The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Featured Story

December 20, 2012

World will end Friday (maybe)

If one has been on social media or around a water cooler, they’re probably not immune to the ever-increasing talk of the end of the world. The prediction of earth’s demise by the ancient Mayan civilization has been a hot topic as we approach Dec. 21, 2012, or as others are calling it — Friday.

No matter what side of the fence anyone is on, a religion professor from Rutgers University sheds light on the idea and the people behind it.

“The Mayans were typical of a lot of the indigenous cultures in North American, South America and Central America,” said Rutgers-Camden professor Stuart Charme. “They had what we would probably call a cyclical view of time.”

According to Charme, the Mayans had three calendars. He is familiar with two of them.

“They have an everyday calendar that they use for measuring holidays and celebrations and the kind of things that are measurable in terms of the lives of people and the community,” he said.

The other calendar is referred to as a “Long Count” calendar which extends beyond any individual’s lifetime but with units of time that can be compared with examples including centuries, millennia and beyond, he said. This calendar is on what the popular Mayan prediction is based. Does the “Long Count” calendar end on Friday? According to Charme, the answer is disputed.

“That calendar has not been in use probably for about 900 or 1,000 years, so it’s not like there are any Mayans around today who are paying a whole lot of attention to it,” he said. “It’s really been reconstructed from archeological remains from various kinds of hieroglyphs that have been deciphered during the height of the Mayan civilization when it was really being used to mark big events in the life of civilization.”

From the deciphering, when scholars found dates that related to a date in current calendars, they worked backward and forward.

“They looked backward to see where the Mayans were dating the beginning of that calendar and they come up with this date somewhere in the year 3114 B.C. which is the beginning of this calendar we are talking about and then they project forward in terms of where it would rollover into a new cycle,” Charme said. “And some scholars have said that’s this year and some next year and maybe it’s on the 21st or maybe it’s on the 23rd, but I think the consensus statement everyone kind of agreed on, which also kind of has the advantage of also being the winter solstice, is Dec. 21, 2012.”

However, there is room for misinterpretation on two levels, he said.

“One is a simple calculation,” Charme said. “This may or may not be the day when the calendar is rolling over. That’s a sort of minor thing.”

The bigger issue, Charme said, is what will be the result when the calendar runs out?

“And that’s where the kind of craziness of contemporary Mayan apocalyptic catastrophic scenarios really is pretty much of our modern invention,” he said.

Did the Mayans actually predict the end of the world or is it an assumption based on the end of a calendar? Charme said it depends on who you ask.

“I think scholars of Mayan culture would say there are no such predictions,” Charme said. “The Mayans themselves were not a particularly apocalyptic people.”

Instead, the date could represent a change for humanity and not the end of the world, he said.

“It’s possible and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a sense that at the end of the cycle there would be a different quality to a new age in the same way that we might say the middle ages were different than the modern period or the 19th century was different from the 20th century,” he said.

Charme said it’s important to remember that the Mayans were creating a calendar that ended in a period far beyond what they could sense.

“Probably what they were saying, going back 1,500 years when they were using this calendar, was by the time this calendar runs out in 1,500 years, it will be a new cycle for the world and for humanity,” Charme said.

Charme said he thinks the first mention of the calendar may go back to the early 20th century.

“I’m not sure when the first scholarly reference to it was,” he said. “It definitely got picked up by the new age spiritual movement and some central figures in that movement who combined it with a whole set of different scenarios and that, I would say, has been building over the last decade and really gained it’s momentum, I would say, in the last five years.”

However one chooses to view the prediction, Charme knows what he’ll be doing Friday. In an interview with Rutgers Today, the university’s official news site, he said he would have students from the graduate version of his class come to his home for an end of the world party.

“I don’t know exactly what we’ll do,” he said. “I’m not sure what end of the world activities would really look like. One of my students recommended that we play Twister. Maybe...”


Rheam writes for Stillwater NewsPress.


Text Only
Featured Story
  • CUELLARJD_5 copy.jpg EPD captain: Enid man arrested in 'worst domestic' he's seen

    Becerra Jose D. Jesus Cuellar is accused of beating, torching and pointing a gun at the head of his girlfriend, at times in front of their children, between Saturday and Monday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oklahoma Bombing Vide_Hass.jpg Man claims tampering in case over bombing videos

    Trentadue says the agency is refusing to release videos that show a second person was with Timothy McVeigh when he parked a truck outside the Oklahoma City federal building and detonated a bomb that killed 168 people. The government says McVeigh was alone.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • flood watch.tiff UPDATED: Garfield County under flash flood watch

    Rainfall chances start in earnest tonight, with an 80 percent chance after 2 a.m. that increases to 90 percent Wednesday and Wednesday night. Flooding in streets, ditches and low-lying areas could be possible.

    July 29, 2014 7 Photos

  • storm_W.jpg Storm victims face dilemma: accept loans or reject them

    The tornadoes, flooding and hail that struck Oklahoma last year left hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage, causing many home and business owners to seek help in the form of low-interest federal loans.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Quilts_4_BH_W.jpg History of an art form

    Woven amongst the fabric, patterns and stitches in the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center’s newest special exhibit are stories of past generations.

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • Academy.jpg State prisons expand their reach to train new officers

    On a recent day, a class in the McAlester program was filled with the sounds of bodies thudding onto thick, rainbow-colored pads held together by duct tape, along with heavy breathing and tapping as cadets indicated they’d successfully been subdued.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • FortStillFacility.jpg FBI: No arrests yet in scam targeting migrant kids

    Con artists use private information about the children to contact their family members and demand payment for bogus processing and travel expenses needed to reunite the kids with their relatives. Families with migrants in Texas and Oklahoma have been targeted.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • Child Tax Credit_Hass.jpg House votes to boost child tax credit for some

    With nearly all Republicans voting in favor and most Democrats opposed, the bill cleared the House by a vote of 237-173. The White House threatened to veto the bill, though the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to pass it.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Oil-Covered Owls_1_JN.jpg Caretaker: One of 2 oil-covered owls has died

    Jean Neal and her husband, Jim, of Fairview, have been caring for the owls since Tuesday, July 22, 2014, when they received them from Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, which is investigating the incident and the death of several other birds found at a neglected oil field tank site.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Virginia Storm_Hass.jpg 2 dead, dozens hurt after storm at Va. campground

    "All hell broke loose. We got an emergency message on a cellphone and within 30 seconds, the thing hit and it blew down 40, 50 trees in the park." — Joe Colony, who has been coming to the campground for 30 years

    July 24, 2014 7 Photos

Featured Ads
AP Video
Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob
House Ads