When I finally got Doyel Shamley on the phone, I was pleasantly surprised.

I was in New York, planning what I jokingly referred to as my “doomsday vacation.” I have always been fascinated with The End as a cultural phenomenon, but seldom has this interest been more topical than right now, at the tail of 2012.

The 2012 Phenomenon belongs to a much larger condition, one that became the theme of my travelogue. Millennialism, the idea that history is playing out in a straight line, from creation to a definite end point, has been an important current of thought in American life at least since the German Pietist and mystic Johannes Kelpius brought his faithful to Pennsylvania to await the arrival of Heaven on earth in 1694. It’s the one thing that unites the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Heaven’s Gate, Singularity buffs, Rastafarians, televangelists like Jack Van Impe, and pretty much anyone that spends an unhealthy amount of time uploading rants to YouTube.