David Spangler: Apocalypse Porn

David Spangler: Apocalypse Porn

Jun 03

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APOCALYPSE PORN
By David Spangler
Lorian Association
June 3, 2011

Original Link

A friend of mine who is a high school counselor told me recently that some of the children she worked with were worried about or even terrified by the prophecies surrounding December 21, 2012, the date the Long Cycle of the Mayan Calendar comes to an end. This is a sad state of affairs. There are enough frightening things in our world as it is without scaring our kids with images of hypothetical disasters, especially when even the native Mayans do not interpret the end of the Long Cycle (and the beginning of a new one) as an apocalyptic end of the world.

We’ve already just survived another such millenarian scare with the passing of May 21, 2011, when many were prophesying the coming of the Last Days. This was a specific prophecy I hadn’t heard of until just a couple of days before the apocalypse was supposed to occur. Talk about being out of the loop! But then I don’t pay much heed to apocalyptic prophecies. My inner mentor John used to say that prophecies focused your attention on a particular date or a specific event, leaving you oblivious to other potentially more important or challenging events that then blindside you.

This year is already a case in point. A great deal of attention in the form of books, videos, movies, articles, websites and like has gone into focusing on 2012 as a year of catastrophes, but as far as natural disasters go, already we’ve had an earthquake and tsunami in Japan of historic proportions which brought on a nuclear emergency, and in the United States, an historic outbreak of tornadoes in the American Southeast, historic levels of snow and rain, and massive flooding of the Mississippi. Plus in the political and social arena, there’s been the historic (note how I need to keep using this word to describe the unprecedented nature of the events occurring around us) rise of the “Arab Spring” and the accompanying unrest and regime changes going on in the Middle East.

In all the buildup towards 2012, I don’t remember any psychic or prophet saying anything about 2011. This year got overlooked, and yet look around! It’s hardly an ordinary year, and it’s not even half over.

Back in the sixties when I lived in California, there was a new prophecy every year that the San Andreas fault would split with a great earthquake, and the western half of the State would slide into the Pacific. These prophecies were usually very specific, giving a day and a time when this would occur. When the time came and nothing happened, within a few weeks, a new psychic would emerge with yet another prophecy giving a new date and time for the following year, and the fever of expectation and speculation would begin all over again.

Such prophecies invariably come with lurid images of disaster and destruction; there’s a long history of this in Western culture. Usually, the scenario is that a special group will be saved (which almost always includes the one making the prophecy) while everyone else will either die or go through a period of tribulation and suffering. For evangelicals, the true believers will be raptured into heaven while the sinners go through hell on earth and then just hell. For many in the New Age and metaphysical movements of the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, those who had the “right vibrations” would be taken up by friendly flying saucers while the rest of the earth was “cleansed” (i.e. those without the “right vibrations” being killed off by disasters and earth changes). Same scenario though with different modes of being saved and different winners, but in either case, most of humanity loses.

I call this “apocalypse porn.” It can be addictive, and it reduces people to victims in a planetary disaster movie. It is disempowering because it suggests that change cannot come through human effort and transformation or through joy and creativity but only through disaster and suffering.

There is a lighter version (“soft-core apocalypse porn”) in which the earth or civilization are not wholly destroyed but there are still enough disasters and catastrophes to bring about a change of consciousness in people that in turn will lead to building a bright, new world. But if you think about it, this is a highly inefficient and uncertain mode of transformation. How often do abuse and violence (and that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about apocalypse as a mode of human evolution and growth) lead to inner transformation and an expanded, more holistic consciousness? They are more likely to instill post traumatic stress syndrome and a constriction of consciousness as fear and the memory of pain settle in to the body.

When I asked John once about apocalypse, he said, “Humanity is not going to get out of doing the hard work of changing itself and creating the world you want. If you’ve created a mess in the world, you’re going to have to learn to clean it up yourselves.”

During one of the yearly prophetic cycles in California that I described, a woman came to me for counseling. She was terrified of the prophecies she’d heard and wanted my reassurance. I naturally assumed she wanted me to assure her the projected disasters were not going to happen. I was astonished to discover that instead she wanted me to assure her that they were. “My life is such a mess,” she said. “I have a boring job, a husband I don’t love, and I’m overweight. I need this disaster to change everything so I can start over!”

And once I met a famous psychic on the day after the day when she had predicted apocalypse would come. She wasn’t embarrassed by being wrong. She was livid, directing her anger at God, the universe, and everyone. “I hate this world,” she said. “I hate it! It has to be destroyed. I want it destroyed! Why wasn’t it destroyed? God has betrayed me!”

There are many things wrong with apocalypse porn as an attitude towards life, the world, humanity and the future. It gives the hope of escape, of change without the hard work of mindfully changing. It can delight in the drama of disaster. It is divisive and exclusive. It expresses the desire of one group of people that another group be destroyed. It glorifies death as a solution. In this it is no different in spirit from a person saying “I’m having problems with my neighbor, so I think I’ll go kill him.” Pulling a trigger is so much easier and simpler than sitting down with that neighbor and negotiating to work out the problems between you.

Apocalypse porn excites the imagination in one way but in another it deadens it. Thus, it creates closure. Apocalyptic prophecies talk about the end of the world, not the beginning of the world, even though the word apocalypse itself comes from a root word meaning “revelation.”

