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Work of Art: Armageddon tired of waiting

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By Art Trujillo

It would have been great if people who predict the end of the world had been a wee bit more accurate. Even though the prediction of the coming rapture was a few ticks off, it certainly drew a lot of attention.

Presbyterian Pastor Randy Campbell, for one, opened his Sunday sermon by announcing, “I’m here!” Doubtless many others said the same thing.

The gentleman who predicted that on May 21, a fifth of a billion Christians would be taken to heaven, California preacher Harold Camping, also said that those of us left behind, would suffer a living hell on earth.

Camping, whose independent ministry runs Family Radio International, admits he felt terrible that the prophecy didn’t come true. It was an expensive — well into the millions — venture, mainly through 5,000 billboards around  the country.

The prognosticating man of the cloth ought to do his homework better. This isn’t his first such miscalculation. Remember back in 1994 when what Camping called a “mathematical error” prevented the Apocalypse? Isn’t there an expression, about “once burnt, twice wary”?

It’s beginning to resemble the story of the boy who cried wolf. He did it so often that when a real  wolf was about to pounce, nobody paid attention to the kid’s cries. In Camping’s case, how can we believe it this time?

Can those who were around w-a-y back in the ‘40s remember the threats and promises of the end of the world? As a member of the super-malleable, super-gullible crowd in fourth or fifth grade at Immaculate Conception School, I did what I could to prepare for the final days. At that time, the A-Bomb put the fear into us.

And that fear would be compounded by a guest lecturer, a Christian brother, who came in to present a series of lectures on Armageddon. Some of us boys became entranced by his lectures, delivered wide-eyed to punctuate his points.

We’d get together after school to give impromptu reactions to what Brother Mike had said. And though we assured one another that the end of the world couldn’t happen in little Las Vegas, as we fanned out in different directions, I suspect, we each wondered, “What if he’s right?”

And end-of-the-world thoughts permeated the consciousness of many during the cold war of the ‘60s. Our nemesis then was the U.S.S.R.

A USA Today article on the predicting preacher mentions that the overwhelming majority of Christians reject the notion of the end of the world in our lifetimes, especially in light of the futility of predicting an exact day.

And yet, an army of Camping supporters appeared crestfallen when the big event failed to materialize.

I wonder if the preacher is familiar with the words in Matthew 24:36: “But about that day or hour, no one knows.”

Camping’s Family Radio empire recently reported $18.3 million in donations, plus another $34 million in other assets. One would think that with that kind of capital, Camping and his followers could be a bit more precise. We’ll need to prepare, to charge up our laptops and iPhones.

Well, maybe it’ll happen next time. But for now, Armageddon tired of this topic.

• • •

They’ve all ready spoiled it for all of us. The way they spell is all together outrageous.

Let me explain:

There’s a school, National American University, located in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho and in a dozen states. Maybe they’ll set up a branch near here and make it an extension of Tecolote Tech University. But lest I appear to offend the wonderful people just south of Las Vegas, let me point out that we heard of TTU five or six decades ago, and we used it as an affectionate term for any school located in a small town.

But back to the spoilage. NAU runs a TV spot in which a little ditty says, “Set yourself free ... National American University.” And another spot, which I just recently watched, contains the tuneful words, “One day, one night, Saturday’s alright ... National American University.”

May be those of us who love the language and accordingly would like to protect it ought to cave in and say, “If that’s the best you can do, you may spell ‘all right’ anyway you wish, even ‘alright.’” Afterall, you’re only a university; proper spelling is merely a suggestion; it’s alright with us.”

Words with slightly different meanings and similar spellings often give people trouble. “All right” and “alright” often are interchanged, as are “already” and “all ready” and “all together” and “altogether.”

Now, except for “alright,” which doesn’t exist except in the minds of texters and ad copy designers for NAU, the others are real words.

In brief, then, “alright” isn’t a word, even if it’s part of the lyrics of a Rolling Stones hit and even if — and this point is quite difficult to concede — a Webster’s New World release calls it “disputed spelling” for “all right.”

“Altogether,” meaning “totally,” and “all together,” meaning “all in one place,” certainly are part of the lexicon; so are “already,” meaning “before” or “by now,” and “all ready,” which means “prepared” or “entirely ready.”

It’s just that word — “alright” — that ages language cops.

We can expect the good folks at National American University to accelerate the acceptance of previously loathed spellings. Let’s not forget: NAU is only a university.

And cell-phone texters will also do their share to dumb-down the language. It might come soon. But I hope it doesn’t happen before Oct. 21, for that’s really the day the world’s going to end, according to Camping.

And that’s alright with me.

• • •

This column has a number of what my English teacher would call “glaringly egregious errors,” particularly regarding the all ready/already and alright/all right matter. I do know the difference. Just wanted to get into the spirit of NAU-type language usage.

Art Trujillo is a copy editor at the Optic and a contributing member of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. He may be reached by calling 425-6796 or by e-mail to artbt@rezio.net or atrujillo@lasvegasoptic.com.