On 21 May, 2011, like on any other day, after finishing my math study, I switched on my laptop and clicked on my favourite website, BBC World, to make sure that the world was still in one piece.
I was shocked to learn that it was about to shake and twist into Nothingness within a few hours, leaving me no time to write my timeless will and testament for posteriority. Well, what this means is that I was not at all surprised by pastor Harold Camping’s Doomsday Predictions, because such “predictions”, like CIA’s predictions about world events, are always 1.000,000% wrong.
What shocked me was that even prestigious websites like BBC were giving such silly statements so much prominence and had made Camping a household name for very shaky reasons. The same prestigious websites like BBC don’t look twice at men like me who spend years trying to say something deep about the future.
This reminds me of Mark Antony’s words, “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.”
Good predictions, like good deeds, always lie buried under a man’s pillow till they follow him to his grave. Nothing has changed in the six hundred years since Shakespeare wrote these lines.
But there is something more to all this “prediction mania” than Shakespearean poetry and tragedy.
I confess I love conspiracy theories because they add some excitement and spice to my otherwise secluded and boring life devoted to equally “boring” mathematical theorems. But here one need not resort to any conspiracy theory to notice that there is a certain pattern in media reporting – a certain hidden agenda.
The hidden agenda is to undo all the gains achieved so slowly and painfully since the French Revolution. The dream of the French Revolution was to make people think and believe in reason instead of superstitious nonsense. Twenty-first century is hell-bent on undoing all this by bombing our minds back to the Dark Ages and making us more gullible than the Stone Age Man. The World Media is the main culprit, because it is misusing its unique powers to promote fools, scamsters, and false prophets to instant fame – thanks to the ability of the World Media to create instant sensations out of thin air.
There is a law against spreading false rumours, especially when it leads to harm. Camping has destroyed the lives of many who believed him and so gave away all their possessions. They are now bankrupt, penniless, depressed, and under suicide watch. Is the World Media thinking or talking about these unfortunate victims of the false predictions of a Doomsday Prophet?
In Biblical times too, there was a law against spreading false rumours. With beautiful imagination, which modern man seems to have lost, this law is statedasa story “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. When the boy cried wolf for the second time, nobody looked at him twice. Camping would cry wolf for the third time on 21 October, 2011, and his video would be broadcast all over the world for people to admire his genius. What a fall from logic, reason, and grace, noble and honourable Media Persons!
This Biblical story brings me to the very interpretation of the Bible.
My main criticism of Christianity is that it tends to interpret things very literally when they should be interpreted more figuratively, symbolically and imaginatively.
For example, the power of the Sermon on the Mount lies in the depth, the imagination, and the universality of the message, not in issues related to the exact height and location of the rock, or the exact time of the day when Jesus spoke. The Bible, especially the New Testament, is full of parables which should never be interpreted too literally. They may, or may not, refer to anything historical. The incidents in the parables need never have taken place. This is not the weakness but the strength of parables, because imagination is always more powerful than historical facts. A lot of Christians tend to forget this.
The same holds true for the “End of the World” parable. Almost all ancient cultures, including the Maya culture, refer to it. Camping’s mistake is that he is taking it at its face value, perhaps because he lacks the imagination to admire the beauty and the universality of the parable. The parable expresses a Universal Truth, not the physical end of the world within a few hours of a specific day.
Back to France.
As I hinted above, I am a great admirer of France, especially the French Revolution and all it stood for. But when I think of France these days, all that comes to my mind is Dominique Strauss-Kahn. I “predict” that he is guilty as charged. The reason is pure logic. Being an “expert” (or rather, a victim) in the shady games of power and misuses of power, I know how hard it is to blame powerful people even of crimes they commit openly in broad daylight before a thousand witnesses. To make false accusations against them is well-nigh impossible – the chance is about as much as the chance of the sun rising in the west tomorrow.
If exactly the same incident had happened in Norway, Strauss-Kahn would have been given a medal, probably by the King himself, as a compensation for his damaged reputation, and the poor African woman would have lost her job and deported to Africa after being forced to retract. I hope NYPD doesn’t do this.
So my “NFP’s Fifth Anniversary Especial Wish” is that people like this courageous African woman start coming out of the closet in Norway and see that powerful but guilty people like Strauss-Kahn go to jail here in Norway as well. This won’t happen tomorrow, or next week or month, but I “predict” it will happen soon.
As 21 May, 6pm approached, I opened a few beer bottles, and switched on my TV to watch the end of the world fully filmed and documented – that is, to watch Harold Camping running around in his new media van looking for Godot.
Soon, as I reached a “happy state” of “total drunkenness”, it dawned on me that pastor Camping was not so wrong, and I was not so right, in our predictions.
The world had indeed come to an end on 21 May, 2011 – for those six innocent Afghans who exploded to death in Kabul, and those sixteen poor Pakistanis who were burnt alive while trying to collect some oil so that their women-folk can light their stoves in the evening. For them and their grieving families, the world had indeed come to an end on 21 May, 2011.
Image Courtesy of Survival Guide 2012 .org.