In the Old Testament, Jonah prophesizes doom and destruction to the people of Nineveh unless they change their ways; then, sure that they won’t, he goes out a safe distance into the surrounding desert to watch God blast the city into nothingness. At that point, he is fully into apocalypse porn. But nothing happens. No fireworks, no earthquakes, no floods, no fires, no plagues, no meteor plunging in from outer space. The people have in fact repented and changed, which was the objective. Jonah had been thinking closure, but God, as always, was thinking opening.

We could say that the problem with Nineveh is that the people’s wanton, wasteful actions were creating closure, and God wanted them to stop and through love open themselves again to wider, richer, healthier, more creative possibilities. The prophecy really was if you keep on this way, you are going to close yourself into oblivion. What God wanted, though, wasn’t destruction but birth.

This is true for the Mayan calendar and the 2012 prophecies. The individuals with whom I have discussed this who are scholars of Mayan culture and history tell me that for the Mayans themselves, December 21st of next year isn’t an ending but a beginning, the start of a new Long Count. And beginnings, like our celebration of New Year’s Day, always bring new possibilities. Again, not closure but openings.

I make a distinction between a prophecy and a prediction. Though both attempt to foretell the future, the former is a sentence while the latter is a recitation of observable facts. There is a world of difference between saying “If you keep smoking, you will damage your lungs,” which is a proven medical fact, and saying, “If you keep smoking, you are doomed!”

Predictions can be based on logical assumptions. They can be as simple as “if I build along earthquake fault lines, there is a high probability that eventually my buildings will fall down; if I build in a flood plain, there is a reasonable probability that my house will be washed away.” We are engaging in behaviors in our society that are far from balanced, healthy, loving, compassionate, and wise. Consequences will arise and are arising from this. But it doesn’t mean that we’re doomed and have no future. A statement about human stupidity implies difficult and unpleasant consequences ahead but it is not a statement of closure. We can reimagine ourselves. We can change. We can do things differently. We can learn. We can grow. These are the options that apocalypse porn obscures or even denies.

There is another side to this coin, though. In September of 1962, when I was seventeen, I started college at Arizona State University. For at least a couple of years before this but increasingly so in the first months of that year, there had been a growing number of psychically-received prophecies that a nuclear war was about to break out between the United States and the Soviet Union. A month later, it was revealed that Soviet missiles had been discovered in Cuba, and the Cuban Missile Crisis began. As was later shown when top secret documents from that time were revealed, we apparently did come within minutes of a nuclear holocaust. Civilization didn’t end that October in nuclear fires; the prophecies were incorrect. But psychics were definitely tuning into a possibility.

Delmore Schwartz, an American poet, said “Even paranoids have real enemies.” Prophecies, though they may be wrong in their specifics, may still be evidence that something important is going on and that we need to pay attention. May 21, 2011, definitely was not the end of the world, and December 21, 2012, will not be either. But they join a growing collection of impressions, prophecies, dreams, visions, and intuitions from literally hundreds of thousands of people around the world that humanity is on the brink of world-transforming change. The importance of this does not lie in the details of each individual impression or prophecy; almost certainly most if not all of them will be mistaken or wrong in their specifics. But taken together, they represent a powerful collective intuition that we as a species have reached a turning point (or tipping point) of some nature. It’s more than time that we paid attention.

True prophecy always holds out hope. This is because the function of prophecy really isn’t to foretell the future; it’s to inspire awareness and change in the present. It is, as I said, about opening, not about closure.

Apocalypse porn is not true prophecy. It inspires fear, and fear is notorious for creating boundaries, constrictions, and a narrowing of imagination, creativity and possibilities. We are at a time, I believe, when we cannot afford to be narrowed. If all the prophecies are right in essence, if not in specifics — and I believe that they are — then we need to reach out to each other across our boundaries to enhance communication and co-creativity. We need each other, not simply to survive but to think together, to feel together, to intuit together, to co-create together. We need to be expansive and collaborative with each other and with the world itself. For if the prophecies are correct in essence, and again I believe they are, then we are in the presence of immense possibilities and opportunities which can best be realized if we act together with love, compassion, and mutual respect.

At their best, prophecies — and prophets — reflect who we are in the moment and help us be in touch, as Lincoln put it, with the angels of our better nature so that we can engage the world and the future with wisdom, courage and vision. Apocalypse porn does none of that. It is simply a loss of faith in the human enterprise, a coward’s vision of a world grown too frightening to engage and a wish for the death that will provide escape.

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About the Author

David Spangler lives in the Northwest, is married and has four children. He have been a spiritual teacher since 1964. From 1970-1973, he was a co-director of the Findhorn Foundation Community in Northern Scotland. In 1974 he co-founded the Lorian Association, a non-profit spiritual educational organization, and continues to work with it today. David is also a Fellow of the Lindisfarne Association, a gathering of scientists, mathematicians, artists, spiritual and religious teachers, ecologists, and political scientists, all interested in promoting a new culture based on holistic and Gaian values.

For more information about David Spangler, go here:

http://www.lorian.org/davidspage.html

http://lorian.org/dp_archivelist.php

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RELATED LINKS:

Ooops: World Doesn’t End On May 21st, So How About October 21st?
World To End This Saturday
Harold Camping & His Doomsday Prediction(s)
Doomsday Predictions (Including December 21, 2012 & May 21, 2011)
Wikipedia on Harold Camping
Harold Camping Website

A Brief History of the Apocalypse
Frontline’s “Apocalypse!” (& Related Links)
Earth Changes & Millennium Fever
NHNE’s Earth Changes Composite Map

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