January 15, 2009
Congratulations. You made it through 2008. You’ve weathered economic upheaval, possible black holes, and the Mets’ underachieving for a second straight season. So you can relax now, right?
Not so fast.
According to some prognosticators — including the ancient Mayan calendar and NASA — the world will end in 2012.
With more than three years to go, there’s no excuse not to prepare, according to the authors of two recent books.
Rob Kutner, a writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, offers helpful hints on getting by in Apocalypse How (Running Press), while ersatz Doomsday financial experts Steve and Evie Levy (better known to the tax collector as Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman), take a more religious approach in How To Profit From the Coming Rapture: Getting Ahead When You’re Left Behind (Little, Brown).
Jews, in particular, should pay attention, because, according to Christian theology, there’s no way they’re going anywhere when the End times come.
Ready, set, glow
Rob Kutner has his “go bag” packed, but where will there be to go?
Photo courtesy Rob Kutner
Kutner already has his “go bag” prepared. He’s got the bottled water, the emergency cash, and the hand-cranked radio. The last item came as a gift from Comedy Central in the wake of 9/11. “It was thoughtful and creepy at the same time,” he said in a telephone interview.
He had hoped the announcement of the Large Hadron collider — the particle accelerator that was scheduled to be tested by European scientists last September with the possible consequence of ending life on Earth — would boost sales of his book, although he acknowledged that would be a win-lose situation. “I prefer the slow-burning apocalyptic model,” he said.
Among the bits of advice proffered in Apocalypse How: “What to expect when you’re exploding”; a questionnaire on “Should You Stay or Should You Flee?”; and the ever-important “Sex, Love, and Dating: What if You ARE the Last Man on Earth?”
But the day of reckoning does have an upside in its great shopping opportunities, Kutner said, “Better than wholesale. That cliche will actually outlast the Apocalypse, that’s how enduring that is.”
“I’m a naturally morbid personality,” he said. “It might be a Jewish thing. There’s always that sense of impending doom that’s hard-wired into our DNA. On the other hand, the Jewish response is to sort of laugh your way out of that, the whole ‘laughter to tears model,’ to put all those anxieties and fears in their place by being ironic about it.”
And who other than a Jew could do a better job with such a project? “We’re the ultimate experts on survival.”
Kutner, 36, said the most fun part of writing the book was “the fact that I got to read all the comic books and science fiction books and watch all these movies and tell my wife it was research. And take it as a tax write-off.”
He envisioned his work as an animated TV program “or one of those film strips they used to show in public school…. I’ve already invested in some celluloid that will burn out in the middle of the presentation.”
Barbara Davilman and Ellis Weiner, aka Evie and Steve Levy
Photo courtesy Ellis Weiner
Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman take a more practical approach in How To Profit From the Coming Rapture, which considers, among other things, real estate, investments, and how to maximize your short-term returns (since there won’t really be a long-term) according to events as described in detail in the New Testament.
Weiner and Davilman have put their Yiddishe kops together with such previous books as How To Raise a Jewish Dog and Yiddish with George and Laura. Talking with them from their California home is a dizzying affair, as they “channel” the Levys in response to questions about the End Times. “We thought it would be more fun and we would be free to speculate if we had pseudonyms,” said Weiner, before summoning his doppelganger for the bulk of the interview.
“The Rapture is always eminent,” said Steve Levy. “It will come without any particular signs or precursors, so the [current] financial meltdown sort of has nothing to do with [it]. We’re telling people how to invest and start businesses based on future events that we’ve learned are going to happen based on our research into this extremely Christian belief.”
“Jews will definitely be among those left behind when the Rapture comes, along with Catholics, Buddhists, and Muslims,” said Davilman/Evie Levy, so their book will have “a large audience.”
“The one thing that had to happen — and that did happen — is the creation of the State of Israel,” Steve said. “That’s what starts the clock ticking,” said Evie. “And that’s why everyone is so pro-Israel…”
“…Until such time as Jesus comes back and throws them all in the fire. But that’s much later,” said Steve.
“There’s no timetable. That’s the genius of it: Everyone has to remain on their toes at all times,” according to Evie.
Steve said they were just the financial/theological experts; Weiner and Davilman were the writers. “The book is sort of Rapture for Dummies.”
Reverting to her own persona, Davilman said the idea came to them because of an influx of evangelical Christians in public office, including President George W. Bush. “Everyone came out of the closet and out of the dark.
“One of the impulses behind our book was when you really pay attention to this stuff and look specifically into what they believe — you can’t believe it. It’s so sadistic and so arbitrary…that I think writers, especially comedy writers, sort of give it two minutes of their attention and they get completely absorbed. These beliefs, which used to be sensibly on the fringe, were placed front and center in the last eight years.
“I will defend to the death your right to believe [in anything], but once you impose those beliefs and cross over into the government and the laws of my land, then all bets are off,” she said.
“A fundamentalist is a fundamentalist, across they board, including those Jews in Israel who are trying to breed a flawless red heifer in order to bring on the Moshiach,” said Weiner.
The authors host a companion website that features a series of “Rapture Financial Minute” videos at www.profitfromthecomingrapture.com. The site prominently displays a handy countdown to the big moment. As of this writing, there are only 1,431 shopping days left.