Friday, September 22, 2017

Why Americans Love Doomsday Prophecies

Today I have a piece in The Washington Post on the phenomenon of doomsday prophecies.

Here’s an excerpt:

Here we are again. News reports are abuzz with a “Christian numerologist” suggesting that Sept. 23, 2017, is the fixed date for the end of the world.

It could be, of course. Any day could be Judgment Day.

But there are a couple of reasons we should pay no attention to this prediction. The first reason is summed up in the words “Christian numerologist.” The second, and more important, reason is that this sort of doomsday speculation has little to do with religion and everything to do with marketing.

The first market for this sort of prophecy-as-publicity is outside the Christian church. One would be hard-pressed to find a church or a significant gathering of Christians who buy into the Sept. 23 date-setting. I couldn’t give you the name of one person who holds the view, and I keep up to date on some of the craziest religious movements in the country. Those without a great deal of familiarity with actual lived religion tend to find this sort of thing exotic and interesting, the way they might find interesting the end-is-near cultists on an episode of “The Leftovers.”

Read the entire piece here.

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