More Cowbell VII!


Gene, give that sucker a whack for me, eh?Cerulean Sanctum’s More Cowbell Award,  given to the most ridiculous aspects of “Christian” practice, has not been handed out since October 2007, and since “time may be running out,” I better bestow another while I still can.

I start this seventh award by asking, Has there ever been a more bloodthirsty, demon-driven culture than the Maya?

The Maya of Mesoamerica practiced ritualized slayings of enemies and willing victims as part of a large number of religious festivals. These sacrificial victims often had their hearts carved out of their chests while still alive. The Mayan gods were animistic demons to whom the Maya offered perverted blood sacrifices, a complete corruption of the one genuine blood sacrifice that truly mattered, that of Jesus.

Oh, and then there’s that wacky Mayan calendar. You know, the one famously set to run out of time at the end of 2012.

So how is this a Cerulean Sanctum post, you ask.

Well, if you’re like me, you’ve received spam from supposedly Christian sources attempting to link the lack of a 2013 in the Mayan calendar with the Second Coming of Christ. Yes, indeed, June 2009 marks 3½ years before the end of that calendar. And we all know how the numbers 3½ and 7 figure into speculation about Christ’s return.

Jesus, however, said this:

“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. ”
—Mark 13:32-33

You know, I take that as pretty authoritative, as it comes from the mouth of Jesus. Yet there are “Christians” out there who are willing to state that the heart-extracting, demon-worshipping Mayans have got one up on the Lord of All. With all apologies to the original lyricist of the classic children’s song, those folks seem to be singing, “Jesus may not truly know, but the Maya tell us so.”

Good grief.

But before we set to stoning the New Age syncretists behind this “Mayan Calendar Predicts Jesus’ Return” garbage, need I remind anyone of a couple sets of dates:


Rosh Hashanah,  September 1988

The first was the “magic number” trotted out by a bunch of charismaniacs. We all know from the Bible that 7 is a blessed number, so let’s all go crazy and predict that Jesus will come back on a day filled with that number. All I can say in response is that the Rapture must’ve been really, really small, and not too many of us passed muster, apparently.

Now I’m generally a contrarian, but even I was struck by how many sane Christians  decided to spend the entire day of July 7, 2007, praying. A fine endeavor on its own, yes, but let’s get real about why they were doing it. And if they were doing it for that reason, they were doing it wrong.

As to the second date, I was working in a Christian bookstore when the infamous 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be  in 1988 came out. I urged the owners of the store to send the book back to the distributor. They didn’t listen. I didn’t last too long at that store afterwards.

That summer of 1988, I worked at a Christian camp. Everyone was talking about the book. A lot of the young, Evangelical staff wondered if they would be raptured as virgins, thus missing out on the be all and end all of life. Evidently, the senior class of Cedarville Bible College (not too far away from where I live) thought the same thing, but they remedied their fear the old fashioned way: by marrying in droves before that second week in September. (I’ve always wondered how many of those couples are still together.)

I know people may not remember this, but earnest believers, especially in the Bible Belt, sold their houses, stock, and all manner of goods just so they could be unencumbered when that decisive week in September 1988 rolled around.  Some went so far as to euthanize their pets  so that Muffin and Bowser—who, being soulless beasts, would not be raptured—didn’t wind up as  animal sacrifices atop the altars of millions of Satanists who would be left behind.

You may laugh, but I’m not joking. I have no doubts that a few folks reading this are saying to themselves, Yeah, I was one of those fruitcakes.

I’d blame the false prophets behind this kind of stuff ordinarily, but they only pander to the crowd.

So this More Cowbell Award instead goes to

People who listen to lying prophets about the date for the Rapture.

I mean, this is a no brainer, folks. This doesn’t require any major spiritual discernment when Mark 13:32-33 exists in every Bible I’ve ever read.

Why not try this instead: Live every day as if Jesus was coming back tomorrow.

Sound good?

Word of warning: If no posts show up here after today, you’ll know I was done in by a shadowy cabal of book publishers who make a bazillion dollars off Christians by marketing  according to the old adage There’s a sucker born every minute.

Or I was raptured.


15 thoughts on “More Cowbell VII!

      • Well, Dan, I’m late getting back to your question. Though I must say that Normandie had done a fine job in reply, I’ll put in my supplementary two cents.

