By and large, the people crowing about said irreversible finality aren't the types who are easily dismissed for their inherent flakiness. They don't generally truck in doomsday scenes. They don't fall easily off their posts or flap in the doctrinal winds.
The whole thing gives me uneasy pause, even as I pray for steady words of counsel to grant.
Without a doubt, it's hip to be hopeless. The Obama Thing was so 2008, and with nearly three months under our belt in 2009, we find the bottomless economic debacle of the moment a bizarre kind of counterbalance: so that positive aspirations are positively outre. Maybe it's just the collective theater of imagination, Jung's constancy of the subconscious, sitting on the chest of Hope and poking at his throat.
(I guess I'm not hip, then, as I have long tended to view my own situation as a daily exercise in pragmatic and constructive problem-solving. Even when things may have seemed particularly hopeless, faith and patience have generally won the day.)
Would that it were not so, but some of this appears to be rooted in the year 2012, and of the endless speculation that's already running us up to then. And if we find ourselves in it now, it's surely going to get worse -- er, more intense, over the next three years.
Between now and then, look for end-of-the-world scenarios to garner increasing exposure. Our friends at Columbia Pictures have located the anxiety taproot and are assembling a snappy-looking film called "2012" whose trailer features a Buddhist monastery at the top of the world getting cold-cocked by a wall of water. I know, It's probably only a big-budget, high-effects disaster film like The Day After Tomorrow. But Hollywood can anticipate and package paranoia in prescient ways.
Probably the most responsible Christian response for the moment is to get well grounded in the best-known authorship studies of the apocalyptic literature, even while boning up on the 2012 hubub. We need to have a faithful, generous, and scholarly context laid forth for those of us who don't use things like Revelation and Daniel to scare the beJesus into people. Rationality doesn't win in the face of immediate panic. It takes time to build.
In any event, if you're in ministry, you should expect inquiries.