It continues to snow in Edinburgh, nearly two months after winter got the jump on us (and the rest of the UK) at the end of November. While we’re now at the dribbly end of the season (a few measly inches in comparison to the feet of snow we had in December), what my father calls the “siege mentality” still grips us. The feeling of not wanting to go out unless you have to is difficult to shake, even with the one whole week of snow free streets we had, which ended on Friday evening.
And when you do venture out (as I did today, proved by the photo of the castle above), you meet with yet more mania. I’m not referring to the somewhat amusing mania of sales shopping – that is sadly defunct thanks to the economic landscape. I’m referring to the more traditional “we’re all going to die on a very specific date” mania. I saw a man standing in the middle of Princes Street carrying a board with the sign “Judgement Day May 21st: Free Proof Available”.
A quick google of the date throws up a variety of websites “confirming” this, with the figurehead appearing to be Harold Camping. His prowess with predictions of this sort is remarkable – having predicted the second coming of Jesus in 1994, he is apparently unhampered by his failure, and claims that the Bible contains algorithms for calculating the date of the Rapture (that bit where the faithful are uplifted to heaven and the sinners are left to be royally screwed). The sources of the algorithm specifically are the books of Daniel and Revelation.
I recommend reading the Bible from cover to cover. Not because I’m trying to convert you, more because it’s a fascinating piece of literature. The Old Testament is a circus of horrors – Jehovah is clearly unhappy with most of the human population, and the gods they worship (interesting in itself because these other deities appear to exist, the “no god but God” line not appearing until the Gospels). The pious are drenced in the blood of their enemies, and Jehovah doesn’t refrain from getting His own hands dirty.
Like any good book, it saves the best for last – the Book of Revelation is one of the most frenzied and perverse texts I’ve ever read. It makes “The Doors of Perception” read like “George’s Marvellous Medicine”. If you refuse to read the whole Bible, at least read Revelation. It’ll give you perspective on the minds that accept this Jewish mystical mushroom trip as future events. It also explicitly states that the events of the Book of Revelation will occur at a time unpredicted by any man. I suspect that if this is direct revelation from Heaven, then God is not making an exception for Harold Camping (as He should make exceptions for no-one, if He is to be a judge of our actions).
Let me make it clear that I do not believe in God. And I certainly do not believe in Harold Camping, and I hope you don’t either. This insistence on apocalypse and fear in religion tires me. At what point are we going to stop fearing the reaper? It’s incredibly easy to simply destroy the world to rid it of its flaws (as most millenial cultures wish), but it’s much harder, and ultimately more rewarding, to change the world instead. People (on the whole) are generally good. They have their weak spots – they are often manipulated, they can lose the track of things. Sometimes they can’t see the bigger picture to their actions, and sometimes they’re just plain selfish, but they’re trying to get by in a difficult world. It’s about time we stopped scaring the crap out of each other for inexplicable reasons, and simply worked at being better adjusted, better educated, and just plain better.