Lots of people take up hobbies when they retire—gardening, carpentry, music lessons, painting. William Tapley, retired furniture engineer of Forestport, NY, took up being a Biblical prophet of doom. Points for originality.
And points, as well, for his very cool nyms: Third Eagle of the Apocalypse, aka Co-prophet of the End Times. He explains these titles in tl;dr detail, but I shall summarize. God told him he was the Eagle of the Apocalypse; his own research revealed two previous “eagles”, which naturally made him #3. His predecessors were the 15th-century Saints Vincent Ferrer and Bernardino of Siena, who sounded the alarm about the church’s first woe, the arch-splitter Martin Luther, precursor of the false prophet. Tapley’s own assignment is to cry doom for the second woe, World War 3, while a fourth eagle will warn about the third and fourth woes, the Antichrist and Armageddon. As for the refreshingly modest “Co-Prophet” title, it seems every prophet needs a co-prophet to tell the world what the heck the first prophet was talking about; Mr Tapley has the honour of being partnered with the Old Testament’s very own Daniel.
Mr. Tapley’s overall message is a Catholic-flavoured millennial Christian apocalypse, in the category where the Rapture takes place midway through the Tribulation, rather than before any shit hits any fan. His technique is a wild form of free association, where any number, event, news item, name, image, or even tv commercial that crosses his notice can be seen as prophetically significant—apophenia with a side order of pareidolia. He puts the message out in the form of a website and multitudinous youtube videos, and was a three-time laureate on Anderson Cooper’s Ridiculist for his penetrating analysis of phallic imagery at Denver International Airport.
Quite properly, he does not put an exact date on Armageddon, though he is willing to estimate: the autumn of 2017, between October 13 and November 29. This, according to Mr Tapley’s timeline, would mean the world is already about four years into the Seven Year Tribulation, and the Rapture is at least six months overdue. Minor details like this, however, do not have to be a problem. In solving them, Mr. Tapley gives us a textbook example of the kind of rationalizations that are typical of failed prophets. For example:
Based on the time frame for Armageddon, I predicted several events that had to occur 7 years earlier between October 13 and November 29, 2010, including: the fall of Israel, the fall of the Catholic Church, World War 3, and the return of Enoch and Elijah. Now, I believe all these events did begin in that time period, although perhaps not in quite the dramatic fashion as I had indicated and I have taken a lot of flack for that reason.
Mr. Tapley’s talent for free association served him well in this instance. To rescue his prophecies, he came up with these startling fulfilments:
1. The start of the Tribulation was marked with an “amazing event,” the rescue of the Chilean miners after seventy days underground, on October 13th, 2010. And here I thought the Trib was supposed to involve horrible things happening. But apparently seventy days symbolically equals seven years, and God was simply putting a big red check mark on the calendar to emphasize the specialness of the date. Cuz otherwise, how would we know the end of the world had begun?
2. The fall of Israel. Well, Israel is still in business; but the country did have its worst forest fire ever on December 1st, 2010, and a busload of forty-two cadets was burned alive, a clear reference to the forty-two kids who were eaten up by bears when they teased Elisha about his baldness (2 Kings 2:23-24). Totally a match, right?
3. The fall of the Catholic Church. Nope, it’s still there, too. Mr. Tapley, however, judges that it is in the process of falling, and its fall began with Pope Benedict giving permission for homosexuals to use condoms.
4. World War 3. According to Tapley, World War 3 has indeed begun, though in a modest way. The opening salvo was North Korea’s attack on South Korea on November 23rd 2010, and the war just needs a bit more time to intensify into something more noticeable and World-War-like. Eventually, the good old cold-war enemies, Russia and the US, will nuke each other to pieces—it’s nice to know that some things never change.
5. Enoch and Elijah, the two witnesses of the end times. Elijah has apparently come back as a serial arsonist, having set the aforementioned Israeli wildfire, while also speaking out of a fiery tornado in Australia. Enoch, meantime, has been inspiring advertising campaigns and pop songs, all heavily prophetic. The recipient of much of this inspiration has been the Korean pop star Psy; Tapley has a whole eight-part series of vlogs on the end-times prophecies coded into Gangnam Style. And don’t get him started on Super Bowl adverts—please.
Mr. Tapley writes and performs his own music videos, too. They are pretty bad, but I think he might be improving.
All in all, it seems to me that Mr. Tapley is a would-be messiah, but a harmless one. Judging by the comments on his videos, he has a fan club of like-minded nutters, but he is not exactly building up a cult. I would see him in the same category as, say, the artist-prophet-gardener of Niagara Falls, Isaiah Robertson: a happy, busy, and somewhat entertaining eccentric.