Apocalypse, Now?

Staff Writer
The Voice-Tribune

Tomorrow, it will all come to a catastrophic end. With the arrival of Dec. 21, 2012, the world as we know it will be crushed into oblivion – at least according to a presumably false interpretation of the “prophetic” Mayan calendar.

A claim proliferated by the John Cusack movie “2012,” which hit theaters in 2009, as well as several books, documentaries, television series and various sources on the Internet, Dec. 21, 2012, is predicted to be a cataclysmic day, based on a date derived from the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, which completes 12 baktuns, or one Great Cycle equaling 5,125 years on Dec. 21 or 23, 2012.

While some fear the worst and have prepared accordingly, most have seemingly forgotten the portentous prediction, opting to look forward to the future – already planning Christmas, New Year’s Eve and other spirited festivities set to take place well after tomorrow’s doomsday.

But, for those of you still unsure whether you’ll awaken on earth the morning of Dec. 21, here’s a bit of information to put you at ease. According to Dr. John Hale, archaeologist and director of liberal studies at the University of Louisville, “Different calendars were used in different cities in the Maya. … There’s still two million Mayans (in existence today), and they all think this is very funny that the stupid North Americans are obsessed about a mistake.”

In a “USA Today” article by Dan Vergano, the Mayan myth is further described in an attempt to dispel it. Vergano reported, “archaeologists say that the ancient Maya weren’t interested in predicting apocalypse – they couldn’t even foresee their own society’s collapse.”

The science and society writer references Maya scholar David Stuart of the University of Texas in his argument, as well. Stuart assures, “The ancient Maya did not see the world in terms of endings, but rather in terms of constant renewal.” Stuart was part of a team led by archaeologist William Saturno of Boston University that revealed in May the discovery of a scribe’s hut painted with calendar markings tracking Venus, Mars and dates corresponding to a time after the year 3500. Thus, the Maya clearly expected the world to continue for many centuries.

Even NASA has come forth to acknowledge their dispute of any Dec. 21 catastrophe. Addressing the topic on its website, under the post “Beyond 2012: Why the World Won’t End,” NASA proffered: “For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012.”

While there’s scientific analysis to argue the end-of-the-world forecast, religion can also lend a hand in interpreting doomsday. Several prophecies have been made in scripture, including the “second coming of the Messiah,” yet Rev. Michael Mernagh of the Anamchara Faith Community – an inclusive, ecumenical, post denominational, catholic community – believes, “The message of the Prophets challenges people to reflect upon their lives as they are. … To process what is going on in their lives,  often difficult and trying lives.”

In a recent sermon, Mernagh discussed the Prophetic Books and a potential Judgment Day. “Baruch was not a doomsday prophet,” Mernagh asserted. “(He was) not focused upon and mired in the past of troubles and pain. He acknowledged it but was convinced God would restore the fortunes of Jacob, that there would be a new Jerusalem.”

Mernagh explained Baruch called people to move on from their sorrow to find hope. “Don’t think of it as an end, but a new beginning,” he offered. Is there something in your life you would like or need to change? Is there a lifelong goal you’ve been postponing, or someone with whom you’ve been meaning to spend more time, or to whom you ought apologize, or confess your true love? Maybe this is the real interpretation of the supposed forthcoming doomsday – a chance to start over, and from this day forward, live your best life yet.

Whether you look toward science, religion or an ambiguous sign that the world will one day come to an end, the truth is, there’s no real evidence that Dec. 21, 2012 will be any different from today, yesterday or another date far into the future. None of us know for sure when or if doomsday will occur, and maybe it’s best that way. Instead of fearing the end and how you’ll either spend it or prevent it, why not live each day to the fullest with those you love the most, making the most of the time you’re certain you have?

“(The world) is going to end someday,” Hale said. “And, I think you’ve got to live like it’s not going to happen soon, or otherwise you’re never going to get down to the business of living.”

What Do You Think About Doomsday?

