Monday, July 31, 2006

I Bring You Tidings Of Great (Nay, Rapturous) Joy

I’ve already told you how during my formative years I suffered exposure to a strain of Christian fundamentalist that hallucinated miracles from time to time, which left me with interesting psychological scars including the tendency to think it’s funny when people expect the world to end any second now. Therefore, even though I strive to be this freethinking skeptical scientifically based atheist type of person, I still wish the mainstream media would treat Left Behind author Tim LaHaye as a bona fide pundit. And they have! As mentioned in Media Matters for America:

ABC's Good Morning America joined CNN in featuring a segment on the potential coming of the Apocalypse, as indicated by current conflicts in the Middle East, by hosting the authors of the Left Behind Christian book series to discuss the issue.

The link has a description and a video clip of the interview, with co-host Robin Roberts asking hardball questions that boil down to: “the world's really ending! Am I right, guys?”

“Tell me a little bit about the Rapture.”
“we’re reading about this. This was not a surprise for some.”
“as my mom often says, better get right. Better get right in these times that we’re living in.”

Meanwhile, there’s file footage of apocalyptic stuff like post-Katrina New Orleans, generic palm-swaying hurricane winds, the 2004 tsunami and a glacier calving icebergs.

I. Love. This. Stuff. Having lived in God’s country (the South) during the first Gulf War, I remember mainstream local newspaper articles talking about how Saddam Hussein might be the Antichrist, because ancient Babylon is in Iraq! Alas, Babylon! It’s mentioned a lot in the book of the Revelation, you know. I have even (unwillingly) committed to memory chapter 8, verses 10 and 11 of that book

10 The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from the sky, burning like a torch, and it fell on one third of the rivers, and on the springs of the waters. 11 The name of the star is called "Wormwood." One third of the waters became wormwood.

because of the 1,836 separate incidents where people explained to me that a star is basically a nuclear reactor, so the star burning down from the sky is radioactive fallout as the poetic ancients would describe it, and do you know what the Russian word for “wormwood” is?

Chernobyl. Dude! And its fallout contaminated one-third of the water in the world known to John of Patmos. Seriously! Whoa.

Biblical prophecy is an excellent way to train a child to smoke lots and lots of pot when she grows up, if that’s what you want for the kid. By the way, the book of Jeremiah says the Messiah will come back once the Jews return to Israel. And that happened in 1948! Dude! Of the people alive during the founding of the modern state of Israel, at least one will live to see the Messiah return. Seriously.

Newsweek also has an interview with LaHaye this week, which isn’t as credulous as the Good Morning America bit. Reporter Brian Braiker asks tougher questions to which LaHaye responds with bold generalities:

How do you interpret what’s happening in the Middle East? Are you seeing signs that these are the end of days?
Biblically speaking, the very nations that are mentioned in prophecy—and have been mentioned for 2,500 years as occupying the focus of the tension of the last days—are the very nations that are involved in the conflict right now. That may be one of the reasons there’s a sudden interest in bible prophecy because all of a sudden they realize end-time events could possibly take place and break forth right now.

But first-century Christians believed that the end of the world could come during their lifetime.

We call it the belief in the imminent return of Christ. It’s a motivational factor to serve the Lord and not let the world be so much with us that we don’t serve the Lord in the spiritual environment.

That’s how LaHaye gets around Jesus’ telling people 2,000 years ago that he’d return within their lifetimes. This turned out to be not-true, but the Messiah will return within the lifetime of the people (at least infants) alive in 1948.

In fact, while I don’t want to become one of those navel-gazers who blogs about her own blog, I’m proud to say that the Messiah has already arrived and a few weeks ago announced His coming right here on my own comment board. First post!

I don’t fully understand His argument but it has something to do with Hurricane Katrina, the number of days in a Hebrew year and why it’s good to be a Leo. I am both honored and humbled that the Messiah chose mah li’l ole postin’ spot to announce His arrival to humanity, and Ah want y’all to know that His message, like LaHaye’s, is very important and (as Robin Roberts’ mama said) y’all need to get right in these times that we’re livin’ in.

(I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to talk all Southern like that. Childhood flashback — I’m fine now.)

20 Comments:

Blogger harmoniousjosh said...

You are so goth.

5:44 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

You become more attractive (how can that even be possible?) when you slip into that honey drippin drawl.

Your understanding of biblical eschatology would put many Christians to shame. However, it is quite unlikely that the poster claiming to be the returned Messiah is who he says he is. More likely, he is one of the false prophets we have been warned will precede the real deal. So either way, your lil ol' blog is on the cutting edge fore-front of announcing the end times.

NoStar

8:43 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

NoStar, in all seriousness, back when I was still religious enough to kind-of believe this stuff (or at least not question it too deeply) I still had two serious problems: one, people in the 1980s assuming that when the Bible writers said things like "Jesus will come before you die" the writers were talking to twentieth-century readers, rather than readeres from the 1800s or the 1400s or the 500s, for that matter.

