I read an article recently that suggested that one in ten Americans believe the world will end in their lifetime. Of course, this came from a UK tabloid so it’s already got two strikes against it – one it’s not coming from the States and two it’s a tabloid paper, but I have to wonder about who in the world reads tabloids besides my grandmother?
Nana read the tabloids but mainly those about Hollywood. She also was a fan of Coast to Coast AM radio and listened to Art Bell every night. But that was Nana. I really miss her a lot. Not long ago I was at the Salvation Army and found two things that really made me think of her. A brand new box of Estee Lauder pore shrinking fluid and OPI’s Grand Canyon Sunset which is very close to the color she wore for years on her nails. But back to the supposed end of the world.
I also picked up a book by Elaine Pagels called Revelations: vision, prophecy, and politics in the book of revelations. Now Pagels is a scholar of dubious report because of her subject matter, rather than the veracity of her work which is impeccable. That said, I thought it would be an interesting book to read given that I think apocalyptic visions have more to do with paradigm shifting in the Kunian sense than they do with any valid prediction of the future. I think of it like surfing actually. Like this great clip from the surfing movie In God’s Hands – the first quote ends by saying “How far are you willing to go? What sacrifice are you willing to make? How good do you really want to be?” But the second metaphor is an apt one and one that I am devoted too in many respects. This movie has influenced me on a deep level.
And this clip which gives the first quote in its entirety but in Spanish.
People are like waves and so are ideas. The second quote goes on to say that a wave keeps travelling “wherever it needs to go until it meets a reef or a continent, something that causes them to peak and break and roll.” Surfing ideas safely is a matter of knowledge and of timing as well. As for an example of what I mean look at the Howard Camping nonsense. Entire families sold their belongings and used up their life savings because they believed that the end of the world was coming. And the man made yet more predictions when it turned out he was wrong! He can’t return to those families that lost time – (but with his years of being a preacher who raised money he might be able to return someones life savings) and lost time is a hallmark of alien abduction theory. Abductees claim that regression therapy is necessary to recall that missing time. Most of them never get that missing time back. It’s not a matter of esoterica in that sense either. But the phenomena of prophecy and predictions is just as real as a 40 foot killer wave. It can also destroy you, cause you to lose your life, to lose time, to lose everything in the pursuit of something ephemeral you can’t hold onto.
It’s also like economics. Predicting when the next wave of recession or inflation will hit, trying to beat the wave to it’s next destination to make your money before the opportunity itself is wiped out by the crash of nature and history.
I like this metaphor so much that I picked up a little statuette in black metal of a surfer in a yoga pose holding a surf board. I still have it and I adore it. When I have graduated and get to move on from here I will make an altar again and put it back where it belongs in my pantheon of ideas.
Well I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my psyche today. I am retaking a historical writing class this summer because my pride wont let me move forward with the grade I got a few years ago from turning papers in late. But I hope having to retake the class will only make me better at something that means so much to me, something I am passionate about. Something ephemeral that has fascinated humans for thousands of years – the past.
- Interview: Elaine Pagels on Revelation (readingacts.wordpress.com)
- Saint Malachy’s so-called Prophecy of the Popes (fauxcapitalist.com)
- The Last Trumpet (3quarksdaily.com)
- Books of The Times: ‘Revelations,’ by Elaine Pagels (nytimes.com)
- Revelation — Sightings (bobcornwall.com)