The guys in the office are always speaking to each other in Dari, but often, they all speak English and we chat about things. Rhohani and I were talking about the shamsi calendar the other day, and ended up talking about religion a little bit.
As I’ve posted before, the shamsi is a solar calendar that is of identical length to ours, but year zero is marked by the journey of Muhammad to Medina (where, I believe he discovered, among other things, a great place to purchase balsamic vinegar.) And the beginning of the year is on March 20th, which is the day that normally marks the spring equinox.
And if you didn’t get my reference in the first article, most of you probably know that the Christian celebration of Easter is based on the vernal equinox, taking place on the first Sunday that follows the first full moon that follows the first day of spring. That date, along with most in the Christian calendar, are arbitrary, and not literal dates or times mentioned in the bible.
So I was telling Rhohani that if I had my choice, I would like New Year’s to be celebrated in the spring, when it feels as if things are renewing and changing to become something else entirely. In December it is too cold, Rhohani pointed out, and I quickly agreed. In talking with Layne, she also thought it was a good idea to move to a spring new year, mentioning the fact that the slutty dresses worn for the new year’s celebration would be much more suited to March than December, and I quickly agreed.
I said something to Rhohani about the fact that we base our calendar on the birth of Christ.
“Christ?” He asked.
“Jesus,” I said.
“Oh yes,” he replied, and then suddenly smiled and said, “By the way, how old is Jesus?”
I really didn’t understand what he was saying or asking, and Rhohani was giving me a hard time so he let me off the hook and said,
“I ask many people how old Jesus is, like a riddle. They say, ‘He is dead!’ I tell them, ‘No, according to the Christians, he is still alive!’”
“So he’s …,” I began.
“2011 years old!” Rhohani finished for me and laughed.
I don’t think he was being disrespectful at all. You needed to be there to hear his tone.
In any case, this morning (a Saturday) after waking up to the distinct lack of an apocalypse, I let the guys know that it was a good day because the world had not ended as Family Radio had predicted. They had not heard about this prediction, and since they use a different calendar anyway, it didn’t surprise me.
As a side note, the guy behind this prediction also said the sky was going to fall down on September 6, 1994. Given the abomination that was pegged jeans that had been running rampant for a few years before that, I could have accepted ’94 as a bit more plausible.
Rhohani and the rest of the workers laughed at the prediction, but in a strange sort of knowing way. When I asked why, Rhohani told me that according to the Islamic faith, he could have disputed the claim of May 21st right away. According to the Qur’an, the world is going to end on . . . wait for it . . .
What? A Friday? That’s bogus! Friday is the good day! But he went on to explain the reason, which in light of the mathematical nonsense used by the Family Radio guy, seemed pretty logical. The fact is that Adam was created on a Friday, and since he was created from the earth, the symbolism will take a full turn and the earth will come to an end on a Friday. I thought that was slightly poetic, and a little easier to swallow than an equation – no matter how much I really really like equations.
But poetic or intentionally vague interpretations of the end times are frustrating right? Those Christians who are dying to get off this rock must be antsy to find a solid formula for the day that they finally get rescued.
Personally, I’d rather keep it vague and focus on the task at hand, which is spending about 100 years on a gorgeous God-soaked planet, getting myself ready to have even more exciting adventures when God brings heaven down here. On Friday.