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The Religion of Fortune Cookies

May 10, 2011

“You will succeed mightily in all new endeavors.”

It came true! OMG, my fortune cookie predicted the future.

“When the moment comes, take the top one.”

“Be patient: in time even an egg will walk.”

“Do not think that me or my brothers have supreme control over what will happen to you.”

If you hadn’t already guessed by the picture, these quotes are all from fortune cookies.  Difficult to believe, I know, considering they are all spelled correctly.   In a world where people believe in all kinds of faiths, including Jediism, Scientology and being Pastafarian it seems strange to me there isn’t a similar faith movement based on those red fortunes printed askew on cheap white paper.  But through a five minute troll on the Internet, it seems that no one takes fortune cookie fortunes very seriously.  Now, that could be because everyone knows that the fortunes are printed enmasse by underpaid factory workers, but still I wonder: why do people believe one (evidence-less) faith over another?

For instance, recently there have been many individuals marching on the Capitol proclaiming that the rapture will begin on May 21st.  At 6pm, to be exact.  The end of the world is a week and a half away.  (So use those vacation days now people!)  According to a believer’s website:

Now, at this time, information is coming forth from the Bible which clearly reveals God’s plan for Judgment Day and the end of the world itself.  The Bible has opened up its secrets concerning the timeline of history.  This information was never previously known because God had closed up His Word blocking any attempt to gain knowledge of the end of the world.

He goes on to say that on May 21st, 2011, Judgment Day will begin and the rapture (the taking up into heaven of God’s elect people) will occur at the end of the “23-year great tribulation”.  On October 21st, the world will be destroyed by fire (by his reckoning 7000 years from the flood; 13,023 years from creation).  What follows is a lot of biblical quotes and the adding and subtracting of dates and years to ‘prove’ the May 21st deadline.

Where did this most recent doomsday proclamation come from?  Harold Camping, a Christian who runs a radio program out in California.  He is hardly the first man to proclaim a specific day for judgment: a Baptist leader named William Miller predicted the end for Oct. 22, 1844.  He claimed that Jesus would return on that date, and when the 22nd came and went, the event became known as the Great Disappointment among his followers.

What psychological, emotional or spiritual needs do rapture predictions fill over the vague and sound-bite philosophy offered by Chinese baked goods?  Because, it seems to me that a faith gains prevalence and power not through the strength of ‘the evidence’ it provides, but rather by the strength of the need it meets in the human soul.

So, if your needs run along lucky numbers and a desire to learn a Chinese phrase today, please click here. And if your fortune comes true, let the whole Interweb know.  Who knows, maybe you will become the first founder of Fortune Cookism.

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