Frankly, in the upcoming End-of-the-World-Sweepstakes, my money's got to be on the Mayans. Taking us all out in a rain of Jaguars December 2012? I'll admit it's unlikely, but if it happens there will be no question they called it spot on.
And I think that's what's really behind all these vying scenarios of catastrophic change, including the Christian Family Radio May 21 end-of-the-world prediction currently crowding America's billboards: gaining greater prominence for your own faith by claiming hidden insights that your team alone holds on to, that just aren't available to the rest of us unless we're willing to join you too.
Whether it's over who ends up in Hell or Heaven, which side God's on in athletic competitions or military battles, or when and how the world ends, it's a game we all play.
But while it makes good marketing sense for our religious leaders -- most of whom are woefully dependent on generating fuller pews or prayer halls -- I'm not sure why the rest of us follow along so willingly. Because on all those subjects, the stuff our leaders aren't generally teaching, because it comes from other faith traditions, is actually pretty cool.
The end-of-the-world scenario now gracing billboards across America is an excellent example. Based on the expectation that the return of Jesus Christ -- believed by both Muslims and Christians to be the embodiment of the Jewish Messiah ben David -- is imminent, members of a certain American Christian sect have declared Judgment Day as May 21, 2011.
Except they're obviously unaware of the antecedent events predicted in both Judaism and Islam. And wouldn't you think anything Jews and Muslims can agree on deserves some attention right now? Because according to Jewish prophecy, before Messiah ben David there's actually a preceding Messiah ben Joseph who needs to arrive leading the Lost Tribes of Israel. While Muslim prophecy also predicts the return of those same Lost Tribes, led by the Mahdi, arriving back from where they've been living -- proudly remaining tribally Jewish while becoming religiously Muslim -- in Asia since Jerusalem fell. Returning, by the way, to defend Israel.
And if you can't believe a Muslim army would ever defend Jewish Israel, you likely don't know the Quran actually declares it's their destiny, or of the full implications of the last book of the Christian Bible, the Apocalypse of St. John.
I've blogged about this before, but I think it bears repeating: contrary to claims of an Armageddon where Muslims, Christians and Jews battle each other, there's actually a Bible verse in John's Revelation that promises we're all going to come out of it together.
You see, Revelation 12: 1-2 describes Israel this way:
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.
Now, I know some reading will see their fears confirmed because the woman, whom many Christians consider Mother Mary, is standing, they'll assume quite disrespectfully, on the moon.
Except in the Holy Bible, the moon has nothing to do with Islam.
Except for indirectly explaining why the moon is associated with Islam in the first place --something few clerics, whether they're Muslim, Christian or Jewish, seem able to give a straight answer on -- while at the same time refuting the strange current Zionist claim "there is no such thing as a Palestinian" taboot.
Because this isn't the first time in the Bible the sun, moon and stars come together. The first time they come together is in the Old Testament, in the story of Joseph, son of Israel and Rachel, he of the Amazing Technicolor Dream-coat.
In Joseph's dream, before he's kidnapped by his brothers and sold off to Egypt, he has a dream of 11 stars (his brothers) bowing down to one star (him), in which his father Jacob/Israel (symbolized by the Sun) and mother Rachel (symbolized by the Moon) figure quite heavily.
So, biblically, the moon would never be treated disrespectfully because it symbolizes the woman who (with her sister) became the Mother of Israel herself.
But it's why the moon is her symbol that makes for the inclusive happy ending, because it turns out that it's because she was a proto-Palestinian! Proving that Holy-Land-Living, Monotheistic, non-Jewish Semite Arabs have actually been part of the Bible's narrative from the very beginning. Called the Ishmaelites (literally the "people of Ishmael"), or the Midianites (the family Moses married into), their Old Testament symbol was always the moon.
And that also means Israel's crowning glory can't be the 12 Jewish sons of Jacob/Israel because according to Orthodox Jewish law, they weren't even Jewish! Although their daddy was, their mother wasn't. And Jacob's inclusive coupling is what makes the crowning glory of God's Israel not Jewish Israel alone, but instead Arab/Jewish unity, "clothed" by Israel, and supported by all the world's Muslims: Islamic Zionism, the way it should be.
Am I sure it's all going to come down exactly that way? Of course not, but whatever happens I'm pretty sure it's going to be amazing.
For what it's worth, I'm also pretty sure predicting the future is probably the last thing God wants us focusing on. However, if we have to try, wouldn't it be just like God to force us to talk to each other more by giving parts of the puzzle to each of us separately? Because that would mean our current religious diversity has been part of God's plan all along.
And if you believe in God in the first place, can any of you honestly believe in a Creator brilliant and powerful enough to create the world as we see it with us scattered around it the way we are, who we claim loves each of us extravagantly and, yet, who put it together without sufficient foresight to see that ends well for everyone?
Because when you examine all their histories objectively, a world with peace despite religious diversity -- rather than without it -- is what Moses, Jesus and Muhammad seemed to be striving for back when they were here. And although we've all obviously got a long way to go before we get there from where we are today, I think all that means for sure is the world's not going to be ending anytime soon.
But until it does, instead of arguing over who's got the best inside track, wouldn't it be wiser to strive together for a better world for everyone, no matter where we're coming from, as long as we're working hard to get there together?