It continues to fascinate me how many non-religious people… evince an increasing sense of urgency, bordering on desperation, about the near future… [they] seem to feel a great need to ‘park’ their diffuse but growing sense of angst and dread somewhere, and the environment, especially global warming, provides the most socially acceptable modern receptacle for their nameless fears.
Turns out it’s a wider phenomenon than I imagined. Some background…
In my professional life, I help big companies anticipate things. I like that line of work less and less, but it pays the bills and lets me do this kind of bloggy stuff (and other writing projects) and so I keep doing it… for now. I’m not working for any cigarette, liquor or condom manufacturers, or PETA or the Taliban. I’ll quit before it comes to that.
I intentionally do not use the term ‘predict’ because that carries with it, I have learned, two dangers
The first danger lies in being correct in essence but being cajoled into being wildly wrong in the specifics. Often this is due to the temptation to run an idea out to its uttermost as a result of pride or pressure to quote a number.
For example, I might have an automaker as a client. (I don’t, but just suppose.) One of their executives, who is getting pressure from his CEO, stockholders and his board, might ask me to predict the total number of blue hatchbacks with built-in MP3 players, sunroofs and gas mileage over 35 MPG that will be sold in third quarter, 2010 by them and all of their known and unknown competitors… in the Pacific Northwest.
I expect the world (much less Seattle) to be in total chaos by then, with almost no cars of any kind being sold, but I can’t tell him that. I’d be tempted to make a prediction because if I told him the broad things he ought to be paying attention to, such as getting into the bicycle business, or cutting back on his production generally because all kinds of cars will be in lower demand, or going into the movie business by showing cool fantasy animations on his company’s website, he’d probably throw me out and not pay me. He wants a number. So I tell him: nineteen thousand, three hundred and twelve… and a half. All I really know is that the number will be a lot less than are sold now.
The second problem is that when one gets into prediction mode, there’s this tendency to put on progressively narrower blinders and look for just one type of thing that one has come to expect is the only important thing to look for and in so doing to miss many other events (peripheral clues) which could describe the pattern one is looking for just as well, if not better than the one which you went in thinking was it.
The application to Biblical prophecy and prophetic thinking, I hope, is obvious. Which doesn’t mean I don’t walk right into both traps routinely. It just means I try very hard to recognize when I’m in one. I’m not sure I am. Yet. Ask me again on Wednesday… :) …if we’re still here.
All of which is a lead-up to mentioning that I’ve been a self-taught student of predictive methods and tools for over fifteen years. That’s not to brag. It’s just the way it is.
Some of the most intriguing involve tapping into the so-called ‘wisdom of crowds’. Tools like prediction markets and on-line voting mechanisms and the like. Short take on those: sometimes they work brilliantly and sometimes they don’t and it’s not always easy to tell which is which ahead of time.
Example: the morning of the 2004 presidential election I had collected data in a simple spreadsheet from public betting sites which, after I’d played with it a bit accurately ‘called’ every one of the fifty states and thus the outcome of the election. It took the pundits a couple of days to catch up after being right, then wrong, then right, then wrong again, then, finally, right because they had to be.
And so it is with great interest that I’ve started looking into the phenomenon of ‘bots’ that systematically surf the web, mining and aggregating conversations and other fresh content using sophisticated and proprietary linguistic parsing algorithms to get a sense for what’s going on. The more mundane tell you what people are looking at now. Those are not very interesting and usually lag well behind what folks who read blogs like this already know.
Another class of web bots operate at the boundary between hard-headed motive (most of them appear to be traders or people with large financial stakes in something) and quasi-spiritual theories no one claims to even begin to understand. (My take: together we know stuff we don’t know we know individually. Time is but another dimension of space; since we all have a divine spark (even the most secular among us) we sense stuff — at least big stuff, collectively — that’s out ‘ahead’ of us on the ‘bow wave’ of time. God is outside all of it, of course.)
One of the most interesting of these sites is George Ure’s UrbanSurvival.com. (Like me, he’s a management consultant; in fact, I just learned, I’m only three degrees away from him on LinkedIn. That and two bucks will get you on the subway). I mention that only to emphasize that these are entirely secular tools, with secular motives, run by what (I must assume from the language) are quite secular people. And yet their tools are telling them… something… and that something is meshing remarkably well with conclusions many of us have been coming to via a completely separate route (e.g., studying our Bibles, looking at the stars, praying and listening to the Holy Spirit).
When those two line up, it’s time to pay attention, though of course they are not mutually exclusive. (Some of what these linguistic prediction engines end up sensing includes stuff like, well, this blog and the comments on it which we know have at least some influence from the Holy Spirit. Others have noted similar “bow wave” patterns in collective consciousness for months leading up to other big (and almost by definition ‘unknowable’) events like 9-11 or the major earthquake in China last year.
Here’s UrbanSurvival’s top story today:
Another Web Bot Hit: Oh, THAT Global Coastal Phenomena
With the scheduled release of the new “Shape of Things to Come” from www.hafpasthuman.com tomorrow – Be sure it is the one with the July publishing date – a number of readers have been pointing at this and that (especially the new blob up in Alaska, for example) and have asked “Is that your global coastal phenomena you’ve been looking for?”
