Archeology, anthropology snubbing theology

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I’m definitely a fan of movies that include dramatic scenes of New York being consumed by a tidal wave or Los Angeles ravaged by earthquake/predators/itself.

Honest, I’m not a “Left Behind” kind of guy, theologically speaking, but there’s something fantastic about seeing a beautiful skyline go bye-bye.

That said, you can imagine I’ve seen “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Deep Impact” and “Escape from L.A.” But, can you imagine people surfing on waves along Wilshire Boulevard? Hey, even I can’t believe that.

Still, I have been looking forward to “2012.” Just look at the trailer. I already had the fear of God in me; this preview got me excited. If this is what the end is going to look like, I’m ready — and grateful to be at ground zero.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately since I’ve just started law school and won’t even be finishing until six months before “the end of the Mayan calendar,” it’s all a big myth. And I don’t just mean the prediction that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012. I mean the claim that Mayans believe the world will end then.

Last week, Steve highlighted a good Washington Post piece debunking the 2012 myth, and he noted that the article was remiss to mention the history, even recent Christian history, of proclaiming the end is near. Now it’s my turn to discuss the general don’t-believe-what-you-see-on-the-silver-screen piece from the AP:

A significant time period for the Mayas does end on the date, and enthusiasts have found a series of astronomical alignments they say coincide in 2012, including one that happens roughly only once every 25,800 years.

But most archaeologists, astronomers and Maya say the only thing likely to hit Earth is a meteor shower of New Age philosophy, pop astronomy, Internet doomsday rumors and TV specials such as one on the History Channel which mixes “predictions” from Nostradamus and the Mayas and asks: “Is 2012 the year the cosmic clock finally winds down to zero days, zero hope?” …

“If I went to some Mayan-speaking communities and asked people what is going to happen in 2012, they wouldn’t have any idea,” said Jose Huchim, a Yucatan Mayan archaeologist. “That the world is going to end? They wouldn’t believe you. We have real concerns these days, like rain.”

This article spends quite a bit of effort and energy discussing archeology and astronomy. I’m still not sure what a Mayan believes and was, frankly, surprised to learn they’re still around, living primarily on the Yucatan Peninsula. But the religious beliefs of the Mayan people are certainly relevant to a story taking on the myth of the Mayan-predicted apocalypse.

Minor omission. I mean, it’s not like people typically ascribe religious meaning to the End Times.

On a side note, advertisements for the “2012″ refer to the Mayans, who have been around for about 4,000 years, as “mankind’s earliest civilization.” Oh really? By contrast, ancient Mesopotamia had civilizations dating back to 3,000 years before Christ. Do the math.

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  • Roberto

    By contrast, ancient Mesopotamia had civilizations dating back to 30,000 years before Christ.

    You mean “3,000 years before Christ,” not 30,000 — agriculture was still 20,000 years away at that point.

  • rq

    “there’s something fantastic about seeing a beautiful skyline go bye-bye.”

    When it’s fiction…

  • Brad A. Greenberg

    Good catch, Roberto. And good point, rq.

  • Bern

    Believe me, watching the Twin Towers go down . . . well maybe “fantastic” in the sense of “surreal” but neither word quite covers it.

  • Brad A. Greenberg

    Geez, I should have been more specific. Though I mentioned “Escape From LA,” I was really talking about natural disasters.