The Millennium ... for Members Only

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ADI IGNATIUSBy now, everyone has heard about the apocalypsos hunkering down in their remote retreats with oversized containers of baked beans and ketchup (Armageddon-lovers size), convinced that the year 2000 will bring chaos and, with a bit of luck, the end of the world. But not all doomsday cults are alike. Indeed, so many jittery groups are counting down to the millennium (only 330 shopping days to the Last Judgment!) that it's hard to keep track. Here's a helpful guide to some of the lesser-known sects and their guiding philosophies. Watchers of the Clock. This group combines cult-like faith with strict rationality. For years, followers have spent their days fiddling with slide rules, trying to work out the precise moment of the new millennium's dawn. After correcting for several critical mistakes that chroniclers have made since the time of Jesus of Nazareth, the Watchers now assert that, based on irrefutable mathematical formulae, the world will come to an end some time in 1995. Pippen! This sect notes with wonder and elation the uncanny likeness between DreamWorks studio's young Moses in The Prince of Egypt and American basketball star Scottie Pippen. They believe the former Chicago Bulls' forward will appear, probably in cartoon form, to lead mankind to the new promised land, perhaps in time for next year's Christmas releases. The Blessed Expectorants. This particularly frightening cult believes that the devil resides within us all but can be discharged through violent sneezing. Perched high in the Swiss Alps, members are already piercing the mountain calm with horrifying cleansing eruptions, followed by equally lusty cries of God Bless You! Divine Sign. This group holds that the texts of certain advertising slogans are in fact divinely inspired. It practices ritual sacrifices of humans and animals who haven't got milk and relies for post-apocalypse guidance on the deity Volvo: Protect the Body. Ignite the Soul. Divine Sign adherents plan to usher in Judgment Day by spending the final New Year's Eve ingesting large quantities of Viagra: Let the dance begin.PAGE 1|
God's Messenger. These folks are convinced that the frequently drawn bearded man wearing the placard proclaiming the end of the world will in fact appear in the flesh next Jan. 1 to rule the universe. The cult nearly disintegrated last year, however, when members spent weeks worshipping, first, a stray from a Paris picket line and, subsequently, a sandwich seller in Seattle, Washington. BeelzeBubba. Also known as The One True Starr, this entirely reasonable group maintains that U.S. President Bill Clinton is actually Satan's physical expression on Earth. Its members spend most waking moments trying to smite, and ultimately defrock, the American Princeling of Darkness. The spectacular failure of such efforts so far, however, has prompted many of the cult's members to refocus their attentions on bringing about a speedy end of the universe, to help give meaning to their long years of dedicated work. The Church of Eschatology. Its followers assume that life as we know it will indeed end on Jan. 1, 2000 and adheres to fundamentalist Christian expectations that the Last Judgment will include the resurrection of the dead. Believers are said to be particularly concerned about the possible re-emergence of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and a largish flying water bug that one sect member spent hours chasing around his room before finally squashing in 1967. The Numeracy. This cult believes the Y2K computer bug will place all of mankind in dire physical danger. Next Jan. 1, members expect, computers will begin discharging endless streams of 0s and 1s into the atmosphere. Especially dangerous will be planes that dare to fly that day, since the 0s and 1s that their computers expel are sure to do serious damage by the time they hit the ground. Followers plan to protect themselves by donning helmets and shoulderpads and wearing T shirts emblazoned with the transcendental number.As this list should make evident, the Armageddon crowd ain't playing with a full deck. Anyone with common sense should steer clear of their enticements. My advice: start climbing the nearest mountain until you find the guy with the long beard sitting in the lotus position. He's usually pretty good on all this stuff.|2