PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 136/2002 - 22 November 2002
---------------------------------

"Two strong activity peaks of the Leonid meteor shower were
predicted. The times fell between 03:48 to 04:04 UT for the first one,
and between 10:23 to 10:47 UT for the second peak, both on November 19,
2002.... Both peaks occurred later than the predictions by about the
same time lapse. The predictions of the Leonid stream model of Vaubaillon
(WGN 30:5, 2002) are closest to reality according to this first
analysis."
--Rainer Arlt, 22 November 2002


"That extrapolation is a convincing use of the best existing data,
says planetary astronomer Robert Jedicke of the Spacewatch program at the
University of Arizona, Tucson. "But variations in the impact rates are
inevitable," he adds, because disrupted comets or collisions among
asteroids can create more intense streams of objects. Brown agrees, noting
that 8.5 years of data isn't nearly long enough to account for such
episodes."
--Academic Press, inScight, 20 November 2002


(1) LEONIDS SURPRISE AGAIN AS TWO FINAL STORMS BOTH REACH ABOUT 2500 METEORS
PER HOUR
    Cosmic Mirror, 22 November 2002

(2) LEONIDS 2002: AND THE WINNERS ARE ......
    Rainer Arlt <rarlt@aip.de>

(3) "METEORIC RISE IN ASTEROID SAFETY": A COLLECTION OF MEDIA HEADLINES

(4) GREEN LIGHT FOR ROSETTA COMET CHASER
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(5) ANTARTIC METEORITE SEARCH PROGRAMME GETS $1.6 MIILION NASA GRANT
    Ron Baalke <info@jpl.nasa.gov>

(6) AND FINALLY: THE RAPTURE TRAP
    National Review, 18 November 2002

=============
(1) LEONIDS SURPRISE AGAIN AS TWO FINAL STORMS BOTH REACH ABOUT 2500 METEORS
PER HOUR

>From Cosmic Mirror, 22 November 2002
http://www.astro.uni-bonn.de/~dfischer/mirror/246.html

None of the five predictions in the last issue had it all right, but
Vaubaillon & Colas got the best timing while - unfortunately for the visual
observers - Langbroek 'won' with respect to the meteor rates. Both predicted
peaks materialized, both were some 10 minutes late, and both reached a
zenithal hourly rate of only about 2500 (which was further diminished by the
light from the almost full Moon). Nonetheless the Leonids did it again, even
four years after the parent comet had passed by.

And while the two storms of 2002 rank only as the 3rd and 4th strongest of
the five that pleased us in 1999, 2001 and 2002, there were again all the
features we've come to expect from the Leonids: earthgrazing meteors while
the radiant rose, bright meteors all over the sky and occasional fireballs
with persistent trains (though not nearly as many as in 2001, let alone
1998). The peaks were very sharp, however, with full width half maximum
times of only about 45 minutes each (in this respect, by the way, Jenniskens
'won').

This unusually spiky ZHR profile threw more than one observer into confusion
as there wasn't the steady rise over several hours towards the peaks - when
the radiant rose at the geometrically optimal sites in Europe and America,
the rates were surprisingly low, only to take off after several hours. In
Europe there was a pleasing encore, though, after the main peak from the
7-rev. trail as apparently two other, lesser dust trails kept the meteor
rate from falling all the way back until sunrise. (Based on the IMO Shower
Circular of Nov. 22 and the webmaster's own impressions on Tenerife)

===============
(2) LEONIDS 2002: AND THE WINNERS ARE ......

>From Rainer Arlt <rarlt@aip.de>

-------------------------------------

I M O   S h o w e r   C i r c u l a r

-------------------------------------

LEONIDS 2002

Two strong activity peaks of the Leonid meteor shower were predicted. The
times fell between 03:48 to 04:04 UT for the first one, and between 10:23 to
10:47 UT for the second peak, both on November 19, 2002.

A first activity analysis from the reports of 86 observers, who logged 19443
Leonids, is given below. The ZHR refers to a stellar limiting magnitude of
+6.5, a radiant elevation of 90 deg, and counts of single observers. A
population index of r=2 was applied, although the inspection of data
suggests a large abundance of faint meteors, thus a larger r. The ZHRs would
increase likewise.

