Doomsaying and prophecies of End Times

7 Nov 2011

At ... as 2012 approaches the doomsayers and mongers of disaster are abroad and barking in the dark. On the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011 the New Age fraternity, it seems, or some of them, plan to celebrate receiving 'energies' in preparation for a transformation of consciousness on the winter solstice of 2012. What the connection between the two dates might be is left unsaid but some kind of catastrophic event for 2012 has been dreamed up in the minds of some people - the internet is awash with stories. Comet Elenin was an example of the hype building up - and fears of a Carrington style massive solar flare striking the earth, is another. This post is about an academic study debunking the 2012 fantasy - by a University of Kansas specialist on Mayan history and culture. The idea of a catastrophe in 2012 appears to be part and parcel of the western mind, and culture, and not that of the Maya - and originates in somebody getting hold of the wrong end of a difficult piece of communication, one native and the other, Spanish. It seems that Columbus himself might have to bear the blame - but that is to attach modern mindset on what was essentially a 16th century obsession with the End Times. In effect, modern New Age thinking has resurrected the Book of Revelation, a somewhat symbolic construct written in the Early Christian era. This, the last book of the Bible, has influenced generations of Christians - but ... according to Revelations just 125,000 of the faithful are to be saved from a ghastly end of the world. Just 125,000 people - out of what has been millions of the faithful between the time of the author and the present day. The author had no idea of the millions that have lived between his time and now and presumably Christianity was a small sect at the time of writing. Alternatively, the number was symbolic - as even in the Roman period there were millions of people living within the boundaries of the empire. Strangely, or not so strange, is the fact that non-Christian westerners are just as attached to doomsaying and the end times - it is not just popular with the evangelicals, the quakers and shakers, and the priests of the Inquisition. The eschatology has influenced all manner of western movements, from Hitler's version of socialism to the Marxism of the Russians in which the workers, it was thought, would inaugurate a 'Just' society after destroying the old one. This was achieved by creating a catastrophe - a revolution that eradicated all trace of the old system, a remake of Revelations when the Second Coming would inaugurate a war of wars that would end up entrapping Satan, the scapegoat for all that was wrong with the world as it was, consigning the present world to oblivion and ushering in a new world of plenty, of peace, and respect. Currently, it is the AGW movement that envisages a catastrophe overtaking the evil world of consumption and excess - and unless we repent and purchase co2 credits this will surely come to pass. However, unlike the Bible, it is not the poor, or as in socialism it is not the underclass, but instead, it is the rich and the well to do that will inherit the earth. The not so well off are predestined to paying the subsidies on windmills and solar panels that will make the really faithful lots of loot - bag fulls of the stuff. 

The alleged Mayan prophecies surrounding 2012 are a figment of the western imagination according to John Hoopes, the author of the paper, and the myth has its origins in the 16th century - when the Spanish reached the New World and tried to make sense of the civilisation they overran. Hoopes' also catalogues a series of what he calls revivals of the basic prophecy in the interval between Columbus and the modern world. This was the period when Christian Europe was engulfed in the witch burnings, had lived through the trauma of the Inquisition, and when Puritans in northern lands were behaving somewhat like the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan today. Fundamentalism was rife - everywhere. According to Victor Clube it was an active night sky and meteoric and other phenomena in the heavens that lay at the root of this obsession with the End Times - a background feature of the English civil war, rebellion in Ireland, and the Scottish covenanters (in the 17th century Little Ice Age). The Second Coming is deeply rooted in the western psyche - something to dream about, a never never situation that is always at fingertip distance. 

More than a thousand books have been published on the 2012 myth - and there are films and lots of interactive internet material out there in cyberspace. That is not to say that the population is taken in by the hype as most people have sceptical antennae. It has an ureal quality about it - yet people are fascinated. According to Hoopes the hype will continue to well into 2012 - and he is looking at this from an American angle. In that respect the US has given refuge to religious refugees, has enshrined religious freedom of thought, and a variety of Christian sects have found a home there - and occult sects too. The New Age has a strong astrological focus - it is non-scientfic, positively opposed to the right side of the brain (or is it the left side of the brain?). The bicameral mind may just be floating in the wind but significantly Hoopes says something that is more reminiscent of AGW belief. 'If a narrative has a moral message it is probably not scientific'. Funny thing, Hoopes mentions the Year2K as an example of doomsaying but fails to add AGW to the party - but yes, it fits. It is the moral factor in AGW hype that diffentiates it from the Year2K scam - which was a ploy to sell software and provide computer technicians with something to put in their pockets.