When Prophecies Fail

Tuesday June 3, 7:00 pm at the Centre for Inquiry meeting room (also known as the Seniors Centre)-next door to the Civic Theatre

The Nelson Centre for Inquiry (CFI) will be starting a series of presentations called ‘Let’s Examine…” .

Local presenters will be examining popular ideas and beliefs through a process of critical thinking.  The second presentation is….

When Prophecies Fail

It’s the end of the world! Again. And again. The prophecy has been made thousands of times in recorded history, and somehow the world is still here. But what happens to the failed prophets, and the people who followed them, sometimes at great personal cost?
From the 19th-century Millerites, who waited on hilltops for a Second Coming that never came, to the Seekers in 1950s Chicago, who vainly scanned the skies for elusive flying saucers, to the “Big Five” death cults who ended in fire and blood, the answer seems to be: almost anything can happen.
In fact, however, there are some powerful and surprising patterns that emerge from failed apocalyptic narratives, patterns that may shed a disturbing light on modern mainstream religious organizations as well as on cults and some New Age movements.
Dr. Rebecca Bradley—novelist, retired archaeologist, and writer for the Skeptic Ink Network—ties some of these threads together in a lecture sponsored by the West Kootenay Centre for Inquiry.

Want to read some of Rebecca’s previous analyses? Read her Monday Messiah series on her blog the Lateral Truth, always an enlightening read.

April 28 – Monday Messiah Ghandi – Mohandas K. Gandhi, known as Mahatma Gandhi, meaning “Great Soul,” is widely considered a saint and a martyr, the father of his nation, the prophet of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience; a man who set an example of ascetic self-sufficiency, including spinning his own yarn for weaving his own loincloths; a revolutionary who faced down the mighty British Raj and pressed for the rights of the poor, even the despised untouchables, whom he called the “children of God”.  A mystic, peacemaker, prophet of minimalism, messiah of liberation—surely the antithesis of compatriots like the Baghwan Shree Rajneesh, with his fleet of Rolls Royces, or dark messiahs like Jim Jones, with his doctrine of revolutionary suicide, or Adolf Hitler, with his unifying myth of Aryan nationhood.  In fact, questioning Gandhi’s saintliness feels a bit churlish, as heretical and apt to offend some people as questioning the divinity of Jesus would offend others.  Yet, there are grounds to see Gandhi as fitting in with the same general messianic model as the antiheroes mentioned above.
read more here
May 19 – Monday Messiah: Roch Thériault, Lord of the Ant Hill  – The ugly story of Roch Thériault and the Ant Hill Kids presents a malignant messianic cult in its smallest, purest form.  Thériault, born in Quebec in 1947 and also known as Moses, God and Pappy, started his spiritual career as a lapsed Catholic, was kicked out of the Seventh Day Adventists, and made himself unpopular among Mormon polygamists—but he was the almighty lord of his own mini-religion. read more here