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Wanted: The Lord is Coming

The end of the world has been announced on an empty road in the north of Moscow. That is where the advert for looks out from high up on a metal pole.

It says “Gospod Gryadet” in Russian, or “The Lord is Coming,” and a date: May 21, 2011, or Saturday week.

If you are not too up on biblical language or themes, then the web site tells you in clearer terms. For this they use upper caps, but my ears can’t take the shouting: “The End of the World is Almost Here.”

There is also a note that says the radio station can be picked up on Eutelsat and Astra, which is ridiculously naive of the advertisers as everybody knows you can’t get satellite installed in less than two weeks in Moscow.

The ad’s spot on Ulitsa Alabyana is a good place to choose, as when you stand looking up at it, you can hear the earth moving and the sound of an abyss opening up beside you — which is pretty much what the people behind the ad promise most of us, although this is merely the sound of a huge and rather pointless tunnel being built that goes under Leningradsky Prospekt. Hence the lack of witnesses to the warning.

This is not a targeted campaign aimed at the good people of north Moscow but one that has spread all over the United States, although those adverts use the more starker words “Judgment Day,” and in dozens of foreign countries too.

Family Radio is a broadcast ministry based in Oakland, California, whose founder Harold Camping has worked out mathematically from the Bible when the world ends. Twice.

The first time he warned of the end of the world was in 1994, but this time his mathematical calculations have “given us proof that the year 2011 is the end of the world,” the web site says.

God, he says, warned Noah that the judgment would occur in seven days, which he extrapolates into seven millennia later — or the fateful May 21.

I was once in the Penza region where members of a doomsday sect holed themselves up in a hill awaiting the end of the world. It was a windswept, miserable end of the world kind of place but it was three years ago and the world still turns. The head of the sect, who had said that it was better for him not to go underground, went on to whack himself upside the head with a log when the end of the world did not occur.

Rather like the proposed end date for construction of the Alabyana tunnel, there is a fear and a hope the Camping’s date will also be extended.

A friendly person in the advertising company who placed the advert said the Family Radio ad had been up since the start of May. They have booked the ad space until the end of May.

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