Two (and worse from my point of view): why the hell would God decide to pull the plug on humanity now that we are FINALLY starting to learn how to be not-evil?

Did God end the world when slavery was endemic? No, but now that slavery is almost gone he decides we're too evil to be allowed to continue. Did God end the world when murderous racism was considered a virtue? No, but now that we're evolving beyond that we're too evil to be allowed to continue. Did God end the world when murder in His name was a hallmark of every government in the world? No, but now that some cultures are advanced enough to realize this is wrong we're too evil to be allowed to continue.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Franklin said...

I've often wondered how a religion that so spectacularly failed to deliver at its outset grew to become a "Great Religion." Then I think about Scientology in 1,000 years. Then I go cry in the corner.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Jennifer,
A careful reading of Matthew 24 will reveal that Yeshua is refering to people who will witness what he is describing when he says "this generation."

Most casual readers gloss over that the disciples have asked three separate questions that they may think will happen concurrently.
1. When will the Temple be destoyed?
2. What are the signs of your coming (to retrieve the faithful)?
3. What are the signs of the end times (the triumphal return of Messiah as ruling King)?
Matthew 24
1And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.

2And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

3And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?


In that the Temple was destroyed as predicted (no stone left unturned), it will have to be rebuilt for the Anti-Christ to defile and thereby reveal his true nature according to Second Thessalonians which was written in response to a forged letter telling the believers that they had missed the rapture and had been left behind.

II Thessalonians Chapter 2:
3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.


This makes it obvious that as bad as things may be, until Jews rebuild the Temple, the Anti-Christ (man of sin, son of perdition) cannot reveal himself by commiting the Abomination of Desolation and "that day" refering to the day of the rapture will not happen. Also, many Christians fail to note that a major apostacy (a falling away) will occur before hand. Hey Jen, that might be you, but I pray you will find your way back into the fold. In Matthew 25, half of the ten virgins were not prepared when the bridegroom shows up to take them.

There is a group of orthodox Jews called the Temple Mount Faithful who are determined to do just that, rebuild the Temple. They caused a bit of a riot when they brought a carved foundation corner stone to the southern base of the Temple mount.

Interesting times we live in, to say the least.

NoStar

12:08 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

One of my favorite comedy skits is done by Rowan Atkinson, where he is playing the Devil welcoming the sinners to Hell. He calls the groups out from a list: "Idolators... fornicators..." etc. And then he reaches "Christians? Christians?... Yes, I'm sorry, the Jews were right."

For my part, I am outraged by the media giving these fruitcakes any air time whatsoever to spew their b.s. I don't see any difference between LaHaye and, say, your local Voodoo practitioner. Except that by being Christian, LaHaye somehow has some "validity."

If I could only be alive long enough to see the time when Jesus and Yahweh are mentioned in the same context as Zeus and Ra...

1:18 PM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Speaking of Rowan Atkinson, he preaches a good sermon:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTzXJMU1sLc

2:22 PM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

I found the clip of Atkinson as the welcoming devil.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q--ZIqjocIc&mode=related&search=

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, DUDE! Just b/c Israel became a sovereign state in 1948 does NOT mean that all Jews have returned to Israel - WHEN all Jews have returned to Israel, Christ will return to establish HIS Kingdom here on Earth.

6:21 PM  
Blogger rhhardin said...

Taking, with Emmanuel Levinas, religion as the poetization of ethics, Derrida takes the end times as the poetization of the encounter with another, the beginning of ethics, where he has all the needs and you define who you are, for the first time, by being called on and responding.

It's all messages and signs, messages and signs, and redemption in the end, when you become somebody unique.

Old question : Why do we always have the poor? Answer : So we are not damned.

Derrida is in _Raising the Tone of Philosophy_ ``On a Newly Arisen Apocalyptic Tone in Philosophy,'' commentary on Kant's ``On a Newly Arisen Superior Tone in Philoslphy.''

I heard but alas did not record Harold Camping's end-of-the-world show, when the expected end did not come, and there was pretty deep disappointment all around. Callers were angry, some chastising him for presuming to know the time and the day. He said he'd review the calculations to see where he has slipped up.

I don't know how far from the poetization it gets, as to why it resonates with anybody.

6:22 PM  
Anonymous togolosh said...

Man, I loves me some End-Times. I also grew up heavily exposed to this crap, but I'm alright now. Apart from getting great pleasure from watching end-times wackjobs on TV.

If you're a fan of failed end-times prophecy, this site is a must-see. Warning: Major time sink.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous togolosh said...

Man, I loves me some End-Times. I also grew up heavily exposed to this crap, but I'm alright now. Apart from getting great pleasure from watching end-times wackjobs on TV.

If you're a fan of failed end-times prophecy, this site is a must-see. Warning: Major time sink.