The peak time of the first maximum is 04:10 UT with ZHR=2350. The second
peak is found near 10:50 UT or a few minutes earlier with ZHR=2660. Both
peaks occurred later than the predictions by about the same time lapse. The
predictions of the Leonid stream model of Vaubaillon (WGN 30:5, 2002) are
closest to reality according to this first analysis.

--------------------------------------
Nov  UT   Sollong   N   LEO   ZHR   +-
--------------------------------------
16  2000  234.257   2    10     19   6
17  0300  234.551   6    15      6   2
17  2200  235.349  13    96     37   4
18  0400  235.601  12    78     26   3
18  2000  236.273  21   431     98   5
18  2300  236.399  22   195    100   7
19  0000  236.441  26   330    101   6
19  0110  236.490  27   271    188  11
19  0140  236.511  24   218    201  14
19  0210  236.532  21   266    249  15
19  0220  236.539  20   332    305  17
19  0240  236.553  36   342    300  16
19  0255  236.564  16   157    275  22
19  0306  236.571  22   205    375  26
19  0316  236.578  28   329    497  27
19  0327  236.586  27   484    583  27
19  0335  236.591  48  1047    756  23
19  0343  236.597  20   412    930  46
19  0345  236.599  32   719   1162  43
19  0353  236.604  35   768   1344  49
19  0358  236.608  47  1341   1542  42
19  0402  236.610  36  1248   1966  56
19  0408  236.615  31  1335   2353  64
19  0413  236.618  17   912   2332  77
19  0418  236.622  30  1253   1995  57
19  0426  236.627  35   933   1367  45
19  0436  236.634  38   681    989  38
19  0447  236.642  24   416    635  31
19  0500  236.651  31   395    675  34
19  0518  236.664  50   505   1014  45
19  0535  236.676  22   189    572  42
19  0555  236.690  15    97    144  15
19  0620  236.707  15    87    142  15
19  0800  236.777  14   166    272  21
19  0905  236.823  21   217    307  21
19  0930  236.840  27    99    152  15
19  0947  236.852  21    72    267  32
19  1000  236.861  21   128    293  26
19  1010  236.868  31   192    707  51
19  1018  236.874  19   396    907  46
19  1023  236.877  15   134    965  83
19  1030  236.882  27   288   1364  80
19  1040  236.889  26   350   2108 112
19  1050  236.896  28   587   2656 110
19  1100  236.903  19   297   1061  62
19  1112  236.912  17   130    490  43
19  1135  236.928   7   184    366  27
19  2200  237.366   6    99    123  12
20  0500  237.660  11     4     10   5
---------------------------------------------

Solar longitudes refer to equinox J2000.0, N is the number of observing
periods involved in the average ZHR, LEO is the number of Leonid meteors.
The error of the ZHR is simply ZHR/sqrt(LEO) here. No special zenith
exponent was applied to account for non-geometrical effects in radiant
elevation correction.

We are very grateful to the enthusiastic community of meteor observers who
have sent in their results, mostly through the online express form. All
observers are encouraged to send their FULL DATA including magnitudes and
possibly shorter time-bins for the counts within the next week.

(An error in the online form script has lead to erroneous output in
geographical latitude and radiant elevation; the actual results presented
here are not affected though.)


V. Krumov, M. Gyssens, R. Arlt
2002 November 22

==============
(3) "METEORIC RISE IN ASTEROID SAFETY": A COLLECTION OF MEDIA HEADLINES


NEW FINDINGS SHOW LOWER CHANCE OF BIG ASTEROID STRIKE
Tampa Tribune Nation/World News, November 21, 2002

MID-SIZE ASTEROIDS STRIKE ONLY ONCE A MILLENNIUM
The Houston Chronicle Space, November 20, 2002

GIANT ASTEROIDS BLAST EARTH EVERY 1,000 YEARS
Detroit News - Technology, November 21, 2002

WHEW! ASTEROID MENACE RECEDES
CBS News SciTech, November 20, 2002
 
RISK OF DEATH BY ASTEROID IS LESS LIKELY
The Daily Telegraph, 21 November 2002
 
THOSE ASTEROID ODDS JUST GOT BETTER
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 21 November 2002

METEORIC RISE IN ASTEROID SAFETY
MX (Australia), 21 November 2002

STUDY DISPUTES BELIEF ON ASTEROID STRIKES
Austin American Statesman News, November 21, 2002

