Countdown to Mayan apocalypse on December 21

Harold Camping’s end of the world prediction did not take place, but now we are approaching the New Age equivalent.  The calendar of the ancient Mayans has time running out on our December 21, 2012.  A range of New Agers, including flying saucer cultists, have picked up the theme.  And in those secularist bastions of Europe, Russia, and China, panic is spreading.  From the London Telegraph:

Ahead of December 21, which marks the conclusion of the 5,125-year “Long Count” Mayan calendar, panic buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, along with an explosion in sales of survival shelters in America. In France believers were preparing to converge on a mountain where they believe aliens will rescue them.

The precise manner of Armageddon remains vague, ranging from a catastrophic celestial collision between Earth and the mythical planet Nibiru, also known as Planet X, a disastrous crash with a comet, or the annihilation of civilisation by a giant solar storm.

In America Ron Hubbard, a manufacturer of hi-tech underground survival shelters, has seen his business explode.”We’ve gone from one a month to one a day,” he said. “I don’t have an opinion on the Mayan calendar but, when astrophysicists come to me, buy my shelters and tell me to be prepared for solar flares, radiation, EMPs electromagnetic pulses … I’m going underground on the 19th and coming out on the 23rd. It’s just in case anybody’s right.”

In the French Pyrenees the mayor of Bugarach, population 179, has attempted to prevent pandemonium by banning UFO watchers and light aircraft from the flat topped mount Pic de Bugarach.

According to New Age lore it as an “alien garage” where extraterrestrials are waiting to abandon Earth, taking a lucky few humans with them.

Russia saw people in Omutninsk, in Kirov region, rushing to buy kerosene and supplies after a newspaper article, supposedly written by a Tibetan monk, confirmed the end of the world.

The city of Novokuznetsk faced a run on salt. In Barnaul, close to the Altai Mountains, panic-buyers snapped up all the torches and Thermos flasks.Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, even addressed the situation.”I don’t believe in the end of the world,” before adding somewhat disconcertingly: “At least, not this year.”

In China, which has no history of preoccupation with the end of the world, a wave of paranoia about the apocalypse can be traced to the 2009 Hollywood blockbuster “2012″.

The film, starring John Cusack, was a smash hit in China, as viewers were seduced by a plot that saw the Chinese military building arks to save humanity.

Some in China are taking the prospect of Armageddon seriously with panic buying of candles reported in Sichuan province.The source of the panic was traced to a post on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, predicting that there will be three days of darkness when the apocalypse arrives.One grocery store owner said: “At first, we had no idea why. But then we heard someone muttering about the continuous darkness.”  Shanghai police said scam artists had been convincing pensioners to hand over savings in a last act of charity.

Meanwhile in Mexico, where the ancient Mayan civilisation flourished, the end time has been seen as an opportunity. The country has organised hundreds of Maya-themed events, and tourism is expected to have doubled this year.

via Mayan apocalypse: panic spreads as December 21 nears – Telegraph.

What I want to know is, how are the Mayans supposed to know when the world will end?  What inside information are they thought to have?  At any rate, it is remarkable that people and societies that consider themselves too sophisticated for Christianity can nevertheless embrace New Age irrationalism.

So will there even be a Christmas this year?  Some people will presumably wait to do their shopping, or perhaps max out their credit cards because they won’t have to make the payments once the world ends.

We have to worry not only about the country going over the fiscal cliff but about the whole world and maybe the whole universe going over an existential cliff into the void.

But, in the words of the great Merle Travis, if we can make it through December we’ll be fine.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Need any trees planted? Call me.

  • Pete

    Need any trees planted? Call me.

  • bob

    As Christians, we can know with certainty that 12/21/12 is not the end of the world. Since Jesus told us that no man knows the day , we know that 12/21 is off the table.

  • bob

    As Christians, we can know with certainty that 12/21/12 is not the end of the world. Since Jesus told us that no man knows the day , we know that 12/21 is off the table.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    I don’t know about you all, but I’m going to be hitching a ride with the Vogons.

    Don’t forget your towel. :)

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    I don’t know about you all, but I’m going to be hitching a ride with the Vogons.

    Don’t forget your towel. :)

  • James Sarver

    My guess is that some retired Mayan priest was calculating out the calendar to occupy his time and died about the time he got to the current year. Nobody thought it important to continue his work.

