"Prophecy" holds a unique place in human history. Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Chinese and Hindus placed such store upon it that hardly a decision was ever made in their societies without first 'clearing' the idea with one or more "Oracles." Mainstream western 'moderns' are made uneasy by the topic, partly because however hard they attempt to dismiss Prophecy as a meaningless superstition left-over from our pre-scientific past, there is also a hard core of irrefutable examples of Prophecies that have indeed 'come true' exactly as foretold. Notable examples include the remarkable predictions of Nostradamus, Edgar "the sleeping prophet" Cayce and such modern prognosticators as Jeanne Dixon. Sceptics are comforted by the fact that not all of the predictions made by ANY of these acknowledged Prophets have proven accurate (or at least, accurate "exactly as predicted.") For instance, Edgar Cayce's prediction of the rediscovery of Atlantis (to have occurred around 1969) yielded nothing more amazing than the 'Bimini Wall;' a double row of apparently 'regular' blocks running in parallel below the sea. While there are many 'believers' who claim this to be an Atlantean relic, many respected geologists hold the Wall to be a natural formation which they can easily 'explain' away. Such predictions by otherwise ordinary human beings are easy to deal with; if they happen to be accurate, no one is overly alarmed by them, and no one is terribly surprised when they fail. But, what can a society or it's individual members do with Prophecies said to have been spoken not by 'ordinary human beings' but by 'God?' Sacred or Divine Prophecies do exist.. in larger number than one might think. Their authors range from Buddha to Baha'ullah.. predicting everything from the coming of a new Enlightener, to a coming Golden Age of world peace. Many take comfort in these predictions.. and long for their fulfillment in our own times. But there are very few who take much comfort from the largest body of 'Divine Prophecies' on earth; those recorded in the Judeo-Christian Bible. "APOCALYPSE." The very word terrifies many.. and how could it not? The prediction of the "end of the world" in a fiery war between 'good and evil' is hardly something that one can easily say 'Oh, so WHAT' to. That unique form of cultural anxiety plaguing Judeo-Christian societies, known as "Millenium Madness," has drawn a curtain of fear and religiously-inspired dread across every Millenium since the great Prophecies were first written. Are we 'doomed?' Or are those prophecies merely bogeyman tales told to frighten parishioners into obedience? Or.. could they be exactly what they claim, yet still something we can put our minds to rest about? We have an opinion to share on the topic; one that we did not originate, for it is held by many others as well.. but one we feel you might benefit from hearing. It is the HISTORY of Apocalypse, as remembered by those who lived through it; the people of the 20th Century.
If you were a Jew at the beginning of the Century of Infamy we are eulogizing, you might have been born in any nation in the western world. You might have had official 'citizenship' status, own a home and send your children to the same schools as everyone else in the country.. and yet you knew (as did everyone else in the country) that you did not 'belong' to that nation. You were a 'displaced person;' displaced by the diaspora, 'the Scattering' of Israel that had made a once cohesive nation into bands, ghettos and isolated families "waiting for the Messiah." According to your Prophets and Rabbis, that Savior of your nation would have to be born on earth before your people could ever again form anything like a nation, and certainly not until the coming of the Messiah could there ever be 'a nation of Israel' on the earth again. Even though your faith.. Judaism.. had existed in it's current (Rabbinical) form only about as long as Christianity itself (for the pre-Christian religion of the Jews was still a sacrificial Temple-based religion whose burnt offerings and blood offerings you today could hardly recognize as 'Jewish,') you had been branded 'the murderers of Christ' by your sister-faith, Christianity. You might have wondered how Christians could blame you for what was a Greco-Roman decision to execute one of your own kind for the 'offense' of believing as any other member of the Essene sect of your faith believed; but you had long ago given-up trying to argue in your own defense. Rome had Christianized, right after Greece had; so you were the only 'unconverted' scapegoat left.. and you knew it. But, did you know the similarity of your plight to that of the other great 'displaced people' of your world, the Gypsy? Perhaps you did. Being both outcast nations driven away and dispersed by conquering armies, Jew and Gypsy were synonymous terms of derision throughout Europe and the Mideast; the Jew was said to rob people through interest charged on their loans and profit margins on the goods which were your only possible source of income in a world where you had no chance of 'belonging;' and Gypsies were said to rob everybody at all times in all ways they could, and had been doing so ever since the army of Alexander the Great burnt their fields and homes on his way through Afghanistan to conquer India. But you did not speak the same tongue as the Gypsy.. any more than you spoke the tongue of your acknowledged cousin-Semites, the Arabs.. who had themselves been a 'displaced people' for uncounted centuries in the desert, robbed (everyone says) by your own Israelite ancestors of their birthright.