THREAT OF KILLER ASTEROIDS DOWNGRADED
CNN Europe, November 21, 2002
 
DON'T LOSE SLEEP OVER ASTEROIDS
Richmond Times Dispatch, November 21, 2002
 
ASTEROIDS LESS THREATENING THAN EXPECTED
St. Petersburg Times World & National News, November 21, 2002
 
SATELLITE DATA HELP DOWNPLAY ASTEROID THREAT
Omaha World-Herald National & World News, November 21, 2002
 
ASTEROID THREAT EXAGGERATED: STUDY
Times of India Headline News, November 22, 2002
 
RELAX, ASTEROID MENACE OVERRATED: ASTRONOMER'S DISCOVERY DEBUNKS THREAT OF
ARMAGEDDON
CNEWS Space, November 21, 2002:
 
STUDY LOWERS ODDS ON AN ASTEROID STRIKE
The Boston Globe, November 21, 2002
"Yet, knowing that catastrophic hits are rare provides cold comfort because
scientists cannot predict when or where a specific rock will land. "When you
cross a busy street, you don't care what the statistics are of a pedestrian
being hit. You want to know if a car is headed for you," said Morrison."


IMPACT DELAYED: ASTEROID PERIL DOWNGRADED BY STUDY
SpaceDaily, November 20, 2002

STUDY DOWNPLAYS RISK OF ASTEROID IMPACT ON EARTH
Salon.com Technology, November 20, 2002

SCIENTISTS REVISE ODDS ON ASTEROID COLLISION
Reuters UK Science News, November 20, 2002
 

FEWER FIRES FROM THE SKY
Academic Press - inScight, November 20, 2002
"That extrapolation is a convincing use of the best existing data, says
planetary astronomer Robert Jedicke of the Spacewatch program at the
University of Arizona, Tucson. "But variations in the impact rates are
inevitable," he adds, because disrupted comets or collisions among asteroids
can create more intense streams of objects. Brown agrees, noting that 8.5
years of data isn't nearly long enough to account for such episodes."

 
ASTEROID STUDY DOUSES THOSE GREAT BALLS OF FIRE
The Globe and Mail, 22 November 2002
"Anyone who has ever been frightened by the Hollywood movie concept of an
asteroid smashing into Earth can rest a little easier because of
Canadian-led research published yesterday. Scientists have used previously
secret U.S. military satellite data to estimate that a destructive impact
will occur an average of once every 1,000 years. Previous estimates had
suggested that an asteroid could strike once every 200 to 300 years."
 
ASTEROIDS LESS THREATENING THAN EXPECTED
St. Petersburg Times World & National News, November 21, 2002
 
EARTH'S ASTEROID THREAT NOT AS BAD AS PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT
USA Today Health, November 20, 2002
 
AND FINALLY: IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD ... JUST YET 
Glasgow Daily Record-News, November 21, 2002
"SCIENTISTS yesterday insisted the end of the world isn't nigh - at least
from an asteroid impact."


=============
(4) GREEN LIGHT FOR ROSETTA COMET CHASER

>From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

ESA Science News
http://sci.esa.int

21 Nov 2002

Review Board gives green light for Rosetta

With less than two months to launch, ESA's Rosetta comet chaser is
undergoing final preparations at Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.
Confidence is high after the green light was given by the Rosetta Mission
Flight Readiness Review Board on 13 November 2002.

As engineers continued to ready the spacecraft for its 10-year
interplanetary odyssey, about 40 representatives of ESA and participating
countries met in Kourou to assess the flight readiness of the most ambitious
robotic space mission ever undertaken by Europe.

The Mission Flight Readiness Review Board -- which comprised senior members
of the Agency -- was co-chaired by Professor David Southwood, ESA Science
Director, and Rene Bonnefoy, the ESA Inspector General. The Rosetta
Scientific Principal Investigators also attended the review to present the
status of the ground calibration of their instruments.

After carefully reviewing all aspects of the mission, the Board declared
itself fully satisfied with the state of the spacecraft, the payload, the
Lander and the ground segment.

"I am delighted to say that the Board identified no 'show stoppers' that
will cause us to delay the launch," declared John Ellwood, Rosetta Project
Manager. "There are still some areas relating to preparation of the launch
vehicle that are a little behind schedule, but we are confident that they
will be completed in the next few weeks."