“(I don’t actually believe it), but I can’t wait to see what happens (Friday) for all the people that do.” –  Chris Holmes, high school student

“I could throw (a party on Friday). ‘Party with your favorite Mayan.’ That’d be nice. But, the way I used to tell people, because people ask me a lot, (I say), ‘Well, either one of (three) things can happen: everybody dies and I live, or I die and everybody else lives, or nothing happens.’” – Jose Jose Miguel, a Mayan descendant and student at the University of Louisville
“If anything happens it’s just going to be people rioting because they think something’s going to happen.” – Chelsea Wimmer, student at the University of Louisville
“I would go to Vegas, I think (if the world’s going to end). I would change my ticket back home (to South Carolina) and just blow all the money I have.”  – Holley Pitts
“We’ve got a spring (baseball) season to look forward to so hopefully it won’t happen. I’m not going to let the Mayans get in the way. What if they just got tired of making the calendar?” – Chris Rowland
“(If the world were to end) I’d like to travel to all the great American historic sites before I go away. So from the Little Big Horn to Civil War sites to sacred Indian burial grounds, I’d see it all.” – Chris Becker
“A friend of mine who is actually Mexican … said, ‘I’m pretty sure my grandparents would have mentioned something to me by now.’” – Dana Duncan

Where To Celebrate, Just In Case

Mayan Cafe: 813 E. Market St., 502.566.0651, themayancafe.com
Throughout the month of December, the Mayan Cafe will celebrate the “end of the world” with a special four-course prix-fixe menu created by Chef Bruce Ucán and his brother, Chef de Cuisine Willy Ucán, who chose the dishes based on which they would eat if it were the last meal of their lives.

Enjoy the special doomsday dishes – including lobster ceviche, “Lomitos de Kantunil” and flan – as a prix-fixe menu, along with a barrel-aged blood orange margarita, for $48 plus tax and tip, or order them a la carte.

“(The world’s) probably not going to end, but on the off-chance that it will, you might as well have a killer meal,” said partner and General Manager of Mayan Cafe Anne Shadle.

For more information, visit themayancafe.com/2012/12/10/end-of-the-world-special-menu-december-2012. Call for reservations.

Apocalypse Brew Works, 1612 Mellwood Ave., 502.589.4843, apocalypsebrewworks.com
On Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, Apocalypse Brew Works will host an End Of The World party from 5 p.m. until midnight.

The Judgment Day diversion will feature 10 craft brews on tap, food trucks Grind and French Indo Canada, music, end-of-times themed movies and fire barrels.

Other Doomsday Theories:

An Alien planet ‘Nibiru’ will destroy Earth:
The ancient Sumerians are thought to have discovered the planet, which is purportedly on a side-swiping course with earth. However, Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explained in a recent article, “There’s no planet Nibiru. We would have seen anything the size of a planet headed our way a long time ago.”

Killer asteroid: 
“We will be hit by a catastrophic asteroid at some point. It is not just a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when,’” MIT physicist Max Tegmark said in a “USA Weekend” column. However, that will happen sometime in the next 100 million years or so, not this month, he said.

A comet:
Russian astronomers detected a comet in September that may become as bright as the full moon. Yet, that won’t happen until 2013, and the closest it will come to Earth is 37 million miles.

The Earth’s magnetic poles will flip causing massive earthquakes:

Throughout Earth’s history, the magnetic poles have reversed about every 400,000 years due to changes in the planet’s iron core that reverse its magnetic poles. However, it takes many centuries to completely shift North and South, according to NASA.

Parting Words For The World’s (Potential) End:

“As far as we know we just go around once, take advantage of it. Live life to the fullest.” – Bill Nicholson of Long Beach, Calif.

“Go with your intentions to have fun in life, and don’t hold back. … (When) you’re in your everyday routine, you get so caught up, and you forget to go outside the box and do things that you normally wouldn’t do.” – Jane B. of Boston, Mass.

“I like to think I’d tell that someone I’ve been in love with for years that I love them. But the pain of hearing that they have felt the same way and you were too afraid to admit it might be too much to bear. … I like to think I’d tell my family that even though we bicker and squabble they are still my rock. I like to think I’d tell a stranger that their life meant something to someone, at least one. … But the bottom line is, I would probably sit alone, with a glass of bourbon and a cigar confessing my sins and admitting my mistakes to the only person that I really need to tell those things to: me. And in the end I like to think that I would forgive me.” – Mark Dutrow