If you were a Christian at the beginning of that Century of Infamy, you too might have been born in any western nation.. though your "denomination" of Christianity had a lot to do with whether or not you felt welcome there. If you were a Protestant living in Ireland, Italy, Spain or any other Catholic country, then you were "wrong." If you were a Catholic in a Protestant country, YOU were the wrong-headed. And if you happened not to have a religious persuasion at all (even if you did not dare to admit it out loud) then you were a virtual Public Enemy and damned by EVERYBODY for your 'blasphemy.' Non-believers were worse than any good Christian enemy-state; Americans admired their German citizens not only because they were good soldiers, but because they were good Lutherans as well. Though the only major American writer who had thus-far dared to question Christian Holy Writ as 'infallibly true'.. Thomas Paine.. had been an American and a patriot in the great Revolution, he was uniformly despised and called 'athiest' and 'anarchist' though he was clearly neither of those, but only a man who had the Common Sense to apply REASON even to religious claims. His nation, founded upon a so-called "God-given right to freedom of expression" virtually killed Old Tom for being Reasonable about his faith; and yet (since they did that 'in the name of God') they were smugly content that they had done 'right.'
If any 'prophet' had dared to Prophecy in 1900 (or even 1910) that ALL of the people and ideas just mentioned would go into forment and lead to not one but two 'World Wars' in the century that was just beginning, I doubt if they would have survived very long. Nobody wants to hear about bad times.. especially bad times brought-on by one's own faulty thinking or narrow-mindedness. It was only 'the Good Book' itself which could be forgiven for predicting the 'End of the World.' That virtually every Bible-thumper of every denomination relied heavily on Apocalypse to stir their congregation into repentance is a matter of record. Likewise, even Old Tom Paine had de facto predicted that his new new nation, America, would some day have to deal with the consequences of blind religiosity.. for someday, he hinted, the Bible would be set aside as unreasoned, unreasonable and unreliable. Smugly the world entered the last century of it's dying millenium; content that THEY (whoever one happened to be) were RIGHT and everybody else was wrong-headed; yet nobody but the Bible-thumpers considered Apocalypse likely anytime soon.
The Apocalypse expected by the Bible-thumpers was said to entail Four Horsemen representing Famine, Plagues, War and Death; and an 'Anti-Christ' who would make war on all Judeo-Christians. He would open 'the Pit of Hell' and burn his enemies like straw. He would leave countless dead lying in countless fields for the carrion-birds to feast on. He would bring to an end the whole 'world' of man.. and on the heels of his near-miraculous defeat, there would be 'a new Heaven and a new Earth' over which a thousand years of peace would reign. Naturally, this would be ruled-over by the Savior as envisioned by your OWN denomination of religion.
And did it NOT happen exactly that way?
Just as Old Tom expected, an angry fellow named Marx DID declare religion to be anti-human, anti-rational and counterproductive.. and his followers Lenin and Stalin further condemned religion as 'the poor-people's opium' foisted upon them to lull them into obedience to the Church-State Empire. War formented in Eurasia with an ACTUAL Atheism as it's focus. This spread eventually to China, where the oldest stable society on earth would soon topple under 'the Proletariat.' Was this NOT 'Anti-Christian?' And in Europe proper, a half-Jew whose family changed it's name to Hitler to hide their Semitic ties, set out to purge his Fatherland of all but the old Germanic Gods of War and Conquest. As was discovered by the eventually-victorious armies of the Allied Powers as they marched into Auschwitz, Treblinka and Buchenwald, Hitler HAD indeed opened the pits of hell and burnt his enemies like straw. The photographs of the Holocaust will hopefully be preserved forever, as a reminder that ALL of the old Prophecies were played-out in that Century of Infamy. Countless dead. Countless diseased. Countless hungry. War apparently without end.. and then it ended in an Armageddonic blast shaped like a giant mushroom but deadlier than a poison toadstool.
The Jews DID get their nation of Israel again.. so the Messiah MUST HAVE come by 1948, though nobody is yet sure who he was. Perhaps it would be best to say that nobody is sure yet who he WASN'T. Perhaps the Messiah was in the United Nations, for it was that body which decreed the state of Israel; it was also that same body which decreed Peace as the new law for nations to live by. Oh, sure; there have been some 'back-slidings' by bad-boy nations now and again since The New Heaven and the New Earth began back around the end of the 1940's or thereabouts; but the general mood is what matters, and that DID swing in the direction of Peace.
There are those who still seek a Prince to thank for it all. One cannot blame them, for one certainly wants to thank SOMEONE for the end of Holocaust, Armageddon, Apocalypse; but maybe they are looking too far afield. Maybe (just as the Christian Savior is quoted as saying) the Kingdom of Heaven is WITHIN YOU. Certainly it took tens of millions of Saviors throughout the 20th Century to lay Apocalypse finally to rest.
Rest In Peace Apocalypse, then; and may we never either fear or forget you again.