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End Time is a preoccupation of nearly every religion on Earth. Though the religions disagree about what the Almighty's name is and what language He would like us to worship Him in, they all agree that He created Earth and everyone and everything upon it.
The world's religions believe that creation was part of a giant game against Satan. In the current generation, however, The Dark Lord has just "seen" God's bet and raised Him $10. God is looking down at His motley cards (That would be: us) and is deciding whether to fold: to discard His creation in a heap, turn over all His chips to Satan, and remove an article of His clothing.
Signs of the End Times
The world's religions are also united in believing that End Time will be accompanied by signs. They are divided down the middle as to what these signs will be. Devout believers want to understand the signs of the End Times, so that they can arrange to be somewhere else when the world ends.
In the world's major religions
Christians believe that like an airline, God delays events, but they will arrive eventually. (For example, Christians believe that all airplanes reach their destinations. Even when the top of a building has become the destination.)
After this, disagreement is common. Churches call these heresies and schisms. Christians believe that, like a thief in the night, the coming of the Raptor (often mistranslated "rapture") will signal the beginning of the Alpacalypse (on which more below). During the coming of Raptor Jesus those with the most blessed livers (sometimes souls) will be giving direct entry into Heaven by being voraciously consumed. The remainder with the fouler livers will endure titanic struggles. The survivors and those eaten by Raptor will inherit a brave new world of Heaven on Earth, a world where you will be able to see Dad again, and continue haranguing him to write you back into his will.
Muslims are rather more enthusiastic about the End Time because, as Rodney Dangerfield put it at the end of Caddyshack, "We're all going to get laid!" There will be 86 virgins waiting for each deceased Muslim (though some translations put it at 86 raisins, which is merely an average night of Trick-or-Treating). Muslims do not look for signs of the End Time, as it is indicated more by one's personal behavior. It generally suffices to kill a dozen Jews at a supermarket or train station.
Fundamentalist Mormons have it backwards from Islam, as they believe that people can live as gods in the afterlife provided that they have gotten married to 86 virgins while on earth. This is hard to do nowadays, even in Utah. Mainstream Mormons only insist that a man take a single wife, as it is hard to get people to play a game that no one can win.
Many Baptists believe that, when God returns to Earth at the End Times, he will take only a limited number of souls with him. This confirms the worst fears of most of us: God grades on a curve. There are only a few hundred slots in Heaven, and nearly a thousand official saints. The fact that everyone knows he is not going to make the cut may explain why so many good Baptists sleep around on Saturday night in the Southern United States.
Judaism is the only major religion that is not interested in detecting portents of the End Times. It is instead preoccupied with making money and keeping the front lawn better-groomed than those of the neighbors. Should the End Times begin while they are weeding dandelions, they wear things like tefillin with key pieces of scripture sewn inside. Otherwise, God will not know who the good guys are.
Unitarians don't have to have any opinion on the End Times, except that a coming apocalypse is something that it is really important for everyone to think about and talk about and develop an informed opinion on etc.
Horsemen of the Alpacalypse
The different views above are mere squabbles, because the world's religious agree that, at the true Start Time of the End Time, will appear the Four Riders of the Alpacalypse (Death, War, Famine, and Herpes). Despite the cuddly nature of the soft-furred alpaca, not to mention the slow pace of travel on alpaca-back, all peoples of the world will know that fate is nigh, just like in a scary Tolkien movie, at least the CGI scenes. For these evil horsemen answer to none other than the Leviathan, the Behemoth, the Terminator, Terminator II if available, none other than the aNTI-cHRIST.
This reaper of men's souls takes no prisoners, which is just as well, as it's not exactly Three Square Meals in his prison. But before the final struggle between himself 'n' God, he pulls out the cosmic Change History. And he begins to hum:
- ♪♪ I've got a big list ♪♪
- ♪♪ I'm checking it twice ♪♪
- ♪♪ I'm gonna find out who's naughty and nice! ♪♪
This is no jolly Saint Nick, despite that red-and-white nightgown. And the people of Earth will have one last chance to make up hurried excuses for each traffic ticket and fart at the dinner table, before it is all over and the End Time ends.
Other End Times
In Association football, there is a portion of the game in which the game is almost over. Only, no one knows what it is. End Time in football may be extended by Injury Time. The referee may nervously look at his wristwatch. Suddenly, it is Extra Time.
In American football, in contrast, everyone knows when End Times have begun, as well as what everyone's Quarterback Rating is and how much money every viewer's fantasy team has won. Because there are clocks everywhere, all of them counting down to zero. There are also ample other signs of this temporal Apocalypse; namely, a half dozen three-minute commercial breaks.