
MARCH 21ST, 1844 – Thousands of Millerites once again waited for their religious leader’s prophecy to come true. Showing an amazing level of shrewdness for such dim-witted zealots, this time around Miller’s followers chose to simply wait for the end of the world in graveyards rather than buy coffins and dig graves for themselves. And you thought they were stupid! They continued to buy Ascencion Robes, however, so the bucks kept rolling in for the Prophet of Doom. By sheer coincidence a heavy thunderstorm actually broke out in the New England states on March 21st, raising the hopes of the Millerites that the end was finally nigh! It wasn’t, of course, but William Miller was undeterred and simply moved up the date for the end of the world to October 22nd, 1844.
OCTOBER 22ND, 1844 – At their height the Millerites numbered roughly 100,000, believe it or not, and on this date the Prophet of Doom’s followers once again dutifully climbed the hills of New England and waited for the end. This go-round’s winner of the Stupidest Millerite award goes to a farmer who actually brought his cows along dressed in white Ascension Robes. His reason was that “It’s a very long trip to Heaven and the kids will want milk.” He’s allllwaaaays thinking, that one! The world STILL stubbornly refused to end, however.
Believe it or not, this time the Millerites were steamed. Saying to themselves “Fool us once, shame on you, fool us FOUR TIMES shame on us” they disbanded. Some of the recovering Millerites formed the religious following known as the Seventh-Day Adventists but thousands remained faithful to William Miller, who spent the rest of his life predicting the imminent end of the world and earning a fortune from the sale of his specially-made white Ascenscion Robes. This story sort of serves as a microcosm of ALL religious movements and the types of people who gravitate to them.
Well, this wraps up my examination of Apocalyptic Eschatology, at least until the next end of the world scare we have!
FOR MORE END OF THE WORLD MYTHS CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/end-of-the-world-myths/
© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.