Traumatic movies, riveting books, captivating talking heads — in both the visual and audio media — as well as conspiracy campaigners on the left and on the right predicting the end of time—or the cataclysmic demise of the world as we know it—makes the news, sells books, draws the crowds, but also spawns an almost nihilistic gloom. Robert Stricklin, in his most recent paperback, The Profits of Doom: Milking the Apocalyptic Cash Cow for All It’s Worth, takes on and dresses down the prognosticators of panic in 135 pages. This little work is filled with a mixture of wit, humor, sniping sarcasm, rank disbelief, thoughtfulness, bias, and the fruit of lots of research.
The flow of Profits of Doom follows a chronological format, beginning way back in 999 A.D. and ends at 2012. Stricklin tackles Malachy, Nostradamus, Cayce, Dixon, Hal Lindsey, LaHaye, Y2K, the Mayans and several others. He shows how conjecturing the concluding days of humanity, earth, time, civilization, has been a failed adventure for 1,000 years, though it has been profitable business for the marketers of such mayhem.
It’s here that the value of Profits of Doom is found. Most people suffer from social and cultural amnesia and quickly forget how many failed forecasts and fumbling forecasters have pandered their wares, been weighed in the balance, and found wanting. This loss of memory causes many to become susceptible to the next round of apocalyptic paroxysms. Stricklin’s rehearsal of these botched predictions helps the reader to get some sense and sobriety in the face of an otherwise intoxicating atmosphere.
One of the weakness of Profits of Doom is found in the author’s own bigoted view against organized religion, for “organized religion and end times profiteering seem to go hand in hand.” (85) Stricklin’s strongest invectives are stored up for Christianity. His sophomoric skepticism stains most of his chapters, with many an unfounded assertion, to the point of distraction. To validate his disgust, he parades before the reader some of the more unsavory specimens, and then says or implies that all of Christianity holds that particular view. The author writes as if he alone has seen the wacky parasites hanging on the borders of the Christian tree, and either ignores or discounts how the larger, 2000 year, Christian consensus has regularly dealt with, and marginalized, most of these doomsday dealers.
Profits of Doom by Robert Stricklin is a short treatise on the odd love affair humankind has with predicting its end, and how that love affair has failed for at least 1,000 years. The book is short, readable and nicely put together, if not at times frustrating. And the author is obviously a skilled writer who is fairly enjoyable to read. If you can overlook the tainting bias, then you might find the book useful.
(Reviewed by Rev. Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views)