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Doomsday Dread Rises Again

December 13, 2012

NASA image

Sorry, but you’ll still owe that January rent payment. Rumors to the contrary, the world is not going to end on December 21st.

This assurance, however, isn’t likely to convince true believers of the latest prophecy of the apocalypse. This time the prediction of Earth’s demise is tied to the ancient Mayan calendar and its time cycles of 394-year periods.

But doomsday believers have misinterpreted the calendar, according to archaeologists, who say that 12/21/12 marks the end of a particular cycle, not the planet’s expiration date.

So don’t bother to cue “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” to start playing at midnight December 20th.  But you may want to get up extra early the next day, as daylight will be at a premium on the 21st  — the winter solstice, a global event guaranteed to occur.

While Americans are waiting to see if the White House and Congress will back away from the fiscal cliff, citizens around the globe are preparing to slide over the earth’s edge into oblivion — or if they’re lucky, into the heavenly realm. Some have even bought package tours to the abyss.

Really. Tourism groups and resorts in Central America are offering getaways linked to the 12-21 prediction, while Guatemala’s Culture Ministry is sponsoring an event in Guatemala City that is expected to draw nearly 1 million end-of-days-trippers. While some of the travel itineraries are merely clever marketing ploys, others are deadly serious.

View of Guatemala City with volcanoes in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

View of Guatemala City with volcanoes in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In France, true believers are expected to gather near Pic de Bugarach mountain this month thanks to an Internet-fueled forecast that an alien spaceship will rise from its mountain hiding place to rescue them from destruction. And in Russia, the prospect of the apocalypse on the 21st has led to hysteria among some citizens and hoarding by others.

The supposed Mayan prophecy is only the latest prediction of fire, brimstone and redemption (or not) this decade.

Remember Harold Camping? He is the California minister and Christian radio station founder who told anyone who would listen (and sadly, many did) that the Rapture would occur on May 21, 2011, followed by five months of worldwide suffering until the globe’s last gasp.

Scratch that. When the planet still had a pulse on 5-21-11, Camping backpedaled, saying that he got it wrong and revising the date to 10-21-11. Alas, Oct. 21 came and went with not one of the Four Horsemen in sight.

Camping’s edicts would have been merely fodder for “The Daily Show” and jokes circulated via Twitter were it not for the fact that some of Camping’s followers quit their jobs or donated money to his organization in the belief that his prophecies would come to pass.

All this world-disaster planning leads one to wonder: Why are the latest end-times predictions being made? And why do they take hold?

When the world’s major problems — wars, natural disasters and economic crises – seem insurmountable, some people believe that the apocalypse is looming, according to historians, anthropologists and theologians.

Lorenzo DiTommaso, a professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal, explains what’s behind doomsday thinking in an article posted on the Concordia website:

“The world is often seen as a terrible place, filled with oppression, injustice and the menace of death. Apocalypticism provides a powerful response: The world is so bad, it can’t be restored. So it will be swept away.”

Which should come as good news to believers who count themselves among the sure-to-be-Saved. For the rest of us, December 21st will be just another day — to shop for Christmas gifts, take off for a long weekend, or perhaps, to clean up after the world crumbles.

© Janice Leary and My Point Exactly, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use of this material, including original photographs, without written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janice Leary and My Point Exactly, with links to the original content.

[The NASA image above is from the Visible Earth catalog.]

One Comment leave one →
  1. cathy permalink
    December 20, 2012 4:47 pm

    So, this is the world’s oldest urban legend of global calamity. Hopefully, it will be a day and an era to redeem humanity.

    Anyway, tomorrow night we will be attending an end-of-the-world/world peace party, where we will celebrate the solstice, eat our favorite foods–food that you would want to eat if it was your last day on earth–and like the hostess said–alcohol, lots of alcohol…because if it’s our last night, we won’t have to worry about a hangover!! 🙂

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