2512: Revelation

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And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, but then more heaven kept appearing to replace it, as if the scroll was infinite.
Title text: And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, but then more heaven kept appearing to replace it, as if the scroll was infinite.


A user with a profile picture of a stick figure with hair, who could be on an island and is called John, posts the Bible text from Revelation 6:12 on a social media website. The author(s) of the book of Revelation refer to themselves as John; some religious scholars identify the author as John of Patmos or as John the Apostle. Thus it is likely that the user has the identity of the said John, either as this biblical-era person themselves (online communities existing in their time, or vice-versa) or adopting the historic character name for interpretive or parodic reasons. The comic places a Biblical event in the modern day to portray what it would be like for apocalyptic miracles to happen nowadays. It also depicts how even the epically largest of our most meaningful and moving moments can end up being treated online.

A news channel's official social-media monitor understands this to be an actual (natural) disaster in progress and asks for permission to use the posted information in a broadcast. This could be what would have happened if John had been using Twitter in his own time, in which case his Revelation might have received this response from that time's similarly-connected reporters, perhaps not comprehending the observations to be 'prophetic visions of the future', with potentially a different level of significance altogether, rather than reports of events just happened.

If the monitor has just found some form of dislocated account (a very old message, a modern echo for proselytizing purposes or a jape of some kind) then they appear to have been drawn in, having not recognized it as historic text from the Bible.

Whichever way, the response is typical of a 'foot in the door' approach probably used for any and all candidate 'breaking news' citizen-reports, identified by trawling and searching the media-feeds for newsworthy content by either reporters or an 'algorithm'. As well as trying to ask for republishing permission, as per the duty of care reporters should grant to their sources, it is couched behind a typically bland statement of concern.

The reply may seem underwhelming, given the Revelation-level nature of the scenario, but this early in the reporting cycle the researcher may not have enough facts from which to respond more empathetically. Without any 'empathy' the channel and its staff may look entirely uncaring, but anything too effusive would also look unprofessional. Whether the news-organization and/or its staff could be truly concerned, or simply going through the motions, would highly depend upon their established reputation in the eyes of one viewing this exchange. Cynicism might be involved, all round.

The title text modifies verse 14 from "And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places" to instead reference the infinite scrolling of a news ticker. Thus this news story would just be one on an infinite scroll page of ever-new stories.

Alternatively, a Biblical-level disaster actually IS occurring, in which case the newscaster's response is underwhelming, to say the least.

Each of the described events happens at times. The Sun is black during an eclipse, the Moon is red when it sits at the horizon and/or in eclipse, and earthquakes happen on a frequent basis across the planet. When events happen together, it can have great significance, and people may become more disconnected from what is real or common nature as lives become digitized. Many people are so used to sunrises and sunsets while seeing the Moon high in the sky that they do not realise that the Moon also turns red when it rises and sets.

In 2014, a series of four total lunar eclipses were identified by some Christian preachers as being the "blood moon" mentioned in Revelation 6:12, but the world did not proceed to end.[citation needed]


[A Twitter-like page is displayed with a post and a comment nested beneath it. The top poster's profile image is of a man with wild hair, standing on hill near a coast looking out over the ocean. The beach is visible below him. His name is revealed in the comment as John. The poster of the comment's profile image is of a man with flat hair. There is a logo "9 News" at the bottom right. Beneath both pictures are unreadable text. There are also four icons with unreadable text beneath both posts. A line divides the original post and the comment.]
John: And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.
Channel 9 News: Hi John, incredible story, hope you and your family are safe. Can Channel 9 News share your account in broadcast and print?

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What's the 6th seal mean?? --GcGYSF(asterisk)P(vertical line)e (talk) 04:35, 7 September 2021 (UTC)

Context: Revelation 6 theusaf (talk) 04:47, 7 September 2021 (UTC)

I would like to suggest to leave the explanation at its current 4 lines, since it is complete. -- 05:48, 7 September 2021 (UTC)

+1 Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 06:39, 7 September 2021 (UTC)

I'm not sure the current explanation, that the newscaster believed the biblical quote by mistake, is necessarily the correct one. The way I read this, as someday it should happen that the events described in Revelation REALLY DO START TO OCCUR, there will still be newsies who entirely miss the point, and keep producing random oblivious clickbait stories by 'interviewing' random twitter users. Alternately, if modern-day newscasters traveled back in time, to when the original Revelation was actually recieved and written, the same oblivious quoting without context could also occur. 07:42, 7 September 2021 (UTC)

