Why the latest apocalyptic cult is a silly scam.
By Ron Rosenbaum
Even within the web of believer webs there are bitter mini-schisms already: Some believe that Dec. 21, 2012, will mark the end of the world in some kind of fiery apocalypse, planetary collision, gravitational reversal, black-hole disappearance, spontaneous combustion, or planetary rotational reversal of some sort. Then there are those who believe that the end of the old Mayan calendar will be something to look forward to: a transformational moment in the history of creation that will be all good for earth's peeps—a "harmonic convergence"-type thing. (Remember that from the '80s, when a bunch of planets lining up were supposed to work wonders on Earth?) In 2012, human nature will undergo a rebirth, the beginning of a New Age. (The Age of Aquarius at last! Maybe it's all hype for the revival of Hair.)
And, of course, there's at least one major motion picture of the cataclysm school, Roland Emmerich's 2012, due this November. And, needless to say, the New Age section of your local chain bookstore is bursting with 2012 titles. There's the literate Daniel Pinchbeck's 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. I was an admirer of Pinchbeck's brave first book, Breaking Open the Head, about his search for shamanic experiences, and must admit I'm disappointed that he seems to have reduced all that mystery and wonder to a single number in 2012—although I'm sure that's not how he would put it.
And, finally, there's the frankly exploitive: everything from Beyond 2012 to (I swear) The Complete Idiot's Guide to 2012 (a bit redundant). Then there are the "2012 survival kits," a 2012 iPhone app, an "official" 2012 store, and other foolishness—the whole Y2K survivalist huckster aspect of 1999 replicating itself.