June 6, 2006 =
Date with the devil?
Not likely, say religious experts
The Edmonton Journal:Chris
Zdeb, Saturday, June 03, 2006
EDMONTON - Some people believe Tuesday is going to be one
hell of a day, literally. It's the sixth day of the sixth month of the sixth
year of the new millennium. According to a widespread interpretation of the
Book of Revelation in the Bible, 666 is the "number of the beast."
As you'd expect on what could be the eve of Armageddon, the Internet is rife
with talk of Tuesday as "a day of Satanic power," and the apocalypse. Not
the kind of day a pregnant mom would choose to bring a baby into the world.
Why risk being the one to spawn the agent of the Antichrist? Right?
Mom-to-be Francesca Renouf, was so fearful, she told other moms in a forum
on the website of Mother & Baby, a British parenting magazine, that she had
booked an appointment with her doctor to make sure she wouldn't give birth
that day. Moms in Texas are reported to have done likewise.
Spokespeople at Edmonton hospitals, especially the Catholic ones that
deliver babies, initially gasped when asked if any women had made similar
requests to doctors here -- they hadn't thought about Tuesday being 6/6/06.
All sounded somewhat relieved later to report that it's expected to be baby
business as usual.
And so it should be, say Edmonton's Roman Catholic Archbishop Tom Collins
and Pastor Max Solbrekken, an evangelical preacher. We're safe from Satan
this Tuesday for several reasons.
First of all, it's not really the year 2006. We're four to six years past
that. The date got mixed up around 1582 when the Gregorian calendar in use
today replaced the Julian calendar, Solbrekken says.
Secondly, this allegedly beastly day comes up once every 100 years, and
since nothing catastrophic happened on June 6, 1906, June 6, 1806, or June
6, 1706, it's reasonable to assume Tuesday, June 6, 2006 should be
relatively uneventful, too.
Finally, Chapter 13 in Revelation, which talks about 666 as the number of
the beast has nothing to do with the devil, says Collins, who spent two
years as a scripture professor writing his doctorate on the Book of
He explains "the beast," cited in the passage refers to the Roman empire,
specifically Roman Emperor Nero Caesar, a great oppressor of Christians, the
Hitler or Stalin of his day, who killed the apostles Peter and Paul in AD 66
Some languages or cultures in Biblical times used a system of letters which
have numerical value called gematria. According to Biblical scholarship 666
is the numerical equivalent or numerical value of the Hebrew letters for the
Emperor Nero, Collins explains.
|The author of Revelation, John of Patmos, an exiled
Christian writing from the island of Patmos and believed to be St. John the
Apostle, was writing to other persecuted Christians in the Mediterranean
area in a code that they would understand, adds Phil Stevens Jr., a PhD
associate professor of anthropology at the University at Buffalo.
"He's not writing for us according to this interpretation. This is a
contemporary document for Christians of the time, not a prophecy for the
future," Stevens explains.
Collins says the purpose of Revelation is to strengthen Christians living
around AD 95 who were faced with either being seduced by the Roman
civilization or dying for their faith.
thinks that people have come to popularly believe that the "beast" is Satan
because Christians as a rule don't read Revelation.
"They learn about it through hearsay, but it's rarely one of the books you
study in Bible study courses because it's complicated, very difficult,
confusing and very hard to make sense of," Stevens says.
Like many superstitions, avoidance of numbers like 13 and 666 because
they're believed to be evil, is an example of what the professor calls
magical thinking, believing things are associated with other things,
something that is universal to all people.
Another example is the sports superstition that because you wore something
the last time you played well during a baseball or hockey game, you'll wear
the same thing during subsequent days you're going to compete in hopes of
recreating the same network of cosmic interconnections of which you were a
part of on that successful day, Stevens says.
"Concepts of coincidence, chance and randomness are difficult for people to
accept," Stevens says. "The world is complicated and confusing and if we can
engage in a little bit of this magical control it helps us, improves our
But just because Tuesday will probably be an ordinary day for most us, you
can still have a hellish experience on June 6. Go and see the remake of the
1970s horror film The Omen which opens that day. Stevens says he's been told
by a movie reviewer that the new version of a modern-day birth of an
Antichrist figure in the form of an evil boy named Damien is "terrible.
Don't waste your money."
© The Edmonton Journal 2006