Meanwhile, the 3-tonne Rosetta Orbiter has been assuming its final form
inside the spacecraft preparation facility at Kourou. First the 2.2 metre
diameter high-gain antenna was carefully lifted into place and integrated
with the spacecraft's main structure. Then the huge solar arrays -- each 14
metres in length -- were gingerly extended and stacked against the side of
the Orbiter.

Once the all-embracing thermal blankets are once again wrapped around the
intrepid comet explorer, the way will be clear for the filling of its fuel
tanks and integration with the Ariane-5 launcher.

The launch of Rosetta is scheduled for the night of 12-13 January 2003.

USEFUL LINKS FOR THIS STORY

* More about Rosetta
  http://sci.esa.int/rosetta/

IMAGE CAPTIONS:

[Image 1:
http://sci.esa.int/content/searchimage/searchresult.cfm?aid=13&cid=12&oid=30999&ooid=31002 ]
Successful High-Gain Antenna deployment test, 1 November 2002.

[Image 2:
http://sci.esa.int/content/searchimage/searchresult.cfm?aid=13&cid=12&oid=30999&ooid=31005 ]
Deployment test of Rosetta's solar arrays.

[Image 3:
http://sci.esa.int/content/searchimage/searchresult.cfm?aid=13&cid=12&oid=30999&ooid=29092 ]
Rosetta Lander integrated with the Orbiter at ESTEC, 3 December 2001: the
spacecraft is lying on its side while the Lander is lowered down onto the
Orbiter.

============
(5) ANTARTIC METEORITE SEARCH PROGRAMME GETS $1.6 MIILION NASA GRANT

>From Ron Baalke <info@jpl.nasa.gov>

po.cwru.edu
216-368-1004

Antarctic search for meteorites program at CWRU expands with support from
$1.6 million NASA grant

November 20, 2002

CLEVELAND--As the Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET) of Case
Western Reserve University begins its 26th annual trip onto the ice fields
of Antarctica, new support from the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) has allowed ANSMET to create a new reconnaissance team
to augment the existing National Science Foundation (NSF) supported team.

These teams will search the blustery, frozen landscape for pieces of Mars
and other solar system bodies during six weeks of exploration.

Support for CWRU's new ANSMET team and its 2002 field season came from a
three-year, $1.6 million grant from NASA. "NASA's support of the ANSMET
program allows this valuable planetary science program to grow in new and
promising ways," says Ralph Harvey, CWRU planetary geologist and ANSMET
director.

The new ANSMET team will travel light and be well-supported by small
aircraft, allowing them to explore many poorly known and hard-to-reach sites
in a single season while also recovering significant numbers of new
meteorites.

This year, the reconnaissance team will explore ice fields in the region
around the Pecora Escarpment, roughly 200 kilometers from the U. S.
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

The larger NSF-supported team will focus on systematic recovery of meteorite
specimens from ice fields where high concentrations have been previously
discovered.

This year they will search near the Goodwin Nunataks and MacAlpine Hills,
near the head of the Beardmore Glacier in East Antarctica.

The prospect that enables the expedition scientists to brave Antarctica's
cold and windy conditions is the potential of collecting specimens that
originated from Mars or other exotic solar system bodies, explains Harvey.

Of the more than 11,800 meteorites recovered by ANSMET over the past quarter
century, about 5 percent are unusual enough to be of high scientific
interest, and about one out of 1,000 is from the moon or Mars.

The five Martian meteorites found by ANSMET have been central to NASA's
advancing efforts to explore Mars, says Harvey.

ALH77005, found in the Allan Hills region by ANSMET in 1977, was the first
Martian meteorite found in Antarctica and the seventh specimen known
worldwide. It generated enormous scientific interest and brought this
enigmatic group of specimens into the forefront of planetary research.
EETA79001, recovered two years later at the Elephant Moraine ice field,
provided the dramatic conclusive link between these meteorites and Mars.
LEW88516 was found in 1988 at the Lewis Cliff Ice Tongue and has been the
focus of many studies including research on the abundance of water on Mars.
ALH84001, found by ANSMET in 1984 near the Allan Hills, is perhaps the most
famous of all the Martian meteorites, and the focus of intense debate
concerning possible signs of ancient microbial life on Mars. The last
Martian meteorite found by ANSMET was QUE94201, a uniquely young but
primitive volcanic rock found in the Queen Alexandra Range in 1994.

Curated by the Johnson Space Center and Smithsonian Institution, ANSMET
samples are available to researchers around the world for planetary geology
research.

