The World As We Knew It Has Been Left Behind
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    'End of the world' isn't the end of the world

    By Todd Leopold

    (CNN) -- On October 22, 1844, a man named William Miller gathered his followers -- many of whom had sold all their earthly possessions -- and awaited the end of the world, as he had predicted months earlier.

    The end did not come. The event was soon termed the "Great Disappointment." Part of the group later became the Seventh Day Adventists. The world went on.

    On December 31, 1999, the odometer turned over on the millennium. People, primed for a Y2K computer glitch and terrorist activities, worried something dramatic would happen. But the calendar changed to 2000 without a hitch. The world went on.

    On September 11, 2001, jetliners pierced the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington. The New York buildings collapsed, 3,000 people died, and Web sites trumpeted the predictions of Nostradamus and concerns Armageddon was at hand. But it's more than two years later and the world, though sadder and more aware of terrorist tactics and possibilities, has gone on.

    On March 30, 2004, the 12th and final book in Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins' "Left Behind" series, "Glorious Appearing" (Tyndale House), will be published. Bookstores may rock and cash registers may rumble, but the world, almost certainly, will go on.

    Many members of the human race, it seems, have a craving to be present when the end comes -- whether it's out of a belief that they'll go to heaven or, perhaps, just to be able to say, "I was there."