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Allan's reading a book -- that in itself is grounds for calling a press conference. He is so taken with it that he insists in telling me all about it, while I carry on with my work. It's a book on spirituality, claims to be an account of the author's factual journey into heaven and hell, and contains a deep and meaningful message for mankind. Allan waxes more and more lyrical until finally, my non-committal noises and shrugs seem to register.

Allan: "You're not an atheist, are you, H.?"
Me : "Catholic....same difference, really."

That shuts him up -- and he bursts into laughter at my little joke. "D'you know, that is so true", he chokes; and then we both get back to work.

A couple of years ago, everyone around me was reading The Celestine Prophecy. You couldn't go anywhere without people asking you your opinion, and whether you'd gotten the workbook to go with it as well. I never got the workbook, but in the end I did get a copy of the book, and read it. It wasn't too bad, in fact, it was quite amusing; and then someone asked if they could borrow it and never gave it back, which is why I cannot remember or remind myself of what exactly the deep and meaningful message to mankind of that particular book was (other than that trees have auras, too).

'Deep and meaningful messages to mankind'...The other day, I think it was on Horizon, there was this documentary about the professor of theoretical mathematics who discovered The Bible Code, and the NY journalist who published it. Apparently, the Bible, and the Book of Genesis in particular, is full of so-called skip codes. And if you transliterate these, you will see messages like "Rabin - assassin will assassinate" and "Kennedy - die". The journalist, whose name escapes me, has been trying to avert these awful dangers to world peace and stability since a year before Rabin actually did fall victim to assassination (the murder of Kennedy obviously already having happened, he couldn't do anything about that; or about the Maccabees). Totally convinced by the Bible codes, he was by now desperate to get to speak to President Bush, but so far, has not succeeded in getting him to agree to a meeting. And time is running out, he warned. If he doesn't get Bush to stop certain things from happening, the world is on the brink of a total disaster.

Now supposing there really are such prophecies contained in the Bible: forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't it in the nature of a prophecy that what it says will happen, happens? If it doesn't, the foretelling is shown to have been a false prophecy. So what use is this poor man's wasting his time phoning the White House every day -- if it's meant to be, it'll be. (Not that I'm convinced that it will...the messages in the Bible that he said were there were centred on Israel -OK, Jews, Chosen People- and America -God's own country? truly?- and ignored the rest of the world and world history completely. How can that be a deep and meaningful mesage for mankind?)

'Deep and meaningful messages' and crackpot theories seem to go hand in hand, and there's a wealth of books like that out there. Every once in a while, one becomes a bestseller and ends up in my bookcase. They're immensely entertaining, but I wouldn't take any of them seriously or else how will you find the strength to get up in the morning? Since the world is going to end soon, you might as well just stay in bed and pull the blankets up over your head.

Speaking of entertaining books, there are also those that tell us that we're not alone. That Egyptian pyramids hold the key to the secret of life, death and everything; that the gods were ancient UFO travellers, and that man is the end result of their genetic manipulation\cloning programme, a cross between an ape and an extra-terrestrial. Nice!

As the universe is infinitely bigger than I could ever imagine or comprehend, I will not dismiss the notion that perhaps we really aren't alone -why couldn't there be intelligent life on the other side of the Andromeda nebula?-; but I have read Bauval and Von Daeniken and found their arguments fatally flawed. Maybe that's just because I know more about egyptology and archaeology than these two (they are my field of expertise, after all), or maybe it's simply because I can't leave off asking why (and never could). Whatever the reason, I'm too much of a sceptic to take their theories with anything but a shitload of salt. Though I can't deny that I thoroughly enjoy reading this sort of thing, and then picking it apart in my mind.

Comments

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sabrinanymph
Dec. 4th, 2003 09:09 am (UTC)
Now supposing there really are such prophecies contained in the Bible: forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't it in the nature of a prophecy that what it says will happen, happens? If it doesn't, the foretelling is shown to have been a false prophecy.

