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The End Is Near
God is coming, and boy is She mad!
A lot of people think - or believe - they know when the end of the world is going to come, at least in general terms. The current year on the Hebrew calendar is 5769; some Jews believe the world will end before or during the Jewish calendar year 6000. There always seem to be some Christians who are saying the 'end times' are at hand. Muslims have their own theory as well, and so do Buddhists. The Mayan calendar was set to run out of time on 12-21-2012 - well so much for that theory, eh?
The Jewish take is that at the End of Days the Messiah, a descendant of King David, will come, reunite the Jewish people in Israel and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. After that we will enjoy a Garden of Eden type of lifestyle for the rest of eternity. There will be some trouble immediately before this, they are not exactly sure what kind of trouble, but we should expect some trouble. So what else is new? We have had nothing but trouble since we became the "Chosen People." It has been suggested that, if it isn't too much trouble, perhaps the Almighty could choose someone else?
On the Christian front, a quick internet search of "end times" unearths a veritable treasure trove of end-of-the-world related info. False messiahs, earthquakes, famine, war, etc., are all signs that the beginning of the Great Tribulation is at hand. There have been dozens of people proclaiming themselves messiah for well over a thousand years, and we'd be hard pressed to find a single year in all that time in which the world was free of famine, war, earthquakes and sundry. If in the year 1875 C.E. we were really, really close to the end times, by now we must be really, really, really, really close. Some Christians say that Barack Obama is the ultimate false messiah, otherwise known as the Antichrist, who will usher in the end times.
The Muslim prophecies seem the most current, since one prophecy states that the end time will come when Muslims are competing one against the other at building towers all over the world, which in fact they now are. In their version the Muslim Jesus - a man, not the son of God - will return and set up Muslim world rule in the city of Jerusalem. As a Jew, I see some possible obstacles to this scenario, but since God is all-powerful, it certainly could happen. Perhaps, since Islam seems to combine elements of all three of the Judeo-Christian traditions, God is trying to tell us that God will come and force us all to live in peace. Now, that would be a great tribulation, wouldn't it?
The Mayan calendar ran out of time on 12-21-2012, indicating the end of our current age. Remembering the fear and loathing surrounding the end of the millennium on December 31st, 1999, those looking forward to a cataclysmic event when the Mayan Calendar ran out of days experienced similar anticlimax. I know I was disappointed.
The trepidation surrounding the year 2000 was based on the Roman calendar we use in modern society, which was assembled by some monk with dubious math skills during the Middle Ages. The Mayan calendar had in its favor that it seemingly predicted the end of the Mayan civilization, so at least it had a track record. Different sources said that this "solstice of solstices" would bring either massive destruction or a time of gradual and fundamental change. Since we were deprived of the massive destruction I guess we'll have to just wait and see about the gradual and fundamental change.
Some sources say that according to Buddha, seven suns will appear in the sky, dry up everything, and then super-heat the earth until it explodes. None of us will be around to see it, because shortly after the second sun appears in the sky everyone will be dead. The context of Buddha's remarks is an address to monks concerning the finite nature of time and of all things. We are all subject to the sadness, pain, and gradual decline of life. Therefore we should release ourselves from our craving for existence through meditation. Not the worst advice, I think.
Personally, I would hate to miss any part of today because I was too concerned with the end of the world to enjoy life in the mean time. Life is short after all, and the world ends for each one of us all too soon.
- Mayan End Times Prophecy 12-21-2012
- The Return of the God Hypothesis
- The Buddha\'s Discourse on the End of the World
The Buddha's Discourse on the End of the World
- What Is the Koran? (Part Three)
Atlantic Unbound: The Atlantic Monthly Magazine Online
- End of Days
End of Days As we enter the last month of the 20th century, expectations about the next millennium have reached a fevered pitch.