2013: Or, What to Do When the Apocalypse Doesn't Arrive
There are two stereotypical responses to the crisis points in civilization. One is the desire to return to some previous golden age; the other is the urge to leap into a dazzling future. The 2012 scenario seems to partake of both camps. Is there more to it than escapism?
The belief in a coming end of the world as we know it may seem understandable to people living in the first decade of the twenty-first century, but a look at history shows that it has been part of Western psychology from the beginning.
The central figure of Western religion, Jesus Christ, told his followers that the end was nigh, and most people who accepted Jesus believed that the cosmic last call would come in their lifetime. Yet Jesus worked within an age-old Jewish tradition that looked to the coming of the Messiah, a religious and political leader who would set the world to rights and, incidentally, free the Chosen People from whomever it was who had conquered them at the time. As Jesus didn't free the Jews from the Romans -- nor seemed able to free himself from them either -- the Jews who denied him seem justified in their disbelief. To them, and to the Romans, the Christians who preached a coming Day of Judgment were rather like the urban oracles who inhabit most major cities today, ranting on street corners and pestering passersby to repent.
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Reality Sandwich | 2013: Or, What to Do When the Apocalypse Doesn't Arrive