7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Curious about how a young woman in Scotland gave birth to the millionaire-producing "rapture" that LaHaye and Lindsey feel comfortable (and wealthy) with? Hit Google, typing in "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," "Famous Rapture Watchers," and "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)" - the "genius" researcher that Falwell, LaHaye etc. value far above rubies! The author of these and other web pieces has actually discovered more of the earliest "rapture" documents on dust-covered shelves in Britain than anyone else, is quoted more on them, and is hated more by the money-grubbing rapture-ranters than anyone else. Now that you know what's been going on behind your backs, do you feel less rapturous - or more?

11:02 AM  
Blogger Kitty said...

When I was kid, back in the 1970's, the bestselling book in the English-speaking world was Hal Lindsay's "The Late, Great Planet Earth," which has the distinction of being the only book my devout Presbyterian parents ever forbade me read. My mother signed a card so that I could check out Judith Krantz's "Scruples" from the public library, which was pretty much one long sex scene stitched together with legnthy descriptions of expensive clothing. But even with that, Lindsay's doomsday prophecy was off-limits. After many years, I am deeply grateful for their concern.

On the Rapturites in general, I've always been offended by their gleefulness that everyone who was mean to them is going to suffer horribly then burn in Hell forever. I'm still a devout believer and I am quite sure that Christ's message is NOT to be happy that other people are going to be miserable. I get my schadenfreude jollies by imagining THEM being tossed into the LAY-YAKE of FA-HIRE!!! Either that, or watching their faces when they see all those other people they didn't like getting into Heaven as well as themselves.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Kitty, in a box somewhere in the basement I have a VHS tape of the movie version, narrated by Orson Welles (really) with guest interviews from Hal Lindsey himself. I don't remember if it interviews Paul Ehrlich but it certainly discusses his theories: within a very few years there will be massive worldwide famine, even here in America.

Also, bad things will happen because pretty soon the planets will all align themselves in such a way that their gravity will tug at the Earth and cause earthquakes, volcanoes and other continent-shattering upheavals.

So if you're gonna get right with the Lord make sure you do it before 1982, when the planets will line up. Orson Welles said so.

And as for that talk of all the European countries getting together and sharing a common currency and trade zone and such--there are ten countries in this proposed union! Ten! Remember what Revelation 13:1 says-I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

Ten horns. Ten crowns. Ten European heads of state!!!

7:20 PM  
Blogger Seven Star Hand said...

RE:
"However, it is quite unlikely that the poster claiming to be the returned Messiah is who he says he is. More likely, he is one of the false prophets we have been warned will precede the real deal."

Wouldn't that describe "Jesus," whose current name didn't even exist until the 1600's? Why keep changing names and faces? Why would prophecies ignore 2500 years of human activity and focus only on a measely seven literal years and a handful of players?

Isn't it most likely that humanity has been deceived and oppressed during last two millennia and that this is the period symbolized in these ancient texts?

Consequently, "Jesus" is the primary false messiah that preceded me. What does that say about the New Testament and Rome? Who created the New Testament? Exactly which books did "Jesus" write and why is there no reliable extra-Biblical evidence for this supposed miracle man? The time is long past for people to see through obvious lies and to set aside this adult Santa Claus, who never existed.

By the way, the earthquakes symbolize great social upheavals and the Ten Horns symbolize the Ten Commandments. The Great Red Dragon is the false god of ancient Babylonia and the nations that follow him, though "he" is now called Yahweh, Allah, and other names.

And all the nations were deceived...

And all kindreds of the earth will wail...

Sound familiar?

Here is wisdom...

Peace

8:42 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

By the way, the earthquakes symbolize great social upheavals and the Ten Horns symbolize the Ten Commandments. The Great Red Dragon is the false god of ancient Babylonia and the nations that follow him, though "he" is now called Yahweh, Allah, and other names.

I must say, sir, this makes a lot more sense than "the ten crowns represent the ten European leaders in the European Union."

Why would prophecies ignore 2500 years of human activity and focus only on a measely seven literal years and a handful of players?

I've been saying this all along. I mean, something's written 3,000 years ago and only now are we supposed to take it literally?

Sound familiar?

Mm-hmm.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Kitty said...

So, Orson Welles narrated a movie based on "Late, Great?" And I thought those Paul Masson wine commercials were a step down. He must have gotten caught by the IRS or something back then and really needed cash.

By the way, on that 10 horns thing, aren't there, like, 16 or 17 countries in the EU now? Did God miscount?

7:05 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Yes, Orson Welles narrated the movie version, which was made sometime in the mid-to-late Seventies. I bought my copy in the early 90s, from a dollar video bin at a Super K-Mart.

That gloriously dramatic voice intoning "Nine-teen eighty-two" makes the whole movie worthwhile.

I need to dig that tape out and ask my computer-geek friend if there's any way to transfer it to DVD. It's too good to go obsolete.

By the way, on that 10 horns thing, aren't there, like, 16 or 17 countries in the EU now? Did God miscount?

That's the sort of question that send unbelievers tumbling into The Pit.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Rather than conforming to current geo-political boundaries, it is likely that the ten horns are a prediction of the ten major diocese that Rome later divided Europe into. Other Diocese included Africa and Asia.

10:14 AM  

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