This assumes that the cartoonist would agree with your viewpoint of the book of Revelation. Randall Munroe, who is the cartoonist, is probably not going to ever produce a Cartoon which suggests that the events in that book will actually occur at some future date. The use of eisegesis instead of exegesis produces nonsense in the analysis of any document whether it be one written about 1900 years ago or a digital caroton made this month. For the record, I believe in the authenticity of the Bible and am a believer in the deity of the One who was called Jesus of Nazareth. 22:04, 7 September 2021 (UTC)
Doesn't even necessarily have to be the 'real' events of revelation: even if there were just COINCIDENTALLY a series of major disasters that caused an earthquake, a blacked-out sun, and a blood-red moon, and people named John started tweeting that quote as a literary reference, news organizations asking if they could repost it would still be really, really tone-deaf. 00:13, 8 September 2021 (UTC)
“when the original Revelation was actually made up and written” FTFY. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
(unsigned comment, I think they are upset the information is missing) (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I don't see why Randall wouldn't consider a huge Biblical-like event to happen. He's made comics about AI. I wouldn't expect him to assume other religious beliefs, but people sometimes think something could be coming. 14:01, 8 September 2021 (UTC)
I agree.1337-PI (talk) 09:25, 7 September 2021 (UTC)
I think it is pretty sure from xkcd comics that Randall is not a religious person and that he do not believe in the Bible or the Quran or any other holy scripture. --Kynde (talk) 08:44, 10 September 2021 (UTC)

My interpretation was suppose Twitter was available during biblical times, and the author of the Book of Revelation chose to release his writings in that media vs. as a book. 11:29, 7 September 2021 (UTC)Pat

I was going to write the same thing. "What if in biblical times there were twitter, broadcast news, etc.?" Rps (talk) 12:07, 7 September 2021 (UTC)

Should we really assume the reporter is trying to assemble some sort of junk clickbait story? I've seen real, legitimate reporters ask this sort of thing on social media to flesh out their news stories with comments (or video) from Real People, kind of like what they used to do with people on the street. LtPowers (talk) 12:14, 7 September 2021 (UTC)

If the events being described by the poster John were actually happening, stepping outside and pointing a camera pretty much anywhere would be the much better story, rather than re-tweeting someone's description. Hence the clickbait assumption. 14:35, 7 September 2021 (UTC)

I think that the alt-text might be a reference to the rotation of the heavens as perceived from the Earth as a result of the Earth's rotation - some of the heaves disappear below the horizon, but more appears to replace it.-- 21:44, 7 September 2021 (UTC)

I think it's probably a reference to "infinite scrolling" webpages, (that, for example, some news sites have). -- 12:17, 8 September 2021 (UTC)
Hmm surely the mouse-over (caption) should have ended: "... as if the scroll were infinite" ?
Re: [S]urely the mouse-over (caption) should have ended: "... as if the scroll were infinite" ?
Absolutely - This is an error, does it go in Trivia? Miamiclay (talk) 21:43, 9 September 2021 (UTC)
"scroll" is singular, why would you use the plural "were"? 16:15, 8 September 2021 (UTC)
"were" is also the past subjunctive, used for both singular and plural. -- Barmar (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
As in “If I were you,” or, in song, “If I were a rich man, …” Miamiclay (talk) 18:21, 12 September 2021 (UTC)
It is acceptable to say "If it was infinite" if referring to a past event that may have occurred. "If it were infinite" indicates that it was perceived to be infinite but known not to be. If there is a possibility that the scroll was actually infinite and "John" just doesn't know, I believe this use is correct as-is.

I think the current explanation generally gets it, but it has a lot of implicit assumption about the interpretation of Revelation by referring to it as a prophesy of literal apocalyptic events. Not only is it unlikely that the language was meant to be literal (it was probably purposefully allegorical so contemporary Christians could read it without incensing the Roman authorities), there is a prominent school of thought within Christianity that Revelation refers to events that happened in shortly after its writing in the first century (the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, for example). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preterism 21:48, 8 September 2021 (UTC)

I liked the original four lines so much more. This is now just overexplaining the cartoon with absurd theories. John is a general placeholder name. The link to the biblical character is nice, but rather as a coincidence than an explanation. -- 06:21, 9 September 2021 (UTC)

While I agree that the middle of the article overexplains a bit, the name John here is almost certainly a reference to John of Patmos, author of Revelation. 11:18, 9 September 2021 (UTC)
The statement that John of Patmos is the author of Revelation is disputed. All we know is that the author(s) of the book of revelations refer to themselves as John. But I now agree that it is relevant to the explanation. However, I will modify the explanation to make it less assumptions. -- 10:52, 13 September 2021 (UTC)