2012 author puts positive spin on the end of world

Why all the fear surrounding the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar on Dec. 21, 2012? The answer is simple, posits J. Craig Woods: Humans have always feared the close of an era.

"This same fear was present at the end of our first millennium and it was also palpable at the end of our second millennium," he writes. "What if we, in looking toward the future, actually saw a wonderful event coming – a New Age of Vision?"

Instead of death and destruction, we can look forward to an epoch of world peace, an end to greed and poverty, says Woods, a Dallas computer engineer and former mental health-care worker. That’s possible, in part, because humanity is ripe for it, he writes in A New Age of Vision. And the path to solving our problems, he says, is remarkably simple.

With the pragmatic precision of an engineer and insights into the workings of the human mind derived from an academic background in psychology and philosophy, Woods says he spent years researching the history and development of Christian theology and how it applies in today's world. He says his goal was to find the truth – the basic tenets of the wisdom shared by Jesus of Nazareth, "the real founder of Christianity."

His message of hope for a beleaguered planet stands in stark contrast to the myriad doomsday books hitting store shelves. Woods finds no evidence to suggest that the Mayan calendar’s end signifies anything more than the end of another cycle of time. Rather, he views it as a beginning, a spiritual awakening in an era of global preoccupation with cell phones, news feeds and acquiring – or hanging onto - wealth.

Jesus’ original message, he says, has been lost in the "din of orthodoxy." And the truth can set us free.

"We have not been able to reach an understanding of his message. We have been misdirected by our religious institutions, which have been mainly interested in ecclesiastical power," he says. "The words of Jesus Christ have been buried under 2000 years of obfuscation. We now need to dig out the truth, and arrive at a new understanding of what His message means for us today.

Woods says he is neither an evangelist nor a church pastor. He does not believe there is only one path to understanding, nor that church is necessarily the place to find that understanding. "Our path … may lead us through the teachings of the Buddha, or through Lao Tzu, or through Plato," he writes. "It does not matter which path you take – as long as you arrive at the ultimate truth…

"The spiritual mind is a mind that is unencumbered by the need or desire to prove that its truth is the only truth required by all people. We all walk our own existential path – and we alone are responsible for making sense of our world."

A New Age of Vision is Woods’ journey of discovery as he methodically strips away the trappings of Christian doctrine in search of the evidence that reveals Jesus’ original message: Love God; love your neighbor.

Turning doomsday predictions to world harmony can start by simply changing how we think, he says. He advises: think love; think compassion; think empathy. And then act on it.