Friday, December 21, 2012

Apocalypse Why

It's just to note that today is WELL PLAYED MAYANS DAY we've been worried about since, oh, the Mayans forgot to make a follow-up long form calendar for the one expiring today.

Personally, I only found out about today back when I was a huge fan of The X-Files (aka a Philer, and a 'Shipper to boot), when the Mayan Calendar date was a plot point to the series finale.  But before that I've borne witness to such end-times embarrassments as Y2K, Harmonic Convergence, the Jupiter Effect, and the Tampa Bay Bucs winning a Super Bowl.  Not to mention a constant stream of predicted Raptures and Armageddons by various religious leaders screeching about War, Plague, Anti-Christs and hangers-on.

Just to note, before I go any further, I do not blame Mayans (and yes, they are still around) for the hype and hoopla.  This is all from some New-Age crank selling books.  But that comes later...

Look at that end-time embarrassments list regarding Dates Predicted for Apocalyptic Events on Wiki, this is something stretching back to even before Christianity was a gleam in Mother Mary's eye.  And it's not even including the mythology of various pantheons - such as the Norse and their Ragnarok - spelling massive catastrophe for not only humanity but the Gods as well.  This seems to be a hard-wired element of the human psyche: the expectation that at any moment, especially a moment that higher powers decided to create clues for announcing such doom, the world will end.

So, the eternal question: Why?

This is an even bigger question considering the age we live in.  We have enough human history now, enough recorded moments and documented failures of apocalypse - I've lived through (from 1970 to now) what I count to be more than 40 (I gave up around 2006)! - that I'm just sitting here asking "Why are people still buying this sh-t?"

Making it worse is noticing how the SAME NAMES keep cropping up on the list of predictors: David Berg, Harold Camping, Pat Robertson, Ronald Weinland, even a psychic debunker like The Amazing Criswell made an End-Times prediction for FSM's sake.  You would think after getting the FIRST and what was supposed to be ONLY prediction of THE END wrong, nobody would let them come back and make even MORE predictions ("Okay, so last Friday didn't work out, but I guarantee JEBUS is gonna show up at Mardi Gras like three years from now and order some Hurricanes!").

Insert head-desking here.

Why?  Why are these guys still out there?  Why are they still allowed to spew predictions they've already proven they're not good at making?

It's not that I blame the First Amendment, the right they have to say whatever they believe as long as it doesn't incite to riot.  After all, these End-Time predictors are global (Japan, China, Uganda, etc) in places that don't have as much free-speech rights.  And there are a ton of First Amendment users who abide by the common-sense principles of not saying anything stupid that can come back to haunt them later.

What I blame are the con artists who found in religion a near-perfect scam.  Look at how nearly all of these seers of prophecy are religious leaders or spiritualists of some form.  All they gotta do is whip up some frenzy, get the True Believers thinking they and only they are special enough to survive the Wrath of God, and get them involved with money work and more money to get a cozy little life-style going (NOTE: I am not a huge fan of wealthy priests claiming to serve God while owning four-car-garage mansions.  Living the good life while supposedly helping the impoverished reeks of hypocrisy).

Thing is, these "religious leaders" have to give these Believers something to fear: the expiration date.  You gotta give 'em an End Time to actually be worried.  And so they offer up a date, something that fits well into the numerology of faith (the number of years since the birth of the Messiah, the numbers of the Beast, the anniversary of a significant event).  And now, you've got the attention of the faithful who'll make sure to advertise everyone's doom, safe and satisfied that the Good Lord spares the True Believers (SEE Rapture, The; something that caught on in American Christian theology in the 1830s).

And then the day comes and goes, and for some Godforsaken reason none of the True Believers seem to get really p-ssed off.  Oh sure, the "outsiders" aka the People Who Didn't Buy It For One Second may laugh their asses off, but they're not in much of a position to sue for emotional damages or anything.  If anyone's got to be angry at the likes of Ronald Weinland - a "pastor" who predicted TWO different End-Times in 2011 AND 2012, and is still ballsy enough to "amend" his deadline to 2013 now that we're 10 days away from that year - it ought to be the people who bought his Rapture story and got suckered.

Could it be the embarrassment of admitting you got suckered?  Could it be the Belief is strong enough to ignore the doubt of the failed seer?  In a sane world, anyone having predicted an End-Time that does not come about ought to be removed from the stage, mocked for all time, made to refund any moneys made from selling doomsday materials - Books!  Recordings!  Beach towels! - and forced to repair broken-down casino slot machines on Indian reservations as a reminder that the odds are not ever in their favor.

For myself, I've seen enough, read enough to know that the End of the World on a global scale is more in the realm of science, not Faith.  End Times on a personal matter such as a death in the family or that of a friend, that IS Faith, and one that ought to be a guiding point in each of our lives but in our own ways.  My End of the World isn't going to match yours, I know that.

And the question of why that is doesn't bother me at all.  Because in my worldview, God is not going to end the likes of us.  We're too good an audience to God's everyday delights.

And thus endth the sermon.

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