Most serious news organizations just covered the weird bird-falling-from-the-sky incident in Arkansas as a strange but natural occurrence to be examined by scientists and wildlife experts.**
Not when people with no direct knowledge of birds, fish or Arkansas can take those two unrelated events that took place 150 miles from each other and find a pattern. And by "pattern," I mean, "sign of the apocalypse."
Hey, when a quarter of Republicans think the president is the antichrist, why not? Plus the graphics department at CNN had that "Apocalypse Now?" graphic ready and waiting.
But who to talk to about whether birds falling from the sky was prophesied in Revelation? Sure, you could ask one of the hundreds of biblical scholars or religious studies professors around the country to comment, but as far as we know none of them ever starred in a hit family sitcom in the 80s.
Nope, instead the producers looked to Kirk Cameron, who has the brilliant qualifications of being a Christian himself (which, as everyone knows, makes you an instant expert on all religious texts) and the star of the trio of Christian films roughly based on the Left Behind series of books, themselves a premillennialist deviation from mainstream evangelical Protestant teachings.
(Sidenote: I once read one of the Left Behind books — actually, it was the spin-off children's version — while decamped on my sister's bed with a 104 degree fever. It went well with my pseudo-hallucinatory mental state, and I think it's the best way for the series to be consumed.)
Cameron himself seemed to object to being the mouthpiece for end times sensationalism — "Well, I first think that they ought to call a veterinarian, not me. You know, I'm not the religious-conspiracy-theorist go-to guy, particularly," — but then he proceeded to answer the question.
"I think it's really kind of silly to try to equate birds falling out of the sky with some kind of an end-times theory," he said, "That has to do more with pagan mythology; the direction that the birds flew told some of the followers of some of those legends that the gods were either pleased or displeased with them."
I think Cameron protests a little too much — he surely knew why he was being brought in to comment, and he managed to get a plug for his movie as a reward for playing along with the doomsday scenario.
I just expect a little more from Anderson Cooper. What's next, someone makes a mysterious archeological discovery and they call Angelina Jolie? Bring in Hugh Laurie for his opinions on vaccines and autism?
Next time, Anderson, you can just call me. I'm feeling a cold coming on, so I should be a Left Behind scholar by the middle of next week.
**And some of us made jokes about Angry Birds and a plague of hipsters.