    “Illusory Correlation (1) Perception of a relationship where none exists, or perception of a stronger relationship than actually exists. (2) A false impression that two variables correlate.”

  • James Sarver

    My guess is that some retired Mayan priest was calculating out the calendar to occupy his time and died about the time he got to the current year. Nobody thought it important to continue his work.

    “Illusory Correlation (1) Perception of a relationship where none exists, or perception of a stronger relationship than actually exists. (2) A false impression that two variables correlate.”

  • SKPeterson

    Well according to pg. xxiii of the Lutheran Service Book, the world will end sometime after April 10, 2050.

  • SKPeterson

    Well according to pg. xxiii of the Lutheran Service Book, the world will end sometime after April 10, 2050.

  • Tom Hering

    In these non-Christian scenarios, everyone’s trying to be one of the lucky few who survive. In the Christian understanding of the end that’s coming, we hope and work with the aim of seeing as many people as possible enter into eternal life.

  • Tom Hering

    In these non-Christian scenarios, everyone’s trying to be one of the lucky few who survive. In the Christian understanding of the end that’s coming, we hope and work with the aim of seeing as many people as possible enter into eternal life.

  • Tom Hering

    Another difference is that in the non-Christian scenarios, the world doesn’t really end. Some survive. Whereas in the Christian understanding, no one escapes, and the whole creation goes.

  • Tom Hering

    Another difference is that in the non-Christian scenarios, the world doesn’t really end. Some survive. Whereas in the Christian understanding, no one escapes, and the whole creation goes.

  • MarkB

    I would just want to be a snot and know where Ron Hubbard’s shelter is so I can hook up some giant speakers and make a lot of rumbling noises on 12/21. Maybe even some fireworks at the doorway would be fun too.

  • MarkB

    I would just want to be a snot and know where Ron Hubbard’s shelter is so I can hook up some giant speakers and make a lot of rumbling noises on 12/21. Maybe even some fireworks at the doorway would be fun too.

  • SAL

    These Mayans believed the creation of the world was on August 11, 3114 BC.

    Why would secular people take seriously these young earth creationist Mayans?

  • SAL

    These Mayans believed the creation of the world was on August 11, 3114 BC.

    Why would secular people take seriously these young earth creationist Mayans?

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    From trustworthy Wikipedia:

    Misinterpretation of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is the basis for a popular belief that a cataclysm will take place on December 21, 2012. December 21, 2012 is simply the day that the calendar will go to the next b’ak’tun, at Long Count 13.0.0.0.0. The date on which the calendar will go to the next piktun (a complete series of 20 b’ak’tuns), at Long Count 1.0.0.0.0.0, will be on October 13, 4772.

    So, it looks like there are still a few years left before the REAL apocalypse.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    From trustworthy Wikipedia:

    Misinterpretation of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is the basis for a popular belief that a cataclysm will take place on December 21, 2012. December 21, 2012 is simply the day that the calendar will go to the next b’ak’tun, at Long Count 13.0.0.0.0. The date on which the calendar will go to the next piktun (a complete series of 20 b’ak’tuns), at Long Count 1.0.0.0.0.0, will be on October 13, 4772.

    So, it looks like there are still a few years left before the REAL apocalypse.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I don’t know who Merle Travis is, but being a fan of Merle Haggard I think those words are his. Early morning blogging….

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I don’t know who Merle Travis is, but being a fan of Merle Haggard I think those words are his. Early morning blogging….

  • Momof3inTenn

    If the world is ending, what good are the candles and salt? And thanks for reminding me of a great old country song. Hadn’t thought of it in years. Always reminds me of my father forcing us to listen to country on road trips. I grew up hearing a lot of Waylon and Willy and the boys…

  • Momof3inTenn

    If the world is ending, what good are the candles and salt? And thanks for reminding me of a great old country song. Hadn’t thought of it in years. Always reminds me of my father forcing us to listen to country on road trips. I grew up hearing a lot of Waylon and Willy and the boys…

  • Kathy

    SKPeterson @5…I looked up the April 10, 2050, reference in the LSB, very funny! My initial thought was…will the powers that be actually continue to use this version of the LSB and delay publishing a new version until 2050?

  • Kathy

    SKPeterson @5…I looked up the April 10, 2050, reference in the LSB, very funny! My initial thought was…will the powers that be actually continue to use this version of the LSB and delay publishing a new version until 2050?

