Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Human Folly and Body Counts

Ragnarok didn't happen last Saturday. I'm pretty sure that the "Jorvik Viking Centre experts" were having a little fun while promoting their organization:
I quipped that Ragnarok, the day after, was a massive anticlimax on Google Plus. (February 23, 2014)

End-Times Bible Prophecy, the Zombie Apocalypse, and Godzilla

Selling 'End Times Biblical prophecy' books and Last Judgment fire insurance is a cultural tradition here in America. I've occasionally had fun with the less-serious sides of the perennial doomsday prediction in another blog:
I've toyed with the idea of writing my own doomsday prediction: maybe involving mutant squirrels, conspiring with corrupt pet store owners to enslave humanity in their nougat mines; or a revolt of the Roombas.

Two aspects of this plan have so far thwarted my ambition. First, someone might take me seriously, and a really don't need that kind of trouble. Second, the robot revolt has been done: including an insightful analysis by XKCD:

(From XKCD, used w/o permission.)

Tales about giant fire-breathing lizards and mutant ants can be fun. Real doomsday predictions: not so much.

The Coming Apocalypse: 634 BC — 2013 AD

After the current apocalyptic prediction fizzles, some folks who believed the 'End Times prophecy' recover: and some don't. Broken lives of believers are a tragedy. So, I think, is the effect that this recurring silliness has on folks who don't believe, and that's another topic.

Prophecies of doom, and their anticlimactic aftermath, is nothing new: and not limited to Christians. Wikipedia has a list of anticipated apocalypses: from 634 BC, when Rome didn't fall; to 2013 August 23, 2013, when Grigori Rasputin said fire would consume all life on land.

At least two 'prophecies' were accurate: in a very narrow, tragic, sense.

Guyana, a Gated Community, and Death

Jim Jones predicted that after a nuclear apocalypse on July 15, 1967, survivors would found a new Eden: socialist, of course.

Mr. Jones called his little group The People's Temple of the Disciples of Christ, but I don't think the People's Temple can reasonably be called a Christian church. Mr. Jones apparently called Christianity a "fly-away religion" that oppressed women and enslaved "people of color." Back in the '60s that notion may have seemed novel, and that's another topic.

1967 brought "Captain_Scarlet_and_the_Mysterons" and "All You Need is Love, but no apocalypse: nuclear or otherwise.

The mass murder-suicide in Guyana started November 17, 1978, when Congressman Leo Ryan; news media workers Don Harris, Bob Brown, Greg Robinson; and escaping Temple follower Patricia Parks were killed at an airstrip. On the evening of November 18, 1978, Jim Jones and his followers drank poisoned Flavor Aid. The final body count was 918: 642 adults and 276 children.

Marshall Applewhite and 38 of his Heaven's Gate followers spent their last days in a San Diego-area gated community. On March 24, 25, and 26, 1997, they methodically killed themselves.

By now, I suppose someone has blamed Christianity, Congress, flavored beverages, gated communities, vodka, or Star Trek for these deaths. I'm inclined to see them as somewhat extreme examples of human folly.

Standby Alert: Two Millennia and Counting

I'm a Catholic, so I take the Last Judgment seriously. That is emphatically not the same as quivering in fear every time something odd happens, or the latest 'prophecy' gets trotted out. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1038-1041)

This creation's closing ceremony could start any time, but my guess is that it's not imminent. We've been on standby alert for about two millennia, and that's another topic. (Matthew 25:13)

When the Second Person of the Trinity was here, my Lord said:
"21 But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, 22 but the Father alone.' ..."
(Matthew 24:36)
Pretty much the same thing is in Mark 13:32. I'm willing to leave the decision to God, and concentrate on my part of the job outlined in Matthew 28:19-20. Not everyone feels that way.

I could try slicing and dicing Bible verses and history trivia to get a nifty new Apocalypse prediction — but I really do not need that kind of trouble. My particular judgment is coming within the next few decades, and that's another topic. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1021-1022, 1051)

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.