"As NASA prepares to embark upon a decade of intensified in situ exploration
of Mars and on the way to an era in which sample return will be a key facet
of our program, the collection of priceless meteorite samples from
Antarctica is a vital step," says James Garvin, NASA lead scientist for Mars
Exploration. "By supporting a dual-sampling team approach this year, NASA
hopes to return a diversified set of meteorite samples and to increase the
possibility of discovering additional meteorites from Mars," adds Garvin.

Participating in ANSMET's meteorite recovery efforts this year are Carlton
Allen, Dean Eppler and Catherine Coleman from NASA's Johnson Space Center;
Andy Caldwell, a high school teacher from Douglas County High School in
Castle Rock, Colo.; Daniel Glavin, Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry in
Mainz, Germany; Diane DiMassa, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth;
Dante Lauretta, University of Arizona; Scott Messenger, Washington
University in St. Louis; and Linda Welzenbach, Smithsonian Institution.
Nancy Chabot of CWRU's department of geological sciences is a veteran of two
previous ANSMET expeditions and will be the lead scientist for this year's
fieldwork, while James Pierce of Colorado and John Schutt of Washington
State will be the expedition mountaineers.

For information, contact Ralph Harvey at 216-368-0198 or by e-mail at
rph@po.cwru.edu. Further information on ANSMET activities, including maps,
images and daily updates from the field can be found at the ANSMET Web site
at http://www.cwru.edu/affil/ansmet.

The ANSMET Web site also includes links to associated sites such as
Antarctic meteorite facilities at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

===========
(6) AND FINALLY: THE RAPTURE TRAP

>From National Review, 18 November 2002
http://www.nationalreview.com/dreher/dreher111802.asp

Afraid You'll be Left Behind? The Rapture Trap.

By Rod Dreher
 
In 1980, I was 13 years old, and someone had given me a copy of Hal
Lindsey's mega-selling The Late Great Planet Earth to read. The Soviets were
in Afghanistan, the American hostages were in Tehran, I had become fixated
on the fear of nuclear war and - suddenly, thanks to Late Great, the chaos
all made sense. There was no need to be afraid. This was all part of God's
plan. Accept Jesus as your personal savior, and you wouldn't have to suffer
through the worst of what was to come, for you would be spirited away in the
Rapture. And if you didn't - well, too bad for you when the Antichrist comes
knocking.
 
The premillenial Rapture is the belief, held by many Protestant Christians,
that believers will, "in the twinkling of an eye," be taken body and soul
into heaven to meet Jesus Christ - this, just as the world is on the brink
of seven years of unprecedented suffering and strife, preceding the Second
Coming and the end of history. If you think the end of the world is upon us,
it's easy to see why believing you won't have to suffer the worst of it
would be calming. On the other hand, you might exchange one set of fears for
another. When I was in Late Great's grip, I would wake up every morning in a
mild state of panic, wondering if the Rapture had happened while you were
sleeping, and I'd been ... left behind!

I don't believe in the premillenial Rapture anymore, but it's easy to see
why so many people want to. For Christians and others whose religious
beliefs predict an apocalyptic final act (even Islam and the New Age have
their own versions), these days are unusually anxious. It isn't difficult to
find in today's headlines - wars, rumors of wars, natural disasters,
plagues, religious strife and technology run amok - evidence for the belief
that history is quickening toward some sort of climax.

No wonder, then, that the same sensational theological teachings that
excited believers in the 1970s and earlier are more popular than ever. The
Left Behind fiction series, whose title refers to those who weren't raptured
before the Apocalypse, may well be the best-selling Christian books of all
time, not counting the Bible.

Given the amount of popular publicity given to the Rapture and its attendant
doctrines, it may surprise (and disappoint) many Christians to learn that
this set of beliefs, generally called "dispensationalism," is not explicitly
taught by the Bible, nor has ever been widely held by Christians.

