The suspense is building about “The Blood Moons.” In case you’ve not yet been caught up in the furor, this astrological phenomenon is simply a lunar eclipse, like the one occurring on September 27 - 28th
, 2015. September’s eclipse, however, will fall upon a Jewish Feast Day and is the fourth such occurrence within 18 months. For some, the excitement this rouses will rival that of Replaceing a quarter on the sidewalk. But for many others, the Blood Moons are a sign that the end is near–a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel in the Old Testament, which reads:
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
– Joel 2:31
Granted, this particular pattern of eclipses and Jewish Holidays is rare, happening only 10 times in 2,000 years. But what it all means has yet to be seen. As Yogi Berra astutely observed, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” More easily forecast, perhaps, is the fact that bad things will happen, and often when least expected.
Like Black Swans. With no signs from heaven, foresight or scientific prediction, random calamities are commonly called “Black Swan Events.” Black Swans are those regularly, yet unexpectedly, occurring events that leave world-changing consequences. The term was coined by noted scholar and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, referring to the unexpected discovery of Australian Black Swans that forever changed the world of zoology. Blackswanevents.org
defines such events as:
“…an event in human history that was unprecedented and unexpected at the point in time it occurred. However, after evaluating the surrounding context, domain experts (and in some cases even laymen) can usually conclude: “It was bound to happen.”
[caption id="attachment_18915" align="alignleft" width="220"]
August 11, 1999 the “impossible” happened: a tornado in Salt Lake City.[/caption]
For example, last week marked the 16th
anniversary of an absolutely unforeseen and devastating event here in Utah; a rogue tornado dropped out of the clouds and fell upon downtown Salt Lake City
. No one in the entire intermountain west could see this coming. In fact, most Utahan’s falsely believed that their beloved mountains geologically protected them from such whirlwinds. But in just a few short minutes, the F2 Black Swan storm came from out of the blue, literally, killing one, injuring over a hundred others, and inflicting $170 million in damage in just a few minutes, all on a summer day no different than a thousand others.
In hindsight it seems obvious that the Salt Lake City tornado was bound to happen, just like so many other “unexpected” events in recent history: 9/11, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the Fukashima tsunami/nuclear reactor meltdown, the rise of ISIS, the collapse of the Greek economy, the Chinese stock market crash...need I go on?
[caption id="attachment_18917" align="alignright" width="300"]
From Noah’s flood to today, disasters happen, predicted or not.[/caption]
Some would argue that Blood Moons and Black Swans are related, that these eclipses are, in fact, the predictors of today’s seemingly random calamities. But if we are honest with ourselves, today’s catastrophes simply remind us of how tough things are for so many people, and always have been. Paraphrasing the once popular bumper sticker, “Stuff Happens,” both predicted and unexpected. From Noah’s flood to Nepal’s earthquake, it has always been so.
For the record, I agree with Abby Ohlheiser's Blood Moons sentiments when she wrote in the April 3, 2015 Washington Post
"The authority on what the blood moon means for those who believe really has more to do with a little cottage industry of blood moon-themed books promoting the theory."
Whether or not the Blood Moons are in fact the harbinger of bad times is somewhat irrelevant. Surely, we see signs of danger ahead, and always ave. At the same time, as a society, we tend to look optimistically to the future, as well we should. There is so much to look forward to.
Remember, if Joel's prophecy has any truth to it, he states that the last days will be "the great and
the terrible." Whether or not those days are great or terrible is, in large, part up to each of us. We cannot halt the catastrophes that often abound but, to a significant degree, we have power over the trials and consequences of floods and famines, crashes and quakes, tornadoes and tribulations, moons and swans.
As for me, I'm looking forward to next month's eclipse; I marvel at the motions of the cosmos. And while I'm looking up, expecting the best, I'll keep an eye to the ground, as well. Maybe I'll see warnings and take heed. Or maybe I'll just Replace a quarter on the sidewalk. But I won't worry because, come what may, the old adage is simple and true;
"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear."
What are some "black swan" events that have happened to you? Are you worried about the blood moons, or are they just another celestial event for you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!