November 2, 2009
If you are the credulous type, there has never been a better time to treat yourself to some luxuries, at least if the terms of the deal are right. If the merchant or manufacturer says "no payments or interest through 2012," go for it.
At least that what you conclude watching the History Channel.
For many years, the network was nicknamed the "Hitler Channel" because of all the shows it ran on World War II and the Nazis. Today, a better nickname would be the "Nostradamus Channel." Hardly a day goes by without at least one show touting some doomsday scenario and how it was foretold.
At the center of this programming strategy lies Nostradamus, the 16th-century French apothecary whose devotees claim foresaw everything from the rise of Napoleon to 9/11. Everyone who has ever written book on Nostradamus gets extended face time on the History Channel, where their claims are treated with the utmost seriousness.
It isn't only Nostradamus. Name a doomsday prediction made by some long-dead person or group and chances are the Nostradamus Channel has given it a respectful airing, no matter how unhinged the claims might be.
The latest and greatest example is the new series The Nostradamus Effect. That's the name the producers have given to the "convergence" of "doomsday prophecy" and "current events."
We are told that for "5,000 years, prophets around the world"—including, of course, Nostradamus—"have predicted the end of days." Operating "independently," they have concluded that 2012 will be a "time of extraordinary shift."
One so-called expert told viewers that "we're on the verge of the biggest riot of all time." Another said that "we are reaching a confluence of tipping points." These tipping points include climate change, financial upheaval, political unrest, crop failures, terrorism, and nuclear war, to name but a few.
That sounds ominous. Of course, nobody can cite anything that sounds like an actual prediction, such as, "In 2012, the world blows up." It's speaking nonsense, rank speculation.
It's not much to go on, but then again, this isn't about facts or reason—it's about fear. It's about understandable anxiety made worse because in rejecting Christianity, the West has rejected the basis of its hope. A world in which God's purposes are being fulfilled for our good has been replaced by one that leaves man in charge, mostly for ill.
The world has become literally senseless to us. We live in, as theologian Robert Jensen once put, a meaningless world wishing we could believe in something—the more we succumb to superstition and irrationality. And of course there's always a media conglomerate ready to sell the credulous what they crave.
There's no better example than the subject of tomorrow's commentary, which will give you the date of December 21, 2012. Please tune in. And in the meantime, please pay your bills on time.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.