The end of the world is coming and I am having a blast!

Completely unrelated to whatever crazy old Harold Camping might be thinking or doing is the fact that, for the last few months I have been having and continue to have one of the best times of my life.

And I want the party to go on!

But not cranky old Harold Camping. A retired civil engineer (I can't believe we share the same profession!) he has been spreading the word around the world that the end is to come on Saturday, May 21st. Two days from now.

And he has billboards in such places as Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Iran! If anything, you have to admire his tenacity.

But he is not trustworthy. His prophecies have backfired on him at least once before, as he had already predicted the end of the world would be on September 6th, 1994. Either he was wrong or I am now living in the Matrix and have not noticed it.

His calculations for claiming the end of the world are downright ridiculous. First, he seems to assume the world is 6,000 years old, as fundamental christians like to believe. Then he places the year of the (non-existent) Flood as 4990 b.c.e and he adds 7000 years (because the bible says somewhere that 1000 years is like a day). Then he does some other cockamanied calculations to arrive at the May 21st. date. When asked, he says that on that day, at 6 in the evening there will be a huge earthquake. Where? Everywhere!

That is why it shames me to know he is an engineer. You would think a member of our time honored profession would know that it cannot be 6 pm everywhere in the world at the same time. It is all nonsense and a lot of crap.

Of course, people like me have been having a blast with the whole thing. Many other predictions of the end of the world have come and gone and nothing has happened, which causes even some christian church officials to denounce doom-sayers like Camping "because they give the church a black eye" when the alleged prophecy fails to happen.

Camping and his cohorts are up for another great disappointment, like the Millerite thing back in 1844. Unfortunately it seems that, like when other prophecies failed, their faith may be somehow reinforced and they will come up with all sorts of explanations as to why the Rapture failed to happen. Unless, of course, there is some "Kool Aid" involved and they are no longer around to explain themselves. We will see... on Sunday.

In the meantime - party on!

Little man, great man

Sai Baba - I got this image from another blog - sorry!

Last week a couple of interesting things happened.

First the little man, Sathya Sai Baba died, at age 84. He missed the mark by 12 years, since he had prophesied his death would occur at age 96, after which 8 years more would elapse before he would reincarnate.

I guess his miscalculation may mean he will not reincarnate. He may have missed the Reincarnation Express.

As mentioned before, Sai Baba was little - he was only about 1.57 meters tall. He became known as an avatar right in the middle of the peace and love era, the end of the sixties and the beginning of the seventies, when his afro look and his orange gowns blended well with the prevailing fashion and the rise of popularity of those oriental/indian beliefs in reincarnation and karma. Sai Baba seems to have been a skilled conjurer (watch this YouTube video) and he had a very long career (more than sixty years) in which he amassed a large fortune, which is now up for grabs.

No saint but just another merchant of faith, a pedophile and, possibly, a murderer. Little man, indeed.

On to the great man.

During the weekend, John Paul II was beatified. Sainthood claims aside I recently heard that how great a man you are depends on how big a void you leave when you go. It seems to me that, for better or for worse, Karol Wojtyla left a huge void indeed.

He presided over a momentous time in the history of Humanity, the fall of the Soviet Union and the establishment of free market and liberty over many formerly occupied countries. And to many, there is little doubt that he was one of the architects of that fall.

He also painted a good face on a decrepit institution. His many travels around the world and his skillful use of the media made him a familiar and welcome face in every home. While remaning a stern critic of other religions (he shared the same belief Pope Ratzinger proclaims, that the Catholic Faith is "superior") he did indeed approach other religious leaders and was the first Pope to visit a mosque and a sinagogue.

Of course, the reign of JPII is tainted by his dogmatism, his sponsorship of very conservative factions like the Opus Dei and his poor handling of the sex abuse scandals that rocked the whole Catholic institution from 2002 on. For that, he will always be criticized.

A saint? Depends on what you call sainthood. From the religious perspective, sainthood claims for the late pope hinge on the testimony of a lonely nun (is there any other kind?), Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, who claims her prayers to the late John Paul resulted in a miraculous cure from Parkinson's disease. While it remains to see if she really remains cured (she is not dead yet, so she has not lived a full disease-free life) and there are doubts about her mysterious and sudden "cure" the Vatican or, rather, Pope Ratzinger, fast-tracked the process so John Paul II could be quickly added to the already crowded catholic pantheon of saints.

But a great man? Basis my previous definition, definitely. He left his mark in both the secular as well as the religious arena, which cannot be ignored. He is missed by more than a few and that, too, cannot be ignored.

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And the catholics are pissed because?

Image via Click this link to see the video at

A few days ago I got an e-mail complaining about this ad and I watched it. The e-mail was petitioning me to go somewhere and sign up against the commercial because it "denigrated" the eucharist.

As long as you don't watch the commercial you might think that is true.

I grew up as a catholic so I understand some hints that are there in the commercial, for all to see except maybe for those dyed-in-the-wool catholicts who feel offended by this rather insipid depiction of religion. The "pastor" is called "pastor", not "father" as would be the case if this were a catholic priest. The church is a traditional protestant church - no mistaking that agriculture. Catholics do not keep files of new parishioners as if they were "applicants" for a job. And the flock is, well, very "diverse" - you see a hare krishna and an amish, a jew and a southern baptist... not very catholic.

And so on and so forth...

Religion is like that. People get so charged up with their own points of view that they lose sight of the bigger picture. There is no acceptance of other ways, my way is always the right way and dogma is king.

So, even though no mention is made, either explicit or implicit, that this is a catholic church, catholics get pissed. And again, I ask why?

See the commercial and judge for yourself. And also read this interesting commentary.

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A different point of view

In a previous post (Another one bites the dust! May 6,2009) I told the story of father Alberto Cutié, who was caught red-handed kissing and caressing his girlfriend.

Now married, separated from the Catholic Church and a newly ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, father Alberto is back in the spotlight with his second book which, according to all accounts, is not kind on his former church.

As far as I can tell from watching interviews made promoting his book, father Alberto is accusing the church of nothing less than what I always said it suffers: Hipocrisy. It seems father Alberto's sin was not to have an affair but, rather, to be caught. He mentions how if the church got rid of all the priests and bishops involved in "inapropiate" relationships with both men and women, it would be so crippled it could not function anymore. And how many priests have deserted because of their inability to keep their vows.

Interestingly, during the last couple of weeks I had a couple of conversations with friends on related issues. One, with a former priest, who was a very good friend of mine in college. He told me how he was offered a parrish that he did not accept because the diocesis would not remove the other priest assigned to that place, who had a live-in girlfriend. And we talked about the monsignor who had a daughter with his housekeeper.

Later, during the weekend, I talked to another friend who also graduated from the same Jesuit school I did. He told me he had four classmates who had gone on to priesthood after high school. Of the four, only one remains an active priest.

In reality, I still like father Alberto, for his honesty. He was honest enough to leave the church and he is honest now to tell the truth about his dilemma. And he highlights what I already said is the problem: it's not the priests, it is the system. A corrupt and archaic institution still trying to make people into what they are not.

One of the many reasons I left all that make believe world behind.

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