Monday, November 17, 2008

Newsweek and the Antichrist cretins

An article in the latest Newsweek asks the question, "Is Obama the Antichrist?"

Why such an article would appear in Newsweek is another question. What's the point in giving the Antichrist cretins any more publicity?

Lisa Miller, author of this nonsense, reminds us of an anonymous e-mail " that was circulated among conservative Christians in October implying that he [Obama] was the Antichrist."

Millions of Christianists believe we're living in the end-times, the last days. According to Miller, they "believe a great battle is imminent. After years of tribulation--natural disasters, other cataclysms (such as the collapse of financial markets)--God's armies will vanquish armies led by the Antichrist himself."

And who is this Antichrist? "He will be a sweet-talking world leader who gathers governments and economies under his command to further his own evil agenda. In this world view, 'the spread of secular progressive ideas is a prelude to the enslavement of mankind,'" according to Richard Landes, "former director of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University."

Then you have "Former 'Saturday Night Live' ingenue Victoria Jackson ... who wrote on her Web site that Obama 'bears traits that resemble the anti-Christ.'"

It gets even crazier. We've written previously about the idiotic Web site,, run by one Todd Strandberg. He's a believer in the reality of the Rapture, defined as "a huge, upward whoosh" which will carry the "saved" up into heaven when the end comes.

A key index as to when the end-time will arrive is the presence of the Antichrist. Strandberg doesn't really believe that Obama is that person, but "he's watching the president-elect carefully. On his Web site, he has something called the Rapture Index, a calculation based on signs and prophecy of the proximity of the end. According to Strandberg, any number over 160 means 'fasten your seat belts.' Obama's win pushed the index to 161."

Now be advised that, even if you consider the Bible or the New Testament to be the word of God, this end-times scenario is bullshit, the fruit of diseased minds who treat the Bible as a magic charm, a kind of amulet.

Admittedly, there are passages in the Gospels which indicate that Jesus expected the Kingdom of God to come in the future. In other passages, though, he told his followers that the Kingdom of God had already arrived and was an internal phenomenon -- inside them. Was he talking about the end times?

Early Christians, including Paul, were convinced that the end would come and Christ would return in their lifetime. Paul, knowing nothing of Jesus or the Gospels, was disappointed, and he and other early Christians had to adjust their theology to fit the new reality.

In the same way, probably in the early 2nd century, the Gospels were revised to have Jesus counsel his followers that NO ONE, except the Father, knows when the end will come!

That did not stop the kooks, however. Throughout the history of Christianity, various persons and groups have predicted the end times. As the year 1,000 approached, for example, some Christians became almost hysterical with fear as priests and prophets warned that signified the end. In the past 150 years, many religious movements have predicted over and over again the end of the world, often giving specific dates. Incredibly, while those false predictions led to some dissension, the "prophets" continued their predictions and the people kept believing them!

Today, we have conservative Christianist fruitcakes who take passages from the New Testament -- the Revelation of John, mostly -- and interpret those passages as having something to do with modern times or the future. Sorry, Charlie. The Revelation of John was written for people living in the 2nd century who were being pressured by Rome. It was written in a code that only they would understand. It is apocalyptic literature that is open to interpretation, but only for that period of time. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with us today.

In fact, the Revelation of John was such a controversial book, it was left out of many, if not most, early manuscripts of the New Testament. The bishops who, after much bitter fighting, decided -- more or less - what should consist of what we call the New Testament (in 381 CE) thought at first to toss the Revelation of John as being unworthy of inclusion in the sacred material. In the end, however, they stuffed it in to bring up the rear.

What a mistake that was! It has caused nothing but trouble ever since by the fearful, the deranged, those who love conspiracies, and those who love to put their own spin on things. It remains an enigma. The only people who use it are the end-time theorists and conservative Christianists who like to write novels and books about how everyone except born-againers are going to get cooked - and it will serve them right! - when their loving savior comes back. And only they, of course, know when that will be!

Mathew Staver, dean of the law school at Liberty University, Jerry Falwell's monument to biblical ignorance, doesn't think that Obama is the Antichrist. (Isn't that nice of him?) But he understands why other ultra-conservative Christianists might. Obama's "liberal" positions on abortion and gay marriage "threaten their freedom." So, according to Staver, those who think Obama is the Antichrist "are perhaps jumping to conclusions, but they're not nuts."

The hell they're not. How else would you define people who believe crap like the "Rapture" and the "Antichrist" which derive from the manic writings of a second century wingnut who put down his ravings in apocalyptic form? In fact, no one knows who wrote the Revelation of John or when it was written or where it was written. Most "normal" Christians try to pretend it doesn't exist as it is an embarrassment to the Christian faith and to common sense.

All of this garbage about the end-times, Armageddon, the Rapture and the Antichrist is pure fantasy and has no relationship to anything real. It is irrational and insane to believe any of it. Therefore, those that do, no matter how well-intentioned they might seem to be, are clearly "nuts"!

So we're back to the question as to why Newsweek would print such an article. I can't think of one good reason. Maybe the editors simply needed to fill space. But, if that were the case, they could write about how other nutcases believe Santa Claus is real or that Belgium doesn't exist, or that the Holocaust didn't happen, or that Hitler was really a nice guy, or that FOX is a real news station, or that George W. Bush was a great president.

Those fantasies have as much validity as Christianist belief in an Antichrist or the Rapture!

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