I certainly agree with a lot of what you are saying. There are a lot of people out there these days who claim to have deep and meaningful messages for mankind that have not been inspired, effectively a whole passle of Sibyll Trelawney's running about out there!

On the above though, many of the prophecies to the Jewish nation in the Old Testament in particular were conditional prophecies. See the book of Jonah for the most spectacular example of a 'conditional prophecy'. God told Jonah to preach to Ninevah that the city would be destroyed because of its wickedness if the people did not repent and turn back to God. The City DID repent and then was not destroyed and Jonah spent a good deal of time under a plant in the desert pouting because his 'prophecy' didn't come true. MANY of the prophecies were that way, particularly ones that told of doom. In some cases Israel did repent, in other cases they didn't. Certainly the most fartelling prophecy, the birth of Christ, did happen without conditions.

So yes, and no, to what you said! :)
gamiila
Dec. 5th, 2003 01:14 am (UTC)
On the above though, many of the prophecies to the Jewish nation in the Old Testament in particular were conditional prophecies. See the book of Jonah (..)

Yes, but I wasn't talking about the prophecies -conditional or otherwise- contained in the actual Bible texts. These may be considered predictions made under divine influence and direction, and come under the heading of religious truths which do not necessarily include the prediction of future events. Professor Rips, on the other hand, claims to have stumbled on additional hidden 'prophecies', as in 'foretellings of future events which will come to pass' by arbitrarily taking every umpteenth letter of the Good Book (more or less), with no discernible divine inspiration or sanction. I was merely expressing my scepsis with regard to this latter kind of prediction.

Certainly the most fartelling prophecy, the birth of Christ, did happen without conditions.

But only if you believe in Christ. My Jewish friends put quite a different interpretation on Isaiah (and other, more obscure passages).
sabrinanymph
Dec. 5th, 2003 09:45 pm (UTC)
Professor Rips, on the other hand, claims to have stumbled on additional hidden 'prophecies', as in 'foretellings of future events which will come to pass' by arbitrarily taking every umpteenth letter of the Good Book (more or less), with no discernible divine inspiration or sanction.

Right. And on those, I'm agreeing with you one hundred percent! It's amazing what people will come up with. Makes you wonder if they really have nothing to do with their life that they must attempt such ridiculousness.

But only if you believe in Christ. My Jewish friends put quite a different interpretation on Isaiah (and other, more obscure passages).

I'm certain that's true. Personally, I guess, I've looked at many prophecies backwards and forwards and come up to about one conclusion. I'd be a Messianic Jew if I was Jewish. Frankly, as a Christian, I love some of the symbology behind many of the Feast days and I think most Christians would be well off to understand the Feast days and High Sabbaths the Jewish people practiced and still practice. And the Jewish traditional wedding ceremonies are just packed with really beautiful symbolism!
bogwitch
Dec. 4th, 2003 10:26 am (UTC)
Do you have the book with Nostradamus translations that said in the 1990's there would be a massive earthquake in California and that Tom Cruise would save masses of people? It's hilarious!

But don't get me on that Graham Hancock (I believe that's his name anyway), he makes me inappropriately furious.
gamiila
Dec. 5th, 2003 01:18 am (UTC)
Do you have the book with Nostradamus translations that said in the 1990's there would be a massive earthquake in California and that Tom Cruise would save masses of people?

Sadly, no. Sounds like a real hoot, though - maybe I should look for it?

Graham Hancock

Yeah, that's the one. Twerp.
db2305
Dec. 4th, 2003 11:50 am (UTC)
I was really taken with that stuff (Von Daeniken and so on) when I was 13 or 14 or so. Loved the idea of aliens. Alas, I grew up.
gamiila
Dec. 5th, 2003 01:47 am (UTC)
Who wasn't, at that age? I confess that I was quite intrigued with it myself..."maar ik heb schoolgegaan", if I may quote Multatuli.



Multatuli, 19th century Dutch writer. "Maar ik heb schoolgegaan" = "but then I went to school", given as an explanation for the stifling of his imagination as a child.
( 7 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
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