IS DOOMSDAY coming? Or Armageddon, as religious zealots call it? In other words, the end of the world as we know it?
That's what millions of Americans believe -- that the Mideast crisis is fulfilling religious prophecies that the last big shootout will begin in that part of the world.
The warning is being spread by preachers, alleged religious scholars, radio talk-show hosts and guys who stand on busy street corners waving signs that say: "Repent, The End Is Near."
To try to understand this, I consulted Dr. I.M. Kookie, the noted expert on lots of stuff, who is also called the Prophet Kookie in his capacity as the head of the Church of Asylumism.
As some readers know, the Church of Asylumism teaches that man appeared on this planet when an amazingly advanced civilization in another galaxy rounded up its loonies, misfits and troublemakers and sent them here in spaceships. This planet was to serve as a mental asylum. The word "Earth," in that culture's language, means "loony bin."
All of this has been revealed in "The Book of Kook," known informally as the "Kook Book." As Keeper of the Kook Book, he is also known as the Head Kook.
In a recent interview with The Prophet Kookie, we asked him if there is any substance to all the predictions of Doomsday, Armageddon and other scary prophecies.
"Yes, in the Book of Kook there is a word for this. It is called Noddegamra."
Noddegamra? I have never heard of that before. What is it?
"Armageddon is Noddegamra spelled backward. I told you, those dingbats on the spaceships couldn't get anything right. Just like doof."
What is doof?
"Food is doof spelled backward. They got that wrong, too. The only words they didn't goof up are mom and dad."
But what does Noddegamra mean?
"In the language of the far-off civilization that dumped man here, it means: 'When the inmates take over the asylum, boy-oh-boy, watch out!'"
Is that what we now see happening in the Mideast? Is this the beginning of Noddegamra?
"Nah, it's been going on for a long time. There have been signs and omens and all that stuff for years."
"You mean besides the routine evils of war, pestilence, famine and people trying to sneak to the head of the line?"
"Oh, there have been lots of terrible warning signs. I've been seeing them for a long time."
What are they?
"Well, there is the car telephone and the portable beeper. And the designated hitter. And Astro Turf and the plastic Christmas tree. When they came in, you could see that demented minds were taking complete control and that Noddegamra was starting. And putting ketchup on hot dogs was a real ominous symptom. But I think the real tip-off came many years ago."
The first nuclear bomb?
"No, it was when they started shaving poodles."
"Yes. That's a very nice dog, you know. It's not a drooler. But when they started shaving it and leaving a poof here and a poof there, I could see that Noddegamra was on the way. And now we have heavy metal, so I know it's here."
"Sure. In the Book of Kook, it says: 'Yea, and ye shall make ye self deaf as a rock, ye yahoo, ye.'"
But what about some of the other prophecies? There are those who say that as part of Armageddon, Jesus will return. The Second Coming.
"Why would he want to come back? After the way he was treated? I'll tell you what: Take some of those preachers who are saying that and put them up on a cross and hammer some nails in their hands and feet and stick some thorns on their heads and hold a crap game for their clothes, then ask them: 'Hey, mac, you want to come back to this neck of the woods sometime?' You know what they'll say?"
"They'll say: 'I demand the right to see my attorney.'"
And what about the prophecy that 75 percent of the world's population will die?
"That isn't an accurate number. I figure that it will be closer to 100 percent."
That's horrifying. When?
"Oh, between today and the next 120 years. Happens all the time. Check your obit page. But if you don't smoke and lay off the cholesterol, you can string it out a little."
Then you don't expect it to happen in one big flash of flame and cloud of smoke, as the Armageddon crowd is predicting?
"No, that's not the way it is written in the Book of Kook."
How is it written?
"It says: 'Yea, and ye shall go as if pecked to death by ducks.'"