Any Sign of the Apocalypse Yet?

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

Well, it’s December 21, 2012, the day many believe the world will end along with the Mayan calendar. So if you haven’t seen any signs that the earth’s rotational axis has shifted, or seen the start of the fiercest solar storm in recorded history, or caught a glimpse of the never-seen-before planet Nibiru hurtling toward earth, chances are this day will pass as quietly as yesterday.

For those of you who may not be aware, this is the day when a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count in the Mayan calendar supposedly comes to a close, thus signalling the end of the world. While many believe this to be true, a closer examination of the facts reveals that this is about to go the way of the “Y2K” and “Raptures-that-never-happened” events of recent times, and fade into the dustbin of history.

But for those of you who have some trepidation about today, may it comfort you to know that the Mayan calendar has been wrong before. It predicted that the world would end in May of 2003 and when that didn’t happen, the date was advanced to 2012 (much like Harold Camping advanced his prediction of the world’s end from May to October of 2011.)  The only reason December 21 was chosen for the Mayan end is because it corresponds to the winter solstice and also happens to be the end of the Mayan calendar cycle.

“Their calendar does not end on December 21, 2012; it’s just the end of the cycle and the beginning of a new one,” said Don Yeomans, head of the Near-Earth Objects Program Office at NASA/PL, on a YouTube video. “It’s just like on December 31, our calendar comes to an end, but a new calendar begins on January 1.”

Tell that to the folks who have sought shelter in tiny Bugarach, a village of 176 residents in the French Pyrenees that an ancient prophecy (which no one has ever actually found) claims will be the only place standing when the world ends sometime later tonight.  French authorities are worried about the 20,000 mostly “New Age” pilgrims who have descended upon the mountains above the village, thinking aliens are planning to rescue them and carry them off to a “new age or era” before the deadly catastrophe occurs. They fear that when nothing happens, there could be mass suicides.

As for the villagers, the only thing they have to boast about at this point in the Armageddon saga is how annoying it was to have their expensive village sign stolen three times and pebbles from the mountains above the village sold online as talismans. According to this article in The Guardian, one entrepreneur came up with the not-so-brilliant idea of charging people five euros to send their last wills and testaments to Bugarach to be buried underground, ostensibly for discovery by whoever is left standing at the end of this fateful day.

Not that this is something to joke about. Trumpeting doomsday scenarios such as planets colliding with Earth, unimaginably huge earthquakes, fiery solar blasts and gravity shifts are terrifying many people, especially children.

“Given what’s out there on TV or online, depending on their environments and their ages, children are easily susceptible to irrational beliefs. If you share this doomsday information with them, you’re going to scare them. And if they see the end of the world as a villain, they could hurt themselves in order to ‘outsmart the villain’,” says Donna Kashani, M.D. Board certified adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist and faculty member at UCSD School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, to Fox News.

People can be found in every corner of the world who are genuinely afraid of what this day will bring. For instance, according to The New York Times, reports of end-of-time hysteria are coming from all over Russia.

“Inmates in a women’s prison near the Chinese border are said to have experienced a ‘collective mass psychosis’ so intense that their wardens summoned a priest to calm them. In a factory town east of Moscow, panicked citizens stripped shelves of matches, kerosene, sugar and candles. A huge Mayan-style archway is being built — out of ice — on Karl Marx Street in Chelyabinsk in the south.”

In the rush to prepare for the end of the world, too many have forgotten the words of the most prescient voice in human history – that of Jesus Christ.

“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:32).

Let us pray that our frightened brothers and sisters may find rest in His authoritative reassurance.

And may we all sleep in peace tonight.

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