Thought for the Day - Brian Draper - 15/12/2012
If all the prophets and conspiracy theorists and New Age bloggers are right, then the world will end next Friday, as the Maya are meant to have predicted long ago.
However: in a short film released yesterday by Nasa, of all people, to ease fears, John Carlson, who’s been studying this stuff for 35 years, re-assures us that the Maya never made such a prediction in the first place.
Instead, their calendar, he says, works in cycles; and, like a car’s milometer going round the clock, this cycle is due to end next Friday, after 5,125 years. Whereupon, the next begins. They were in it for the long haul.
Of course, that won’t soothe all nerves, and apocalypse remains very much a part of our collective psyche. As the anthropologist and leading Mayan scholar Geoffrey Braswell has said, the current fascination “tells us more about ourselves, in the Western world, than it does about the ancient Maya. The idea that the world will end soon is a very strong belief,” he says, “in Western cultures.”
And some of us are indeed still willing to believe ancient prophecy will play its part. Plenty enough Christians, for a start, believe in the Second Coming...
In fact, when I was young, a few people I knew were so convinced that Jesus was coming soon that I questioned whether I’d ever grow up to have a career, or get married. As time ticked on, I realised there are people of every generation who believe that theirs will be the last; but apocalyptic thinking can rub off, and tempt us not to live so lovingly and sustainably for the very long-term good.
When his disciples asked about the end times, Jesus said there would be “wars, and rumours of war” - a line that’s used by people, today, to warn that we’re now perilously close to the end. But it was never meant to be a cue for those of any era to think, 'This is it!' There’ve always been wars, and Jesus went on to explain that he had no idea when things would come to a close.
Nevertheless, he did believe they would come to a close, some time. And he did say, “Keep watch... You never know when the Master of the house will return ...” And he did say, “Be ready.”
“Being ready” doesn’t have to imply that we should leave our fields and head to the hills; but that we should try, instead, to live as the Master intended, with love, in every moment. Not just so we’d be in the right if Jesus did return - but so that future generations, surely - way down the line even - can reap what we now sow.
Available since: Mon 17 Dec 2012
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