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Asking the clergy about doomsday fears

Doomsayers predict that 2012 is the year of the apocalypse. Should the faithful be fearful?

On Dec. 21, 2012, the world will end, predict doomsayers obsessed with the ancient Mayan calendar. The hit 2009 movie, "2012," had John Cusack running from hurricanes, volcanoes, tidal waves and a crumbling core of the Earth.

While modern Mayan scholars disavow the notion that the ancient Long Count calendar made such a prediction, the notion of the apocalypse rages on.

Our clergy discuss how the faithful should view the attention surrounding end-of-times predictions.

The Rev. Kathleen Kufs, children's minister, Gathering of Light Multifaith Spiritual Fellowship, Dix Hills:

This reminds me of what I learned from my beloved teacher and interfaith pioneer, Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, years ago: "Adonai li, v'lo ira," which means, "God is with you, have no fear." This ancient prediction is a test of our faith and, if we have faith, we can trust that every outcome is always to our advantage.

I do think 2012 is going to be a monumental year. It will be a year when people will have a universal shift in consciousness about our place on this earth. If you are spiritual, this is a time of rebirth and a shift in universal consciousness that started 11/11/2011, which was an auspicious day.

Pastor James D. Ryan, ThD, president, Lighthouse Mission Inc., Bellport:

The Bible teaches us that no one knows when the world will end. As real disciples of Jesus, we're not supposed to be distracted from doing his work, which is to know Christ and make him known to others.

For those of us who have a personal relationship with Jesus, the Earth we live on today is as close to hell as we're going to get. And, for those who don't have that relationship, this is as close to heaven as they will get. If you're focused on 2012 and the end of the world, there's a whole different conversation that we need to be having. Jesus told us in Matthew 6:26, "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?"

You don't need to worry about what you'll eat or what you'll wear, or the world ending in 2012.

Pastor Bob Walderman, Lynbrook Baptist Church, Lynbrook:

People always seem fascinated by end-of-the-world predictions. History is littered with failed predictions. The question for people is simply, "Which ancient writing are you going to believe?"

One of the hallmarks of the Bible, which testifies to its veracity, is the predictive prophecy it contains, which have been proven true. Isaiah (44:28-45:1) predicted 100 years before the fact that a king named Cyrus would rebuild the temple, which was still standing in Jerusalem, and history proved him right. Micah predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) about 700 years before Christ was born there.

So, rather than seek some unproven prediction attributed to the Mayans, we should stay with a proven source of truth -- The Bible.

Jesus said, "No one knows the day or time . . . " (Matthew 24:36), so anyone claiming to know should be ignored. It won't come as a secret, for, at Christ's return, "every eye will see Him" (Revelations 1:7).

While the Bible does speak of the end of times, it is more concerned about our being prepared when it does happen (John 3:16).

Rabbi Sholom Stern, Temple Beth El, Cedarhurst:

All religions have a vision of what's going to be at the end of days. Usually, those visions bring us back to, if you will, the Garden of Eden, something blissful, serene and peaceful. In the Jewish tradition, there is a return of the Messianic days when there is a vision of world peace and love. And, we all will be united under one supreme being. When this end time will come has been subject to many interpretations. Twelfth-century Jewish sage Maimonides said the exact time is unknown to us, and the speculation of when it will take place is fruitless.

I would tell someone who is worrying about what will happen in 2012 that it is better to spend your time in a manner to hasten the Messianic period. By that, I mean we should live a good, ethical life that makes us worthy of the Messiah's arrival.

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