        As for my own history, raised in church but converted at age 40, I’ve never bought in to the date of Christ’s return predictions, simply because He stated so categorically that we could not know.(I’m a pretty literal minded person and that statement couldn’t be clearer.) That does not mean, however, that I’ve not fallen for any other number of falsehoods. I live in California, and well remember the so-called prophecy that a great earthquake would come during the time of the 1984 Olympic games and create a great disaster if we did not all repent. I was a bit nervous. Well, I guess there must have been a mass revival that skipped right over me. Because that never came to pass and there was no accompanying revival. I’ve also accepted personal “prophecies” that turned out to be either entirely false, or what seemed more like cruel jokes from a trickster god. A long series of these sorts of experiences and the absence of clear and consistent preaching of the pure and unadulterated gospel (I was involved in the Word of Faith movement) drove me from church for many years.

        I think reason #1 people buy into this is that folks tend to have their own agenda when they come to Scripture. Rather than looking to meet God and learn what He has to say to them about Himself, they are looking for ways to get the kind of lives they are looking for, or for at least a bit of control over their futures. When they find Scripture unsatisfactory in it’s straightforward meaning they look for more esoteric uses for it. If they don’t like it’s direct answer, they dig around for an answer they like better. In short, they want the Bible to be something it’s not – a crystal ball.

        This, I think, and mind you I’m mining my own motivations for this there could be more and different reasons, comes from our desire for control, our desire to “be like God”. We cannot accept that the future is not ours to control or even predict. We are not the masters of our destiny we would like to think we are. (I’m not discounting personal accountability here. I think you understand.) This is such a common human trait that we see it in heathens of all ages and professing and real Christians as well. I think this accounts for all manner of occultism and devotion to esoteric wisdom (under which category I would even include an inordinate interest in conspiracy theories, involvement in secret societies, etc.). We’ve all heard the assertion, “knowledge is power”. We want to be the ones with the deep understanding and wisdom. We want to be in the know. We want to feel powerful.

  1. Normandie


    You ask why people fall for the ridiculous? Because they refuse to think for themselves, or they haven’t been taught to think. There’s always the tendency of many to believe whatever they read, without checking sources for themselves, as if because it’s written, it has to be gospel. And, as many have let others interpret the Scriptures for them instead of relying on the Spirit of God to open their ears and hearts and minds to what the WHOLE counsel of God says, they’re ripe for the picking.

    I’ve been very frustrated with this among those to whom I try to witness. Normally intelligent people are convinced that anything written in their newspaper of choice or heard on their news program of choice is the truth — even when I can bring facts and figures from original sources to bear on the subject and refute the dogmatic statements so readily believed.

    We’ve done a terrible disservice to our children, especially in the church, by teaching blind obedience instead of how to test the spirits and think with logic. God gave us His Spirit to lead us and gave us brains to think, certainly some with more critical abilities than others, but still all with the ability to question and not follow like blind sheep.

    I’m not talking about following Jesus, but following teachers, leaders, writers or speakers. Jesus will always give us His Wisdom and His mind — He has promised to do so. In the days to come this is going to be more critical than ever before, lest we be led astray in ways that could affect our eternity. We must never be lemmings.

    • Normandie,

      I am constantly at a loss when people use means to scry the future that the Bible says to avoid. For instance, so much of the conjecture that goes on about the date of Christ’s return is based on numerology more than it is the Bible. And that’s a form of divination, which the Bible says to avoid entirely.

      Then there’s people who take occult sources and try to Christianize them. It’s why I started off with what I did about the Maya. If you’re going to claim that the Maya knew when Christ was to return (or history would cease—the same thing, IMHO), then you’re saying that they knew better and that the demons they were in conference with knew better. That’s insane. You don’t have to be a master of discernment to see through that foolishness.

      Which is why I’m perpetually bothered by this stuff, or more to the point, that people are so amazingly undiscerning. Just one or two questions and this is unmasked for what it is. Just one or two.

      Here’s a simple rule for at least one kind of basic discernment:

      1. What is my source for this information?
      2. What or who is behind that source?

      So my neighbor tells me that there will be a major earthquake tomorrow that will cause California to fall off into the sea. Swell. And what is the source? Well, my neighbor’s cat told her this. Okay, well, consider the source. When was the last time a cat communicated geological facts in this way? And just who/what might be informing the cat of this truth?

