the date of a solar eclipse. In England, royalist propoganda had
predicted divine vengeance on a nation which had beheaded its
own king three years earlier. The diarist John Evelyn wrote "Hardly
any would work, and none stir out of their houses, so ridiculously
were they abused by knavish and ignorant star-gazers". "Black
Monday", as it was called, turned out to be a fine day. (1)
This was neither the first, nor the last, of end-of-world
predictions, nor of a myriad of individuals who have issued such
prophecies, sometimes bringing tragic consequences to their followers.
Apocalypic visions have always had an enduring hold on mankind.
Why this should be so is discussed by several scholars in Frontline's
In recent history, the year 2000 brought a rain
of prophecies, many of which related to the end of the world.
Even those who did not believe the direst prophecies cleared the
shelves in supermarkets, stocking up for a prolonged period when
society would break down because of the so-called computer "millenium
bug". In the event, January 1st 2000 dawned with very little
disruption to anyone and, as www.religioustolerance.org
points out, at least 42 prophecies did not come true.
However, governments take Doomsday Cults seriously - they are
capable of self-fulfilling prophecies, as shown in the Canadian
Security Intelligence Report of December 18th 1999.
Whether 2012 will bring about a 5th dimension or
a polar shift causing global disasters, or whether the simple
aims of the
Pradesh government to make the rural areas in the state free
of open-defecation will come to pass, who can tell?
It may be the end of time as we know it, it may
be nothing. What is certain is that there will be a proliferation
of prophecies relating to it which will engage individuals and
society as the date draws closer.
1. Astrology: A History - Peter Whitfield 2001 (The British Library)
Copyright: Jackie Burnett 2006