2012 and the Anti-Christ

So I was at this health food type store and there was this book they were selling. Something about the year 2012 and the coming of the Anti-Christ, blah blah blah. I was disgusted that the authors would capitalize on people’s crazy beliefs like that. Helping to foster that kind of irrational fear seems like a pretty morally low thing to do. So I opened to a page inside the book, I guess so I could rant a bit against it in my mind, and I read this paragraph that was basically just Buddhist meditation technique. It essentially said just look at your thoughts about what’s “evil”, see it for what it is, let it go, blah blah blah - which is a good thing, imo, and completely opposite in tone to the book’s cover and descriptive blurb. So, ok, clever. And good. Maybe.

In a situation like this, the book assumes a certain type of audience in need of some positive influence. Two questions follow, then, for me:

  1. Does the book, by its very existence (i.e. its title, cover, and back cover blurb) in fact help to create the attitudes it attempts to undermine in the actual text?

  2. Is the book essentially a form of missionary work? Is that a bad thing?

I’m sympathetic to the message but I really hate it when missionaries from traditions I’m less sympathetic towards try and pull that crap. So, I’m inclined to say that it is a bad thing.

As to whether or not it creates the message it seeks to undermine, I don’t know about that. But I will say that it feeds on it and tries to amplify it before it shuts it down. A person unconcerned with the Anti-Christ and/or 2012 wouldn’t be bothered by it. Those that are, get sucker-punched by it.

It is actually a pretty classic technique in missionary work. Get the target emotionally rattled so their rational faculties shut down and then play off that emotional state with positive reinforcement and some logical-sounding propositions and there you go.

Bad business all around.

I somewhat have that inclination too. But I’m a bit conflicted about it. Would you say it’s a bad thing to run an ad on tv that encourages you to watch less tv? And isn’t “preaching to the converted” bad? Isn’t this an example of the opposite?

I don’t know either. “Sucker-punched” seems like an overly dramatic description of what would actually happen though. If the approach was reversed I’d call it a sucker punch - like if you picked up a book on meditation and found out that the Anti-Christ was actually coming in 2012.

That seems to be the case. The question is whether all missionary work is necessarily good, bad, or neutral.

What do you mean by positive reinforcement? I’m not sure I understand this.

I dunno, I’d have to know more of what the book was about specifically to characterize it as a form of missionary work. I can’t help but think that if it’s about the imminent arrival of Mr. or Ms. Anti-christ, then ‘evil’ must have to do, at least in part, with Anti-jesuschrist-ism, lol. And if the book’s got Christian stuff in it, then I’d say that for a good many of them, ‘missionary-ing’ (aka evangelyzing or increasing the entry rate into heaven) is inherent within their defintion and practice of Christianity. Not for all folks, but there’s a lot of them that think Job #1 is saving souls/getting converts for the lord. Scarin’ up the unconvinced or ignorant folk about this event in 2012 would seem a fairly effective marketing technique, for a variety of reasons. I gotta say that I can’t conjure up a context in my mind for including instruction on meditation techniques (which I assume YOU identify as ‘basically Buddhist’, not the book’s author) along with a warning of two-year countdown on the anti-christ. Is raising one’s awareness of the impermanence of self supposed to help fight him or her off when he or she comes out of the closet? :-k

As far as your second question, my view is that missionary work is by definition a bad thing. This attitude drives my mom crazy, because she’s spent quite a chunk of her senior years teaching and developing school systems in Honduras through her church. I just tell her, you do those good works without any mention of Jesus and I’m behind you all the way. That never happens, of course. But what the hell, we’re family.

Oh, I assumed it was sneakier than that - like the authors were on the surface of things pretending to have these crazy beliefs similar to other crazy people, but once you get into it they were pretty honest about saying what they really think - i.e. that this whole fear-based narrative is just imagination run wild. Whether or not I’m right about that (I only read the cover, back jacket blurb, and a paragraph or two inside the book), I’m interested in what people think of that approach to things. Of course when I say “basically Buddhist”, I mean that in a very casual sense.

I can not state anything about some anti Christ. But I know that 2012 is the year of the grand alignment which only occurs every 56,000 years and generally causes catastrophy on a global changing scale due to gravitational pull caused by it.

It’s not the end of the world, maybe not even the end of man. Obviously your species survived the last one… Or did it? The farthest back you can date actual civilization is 15,000 years… Makes you wonder I bet. Time ravages everything though, records could be destroyed and lost. Technology burrried by tectonic shifts. Antarctica used to be in the middle of the Atlantic for example. Some theorize it is Atlantis. Melt the ice off of it and it would raise Tens of 1000’s of feet into the air.

Burried over the course of 100’s of thousands of years from the weight of such. I would say it was a Galactic Alignment that sunk it. Gravity is a powerful force. Capable of a great many things from time travel to complete and utter destruction or creation even.

If man new the whole and could control such forces, man would be God.

Seriously Sethesh?

I think that some missionary work is good, some of it is neutral, and some of it is bad. However, I think that all missionary work is annoying and, even on the best of days, kind of a dick move.

Right now our society is sufficiently pluralistic and alienated that people can pretty much choose the path that their belief takes in an a la carte fashion. I think that is part of the problem here, but that is another discussion. This trend is especially true in more “crunchy granola” type places and this health food store sounds like it fits that particular bill. People in those places tend to have consciously chosen the path they are on and, ehhh, if they choose a wacky/batshit insane path then dissuading them from it is pretty difficult. It isn’t an undecided audience being played to with that book.

It kind of seems like you changed your mind mid-sentence?

What exactly qualifies as missionizing anyway? Is it propounding views without engaging in discussion?

The people in charge sell books of a certain type. The people buying food there, on the other hand, have one thing in common - they buy health food.

That seems a bit too simplistic.

I think it is possible to separate the dickiness of an act from its value.

Parents imposing arbitrary punishments on their children is a “dick move” but it is also morally desirable and part of good parenting. Enabling would be on the opposite end of the spectrum where it is an incredibly sympathetic act (devoid of dickishness) but it is morally toxic.

I agree that it is a simple heuristic I am working with here but I think that overt bait-and-switch operations like this one can also be painted with a pretty broad brush and still provide a pretty clear picture. Different health food stores do operate, err, differently. There are three foodie/health-food stores that I frequent. Two of them are larger stores and, as you said, the people there are merely united by their desire for healthy food. The other one is pretty granola and the average customer has a great deal more in common than an enjoyment of organic produce. That would also be the only one with a reasonable book-section, so I based off my own experience. Not always the most reliable indicator, admittedly.

As for what constitutes missionary work, that is a blurry line. While decidedly Christian in tone the brief wiki article on missiology sets a good tone for what aspects something ought contain to be considered “missionary” in nature. In this case, they thought about the cultural practices of the group they wanted to target and used that message in a subversive manner to propagate their own message.

As I said before, I think the new message is more worthy than the message they are trying to replace but I still think the book is a dick move. And in pluralistic societies, we need to be wary of dick moves within the context of mission work since they disrupt the harmonious balance between different groups.

As someone has already said, these ‘types’ of books often use this tactic, and with 2012 only two years away and there being a film about and all, its just a way of attracting the attention it wants and then dishing out its crackpot ideas.I would rather find some other way of making a little bit of money without having to sell crazy books, for example isold some gold bracelets and got a few bob. didnt involve any attempts at brainwashing!