New York, New Jersey Earthquake, and Eclipse: End Times?


Sun and moon stand still (Joshua 10), woodcut, published 1835

As you may have experienced or heard on Twitter, an earthquake in New Jersey rattled New York City and the surrounding area. My cats were very upset, as was I, because I have a crushing anxiety disorder and thought I was about to die in a nuclear explosion. But we have survived, and now I and the aforementioned disorder must query this: Is this the End Times? As Intelligencer’s official Rapture correspondent, I have to admit I’m concerned. We had floods earlier this week. A solar eclipse is imminent, as is a plague of locusts. Eric Adams is the mayor. It’s all very troubling!

And so I return to the Scriptures for guidance, as if the earth shook the atheism right out of me. The Book of Revelation mentions earthquakes quite a lot. For example, in chapter eight: “And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.” And later, in chapter 16: “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.”

Some of us might be tempted to call this a great quake, depending on what we were doing when it happened.

The combination of earthquake and eclipse really is something, I have to admit. Interesting fact: The eclipse will be visible in Rochester, New York, the heart of the old burned-over district — named as such for the religious movements that once originated there with great frequency. My in-laws live nearby … perhaps it’s time for me to start a new religious movement, as I have threatened to do since my graduation from a glorified Bible college. The Buffalo Bills will undoubtedly play a central role. In truth, I am qualified for little else. Writer or cult leader: Those were my options.

I chose the far less lucrative profession, though, and so I must be honest with you. I’m not sure our 4.8-magnitude tremor meets the standards set by Revelation. Not to downplay everyone’s feelings, of course. We all need something to talk about. We are all desperate for a distraction from work. But I did not hear any voices, and we all seem to be alive, so I think that divine judgment might not be upon us. Yet. Look, if you grew up the way I did (isolated and Evangelical in the American South), then you know from countless pastors that the End Times has been on the way since Christ returned to heaven. Maybe Friday’s earthquake changes little. Maybe it’s just a little nudge from God — to read your dang Bible, or text your ex, or whatever. God! He’s such a diva.

Not that I believe any of that, of course. The earthquake is over, and I’m an atheist again. For now. Let’s see how those locusts shape up.

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