The End Of The World As We Know It?

The End Of The World As We Know It?

It’s a good thing the world didn’t end on Saturday, since I was holding out hope for good weather on Sunday and, for the first time in months I don’t have any plans.

On the bright side, I wouldn’t have to hear Donald Trump massage his ego on TV anymore or hear about what Dominique Strauss-Kahn had for breakfast, as Channel 4 actually reported last Friday.

It’s easy for all of us to make fun of those who convinced themselves the end was near, but it’s always tragic when people so closely associate religion with death, destruction and punishment instead of peace and love, and at the same time scary because people sometimes tend to try to fulfill or, in their mind hasten, prophecies. What’s encouraging is the reaction of many churches that thrive on hope instead of despair that reached out to people — both logistically and spiritually — who had convinced themselves of the coming rapture and quit jobs, gave up possessions or just lost faith.

In Judiasm, there is no end of days, so to speak, but the arrival of messiah and enlightened times is a gradual process that is in our control. "It is meant to be a time of redemption," Rabbi Avi Weiss told me today. "It’s a time when the world will be at peace and it comes about through the efforts of the Jewish people and all human kind." He cited a "beautiful midrash" of rabbis walking as the sun is rising and dicussing that this is how moshiach will arrive, a slow rise.

People who were waiting for earthquakes and fiery death to arrive — after which we Jews would ostensibly left behind to ponder our sins and wonder how to make up the other 99.9 percent of professional sports teams — were, and remain, a big news story.

But hopefully it won’t eclipse the bigger religious news story: Pope Benedict making history as the first pontiff to communicate with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. It seems only fitting that while some people were waiting for the worst, the world’s best-known religious figure was very literally connecting with the future.

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