As some of the more astute have noted, it's the people who really don't know squat about what they believe except for what they read in Left Behind paperbacks and hear on the radio, who are spazzing about the end of the world. The rest of us roll our eyes and keep going because there's always someone who says he's the second coming of whoever, and life just goes on, but I don't think where one's soul is at should be taken lightly.
For all the talk about it, none of them seem to be trying to save any souls from perdition in the meantime, and the lunacy of the very few gives my beloved cynics and pagans of distinction a golden opportunity to feel a bit smug about themselves, which can be funny, but usually gets old pretty fast.
Having heard all manner of conspiracy theory and speculation, and being a bit of a history geek, here's what they thought about what all that end of the world stuff would look like back then, what with all the comets, earthquakes, and political upheaval.
Babilon is fallen. Wherein briefly in vnfolded all the matters of greatest moment, which hath hapned from the rising of Iulius Cesar Emperor of Rome, to the present affaires (now) in Germany; and which shall ensue to the worlds end. Published according to the first copie, printed, Anno Dom. 1595
Christian information concerning these last times: Wherein all people may clearly see what prophesies the Holy Prophets prophesied of should come to pass: which of them is fulfilling, and which is fulfilled; and how the lowest part of the great image, that Daniel shewed to the King, is now a breaking to pouder, and by whom; whereby people may see, how very-near Antichrist, or the great whore of Babylon, is to her end. Also some prophetical passages gathered out of Jacob Behme's works, who prophesied and gave them forth, in the year, 1623. Concerning what should come to pass in these northern islands; and as he then declared them, they are now come to pass; and also what he said concerning the Turk, what he was, what he should do, and what should at last become of him. / Wrinten [sic] in the fifth month by F.E.
Englands second alarm to vvar, against the Beast. Saul, with his Edomite has shed blood to his power; he smites Israels city, and destroyes his owne house; overcame his people once, and overthrew himselfe for ever! It relates to what is done now. Grave questions touching the Edomite; his admission to court, and into office there; how it relates to papists now. He has a commission to destroy a city of priests, which he does with an utter destruction. Excellent reasons why the Lord suffered such a destruction to be executed upon Israel then; and why he suffers the same now; and why by an Edomites hand then and now
Great Britans [sic] alarm: discovering national sinns, and exhorting to reformation of life, and holiness, and courage in the battels of god against the Anti-christ, Magog, fourth-beast, eagle, King of Babilon, and Gog, and kings of east to bee fought by a lion, and fierce people of the north, which must burn the seat of Magog, and whole body of the eagle, and turn Gog the moon into blood according to the holy prophets predictions, and limitation of the beasts continuation and period, and hieroglyphical marks, and other descriptions of them al / collected, and knit together in this poëm by Christofer Syms Gent
A discourse on Antichrist, and the Apocalyps shewing that the number of the beast [chi xi sigma] ought not to be translated 666 but 42 only, that Christians have reigned a 1000 years, and that Mohamet is the grand Antichrist / by Richard Franklin
A looking-glass for the times being a tract concerning the original and rise of truth and the original and rise of Antichrist : showing by pregnant instances of Scripture, history, and other writings, that the principles and practices of the people called Quakers in this day and their sufferings are the same as were the principles and practices of Christ and His apostles ...
A perfect description of Antichrist, and his false prophet. [electronic resource] : Wherein is plainly shewed that Oliver Cromwell was Antichrist, and John Presbiter, or John Covenanter his false prophet. Written in the yeare, MDCLIV. By Abraham Nelson. And now published with an epistle to the Kings most excellent Majestie
A little vievv of this old vvorld, in tvvo books. I. A map of monarchy, wherein the state of the world is represen[t]ed under Kings, with their entrance, reign, and ends, from King Saul, to King Charls. II. An epitomy of papacy, vvherein is discovered the rise of Anti-christ, with the entrance, reign, and ends of the popes of Rome for 740 years, till the Pope was fully declared to be the Anti-christ. / A work fitted for the press five years agone, and now published, by Tho. Palmer, pastor of a Church of Christ in Nottingham
A plain and easie calculation of the name, mark, and number of the name of the beast. Wherein these three points are declared: first, the name (in the apocalyptical style) is no other, but the universal headship of the beast, opposed to the name, power, and headship of the lamb. Secondly, the number, in the same style, is the number of years to the setting up of this name or headship; in which respect it is called, the number of the name. Thirdly, the truth of the exposition is cleared, by agreement of all particulars, both in the text, and in the whole prophecy; and by the event of things, a sure interpreter of prophecy. / Humbly presented to the studious observers of scripture prophecies, God's work, and the times, by Nathaniel Stephens, minister of Fenny-Drayton in Leicestershire. Whereunto isprefixed, an commendatory epistle, written by Mr. Edm. Calamy
The great antichrist revealed, never yet discovered, and proved to be neither pope, nor Turk, nor any single person, nor any one monarch or tyrant in any polity but a collected pack, or multitude of hypocritical, heretical, blasphemous, and most scandalous wicked men that have fulfilled all the prophesies of the Scriptures ... and especially have united ... together by a solemn league and covenant to slay the two witnesses of God viz. the supreame magistrate of the Commonwealth, and the chief pastors and governors of the Church of Christ, and the Christian world is requested to judge whether [brace] the Assembly of Presbyterians, together with the independents, Anabaptists, and lay- preachers be not the false prophet ... and whether the prevalent faction of the long Parliament ... that killed the two witnesses of Jesus Christ , 1. Charles the First ... 2. William Laud ... be not the visible body of the same antichrist
'John the Revelator' is one of my favorite Blind Willie Johnson songs, and there's countless fantastic renditions of it all over. My first introduction to it was a long Phil Keaggy jam my dad had on CD when I was growing up, but this one with Jack White's ever-how-does-he-make-it-rock-so-damn-much guitar is pretty good too.