I just read a fascinating article on the Santa Fe Reporter about the hype surrounding the apocalypse prophecies surrounding 2012. From the article:
So it is that on this day of love approximately 30 Santa Feans afflicted with the 2012 bug have come to hear from a speaker who claims first-hand knowledge of Mayan traditions. They sit quietly facing the guest of honor, Lina Barrios, a middle-aged woman from Guatemala who dresses in colorful Mayan garb. She stands in front of a table displaying the latest work by her brother, Carlos: The Book of Destiny. It is one of more than 500 such books; 2012 is the only year besides Y2K with its own entry in the Library of Congress’ catalog. Barrios’ book, endorsed by something called the “Council of Mayan Elders,” contains useful info such as the Mayan sign under which Bob Dylan was born.
First, the good news: “2012 is not a date of destruction,” Lina Barrios says. Rather, it will mark the start of a new astrological cycle, one that will usher in humanity’s return to nature.
Barrios belongs to a camp that believes the end of the current 5,125-year Mayan calendar cycle will accompany a planet-changing wave of energy. In this subset of the Mayaphile subculture, some see the beginning of new religious movements akin to Mormonism or Scientology. For this group, 2012 is to be welcomed—much like Barack Obama’s presidency, which Barrios says was foretold by the ancients.
I especially liked this paragraph:
As Lina Barrios abhors plastic, Carlos disdains scientific thought. “Caught up in worshiping reason and ignoring abstraction, the West is adrift,” he writes.
In attacking reason itself, Barrios may have misdiagnosed the world’s troubles. Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue that the West is on a steady course toward greater human fulfillment.
“It’s dissatisfaction with existing mainstream religions that draws people to these beliefs systems,” Hoopes says. With America’s post-war secular religion—progress—failing to deliver, 2012ism represents a kind of backlash, a mellower, Santa Fe-style version of the anti-government “Tea Parties.”
My Oh Mayan! [Santa Fe Reporter]