  • Kirk

    I’m hosting a happy hour on the 20th for my friends, just in case. No sense in letting any whiskey get wasted.

  • Kirk

    I’m hosting a happy hour on the 20th for my friends, just in case. No sense in letting any whiskey get wasted.

  • Joe
  • Joe
  • WebMonk

    Ditto for me Kirk. Using it as an excuse to head out with friends that evening.

    Tom @6&7: your mention of the “Christian” version is just mentioning the Pre-Mid-Post-Millenial Pre-Mid-Post-Tribulation Rapture versions of Christian End Times.

    There are other versions, you know. I happen to be partial to the a-millenial stuff myself if for no other reason than it is the opposite of the Left Behind series stupidity. :-D

  • WebMonk

    Ditto for me Kirk. Using it as an excuse to head out with friends that evening.

    Tom @6&7: your mention of the “Christian” version is just mentioning the Pre-Mid-Post-Millenial Pre-Mid-Post-Tribulation Rapture versions of Christian End Times.

    There are other versions, you know. I happen to be partial to the a-millenial stuff myself if for no other reason than it is the opposite of the Left Behind series stupidity. :-D

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Eschatology is man’s favorite pass time.
    The Mayan Calendar thing is just one in a long line of them. The world desires this day of wrath.
    Amos 5:18 (ESV)
    Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
    Why would you have the day of the Lord?
    It is darkness, and not light,
    The cults clamor for it. They don’t count the horror of it.
    But it gets people excited. I think it is funny they think it can be ridden out in a bomb shelter.
    I mean there is no logic to it what so ever. My neighbors around here stock pile food for two years, waiting for the return of Christ. Evidently the guy who could feed five thousand with a couple loaves of bread and a few fish, needs the help of the faithless when he returns in glory… It doesn’t make sense anyway you look at it.
    But what scripture actually says, about trusting God for your daily bread and so on, that is ignored.
    Finally, the draw to believing in “Global warming” and so forth is not any science behind the deal. Michael Creighton outlines this very well in the essay he delivered to Stanford titles “How Aliens Caused Global Warming” where he takes a shot at what now passes for science and why it has come to that.
    What draws people to it, is they know it is coming. Everyone can see this world must come to an end, it cannot go on forever this way, not with the sin and suffering that it knows. And that is the second thing, ungrateful for creation, they want it’s demise, they blame the world and not their sin, for their suffering. Some go so far as to blame God. They think the end will be the end of suffering. Christians know better. The suffering in this world pales in comparison to the suffering that awaits those who reject Jesus Christ. And this is why God puts off the day, he is loving, patient and kind even to a sinful world that has rejected him. He promised Abraham that his children would be as the sand of the sea, as the stars of the sky, and he means to fulfill that promise. He desires our salvation, so every day in which the suffering, death and decay of this world continues is a day of grace where God has continued to extend his promise of salvation to the world, another day another chance for another soul to hear and believe, to escape the darkness, to escape the wrath.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Eschatology is man’s favorite pass time.
    The Mayan Calendar thing is just one in a long line of them. The world desires this day of wrath.
    Amos 5:18 (ESV)
    Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
    Why would you have the day of the Lord?
    It is darkness, and not light,
    The cults clamor for it. They don’t count the horror of it.
    But it gets people excited. I think it is funny they think it can be ridden out in a bomb shelter.
    I mean there is no logic to it what so ever. My neighbors around here stock pile food for two years, waiting for the return of Christ. Evidently the guy who could feed five thousand with a couple loaves of bread and a few fish, needs the help of the faithless when he returns in glory… It doesn’t make sense anyway you look at it.
    But what scripture actually says, about trusting God for your daily bread and so on, that is ignored.
    Finally, the draw to believing in “Global warming” and so forth is not any science behind the deal. Michael Creighton outlines this very well in the essay he delivered to Stanford titles “How Aliens Caused Global Warming” where he takes a shot at what now passes for science and why it has come to that.
    What draws people to it, is they know it is coming. Everyone can see this world must come to an end, it cannot go on forever this way, not with the sin and suffering that it knows. And that is the second thing, ungrateful for creation, they want it’s demise, they blame the world and not their sin, for their suffering. Some go so far as to blame God. They think the end will be the end of suffering. Christians know better. The suffering in this world pales in comparison to the suffering that awaits those who reject Jesus Christ. And this is why God puts off the day, he is loving, patient and kind even to a sinful world that has rejected him. He promised Abraham that his children would be as the sand of the sea, as the stars of the sky, and he means to fulfill that promise. He desires our salvation, so every day in which the suffering, death and decay of this world continues is a day of grace where God has continued to extend his promise of salvation to the world, another day another chance for another soul to hear and believe, to escape the darkness, to escape the wrath.

