Having joined 'the Bible' on Facebook, I spotted a comment by someone speculating that the end of the world was due in 2012, when an asteroid would hit the earth. I asked the chap to check his sources and after doing so he revised it to 2036.
But he's not alone: 2012 conspiracy theories are doing the rounds of the New Age community, and there's a disaster movie of the same name ready to retread Day After Tomorrow territory, by the same chap who directed Day After Tomorrow. This slightly tongue-in-cheek article surveys the possible suspects.
1. By the sound of it, some Christians are jumping on the 2012 bandwagon without really thinking about where the idea comes from. Following Jesus clearly isn't exciting enough for them. Stop and think people: if lots of gullible evangelicals (because it will be evangelicals) start wittering on about 2012, and it doesn't happen (which it won't, most likely), then they'll look gullible. That won't add much credibility to the faith they stand for.
2. We seem to need these things: 1999/2000, now 2012, wonder when the next one will be? There seems to be an inbuilt desire for the apocalyptic to be, at least, possible.
3. A Facebook friend noted the inherent contradiction of a green-tinged New Ager getting into 2012 conspiracy theories. What's the point of saving the planet if it's only got 3 years left?
4. Christians do believe that God, at some stage, will step decisively into history, that Jesus will return. We're also cautioned not to speculate about when it will happen, and history is littered with idiotic predictions about the end of the world. It's more important to live holy lives today than get caught up in conspiracy theories about tomorrow. Whether or not the world has 3, or 3 million years left, makes not one jot of difference to how Christians should be living. We should still be trying to commend our faith to others, and we should still be trying to live as loving stewards of this planet rather than rapacious landlords.
5. The best use of this kind of nonsense is to get people thinking about the future. There are some things that are going to kick in (and are kicking in already) during the next generation: fuel shortages, water shortages, climate change etc. We need to live in the present in a way that is loving and generous towards future generations. The enemy is ourselves, and our approach to life, and the way the capitalist system has encouraged spiralling consumption and greed. Unless we change, this is the way the world as we know it ends: not with a whim but with a banker*.
*not my original line, sadly.