12.21.12: The Pros and Cons of the End of Days


ORGANIZED RELIGIONS TEND TO BE founded upon an idea of the end of the world. Pretty much all of them have some or other theory about what will go down, and when, and who will be saved and who won’t, and what those who are not saved will have to endure (fire, brimstone, Hilary Duff’s Greatest Hits on endless repeat) for all eternity. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that the year 1914 would mark the end of “the Gentile times,” after which Jesus would rise again to establish God’s Kingdom on Earth. Unless God’s Kingdom on Earth involves two world wars and one cold one, the rise of terrorism, global warming, American Idol, pop-up ads, and robocalls for unloved politicians, “the Gentile times” are still alive and well, and the central tenet of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is total bunk. Which doesn’t stop them from knocking on my door every Sunday when I’m trying to watch football.

Not to pick on the Witnesses. Every religions built around an End of Days—which is to say, every religion—trumpets prophesies which, on their face, are ridiculous. (If you don’t believe me, try reading Revelations out loud; then imagine Jason Sudeikis doing it; it’s like an SNL sketch). The Mayans, of whom we’ve heard so much this year, are no eschatological exception. However advanced they may have been, they will undoubtedly prove just as lousy as the Jehovah’s Witnesses—and Harold Camping, and everyone else who’s ever tried, including Jesus Christ Himself—at forecasting the end of the world.

The End of Days is so simple, really. (Chart courtesy Blue Letter Bible).

First of all, if the Mayans were so good about predicting the future, um, where are they now? Also, while there are plenty of ways the human race can get wiped out in the not-too-distant future, there are only two things that can destroy the entire planet in time for Christmas: 1) nuclear holocaust, and 2) asteroid strike. Despite the recent tensions in the Middle East, the change in leadership in North Korea, and Iran supposedly developing nukes, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll blow the joint to smithereens in the next week or three. And the asteroid on a collision course for earth won’t hit us until 2040, so we have plenty of time there.

And then there’s this, which I wrote in the Huffington Post back in January:

“The claimed date arises from the fact that in that year (depending on how one calculates) the time unit called Baktun will complete its thirteenth turn,” explains the linguistic scholar Zecharia Sitchin in The End of Days. “Since a Baktun lasts 144,000 days, it is some kind of milestone.”

Debunking the apocalypse prophesy, Sitchin explains that the Mayan calendar is based on something called the Long Count, and is, like ours, linear, “and not the required cyclical one, so that its counted days could roll on to the fourteenth Baktun and the fifteenth Baktun and on and on.”

In other words, the Mayan calendar ended in 2012 because the ancients didn’t feel the need to keep going, just as computer programmers in the 1950s didn’t feel the need to register dates past 1999.

2012 is the Mayan Y2k.

Remember Y2K? It was the biggest letdown of all time not involving Geraldo Rivera and Al Capone’s vault.

Well played, People Who Make "Well Played, Mayans" memes.


But what if I’m wrong? I mean, who is lowly Greg Olear next to the wisdom of a tribe of logicians who thought it could appease the gods by ritualistically sacrificing other human beings? I’ve given this some thought, and I’ve decided that while there are obvious drawbacks to every last trace of humanity—from the Great Pyramid to the works of Shakespeare, from the Dos Equis commercials to that YouTube clip of the Epic Sax Guy—vanishing forever in the blink of a proverbial and all-powerful eye, there would definitely be some advantages to the world ending on December 21.

To that end, I have compiled a “pros and cons” list with respect to our imminent destruction:


Con: End of life as we know it.


Pro: Don’t have to pay credit card bills.


Con: Won’t get to watch next season of Downton Abbey.


Pro: Won’t have to endure full year of Channing Tatum’s reign as People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”


Con: Have to buy Christmas presents for everyone, but won’t get to open any.


Pro: Don’t have to worry about whether the kids like their presents.


Con: No Super Bowl.


Pro: Suck it, Sallie Mae!


Con: Numerous items yet to be checked off Bucket List.


Pro: No pressure to check more items off stupid Bucket List.


Con: Probably going to hell.


Pro: Hell is a silly idea…the afterlife, if there is one, must be better than this vale of tears.


Con: Just finished making last car payment.


Pro: No pressure to call Geico to see about saving 10% or more on my car insurance.


Con: Could have used the life insurance money. And the 401k money. And the pension.


Pro: Don’t have a 401k. Or a pension. Or life insurance. Who am I kidding?


Con: A humidor full of unsmoked Acid Kuba Kubas.


Pro: Everyone will be dead, so it’s not like I’ll miss anything.


Con: Won’t get to see how this “fiscal cliff” impasse gets resolved.


Pro: Spared having to watch Obama capitulate once again on “fiscal cliff.”


Con: Won’t get to watch kids grow up.


Pro: World they’ll inherit will be in miserable condition, environmentally, economically, and demographically, and won’t have to feel guilty about it.


Con: Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve will not include the awkward five-minute segment of Dick Clark that makes us pause to contemplate our own mortality just as the booze is starting to kick in, so New Year’s Eve might actually rock this year.


Pro: December 21 is a Friday, which is a good night to go out—perhaps to the End of the World Party @ The Bowery Hotel in NYC, featuring comedian Seth Herzog, artists Ryan Cronin and Jason Iahn, DJs Brooke Williams and Chris Sgroe, Mario the Magician, and the singer/songwriter and Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller.


Con: Mayans probably use Greenwich Mean Time, which means the world will end at 7pm EST, just as the doors open, and well before Rhett Miller takes the stage, so I’ll spend my last two hours on earth struck in traffic on the Saw Mill Parkway.


Pro: Can drink all I want and won’t get hungover.


Let’s run that one again:


Pro: Can drink all I want and won’t get hungover.


Add it all up and what you get is this: if the Mayans are indeed right, if December 21 really is the end of the world as we know it, I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’d feel fine.

Consider me repented.

About Greg Olear

Greg Olear (@gregolear) is a founding editor of The Weeklings and the author of the novels Totally Killer and Fathermucker, an L.A. Times bestseller.
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