To refresh your memory on what we had been looking for, based on the predictive linguistics, has been rising waters to indicate the start of some new phenomena that should take about five months to even figure out a name for. In addition, when the conference in Scandinavia reported on sea level changes back in March, that was supposed to set about a 90-day timer since that was to be a preceding temporal (time) marker that the GCE/GCP was about here. Blobs are nice and all, but this just wasn’t big enough.
He cites an article about unexpectedly high tides on the U.S. East Coast that started back in June, conjecturing that that might explain the linguistic patterns they’ve been seeing. Maybe.
First observation is that the actual event was taking place right on schedule. What’s curious is that we’re finding, as in the case of the Chinese earthquake in May 2008, we often get descriptors that only match up closely with the events some number of weeks after the physical event takes place.
In other words, two days prior to the China quake, we were nattering on about how it was to be a “wedding quake” but it wasn’t until about two weeks after the actual quake event that the world got the before picture of the weddings interrupted (here) and the after the interruption pictures here.
The earthquake-wedding meme is one the predictive linguistics community seems particularly proud to have discovered. They didn’t figure out exactly what it meant until later (and the fact that it was predicted at all is downright weird). I can’t help thinking… Yeah, I’ll bet you were thinking the same thing. Wedding of the lamb. Earthquake. Yep. (Nice to have Biblically literate audience!) It’s a meme that might not yet have been fulfilled (pictures of disrupted Chinese weddings notwithstanding). Ure continues:
Similarly, the release of the NOAA Alert [about tides] (which hasn’t gained too much traction in the MSM – only a few heads-up news operations like the Virginia Pilot online has picked it up with “Higher tides affecting East Coast, especially mid-Atlantic”) is coming some numbers of weeks after the actual observations of the rising waters.
Of course, that gets us to wondering what might have been causing those tidal changes. Was it just an oddity in the weather patterns along the East Coast, or is there more to come and might be hinted at in the linguistics?
As a secularist, Ure doesn’t fall as far into the trap of blaming global climate change as did Prince Charles, Barbara Boxer and others. The timeframes (if the planet were warming, which it’s not and the ice caps melting, which they aren’t) are radically different; the physics just don’t work out.
Yet I couldn’t help noting the term ‘coastal’. Not ‘shore’ or ‘beach’ or ‘tide’, which might have been equally plausible in such a context. Also ‘global’.
“…to the coastlands he will render repayment. So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream which the wind of the LORD drives.”
According to one of my concordances, ‘rushing stream’ can also be rendered ‘narrow river’. A narrow river of wind sounds an awful like the contrail of an airplane or missile.
And why coastlands? There were certainly coastal cities in Biblical times but, to my knowledge, no naval battles or amphibious assaults are described in scripture. If this is (at least in part) about the United States coming under judgment are we talking libertine blue states vs. faithful ‘flyover’ heartland? Maybe. I suspect that’s far too simple. Or perhaps, thinking in terms of local geography, coastlands would be the natural target for nukes launched from, or detonated within a container ship. Hmm…
The majority of other instances of the word ‘coastlands’ in scripture seem to be in the context of pending judgment. I don’t have time to delve into the Hebrew, but will try and tackle that later in an update or two. Perhaps Ure is onto much more than he imagines.
Finally, for those anticipating tomorrow night’s eclipse, prayer vigil and possible rapture, you’d do well to listen to the following (see below) from entirely secular, skeptical sources. The good stuff doesn’t come until about halfway through. What they’re talking about uses the same basic methods (predictive linguistic web ‘bots’) and what they’re seeing with it anticipates a ‘sudden disappearance’ this summer of millions of people who simply ‘vanish’ as if into thin air as if through a ‘dimensional portal’.
The guys being interviewed go out of their way to say that what they’re sensing in the zeitgeist is not a ‘Christian rapture’, but they merely assert that. They don’t say why they can reject it. Otherwise it fits the sudden destruction / rapture scenario almost perfectly. Is it all just recursive with sites and discussions like this one? Maybe. Yet with the wedding-earthquake meme, the global-coastal meme and now this… well… a handful of us prophecy nut-bags can’t be swaying their finely tuned software that much.
Some[one] much larger must be at work… just as He always has been.
UPDATE I: I’m pretty new to the application of web bots to Biblical prophecy, so go check out JRed over at Look Up Fellowship. He wrote about the phenomena here (back in April) and here (back in May).
UPDATE II: Regarding the term ‘coastlands’ as used in scripture, the Hebrew word is אי (Strongs H339, pronounced ē — just ē, that’s all). It’s a masculine noun meaning, simply, “coast, island, shore, region”. It derives from the root word אוה (Strong’s H183, pronounced ä·vä’), meaning “desire, incline, covet, wait longingly, wish, sigh, want, be greedy, prefer, crave (food and drink), long for, or lust after (of bodily appetites)” The following passages in three successive chapters in Isaiah seem particularly pregnant with meaning as regards judgment or sudden destruction:
Isaiah 40:15 – “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.” (sounds like the effects of a nuclear detonation)
Isaiah 41:5 — “The coastlands have seen and are afraid; the ends of the earth tremble; they have drawn near and come.” (seen what? afraid of what?)
Isaiah 42:4 — “He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.” (perhaps because they are in chaos as the result of… something)