It would be fun if this were an April Fool's Day column. It may be even more fun, based on the fact that it isn't. The people of whom I write are arguably sincere in what they believe and in why they believe it.
Columns like this week's often begin with a scanning of the Internet, trying to find strange and unusual articles or pictures for use as class openers, the kind of fun attention-getters that teachers are always looking for.
Thus I learned about Pic de Bugarach. Located in southwestern France, not far from the Pyrenees, the mountain is regarded by some as a portal to other dimensions or realities. Others believe that it houses or serves as a gateway for aliens.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, as we journey further into 2012. At the above mentioned mountain, the faithful have already begun to gather, hoping that they will be rescued by the aliens who live in the mountain, or use the mountain as a portal.
The local mayor finds these events less than amusing, as do a number of the inhabitants, who have noted unusual rituals taking place and heard murmurs of potential mass suicides, should the alien rescuers not appear.
The pilgrims have saturated, (to use the word chosen by Yahoo news services), the small village located at the base of the mountain.
Saturated is certainly an appropriate word. According to Netme France, a French tourism site, the village mountain has only 200 inhabitants. According to Yahoo! news service, the number of New Agers who have relocated to the area is estimated at 20,000.
Proportionately, dumping all of Albuquerque into Clovis would cause a smaller ripple.
Like Sedonia, another area believed by New Agers to be a vortex, or portal, or chakra, or whatever term one chooses, the photos of Pic de Bugarach reveal it to be a place of uncommon beauty.
Imagine the mass movement which may take place, as the date awaited by 2012 disciples grows closer, to places like the above two, or to Taos, or Baja Peninsula — in fact to any of the places to which people want to attach a special spiritual significance. Jerusalem, Mecca, Iona and the Vatican City may also find themselves inundated with sincere followers who want to be on location for the events which they anticipate.
It will be interesting, provided it doesn't turn ugly, to watch as this year unfolds. The widespread shifting of priorities, among certain segments of our population, may make the Y2K events of a dozen years ago, look like a fire drill in comparison.
Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis Christian High School.