The opening this coming weekend of the world-ending apocalypse movie 2012 makes me wonder--what did Apocalypse look like in 1968? *There were many people--"many" may be a gross underestimate--in 1968 who thought that the year was full of evidence that the End Was Near. *I ran across this advertisement for . . . *for what? *On its surface, it's an ad for*The Plain Truth magazine, and a book, The Wonderful World Tomorrow, which was also the name of the radio show featuring evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong.
Born again-- in 1968?
"Garner Ted": *That great combination of names-- so redolent of all radio evangelists, of Southern good-ole-boys--has stuck with me all these years, though I didn't really remember who he was until I started this research. *(Unlikely that I would have remembered him from his appearances on Hee-Haw, the country-music knockoff of Laugh-In.) *Garner Ted's brand of evangelism calls to mind the "Born Again" movement, and evangelists Jerry Falwell, Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker-- in other words, something more associated with the 1970s, rather than the Sixties. But--here he is, Garner Ted, *in full cry in 1968, in a full-page, full-color ad in LIFE magazine, of all places, not something marginal and weird. *And he and his ministry (at the moment in partnership with his father, the even better-known Herbert W. Armstrong, a partnership that would go off the rails in just a few years) are seizing on the day's headlines to offer proof positive of the coming of the end times. Here are the opening salvos of the ad:
"It was never like this before"
"All of a sudden what's happened? It was never like this before.
"Unsafe to walk on streets--in city or in town! *Your house may be broken into if you're away! Crime rampant, even in residence areas!
"Student revolt in 20 countries--violence on campuses. *Disheveled hippies lolling about aimlessly.
"Unhappy marriages--increasing divorce-- juvenile delinquency! *WHY this sudden breaking down of family life?
"Racial strife, mass demonstrations, riots, looting, VIOLENCE! *And threat of nuclear war!"
. . . "Many scientists are frightened! *They and even military leaders are now using such phrases such as 'Armageddon'--and 'the end of the world.' *Humanity's BIG problem, now, is SURVIVAL!"
Here's a subject that's ripe for investigation: *the roots of 1970s charismatic Christianity, "televangelism," and the "born-again" movement in the Cold-War anxieties and social turmoil of the 1960s, especially the upheavals that came in 1968. * "Covering 1968" would be happy to hear any thoughts about this-- the sooner the bettter. *Time is running out.