Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ronald Weinland The Prophesied End-Time (2004)

    Ronald Weinland The Prophesied End-Time (2004) Weinland exhibits several of the characteristics of a crank, chief among them the claim that everybody else is wrong, an obsessive focus on a single main claim, marshalling of supposedly supportive evidence, misinterpretation of facts, misunderstanding or ignorance of relevant data, and an utterly arbitrary interpretation of whatever evidence he finds.  Weinland is a self-styled prophet. It seems God vouchsafed him a true revelation of hitherto hidden truths while he was on a Mediterranean cruise and passed the island of Patmos where John claims to have written Revelations. The hidden truth is that the tribulation is at hand, and Weinland knows exactly when it will happen.
     The book is incoherent, repetitive, and only the kind of fascination one feels when watching a wreck kept me reading. Weinland joined the Worldwide Church of God founded by Herbert W. Armstrong. After Armstrong’s death in 1986, this organisation broke up into dozens of splinter groups, one of them being Weinland’s. In 2011, he was convicted of breaking the tax laws of the USA by siphoning off church cash for his personal use, which is a common failing of cult leaders. In 2012 he started jail sentence.
     I looked him up on the web; the rage and vituperation aimed at him by former fellow Armstrongites is amazing. Skeptics’ blogs are considerably more polite, since he is after all a garden-variety con-man and crank, not much different from dozens like him. Since 2004 he has prophesied the start-date of tribulation several times, the most recent being May19 of this year.
     The book was an experience that I don’t intend to repeat. For more about cranks and crackpots and how to recognise them:
http://www.skepticblog.org/2010/07/08/martin-gardners-signs-of-a-crank/
http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/crackpot.html
     Although these pages deal with science crackpots, they apply just as well to theological crackpottery. Weinland's predictions rest a good deal of psudeo-scientific notions, which I think is awlays a sign of religiuous weirdness.

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