Wednesday, December 30, 2009
On this penultimate day of 2009, I awake knowing that in just a little under two years, we are all going to blown to smithereens by an as yet unseen celestial onject! Or inundated by a mega-tsunami right up to the peaks of the Himalayas. Or - worst of all - become transformed into gibbering hordes of mystical new-agers, not unlike the krishnas who used to hang about chanting in airport terminals. The horror, the horror!
Now that the movie is out, so too in ever greater numbers will be the dire predictions and expectations of the last days of earth. Variously, this prophecy is Mayan or Hopi in origin -- neither of which really say the world will end only that it will change precipitously, a much safer bet since it has been doing so, according to no less that the great Marcel Proust:
The one thing that does not change is that at any and every time it appears that there have been ‘great changes.’
I had taken about as much notice of this dreaded imminence as I had of the anal infection of the beetle that lives under my desk, until recently when my rather sensitive and nervous 11-year old daughter came home from school verging on tears because her reading group had been avidly discussing the ominous possibilities two years hence. Overcoming my instinctual desire to rip the lips off of whatever presumptive adult had presided over such malarkey-talk, I played the judicious and wise father and explained quite a number of things about the history of prophecy to her. I noted, for example, the fascinating sociological study I read years ago, called When Prophecy Fails. In that account, the researchers - including the late Leon Festinger, originator of the concept of cognitive dissonance - closely followed the dynamics of a millenarian claque in Michigan. The group had received the wisdom of THE END from much further afield than old wise indigenous earthlings - kindly aliens had informed their leader, Mrs. Keech, of a flood that would engulf us all on December 21, 1954 - there's something about the Winter Solstice, eh? So Festinger and his colleagues sat up all night with the believers as they patiently, at first, but then with growing, albeit temporary, disquiet as the hours passed, awaiting the catastrophe.
As you may have already figured out by the very fact of your sitting comfortably reading this excellent blog, they and their extraterrestrial informants were wrong...No wait, not wrong at all! The Keech family wackos took very little time realizing that they and the rest of creation had been saved at the last minute by - you guessed it! - God who in his beneficence had once more held the finger off the global smite button. They came out of it their beliefs intact, the quintessential exemplar of the aforementioned phenomenon of cognitive dissonance.
It does seem, then, that it may take some considerable effort to move devotees of this doomsday bullcrap off their spot and, again in that same conversation with my daughter, an inspiration came to me which I shall apply to anyone I henceforth encounter who espouses the inevitability that at 11:11 a.m. (11:41 in Newfoundland) on December 21, 2012 we'll all be trans-personalized into some infinite or new age-y void. This offer applies to any reader wishing to take me up on this.
I will agree to pay any such person the princely sum of $2,012.00, right now, for full title to their unmortgaged house (or any other similarly-valued chattel) with possession on December 22, 2012. Naturally, their unshakable conviction that I am buying what will at that point no longer exist should have them laughing all the way to the bank, so to speak.
If not then will y'all believers do the rest of us the great kindness of shutting your gob about 2012 and the apolcalyptic hocus-pocus surrounding it!