KCTV5 Special Report: Mayan calendar mystique - KCTV5 News

KCTV5 Special Report: Mayan calendar mystique

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The End of Days is a widely held belief, perhaps as old as civilization.

For years, a mushroom cloud was the way many figured it would all end. For the most part, the demise of the Cold War put a stop to that. Across many faiths, the end is foreseen coming in a spiritual war where God will remove evil from the Earth.

John Hoopes, associate professor of archeology at the University of Kansas, says in the months leading up to 2012 that the notion of biblical prophecy took on a life of its own.

"I've been working with a college that has now documented more than 1,600 books in print on 2012. Last year, they came out at the ratio of more than one a day," said Hoopes.

Hoopes, considered one of the world's foremost experts on Mayan culture and the much talked about calendar, has written extensively on the subject.

"The end of the world association with the Mayan calendar is greatly exaggerated," he said. "In fact, there are no ancient prophecies about the end of the world that are associated with the Mayan calendar."

But try telling that to Mayan followers stockpiling food and weapons, learning to live off the land and running drills on how quickly they can suit up in biohazard gear.

How did they get to this point where they believe an apocalyptic end is coming, specifically on Dec. 21?

Hoopes says many factors played a part in spreading what he calls "the Mayan calendar myth," starting with the belief that the destruction of the Earth happens in 6,000-year cycles. That notion actually coincides with the Jewish faith.

According to Rabbi Ben Friedman, "Jewish teaching is that the world will stand for 6,000 years and we are now in year 5,772."

Clearly, Friedman does not subscribe to the Mayan calendar world-end belief because in his words, "The math doesn't add up."

That said, Friedman isn't entirely sold on the notion of a Biblical Armageddon.

"It's not the end of the world," said Friedman. "It may be the beginning of a new era that comes in."

That same message has been preached for years from the pulpit at the Unity Church of Overland Park.

Associate minister the Rev. Eileen Stulak suggested, "Perhaps what is happening is not an end to the world, but an end to consciousness as we have known it. An end to the ways of being as we have known it."

But recent interest in the Mayan calendar did lead to a special talk to members on that topic.

"We don't believe in predictions such as that," said the Rev. Eileen Stulak. "No one can really know when something is going to happen in that regard."

Some believe the 2012 prediction could set the stage for a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the world could change for the better or for the worse because of the actions of the people who believe that. On that point, these two religious leaders agree.

"The whole purpose of creation of the world," said Friedman, "was that Godliness, holiness, goodness, kindness should be revealed in the world, not somewhere else."

"We don't focus on a doomsday prediction," said Stulak. "We focus on 'how do we bring forth what we were told we could: peace, harmony, abundance for all people and create that here on Earth?'"

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