Is this the apocalypse?

2011-03-12 17:27

Speculation about the end of the world is rife among the many ­impassioned responses to events in Japan, which this week suffered an 8.9-magnitude earthquake that spawned a ferocious ­tsunami and immense ­destruction.

In concert with other recent ­disasters across the world, plus a ­popular narrative derived from the Mayan calendar – which “predicts” that the world will have ended by ­December next year – this earthquake is seen by some as more than a natural event.

City Press spoke to commentators from across the religious spectrum about their views on the matter.

The Reverend Daniel Malaka of St John’s Apostolic Faith Mission Church said for him the Japanese disaster was like that in Noah’s time, “when God ended the world in a flood”.

He said: “People commit sins and so God is angered and ­responds with these quakes and floods.”

Bishop Jo Seoka of the SA Council of Churches took a more secular line, saying: “This has nothing to do with the end of the world.”

He linked the disaster to green issues, saying that the quake “is a result of our destructive attitude as humans towards the environment. No rationale can predict the end of the world. Only God knows that.”

Buddhists share a similar view, as Jkai of the Nanhau temple ­explained: “We believe it is climate change. In Buddhism we believe in being present right now, not worrying about things like 2012 or the end of the world.

“Instead we have to protect the environment.”

Mukara Charan, who heads the Hare Krishna Vedic City Project, said the quake was a result of humanity’s “collective karma”.

He said: “People are suffering on account of how we interact with the environment.” Charan also said that “this is an opportunity to learn to live in harmony with the ­environment”.

Ebrahim Bham of the Council of Muslim Theologians said Islam had a different understanding of such phenomena.

“Disasters can be for various reasons, which could include expiation of sins, tests from the Almighty and correction of our deeds.
“However, as we do not know the exact reason we cannot ­determine causes and should turn to the ­Almighty for his mercy and ­protection,” Bham said.

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