THE TAIWANESE SECT that waited for God in Garland is moving on to Michigan, its leader having decided that that is the place God will pick up followers and transport them to Gary, Indiana.

Gary, Indiana?This must be a cautionary sign. I have nothing against Gary, but let's be honest. If Gary is an oasis in the storm, hell must be a really, really bad place.

Actually I, along with most of the rest of the world, alternately laughed at and felt sorry for this group of people who have been led astray by a leader who is obviously delusional. We can all count ourselves as lucky that, to this point, he has not been dangerous to his followers or to the outside world.

But as the year 2000 approaches, we can expect more than computer troubles. The end of a century (yes, I know, the 21st century doesn't really begin until 2001) brings predictions of woe. The end of a millennium will bring nothing short of the prophesy of the apocalypse.

Get ready for it. The closer we get to 2000 the more we will hear from the doomsayers.

And if we can laugh now, we won't be laughing when some pastor at what we consider a mainstream Christian denomination stands at the pulpit and announces to the faithful that the world will end at (pick your own time and date).

Furthermore, we can probably count on some national figures coming down with the Millennium Flu. People we know and respect will be telling us to pack our bags for the hereafter.

I predict that, in the few months before the end of 1999, the Millennium Flu will be a worldwide epidemic.

The trouble is, it may be difficult to resist contracting this disease. The only known vaccine and antidote will be a large dose of common sense. Sometimes that is in woefully short supply.

But that is why it will take people who do have common sense - most especially, in this case, the ministers who have common sense - to be willing to stand up and talk calmly and rationally. Those who are not rational are already talking.

The only thing that ought to really scare us concerning the millennium is how many people might want to take this doomsday thing into their own hands. It has already happened in California.

People committing mass suicide is bad enough and something we ought to do our best to prevent, but we also have to worry about those who think they should take along the rest of the world, too.

I don't have a clue when, how or if the world is going to come to an abrupt end. I do know that, if such a thing happens, neither I nor my congressman will be able to do anything about it. I'll warn you now that your newspaper delivery will probably be late.

I am inclined though, to believe as the poet, that it will end not with a bang but a whimper. The beginning of the millennium is guaranteed to be quite a "bang" indeed.