Apocalypse of the Week 9: Romania Will Rise Again

It’s easy to forget about Romania.  For many North Americans, it’s just another former Communist country in Eastern Europe, and most of what they know about it actually applies to the various countries around it more accurately.  For starters, Romanian is a Romance rather than a Slavic language, so the Romanian people have a lot more in common with Western Europe than most North Americans realize.  Also like Western Europe, Romania’s history is marked by the unification of a number of separate principalities that shared a language, and by a split engineered by the Soviet Union (which created the Republic of Moldova).
What an alarming number of Westerners are apparently certain of when it comes to Romania is that it will bring forth the Antichrist and from there, the end of the world as we know it.
Apocalypse of the Week 9: Romania Will Rise Again
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Apocalypse of the Week 8: Your Mother Smelt of Subroutines

Those of us born in the 1980s came of age in an interesting time, as the Communist governments of eastern and central Europe fell, one country turned into 15 and somehow stayed the largest in the world, and computers learned how to handle four-digit years.

And you’d better believe it was a big deal.

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Apocalypse of the Week 8: Your Mother Smelt of Subroutines

Apocalypse of the Week 7: Wolves and Snakes and Eyjafjallajökull, Oh My!

Some end times scenarios are important not because of their modern adherents, but because of their pop-culture relevance.  With the Norse mythos’s return to people’s minds via the Thor and Avengers movies of recent memory, and the sheer cinematic splendor of the Nordic eschaton, let us examine how the pagans of Scandinavia imagined the world would end: Ragnarok.

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Apocalypse of the Week 7: Wolves and Snakes and Eyjafjallajökull, Oh My!

Apocalypse of the Week 5: Death by Comet Farts

This eschaton is a bit different than the previous ones, in that it has more in common with the recent anti-vaccine malarkey than it does with the religious apocalypse scenarios I’ve explored previously.
In the late 1800s, astronomers performing spectral analysis on comet tails revealed that the tail of Haley’s comet contains hydrogen cyanide.  Since the Earth periodically passes through the tail of Haley’s comet, and would next do so in 1910, newspapers did the responsible thing and claimed that the world would soon be drenched in deadly cyanide gas.  The story soon grew into a full-on end-of-the-world panic, with a run on anti-cyanide pills (often fraudulent) that Carl Sagan famously took on his show “Cosmos.”
Since then, a few things have happened.

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Apocalypse of the Week 5: Death by Comet Farts

Apocalypse of the Week 4: Hot, Sticky Justice

Veterans of the atheosphere might recognize Zoroastrianism as the ancient Persian religion whose Mithraic component is the best-attested antecedent for many Christian traditions, such as celebrating the birth of Jesus on 25 December.  What I didn’t know is that Zoroastrianism is a living religion, with active fire temples singing the praises of the god Ahura Mazda and a world membership of over 200,000, a surprising fraction of which live in Canada.  I can only imagine how they feel about freethinkers using their history as one of many disproofs of Christianity.  My guess?  Weirdly flattered.

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Apocalypse of the Week 4: Hot, Sticky Justice

Apocalypse of the Week 3: Waiting Room Battle Royale

The Raëlians are close to my heart.  One of their subsidiaries, the biotech company Clonaid, announced in 2002 within spitting distance of my hometown that they were growing an army of human clones and were picking out an island off the coast of Brazil to finish their project.  Naturally, the clones never materialized, nor did any way to verify that they were not blowing smoke up people’s nether orifices, but this stunt kept genetics at the forefront of people’s minds for another decade and kept my neck of the woods in the news, so I can’t complain too loudly.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Raëlians are mostly in the news lately for their occasional parades of topless women (in protest of laws that criminalize female but not male toplessness) and advocacy of comprehensive sex education.
For those who don’t know, the Raëlians are a UFO cult founded by former French car magazine writer and teen pop star Claude Vorilhon in 1973.  He founded the cult after an encounter in a volcanic crater with a flying saucer, which convinced him to rename himself “Raël, messenger of the Elohim.”  This encounter totally did not involve enough LSD to convince a sperm whale it could fly, no really.

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Apocalypse of the Week 3: Waiting Room Battle Royale

Apocalypse of the Week 2: Omnidirectional Zergling Rush

Hello again!  This week’s apocalypse comes from a bit farther in time and space than the Islamic mythos previously explored.  In the mountains of 6th-century-BCE Nepal, the Buddha and his most prominent disciples waxed lyrical about an endworld scenario like no other.  As Buddhism would have it, civilization will end as the world suffers a steady increase in “unskillful” behavior.
That’s…remarkably reasonable.  Civilization falls apart as a result of an epidemic of incompetence?  I’d almost buy it, given the special class of nincompoop that seems to occupy too many government offices, including those armed with the ability to render vast swaths of the world uninhabitable for decades.  Apparently the Three Stooges are prophets of slapstick.

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Apocalypse of the Week 2: Omnidirectional Zergling Rush

Apocalypse of the Week 1: Taste the Doom of Fire!

As part of the lead-up to Centre for Inquiry Ottawa’s Eschaton 2012 conference, Celebrating Reason at the End of the World, I wrote a feature called Apocalypse When, a brief lampooning of some of the many eschatological visions and scenarios that have gained or maintained popularity over the centuries.   Eschaton2012.ca is defunct now, so I’m reprising my creation here.
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This week’s apocalypse is the one envisioned in the Qur’an and various hadiths and thus central to most interpretations of Islam.  Unfortunately, the details of this scenario are dispersed across numerous suras and hadiths, but a few themes and tidbits stand out.

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Apocalypse of the Week 1: Taste the Doom of Fire!