The Mayans predicted that on the 21st December 2012 the world will come to a grisly end and that a few bored and hungry astronauts will be all that remains of humanity. Except they didn’t. Their calendar actually predicted that humans would go through some kind of change and enter a new phase. Maybe the internet becomes sentient and takes over and things actually turn out a lot better. Who knows. Of course the Mayans also seemed to have thought that their culture would be around to witness this ‘change’ so, like every prophet ever, their prediction is likely to be bollocks.
I am clearly a bit sick but there is definitely something that smacks of schadenfreude when a doomsday group sets a date and waits for the Rapture/inevitable disappointment. I’m talking about the nice ones where everyone dresses up in matching ludicrous outfits and when nothing happens, they either justify it somehow or shrug, blush then slink of home regretting that they sold the cat and TV. I think it is because they often get so public about their delusions and probably end up genuinely scaring some vulnerable people that I enjoy seeing a bit of hubris inaction. Or maybe it is the secret joy akin to seeing someone walking into a lamp post – you wince in sympathy but snigger a little deep down. The suicide cults are thankfully very rare and very sad for most of followers who were just misguided and could probably have done with some genuine help.
I’ve lived through quite a few predicted apocalypses. There was a Nostradamus one when I was at school in the 80s (I think his fans ‘reinterpreted’ it afterward to explain it away. On the 6/6/6 a few people predicted doom based on the arbitrary dating system humans invented after incorrectly working out Jesus’ birthday (it’s actually Spring around 5BC). Last year there was that hilarious Rapture fiasco.
The big one was Y2K because there was a danger that all computers were going to freak. There was a fascinating article in the New York Times written just before 2000 that listed a lot of these doomsday mentalists. Here are some of my favourites:
Elohim City, Muldrow, Okla. Elohim City is an armed compound guided by Robert Millar, 73, a former Mennonite who based his revelations on an eclectic mix of fundamentalist Christianity, racism, pyramidology and astrology. Millar teaches his followers that the Great Tribulation is upon us and that ”worse is to come”when ”Asiatics” invade America. ”I abhor war,” Millar says, ”but it is a foregone conclusion.” He says he believes that Jesus has been revealing himself for 2,000 years and that disasters will strike, possibly by 2006, at which time the ”wicked will be removed” and Elohim City will enjoy an age of peace.
The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days, Manti, Utah. James Harmston, 58, a former real-estate agent, claims he was ordained by Moses and is, according to his followers, the reincarnation of Joseph Smith, the long-dead 19th-century founder of the Mormon Church. Harmston predicts that a period of violent, apocalyptic turmoil will start within five years. In preparation, he started a Mormon survivalist community in the town of Manti, where some 300 armed, food-storing polygamist followers plan to ride it out. (Harmston denies there are arms and food.) Several former members of the sect are suing Harmston, alleging that he duped them for $250,000, and the church has been excommunicated by Mormon authorities in Salt Lake City for”undue preoccupation with Armageddon.” Harmston says he is planning a countersuit.
Chen Tao, near Buffalo. Previously based in Garland, Tex., Chen Tao entered the national spotlight last winter, when its leader, a Taiwanese emigre named Chen Hon Ming, predicted that God would appear on March 25. Overcoming this setback, he has since moved 80 of his Taiwanese followers to a place just outside Buffalo. Dressed in regulation white smocks and cowboy hats, Chen Tao faithful expect Armageddon to start next month, when China invades Taiwan and precipitates a nuclear holocaust. Eventually a third of the world’s population will die, but God will arrive in a”Godplane” to deliver the sect’s believers from doom.
That’s enough for now I guess. There are loads of these and they are fascinating. The link to the NY Times article (which is fascinating) is: www.nytimes.com/1998/12/27/magazine/apocalypse-now-no-really-now.html?pagewanted=all
You’d better read it quick but we are doomed! From something. At somepoint.