  • http://pekoponian.blogspot.com Stephanie

    These secularist, critical thinkers have forgotten to ask themselves a very important question, namely if the Mayans had extraordinary predictive powers, why did they not predict the Spanish invaders? On the other hand, I do like to have a stockpile of canned goods in the winter since I live in an unforgiving climate and don’t want to be caught short in a blizzard, etc. Kirk et al are right that the 21st sounds like a fantastic excuse for a good pub crawl.

  • http://pekoponian.blogspot.com Stephanie

    These secularist, critical thinkers have forgotten to ask themselves a very important question, namely if the Mayans had extraordinary predictive powers, why did they not predict the Spanish invaders? On the other hand, I do like to have a stockpile of canned goods in the winter since I live in an unforgiving climate and don’t want to be caught short in a blizzard, etc. Kirk et al are right that the 21st sounds like a fantastic excuse for a good pub crawl.

  • http://www.princetonlutherans.com longhorn

    Thank you, Bror! That song by Merle Haggard is so great, words cannot do it justice. The song’s words are pretty timely too: “Got laid off down at the factory, And they’re timing’s not the greatest in the world …”

  • http://www.princetonlutherans.com longhorn

    Thank you, Bror! That song by Merle Haggard is so great, words cannot do it justice. The song’s words are pretty timely too: “Got laid off down at the factory, And they’re timing’s not the greatest in the world …”

  • Cynthhia

    Yes. Amen, Pastor Erickson.

  • Cynthhia

    Yes. Amen, Pastor Erickson.

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  • http://deepeningwaters.com JD Loofbourrow

    Jeremiah Johnson @ 3

    Do you mean to tell me that you have one of those electronic thumb thingies? I was fortunate enough to cross paths with a teaser las week who agreed to pick me and my family up if I bought him an “incase of rapture this vehicle will be unmanned” bumper sticker. He thought that would be funny for some reason. I hope he remembers to show up…

  • http://deepeningwaters.com JD Loofbourrow

    Jeremiah Johnson @ 3

    Do you mean to tell me that you have one of those electronic thumb thingies? I was fortunate enough to cross paths with a teaser las week who agreed to pick me and my family up if I bought him an “incase of rapture this vehicle will be unmanned” bumper sticker. He thought that would be funny for some reason. I hope he remembers to show up…

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    Bror,

    That link says “video does not exist”.

    Maybe the Mayans put a hit on it.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    Bror,

    That link says “video does not exist”.

    Maybe the Mayans put a hit on it.

  • Tom Hering

    Bror, click “share” below the video, then “copy” from your browser menu. Part of the address line will then read “youtu.be” instead of “youtube.”

  • Tom Hering

    Bror, click “share” below the video, then “copy” from your browser menu. Part of the address line will then read “youtu.be” instead of “youtube.”

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine…”

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine…”

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Seems archeologists discovered an older Mayan calendar that disproves any claims the Mayans thought the world was going to end in 2012.

    Stand down from general quarters!

    http://www.history.com/news/ancient-maya-calendar-calculations-found-on-dwelling-walls

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Seems archeologists discovered an older Mayan calendar that disproves any claims the Mayans thought the world was going to end in 2012.

    Stand down from general quarters!

    http://www.history.com/news/ancient-maya-calendar-calculations-found-on-dwelling-walls

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

  • http://www.toddstadler.com tODD

    Veith asked:

    What I want to know is, how are the Mayans supposed to know when the world will end?

    Which seems like a weird critique, given that we believe future events were revealed both to members of the ancient Israelites, as well as Jews living around the Mediterranean several millenia ago.

    it is remarkable that people and societies that consider themselves too sophisticated for Christianity can nevertheless embrace New Age irrationalism.

