When Christian fundamentalists opened their eyes last Saturday evening, only to find that nothing, (at least there in their living rooms,) had changed, non-believers felt suddenly and gleefully exalted. In an unexpected twist, the sinners had been enraptured -- at least metaphorically speaking -- while their devout counterparts had kept their feet planted firmly on Earth.
After all, the End of the World looks quite sexy on the Internet. By Friday, all five of Google's top searches had something to do with the Rapture. Comedians wrote their bucket lists. Facebook invitations flew for Doomsday barbeques. And happy cynics carefully arranged their clothes in public and private spaces, as if they had miraculously, and nakedly, disappeared. Take, for example, this one:
(If he had cracked the beer, he would have stayed.)
The American public, it turned out, was far more taken by Judgment Day than by the floods on the Mississippi or Iceland's erupting Grimsvotn volcano. And if the Missouri tornado had hit exactly a day earlier, it may have had a tougher race to A1 in the New York Times.
In fact, while millions ogled and pranked Rapture believers, the West was already burning. By Sunday, an early-season fire in Southwestern New Mexico had charred 80,000 acres, and in West Texas the tally was up to over 1.5 million, the region's worst wildfires in years. Then there were mudslides in Utah, fatal avalanches in Colorado's Front Range, and floods along the Wyoming and Montana border.
Were they acts of God? Some -- at least the Rapturists -- may say so. But after a rather apocalyptic weekend, there's some comfort in knowing that most of us are, luckily, still here.
Sierra Crane-Murdoch is an intern at High Country News.
Photo courtesy of Gizmodo.