Somebody has a great sense of humor — “12-21-2012” is the Day the World Ends (or EOW if you’re a true aficionado…) I don’t know if God picked this day or José Argüelles (who’s also the founder of “Earth Day”…)
As a born and bred Baptist (well, close to it anyway…), angst generating myths like the Mayan’s and their 2012 End of the World (known as “EOW”) are old hat. Old like (“yawn”), “Here comes Yet Another EOW…”
Honestly though, over the years I’ve grown to love EOW scenarios — except for when people take them too seriously. Oscar Wilde once said, “Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow”, and I’m too happy with life to let Very Serious People bummer my depth of good humor. But I’ve actually seen people who were friends until one discovered the other didn’t believe in the same EOW chart of Last Things that he believed in. That was it: no more friendship, no more fishing trips, no more potlucks, don’t you let me see you at my church any more and you shore better stay away from my daughter… (“Momma? Can you believe it? I thought that guy and our little Petunia were made for each other — but then he went and told me he was a midtrib rapture dispensational premillennialist! God save us!”)
So, æons ago there was a kid who used to follow me around in high school (mainly because I didn’t diss him like the jocks did) and all the time he wanted to talk about the Bible. Well, not the Bible, really, but the last book of the Bible — Revelation. (Notice it’s not plural? Anyone talks about “666 in the Book of Revelations”, ask him what he’s talking about ’cause there is no such book — not in the Bible, anyway.) So my high school friend always got really excited saying things like, “This is the greatest sci-fi anybody ever wrote! It’s got monsters better than Hollywood and weirder than Japan, and demons and angels and lots of really freaky, weird stuff — and it’s all True Cause it’s in the Bible!”
BTW — next time someone starts talking to you about the Beast and the False Prophet and 666 (the number of the Beast), if he looks serious like he buys all that, just ask him if he’s learned the Number of the Neighbor of the Beast yet. He’ll stop and suspiciously consider your question (can you believe anyone would seriously consider a question like that?) and then he’ll shake his head no and you tell him, “Yeah — the Number of the Neighbor of the Beast is 665.” If he’s got a lick o’ brains he’ll get it and leave you alone. (If not, you’ll just have to explain it to him. Oh, well… Humans: can’t live with ’em and can’t live without ’em!
Like I said, though, over the years I’ve grown to love EOW scenarios. One of my fav authors is John Wyndham, one of the most famous British post-apocalyptic authors in the world. He’s been called one of England’s “cozy catastrophe” writers who mix the EOW with a few remaining people who get to start all over again without having to solve any of the world’s problems because they’re all gone! Wyndham wrote The Day of the Triffids; The Midwich Cuckoos; and Trouble with Lichen.
Wyndham catches the heart of what I enjoy about EOW scenarios. I don’t really like the stories in which the world truly ends, like in Twelve Monkeys (1995, directed by Terry Gilliam.) In my mind, these truly hard core EOWs miss the best part — getting to rebuild a wonderfully non-urban world without 5 billion humans getting in the way. Instead, IMHO they belong to the horror genre which would bring them alongside of vampires (New Moon), Terminators (quick bow to the Gov), Japanese ghost movies (in which the evil spirits always win), and countless Hallowed Eve bloodbaths. I never enjoy movies that try to scare me — I get enough of that standing in front of a full-length mirror.
While reading the awesome series about the rebuilding of civilization by Paul O. Williams, The Pelbar Cycle (a thousand years after a series of nuclear exchanges destroyed human civilization), I started to wonder why it was that a good Baptist boy [I didn’t want a “black belt” ’cause I already had a “Bible belt”…] like me loved world wide destruction. Part of it was that being raised on Revelation, the idea of the End of Everything naturally became part of my personal theology. But what truly gripped my imagination about the EOW theme focused instead on the world-wide collapse of social infrastructure and the human response in trying to cope with what remains. “Infrastructure” (for you non-EOW fans) refers to the basic physical and organizational structures that undergird the daily operation of society such as we know it. Those “structures” might be bridges and roads, power plants, sewers and electricity (and now — the Internet) as well as governments from towns and cities to states and nations, as well as churches, law courts, police and fire personnel… were these to be seriously interrupted or somehow destroyed, life such as we know it could not carry on.
Only two years ago, while first watching the mini-series by Stephen King broadcast as The Stand, I finally grasped why I loved “cozy” EOW “catastrophes” so much. For 6 hours straight, I watched his powerful portrayal of a small number of survivors of an EOW flu pandemic [“H1N1 — shall we supersize that for you?”] They traveled across the USA, gathering new people along the way as they looked for a place to rebuild civilization. And somewhere about hour four, something clicked inside my heart, and I realized the EOW theme (and the destruction of existing infrastructure) actually depicts a coming spiritual Reality.
Not the “Rapture” or “2012” — those aren’t “spiritual” EOWs, just stories to scare kids with. No. I’ve had a life-long, fundamental sense that the Church of this New Millennium simply cannot be the same ol’, same ol’ of the religious status quo. As far as institutionalized religion goes, I’m looking for those people who (like me) are shouting, “I ain’t gonna be conducting ‘business as usual’ any more!” In fact, I dream of the Day that the “human infrastructure” of Christendom collapses, allowing us cope with the Reality that remains.
Oh? The Reality that remains? And what (kind Sir) would that be? My God or yours?
That’s part of my point. Once people stop replicating the religious stuff they’ve been raised with, if there’s a Real God Out There, maybe He’d finally have a chance to Stand Up and be recognized. Or better yet — if there’s a Real God In There, He could more easily show Himself once the religious trappings have fallen away.
Earthquakes, that’s what we need. Good, strong, destructive seismic activity in the social/spiritual realm that is able to shake apart the facile arguments of the religious, and pull down the empty icons of the pious. One of the quotes I like from the Bible is when God promises One Day (at the EOW, you know?) that “everything that can be shaken, will be shaken.” This gives me the clear impression that He’s not really satisfied with how things have been built up in His Name, and one day He’s going to take time to clean our clocks real good.
Here’s what I’m thinking: maybe we don’t have to wait for God or the aliens or thick-headed politicians who hold in their hands endless atomic powers, to bring the religious world to and End.
Maybe we can just start with you and me. Maybe, in fact, if you and I and maybe one or two others step out of the familiar religious trappings in which we’ve been raised, maybe we can be the ones, even the first ones, to see the Real God Out There/In There Stand Up to be Recognized! (That would certainly make a fine movie, but an even better Reality!)