In fact, neither Roman Catholicism nor Eastern Orthodoxy, which together
include most of the world's Christians who live now and who have ever lived,
profess dispensationalist eschatology (which means the study of the End
Times). The Rapture is also alien to the historical Protestant confessions
(as this story from a Baptist newspaper makes clear). Martin Luther had
never heard of such a thing, nor had John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, or any
other Protestant divine until a pair of 19th-century British small-sect
pastors developed the notion apparently independent of each other. One of
the men, John Nelson Darby, traveled widely in North America between 1859
and 1874, where his dispensationalist teachings spread like wildfire. (For a
more detailed explanation of this theology from a dispensationalist
viewpoint, go here and here)

Given world events, particularly in the Middle East and Europe, the
dispensationalist fire continues to roar among Christians, who
understandably want to know if today's headlines can be explained and
tomorrow's headlines can be predicted from ancient Scripture. Unfortunately,
many Christians are under the impression that dispensationalist teaching -
on Christianity's theological fringe, historically speaking - is the first
and last word on the matter. Most Catholic priests, as well as their
mainline Protestant counterparts, downplay or ignore their congregations'
natural - and sociologically predictable - interest in the End Times,
leaving lay believers open to instruction by those who, however misguided,
take it seriously. That's why Paul Thigpen, a Yale-trained religious
historian and Catholic convert, wrote The Rapture Trap.

"I began to see so many Catholics taken in by this Left Behind stuff,
because they've had no religious instruction in eschatology," Thigpen tells
NRO. "In so many parishes the homilies are like, 'Love your neighbor, be
nice.' If priests never get around to talking about who Jesus is, there's no
way they're ever going to get around to talking about the Second Coming."

Though he writes from a Catholic perspective, Thigpen, an ex-Pentecostal and
former editor of Charisma magazine, takes care to demonstrate in the book
how none of the leaders of the Reformation believed in the Rapture. He says
the "historical myopia" of American culture leaves people vulnerable to
those who can exploit ignorance of the past with convincing presentations of
vivid theologies. Besides, America has always been fertile ground for
apocalyptic religion.

"In the early days, the Puritans thought the Kingdom of God would start in
North America, in their colony," Thigpen says. "We have several large
denominations in America, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, who owe their
existence to millennial fervor."

Eschatalogically-focused expressions of faith have swelled in popularity
during times of social distress and dislocation, such as after the Civil
War, and during the period of rapid industrialization and immigration. There
was another great surge of it following World War II, says Thigpen, and
again in the 1970s, as a reaction to countercultural upheaval. The
dispensationalist apologetic The Late Great Planet Earth was the
best-selling nonfiction book of the decade, and though he has never
apologized for his erroneous predictions in that book, author Hal Lindsey
continues to be considered by many an authority on Biblical prophecy. Being
a dispensationalist evangelist means never having to say you're sorry.

Why should any of this matter? As I wrote this past summer, apocalyptic
beliefs dictate the behavior of many true believers. American
dispensationalists were early non-Jewish supporters of Zionism, believing
that the ingathering of diaspora Jews to their Biblical homeland was a
necessary precursor for the return of Christ. Though many Evangelicals and
other Christians support Israel today for other reasons, no small number of
them do so because their end-times belief mandates it. Thigpen is not so
much worried that Rapture-expecting Christians will blow up Jerusalem's Dome
of the Rock to hasten Armageddon as he is concerned about the spiritual harm
that may result from acceptance of dispensationalist beliefs.

"When times look tough and threatening, perhaps people find a comfort in
believing in the Rapture, that God will help them escape events before they
become too bad," Thigpen says. "Ideas have consequences. One, the Rapture
doctrine ignores the redemptive power of suffering, which is a powerful
Christian theme. Two, the Bible also shows that God chastises His people as
well as their enemies; believers share in suffering as well. Three, if
people wrongly believe Christians won't be around for the persecution that
Scripture tells us will precede the Second Coming, they won't prepare
themselves spiritually or otherwise."

Just because Catholicism doesn't teach the Rapture or focus on end-times
prophecy doesn't mean the Catholic world has escaped popular apocalypticism.
The particularly Catholic version comes as a mania for apocalypse-centered
apparitions and private revelations claimed by contemporary visionaries. The
Rapture Trap writes of the spiritual danger of uncritically accepting such
claims, and offers discernment guidelines drawn from Catholicism's
conservative tradition.

"What we're dealing with are people who are scared and confused by what's
going on in the world today, and who aren't getting the information they
need to separate what's real from what's vain and even harmful speculation,"
Thigpen says. "As Christians, we believe Jesus is coming back, and we have
to be ready for that to happen at any moment. But this game of 'plug the
headline into the Scripture verse,' or into the latest message from a
supposed apparition, is a losing proposition."

Copyright 2002, National Review

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