    Seems like you’re conflating two groups for ironic effect. But I see no indication that those embracing this current apocalyptic fad actually “consider themselves too sophisticated for Christianity”. Nor do I see a lot of atheists — to whom I assume you were referring — embracing this Mayan nonsense.

    Anyhow, I actually did get a tree planted today. I’m so Lutheran, I thumb my nose at apocalyptic hysteria without even meaning to?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com tODD

    Veith asked:

    What I want to know is, how are the Mayans supposed to know when the world will end?

    Which seems like a weird critique, given that we believe future events were revealed both to members of the ancient Israelites, as well as Jews living around the Mediterranean several millenia ago.

    it is remarkable that people and societies that consider themselves too sophisticated for Christianity can nevertheless embrace New Age irrationalism.

    Seems like you’re conflating two groups for ironic effect. But I see no indication that those embracing this current apocalyptic fad actually “consider themselves too sophisticated for Christianity”. Nor do I see a lot of atheists — to whom I assume you were referring — embracing this Mayan nonsense.

    Anyhow, I actually did get a tree planted today. I’m so Lutheran, I thumb my nose at apocalyptic hysteria without even meaning to?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com tODD

    SK (@5), ha! But it’s worse than that. At my office, I have an ancient Chinese calendar (I believe it was printed in 2011), and according to it, the world ends January 31, 2013.

    Also, honestly, the guy in the story selling “hi-tech” shelters is named Ron Hubbard? Um … ?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com tODD

    SK (@5), ha! But it’s worse than that. At my office, I have an ancient Chinese calendar (I believe it was printed in 2011), and according to it, the world ends January 31, 2013.

    Also, honestly, the guy in the story selling “hi-tech” shelters is named Ron Hubbard? Um … ?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Todd, I wasn’t talking about atheists, I was talking about New Agers. You live in Portland. I suspect there are New Agers there, am I right? Possibly more New Agers than church goers, at least in many circles? Don’t they consider themselves too sophisticated for Christianity?

    Not that they are necessarily Mayan end-of-timers, especially as the day grows near. But I hear neo-paganism and neo-superstition of every kind are rampant in Europe, which is increasingly considering itself too sophisticated for Christianity. They are willing to have faith in Mayans, but not ancient Jews.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Todd, I wasn’t talking about atheists, I was talking about New Agers. You live in Portland. I suspect there are New Agers there, am I right? Possibly more New Agers than church goers, at least in many circles? Don’t they consider themselves too sophisticated for Christianity?

    Not that they are necessarily Mayan end-of-timers, especially as the day grows near. But I hear neo-paganism and neo-superstition of every kind are rampant in Europe, which is increasingly considering itself too sophisticated for Christianity. They are willing to have faith in Mayans, but not ancient Jews.

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  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith (@30), hmm. The New Agers I’m aware of aren’t terribly vocal. I’ll occasionally overhear some people in my office discussing astrology (honestly, people) and apparently taking it seriously, but I’ve never heard them opine about Christianity, much less decry it. More likely they are simply deeply ignorant about it, rather than having particular animosity towards it.

    No, it’s the atheists I hear from. Well, the loud ones, anyhow — I suppose I don’t know who the quiet atheists are. But they scoff equally at this Mayan nonsense, of course.

    Your claim still doesn’t quite ring true to me, but maybe it’s just the people I know. Or maybe it’s my own internal bias, in which I can see how a science-loving atheist could consider himself “too sophisticated for Christianity”, but anyone who honestly believes in astrology cannot in any fashion be taken as “too sophisticated” for anything.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith (@30), hmm. The New Agers I’m aware of aren’t terribly vocal. I’ll occasionally overhear some people in my office discussing astrology (honestly, people) and apparently taking it seriously, but I’ve never heard them opine about Christianity, much less decry it. More likely they are simply deeply ignorant about it, rather than having particular animosity towards it.

    No, it’s the atheists I hear from. Well, the loud ones, anyhow — I suppose I don’t know who the quiet atheists are. But they scoff equally at this Mayan nonsense, of course.

    Your claim still doesn’t quite ring true to me, but maybe it’s just the people I know. Or maybe it’s my own internal bias, in which I can see how a science-loving atheist could consider himself “too sophisticated for Christianity”, but anyone who honestly believes in astrology cannot in any fashion be taken as “too sophisticated” for anything.

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