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Whitman: Don't confuse 'Irmageddon' with Armageddon

By Sarah Whitman, Times Columnist

Irmageddon. The term really caught on before and after September's record storm. Appearing as everything from a hashtag to a news headline, Irmageddon took panic and made it a pun.

It's the kind of term people plaster on cheap hats for profit. The kind used to reference 'that time' when things got a little scary. Irmageddon belongs to the 'Let's make a joke so we don't cry,' crowd. And I get it.

There are fires and hurricanes, death missiles and social media accounts. Mankind's actions alone can make it seem our world is, to quote my late grandma, 'Headed to Hell in a handbasket.' But obsessing about the Apocalypse doesn't make it real.

David Speicher, pastor at South Bay Church in Riverview, addressed the topic post-Irma. A firm believer in the Biblical Revelation, he urged his congregation not to confuse today's tragedies with Apocalyptic events.

"I told them we didn't think it was the Apocalypse when Harvey hit Houston, it wasn't even a thought, but when a storm comes at us we start thinking it's the end times," said Speicher, who will deliver a series of sermons on Armageddon through October.

"Calamities happen all the time all over the world. The Bible says when it is the Apocalypse people will shake their fists at God and blame him. If you look at things now, people aren't blaming God, they are reaching out and helping one another. They are showing love."

Following Irma, Speicher delivered donations to those hit in the Florida Keys. Multiple Hillsborough County churches helped with relief efforts. When Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the same churches made plans to assist in any way possible.

Whether we study Revelation or physicist Neil Degrasse Tyson, at this moment, we remain on earth together. We need to retire the 'End is Near' signs and take care of each other because, like it or not, humans may not go the way of the dinosaurs. The rapture might hold off. This may be the end times. But it may just be the beginning.

My children are one and four years old, if the globe keeps spinning, they could see the year 2100. If so, they will need fresh air and kindness. If people give up now, in 2017, what world will my grandchildren inherit?

Every generation contemplates Armageddon. Like us, our ancestors experienced war and disaster, hunger and sickness. They shouted 'Anti-Christ' and got it wrong.

David Meade, a Christian numerologist, predicted the end of days to begin Sept. 23, 2017. If it's Sept. 24 and you are reading this column unfazed, he evidently missed the mark. If you are scoffing at me from a doomsday bunker, well, okay then.

Contact Sarah Whitman at [email protected]