JIM CREES: Mayans fail to predict end-of-days silliness
For obvious reasons, I will feel a lot more confident and comfortable if you are reading this column on any date after Friday, Dec. 21. If, however, you are not reading this column after the 21st and, in fact, the world has come to an end, please disregard any of my continuing blather.
I suppose if the world has come, or is coming to a violent end, we all have much more important things to consider than my opinion.
I’ve gotten quite a good giggle over this end-of-the-world stuff over the past two or three months. Some people really worked themselves into a lather over the potential fulfillment of some obscure Mayan prophesy calling for the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012. (A prophesy which, of course, was never prophesied in the first place.)
It’s just too bad there aren’t any Mayans around to capitalize on the whole end-of-the-world business.
They would have been selling the Mayan equivalent of indulgences - fast track tickets into Heaven without needing to waste any time in Purgatory.
And yet ...it just didn’t happen.
It generally doesn’t. The “end of the world” just doesn’t happen.
Heck. Even when President Obama was re-elected, the world just kept on spinning, and we woke up the next morning still needing to make a mortgage payment.
This end of the world stuff is pretty big business - especially in the United States where there are enough kooky people strolling the streets to support any number of oddball prophets, and doomsday preachers.
There are a bucket load of preachers out there warning of the coming Tribulation, and searching Scripture with a fine-tooth comb to reveal the hidden details of “acharit ha’yamim” - the “last days” (in Hebrew.)
People get just as bent out of shape about the Tribulation as some did about the Mayan calendar thing.
Ahhhhhh ...the Tribulation.
In very general terms, the Great Tribulation refers to the period of time and the prophesied events that will lead up to the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ. Many Christians believe The Book of Revelation supplies a lot of clues regarding the coming Tribulation.
If there was a standard theology to back up this train of thought, things would be a lot more ...worrisome. But even in Tribulation theology there are Pre-tribulationists, Pre-wrath Tribulationists, Seventh Trumpet Tribulationists, Mid-tribulationists, and Post-tribulationists.
“Enlightened” people chuckle at the Mayan calendar stuff, but there have been a whole passle of Christian “end times” false alarms as well.
Most notable, (or notorious), in the U.S. was the belief spawned by a group of Christians remembered in history as the Millerites.
This group believed the end of the world would come on October 22, 1844.
It didn’t. The non-event became known as The Great Disappointment. The lack of a Rapture at this time was sometimes explained away as being the fault of people who simply didn’t pray hard enough.
Today, there are still actually preachers out there, (and closer to home than you might think), who are encouraging their flocks to get ready - prepper style - for the Tribulation. They’re busy stockpiling food, and making sure the Bushmaster is cocked and loaded.
Problem is ...Jesus and the early theologians all suggested that standing around and looking up waiting for the ‘last days’ was pretty much a waste of time.
“ ...for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Matt. 24:42
Paul wrote that no human could predict, or should anticipate the coming of the Messiah
“ ...For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” I Thessalonians 5:1-2
Yet, there is simply nothing more exciting than having the inside track to the end of the world.
Unfortunately, there are also all those other religions out there.
As noted, the Jews believe in a last days theology that will see the gathering of the Jewish people to Israel, the coming of Jewish Messiah, (for the first time!), and the raising of the Righteous Just to a resurrected life.
And then there are the Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, and even the Rastafari. They all predict one form of ‘the end” or the other.
Look, this end days stuff is pretty potent, especially among those who are a little ...immature ...in their theology.
I find it interesting that the end times believers of one faith, look on the end of the world beliefs of another sect as being ridiculous.
They all think, in their individual beliefs, they have the only guaranteed way to survive the hellfire and brimstone that awaits all the rest of us on that last day.
So, the Christians ridicule the Jews. The Jews scoff at the Moslems. The Moslems snigger at the silly beliefs of the Hindus. The Hindus just can’t believe the absurdities the Buddhists espouse. And the Buddhists think the Animists are just plain zany.
And all of ‘em got a chuckle out of the Mayan calendar thing.
I certainly did.