There is a psychological relation between a fascination with messages predicting great calamities and the fascination of numerous people, particularly secular-minded people, with supposed threats to humanity from such issues as global warming. Back in the 1970s dire warnings were issued of a coming ice age. Later came worries about the hole in the ozone layer. Now we have global warming to worry about - or the more general term climate change, which can cover almost anything.
These fears are driven in part by worry about the uncertain future, together with a feeling of excitement about the impending danger. Similar emotions can impel religious people to seek heavenly messages about the future, messages that combine fascinating information regarding the imminence of fearful events and the way of salvation for those who heed the warnings.
Fascination with visions and predictions can make the supernatural seem more real and convey a sense of purpose to a person's life. And life can seem more exciting.
Our Saviour has warned us: "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24). So we need to be prudent, and to be always ready to accept rulings from Rome on these matters, for the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit.
John Young B.Th. is a Melbourne-based writer on theological and philosophical topics. Several of his published works are available from Freedom Publishing.