CORRUGATED TIMES-DISPATCHApril 6, 2006
PATMOS - A local seer says the Earth would be better off with 90 percent of the human population dead.
"Every one of you who gets to survive has to bury nine," John the Apostle cautioned students and guests at his creepy cave on Thursday. John's words are part of what he calls his "doomsday talk" - a nine-hour presentation outlining humanity's theological misdeeds and John's predictions about how God, working through disease, famine, and war, will exterminate all but a fraction of civilization.
Though his statements are admittedly bold, he's not without abundant advocates. But what may set this revered thinker apart from other doomsday soothsayers is this: Humanity's collapse is a notion he embraces.
Indeed, his words deal, very literally, on a life-and-death scale, yet he smiles and jokes candidly throughout the diatribe. Disseminating a message many would call morbid, John's warnings are centered upon awareness rather than fear.
"This is really an exciting time," he said Thursday amid warnings of apocalypse, destruction and disease. Only minutes earlier he declared, "Death. This is what awaits us all. Death." Reflecting on the so-called Ancient Chinese Curse, "May you live in interesting times," he wore, surprisingly, a smile.
So what's at the heart of John's claim?
6.5 billion sinful humans is too many.
In his estimation, "We've grown fat, selfish and miserable by straying from God's path."
A 90 percent reduction.
That's 5.8 billion lives - lives he says are only here by God's grace. He insists civilization is on the brink of its downfall.
"[God's wrath] will control the scourge of humanity," John said. "We're looking forward to a huge collapse. God will send plagues of boils, locust-beasties, hailstorms, ultimately reaching the breaking point at the battle of Armageddon."
But don't tell local "citizen scientist" Anticles the Skeptic to quietly swallow John's call to awareness. Anticles says it's an "abhorrent death wish" and contends he has "no choice but to take a stand."
Anticles attended the prophet's doomsday presentation at the Greek Academy of Theologians annual meeting March 2-4. There, the organization honored John as its 2006 Distinguished Seer - another issue Anticles vocally opposes.
"This guy is a loose cannon to believe that worldwide genocide is the only answer," said Anticles, who filed two formal petitions with the academy following the meeting.
Joining the crusade, Thrasymachus the Elderly, who received a Ph.D. in divination from UG-Sparta, became the second to publicly chastise John when he filed a complaint Saturday with the UG board of regents. He insists a state university is no place to disseminate such views.
"John's message does not fall within the realm of his professional competence as a prognosticator, because it is a normative claim, not a descriptive one. John is encouraged to use his theological expertise to predict the likely consequences of certain moral behaviors, but to evaluate some as worthy of prevention by genocide is abominable."
But John, a retired 38-year UG educator, maintains he's not campaigning for genocide. He likens mankind's story to an unbridled party on a luxury cruise liner. The fun's going strong on the upper deck, he says. But as crowds blindly absorb the festivities, many fail to notice the ship is sinking.
"The biggest enemy we face is humanism," he said, describing the belief system in which humans are the central element of the universe. "This is that common attitude that everything humans do, humans should decide, ignoring the will of God."
Paul the Apostle, an Antioch University theology professor and associate dean, agrees the inevitability of a crashing point is unarguable.
"The amount of sin in this world is growing," he said. "The whole of creation groans and labors for a radical solution."
But sin is more than just an immediate problem, John says. It's the horrifying God-sent plagues he deems most capable of wide scale decimation.
"Humans are so dense (in moral understanding) that they constitute a perfect substrate for divine wrath," he says.
"This is gonna happen in your lifetime," he told his Patmos audience. "Do you wanna go there? We've already gone there. We waited too long."
[The preceding was parody. But not by much.]