On the last day of the year 999, the old Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome was thronged with a mass of weeping and trembling worshipers awaiting the end of the world. The pope was there, and he was just as anxious as his flock that some cataclysmic act of God was at hand. When midnight came round and nothing happened it was said that his flock ran out into the streets of Rome, shouting and cheering and celebrating the fact that they were still alive. Well, most of them, anyway. Apocalyptic-ism has been around for a long time. It is in the Bible. The early Christian church, living under intense and often cruel persecution, fervently prayed for Jesus to return and bring to an end the horrific ordeal they were enduring in his name.