      In the case of the Mayan calendar, you have people who claim to be devout Christians referencing the Maya as their source, a tribe great akin to the Molech-worshipers of the OT. Great source, those Molech-worshipers. Absolutely impeachable testimonies.

      Yeah, whatever.

      Boy, that really tried my powers of discernment!

      • Normandie

        Amen, Dan. But whole theologies have formed around one verse, taken out of context, or one person’s supposed revelation that ignores all the rest of scripture, so what’s the difference, really? It’s all based on man’s desire to control his universe and/or to be comfortable. A dated rapture/end times theology at least narrows things to manageable size. It will happen then? Okay, let’s get ready. Instead of the idea, as you mentioned, of being ready for the Lord to appear at any time.

        I remember being challenged years ago to look at my life and my home and see if I’d welcome Jesus as a guest at a moment’s notice. Well, not being Sally Homemaker, I’d have had to ask Him to wait a few minutes while I straightened up a bit! Aren’t we like that about our lives, too? I’m getting around to that, Lord. Just give me time. And then someone comes along and says we’ve got until this date…well, that’s good. I’ve got time to get things together. Forgetting, because we stop thinking, that we will never know exactly when and He wants us always ready for His coming.

        I think the church’s greatest weakness in the days to come is going to be this emphasis on, “Come to Jesus and everything’s going to be fine.” I heard a sermon recently that said if we’re the Bride of Christ, He won’t let us go through wrath. Well, maybe not wrath, but He sure let Job go through a bunch of stuff that probably felt wrathful while it was happening. If we’re always looking for the easy way, the miracle relief, (instead of focusing on Jesus and praising Him in the midst of the mess — which doesn’t preclude believing prayer) then something that promises a miracle and relief will suck us right in. Hence, the ease with which folk can go along with things that are obviously not from scripture — and not even in agreement with scripture unless you take one verse out of context and drop all the rest of the Bible — or that come from demonic sources such as those Mayan ones you mentioned. If they promise things that tickle our fancy, or provide easy solutions, or get us away from scripture study and on to looking for clues about things the Lord never intended us to know — for example, the book that someone passed on to me called The Bible Code. Like books on numerology, this purports to study God’s word to decode fortune telling of events past and present. Seductive to those who are looking for something they can believe in without much effort and that requires nothing of them.

        The world may get sucked into this mess, but we in the church ought to use the gifts God has given us, especially our brain.

      • Peyton

        Thanks for the post, Dan. I, too, am tired of the Returnism and Rapturism that surround us!

        To expand on your two questions above, may I add these Four Searching Questions from a former pastor of ours:

        1. What do you mean by that?
        2. Where did you get your information?
        3. How do you know it’s true?
        4. What if you’re wrong?


  2. David

    Interesting to think that in this “age of reason” we are guided by anything but…

    I think we seek to know, and would feel more comfortable with numbers, however fanciful, rather than rest in the uncertainty of belief, even if it’s belief in what the God of all creation promises to us. The size of the mustard seed doesn’t matter; it’s that it exists at all.

    • Peter,The Thessalonians passage is saying more about the fact that Christians should be like the five wise virgins than to give any kind of counsel on dates. All such date speculation is unprofitable.

        • I don’t mean to be argumentative, Mr. Smythe, but what version of the Bible are you reading?

          The ones I am familiar with render 1 Thessalonians 5:2 saying: “for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (emphasis mine). The rest of the passage doesn’t say that we will know the day; it simply advises us to be alert, self-controlled … ready, so that we won’t be surprised.

          Followers of Christ know the day is coming.

          For the most part, the non-believing world has no inkling of it – and no belief in it.

  3. But if you take Mark 13:32-33 and add the first three numbers together you get 7. Also, the number 3 shows up 4 times in that reference. Add 3 and 4 together and, again, you get 7. Somehow I think this is important.

  4. Keith,

    I appreciate the comment, but you didn’t finish reading the passage. Verse 4ff reads:

    “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night or darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.”

    My response to Dan is based on verse 4. I added verses 5-8 because it is true that we are to live as if He was coming back this afternoon.

    While I’m not a prophecy guru, I believe that Jesus was speaking about the Jews in Mark 13 because the church was still a mystery.

    By the way, my translation is the NASB.

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