Nostradamian musings

I thought we could get by marking a new year without references to Nostradamus cropping up.

Damian has a good one today:

The end must be nigh – Nostradamus experts are at war with one another

Dramatic news from the President of the Nostradamus Society of America, Victor Baines, has accused Dr Michael Rathford, author of a new book entitled The Nostradamus Code: World War III 2009-2012, of being a charlatan.

Baines is a moderate, Broad Church Nostradamian (as I think they should be called). He limits himself to predictions such as a Democrat victory in the 2008 race for the White House. (In fact, as Raf Sanchez reports, Baines thought the new president would be Hillary – but that didn’t stop him giving himself a pat on the back when Obama won.)

Rathford, on the other hand, is a fire-and-brimstone Nostradamian. As Sanchez puts it:

Where Baines is content to pull together tenuous shreds to show Nostradamus predicted everything from Hitler to Desert Storm, Rathford claims to have “sifted this complex word puzzle searching for significant patterns and relationships. Almost immediately, he came up with the predictive model known as The Nostradamus Code”. The code, we are told, was cracked by “combining traditional analysis techniques with state of the art data mining algorithms,” apparently allowing Rathford “to search the equivalent of the entire library of congress in less than ten minutes” …

In the sample chapter [from his new book], Rathford confidently predicts a string of papal assassinations, as well as nuclear war in which a bomb “will land in the Mediterranean instead of the land, poisoning all the fish”.

The slickly designed Nostradamus Online claims that “Dr. Michael Rathford has studied the Quatrains of Nostradamus for over thirty years, both in an academic and professional environment”. Yet, despite this apparently lengthy career, there is no trace of Dr. Rathford’s academic associations or anything he has published. The title of doctor is also omitted from the front cover of the book, where the author is listed simply as Michael Rathford.

A prophecy expert with a questionable doctorate? In his wildest dreams, Nostradamus could not have predicted such a thing! This is getting nasty. Who is right – Baines or Rathford? I gather that all attempts to contact the spirit of the 16th-century French physician have failed, perhaps because the greatest of all mediums, Doris Stokes, has passed to the other side. But maybe she can still help. Doris, are you there? Doris?

Oh!  The drama!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. A Random Friar says:

    Perhaps if the Jesus Seminar folks aren’t doing anything these days, they can lend their expertise in finding the “real” Nostradamus.

  2. Dr. LMF says:

    A few months after I was comfortable with Middle French, I read some of Nostradamus in the original.

    He’s bad. As in, very bad. If you compare him to other French Renaissance poets, he can’t hold a candle. It’s a miracle his works have proven so consistently popular. At times his quatrains rise above the level of doggerel, but just barely.

  3. Al says:

    What amazes me is how people can read the various claims based on what Nostradamus supposedly said & after they don’t come true still by the next version.

    This battle sounds more like something out of a tabloid newspaper like the Sun.

    Every so often as I am shopping I see the Sun’s latest predictions. If it weren’t for the fact that I would just be encouraging them, I would like to take a years worth to see if they even got 1 prediction right. But despite their predictions always failing to come true, like the assasination attempt on Bush Nov 2008, the end of the world last April &/or May etc, people keep buying the paper & the claims.

    Maybe it is time to give The Jesus Seminar something to do that might actually do some good.

  4. Giovanni says:

    Was Nostradamus him self ever excommunicated or condemned? Formaly I mean.

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