Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Three cheers for Armageddon!

Okay, I'm going there. I'm going to the Politics and Religion place. Just a day-trip, mind you.

Had an eye-opening experience recently when reading an old Vanity Fair article on Politics + Religion. It was about the Left Behind series--you know, that 12-book young adult series about Armageddon. The action-packed damnation saga you just can't put down!

So the article was talking about the ins and outs of Armageddon. What the Good Book says about it, how the far Christian Right has interpreted this (hint: by denying that there's any room for interpretation), and--most interestingly--the impact this is having on world politics. Cuz it is having an impact.

The jist of the article was that some far-right Christians are droolingly eager for Armageddon to happen. (This is something I've suspected for a long time from my own experience with the church.) And, ironically-self-servingly, these extremists have developed a strong bond with other far-right groups in places like Israel because they (the Christian extremists) believe that in order for Armageddon to happen, Israel must have control over a particular section of Middle Eastern geography, as outlined in the Good Book. Don't forget, these are extreme literalists. If you don't believe me, read this. (Of course, not all Christians feel like this.)

In fact, if you've got a few minutes and are at all interested in the sociology of religious extremism, read this. Fascinating stuff. It explains why the most seemingly symbolic and whacked-out parts of the Bible must be read literally, whereas there is room for interpretation in phrases such as 'and Aaron begat Jacob.'

It's especially important to read prophecy literally. Because lots of people wrongly see prophecy as a symbolic or allegorical warning meant to convey an important spiritual truth. When really we all know that the final Kingdom palace will reside in Israel and will be 40 X 40 cubits wide. Don't be a pesky preterist about it. Or an amillenialist. Or, God forbid, a postmillenialist. Shudder.

So the co-author of the series, Dr. Tim LaHaye, has a whole bunch of books on the subject--on top of the 12-book Left Behind series. I know this because he mentions all of them in every article on this site, and it's the first thing he mentions on his own site too.

One might even start to suspect that the good Dr. is a tad bit obsessed with the subject. (I wouldn't be so pessimistic as to suggest that he's a tad bit obsessed with selling books. No, not that.) But what with his more than 25 books on the subject, movies, and even a thrilling new video game ("In one cataclysmic moment, millions around the world disappear!"), you can tell that he's a big fan of Divine wrath and hurling the damned into the Lake of Fire.

What fascinates about all this is not Dr. LaHaye's obvious eye-lift, but rather the fact that he and his colleagues and possibly a network of well...maybe even millions and millions of building a reality that is entirely different from the one in which you and I reside. You've heard of the Matrix? Well this is...uh...the Crucitrix...

What frightens is the thought that these denizens of Armageddonville may be deliberately working to bring about the literal fufillment of a prophecy that describes the destruction of billions of people and much of the planet. (I prefer the slower destroy-the-planet-through-global-warming approach, but I'm fairly lazy.)

There are other interesting strings of thought in the tightly woven fabric of these extremists' fictional reality. Like the whole section of the site dedicated to exploring why America is not mentioned in the Bible, when it is the world's only superpower and will obviously play a key role in Armageddon.

The possibilities: 1. America will be destroyed by terrorists prior to Armageddon and will lose its superpower status; 2. America will be destroyed by the abortionists and gays; 3. Most of America will be Raptured and that's why America wasn't metioned in the scriptures written thousands of years before anyone even invented the word America; or 4. God chose just not to mention the U.S. (deemed least likely option).

How about 5. You've gotta be kidding.

This subject is an easy target, I know. But consider the fact that something like 25 per cent of Americans self-identify as evangelical Christians.

...Think about the impact on our everyday lives in North America if even a small fraction of these people are the extremists I describe above--and the number is said to be growing.

...The effect it has on public policy, on foreign policy, on priorities when it comes to spending public money.

...The effect it has on the planet when mass swathes of humanity believe that what really matters in life is what happens to the dead--not the generations of living to come. They don't believe there even are generations of living to come.

...The effect it has on human society when one group believes that the other is the walking damned, beyond salvation and beyond hope--and in some deep dark corner of their hearts, may even look forward to seeing them destroyed in some final 'I told you so.' (I think we've all seen that attitude displayed, around the world, for long enough.)

So I guess what I'm saying is, if you're looking for some light reading this summer, steer clear of Dr. LaHaye.


Blogger angrycandy said...

uhhh...i'm speechless...i just clicked on your links to Dr. Tim and a) got frightened by his picture and his strange smiling face and queerly dark black fathomless/empty eyes and immediately clicked back to your site cause he looks like lucifer with his weird holes for eyes and mouth face (sorry, i know that that's not a very good explanation but he totally freaked me out man! totally! he's like a mask! a mask with nothing underneath! and the bits of empty, evil nothing show through his eyes and mouth! he is the apocolypse!) b) clicked on your second link and saw that weird graphic flash presentation of the rapture (i think, i wasn't paying complete attention cause i was still freaked out by lucifer/armageddon guy) complete with arrows and diagrams and music and quotes from the bible and stuff. good to see the religious freaks have incorporated methods used in executive boardrooms everywhere to get their message across to the great unwashed masses.

4:34 PM  
Blogger angrycandy said...

"Left Behind - The Kids Series" (From Dr. Tim's Book list)- nice. That sounds like great reading for kids..."If you're bad you'll be left behind while we all go to heaven without you Timmy" how nightmare and severe psychological scars for years to come inducing for friend said she thought what the flash presentation needed to really make it top notch was to see all the little people that were left behind burning in flames...

4:46 PM  

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