Christian End-Time Fantasies Endanger Us All

Richard Bartholomew in his “Notes on Religion“  blog took a look the other day at a Mormon congressman-elect, Chris Stewart, who will represent Utah starting in November. The interesting thing about Stewart is that he wrote a Mormon-friendly version of the end times, what  Roll Call calls a”Latter Day Saints-like version of Tim LaHaye’s and Jerry B. Jenkins’ apocalyptic Christian fiction series “Left Behind.”

As Bartholomew relates, this series is “published by Glenn Beck’s Mercury Ink. The series is entitled Wrath and Righteousness, and ten “episodes” are due to be published over the course of one year.”  Mercury Ink, as related here yesterday, is also purported to be considering republishing David Barton’s discredited book of lies about Thomas Jefferson.

Now this series may or may not be “the Left Behind series for a new generation” as Glenn Beck asserts. What is significant is the hold the so-called end times have on the conservative Christian mind, even after 2000 years of waiting. Seriously; after all this time they should not be thinking in terms of being ” left behind”  but abandoned and forgotten. You can read the Bible (Old and New Testament) and see the evolution of Satan in monotheistic thinking. You can also see the evolution of beliefs in Jesus’ return from immanent to ” soon” to ” someday”  to ” let’s talk about something else.”

All of this might seem to be of only marginal interest to non-Christian or even moderate Christian readers but we have to keep in mind that people who think like this – Stewart being a case in point – get elected to office, or like Glenn Beck, influence those in office. Look at the close-call we had with Esther-reborn, witch-hunter-sanctified Sarah Palin. Look at some of the others now serving in the U.S. House of Representatives or running for office. Look at Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum.

Look at Mitt Romney, now running for the highest office in the land.

Bartholomew makes an interesting observation about this book’s politics:

One difference from Left Behind is that although the Saudi “pawn of Lucifer” is perhaps not the same thing as the Antichrist, the series appears to be exploiting the popularity of the “Muslim Antichrist” theory, as expounded on Glenn Beck’s TV show by Joel Richardson (who occasionally stops by this blog to make a comment). LaHaye’s Antichrist, by contrast, reflects 1990s Christian Right anxieties: he’s an Eastern European, and the post-Rapture Secretary General of the United Nations. Christian Right arguments over the identity of the Antichrist can be bitter.

Very bitter indeed. Much as Christianity as a whole has suffered from a persecution complex for the past twenty centuries, the historical record proves that the biggest persecutor of Christians is other Christians. And when it comes to matters of doctrine, charges of heresy – and then Satan – are never far behind. Remember when Santorum said mainstream Protestants really weren’t Christians: ”mainline Protestantism” is now “gone from the world of Christianity.”

Right. So nobody has to be a fan of Saudi Arabia (I certainly am not) and it’s backwards-looking attitudes (it is already what America will become under the auspices of the born again GOP) to see that thinking of Saudi Arabia (or Iran) as the antichrist, is dangerous thinking.

Look to the example of former Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, who was too extreme even for the crusading White House of George W. Bush, and who is on record as putting Satan squarely in the Muslim corner. Crazy William, now in the employ of the equally crazy FRC, said of the Iraq War that we were fighting not Sadam Hussein but Satan. He still thinks he is fighting Satan.

It’s one thing to fight a war against another nation, as we did when we attacked Sadam Hussein’s Iraq; it is quite another to portray that war in religious terms, as a crusade of one religion against another. Good and evil are already a part of any war’s thinking – demonizing the enemy is as old as war itself. But to announce that Satan himself is our enemy is not a factor that should be considered in policy decisions.

The rest of us understand that Satan is very real to apocalyptic-minded Christians, but these folks will have a hard time convincing the rest of us that Satan is somebody we need to worry about. Their obsession should not become the world’s obsession.

How much easier to drop a nuke on Satan than on what would otherwise be just a bunch of guys who want the same resources you do? A fascination for the end-times could very easily develop into a self-fulfilling prophecy. God says we gotta do it!

Who is it, after all, who so badly wants to attack Iran on behalf of best religious-buddy Israel? It isn’t Democrats – it’s the fundamentalist-driven Republicans, eyes squarely on the essential role Israel plays in their end-times mythology.

The frightening thing about this is that it’s all a very real danger – it’s not just speculative fiction but a reality we are faced with, and its not getting any better. The world’s no more likely to end on biblical grounds than Mayan, but the Mayans aren’t around anymore (nor did they actually believe the world would end in 2012). But we are literally awash with Parousia-fevered Christians.

The problem for the United States in the grip of Christian fanaticism and fantasy is that the rest of the world operates in real-world terms. Conservative Christians rail against the threat posed by Islam but most Muslim countries don’t have vast nuclear arsenals, and most Muslim countries aren’t controlled by religious fanatics who want to wage Jihad at the drop of a hat (whatever propaganda tells you to the contrary).

The rest of the world isn’t going to be thinking in the same language these fanatics think in. Mythology and religiously driven conspiracy theories don’t enter much into the thinking of other major powers, where cold pragmatism seems to be as much of a factor as whatever remains of Cold War ideology. A United States in the grip of people who think with their Bibles is quickly going to become a rogue nation and the missiles that should be dropped squarely on the Bible Belt fanatics will land on all of our heads.

Honestly, if we were going to be victimized by fanboys and girls, why did it have to be Bible fanboys and girls and not a bunch of would-be Jedi? At least they have a worldview free of divine beings throwing destructive tantrums and demanding the death of all unbelievers. A Jedi I could get behind because honestly, while a lot of people think they are kooky, if you compare their beliefs with those of fundamentalist Christianity, they begin to look pretty sane.

26 Replies to “Christian End-Time Fantasies Endanger Us All”

  1. We’d probably end up with Jedi Fundamentalists looking to root out Sith-like tendencies.

  2. The problem is that they have no repellence towards nuclear Armageddon. They crave it; they think they’ll be Raptured and the rest of us will go to eternal fusion-rection Hell. Not one such person should ever be able to get near the Button or influence anyone who does. It wouldn’t take much to put this planet where Venus is.

  3. What’s both sad and frightening at the same time is that Christians have been peddling this eschatological b.s. for two thousand years now, and there are still people gullible enough and clueless enough to buy into it, even though (obviously) their predictions of Armageddon have always been shown to be utterly wrong, and even though it has long been a known fact that apocalyptic-type books were a common literary genre at the time the one was written which finally was included in the Christian bible.

    One would think that any one of the many, many misfires in which Christians have predicted that the end-times had arrived would have ended their stupidity, but none have thus far.

  4. its the xtian fetish! they get all ookey over the rapture…. the hubris of the jesus lickers, is that like the taliban, believe that only they will be good enough to wash the feet of the golden calves…. the teahadists are the real enemy of the usa, not some boogey man from somewhere out there……….. but you all know this here in ‘librul’ land…… then you have clowns like rMONEY and the LDS who will ‘retroactively’ baptize the dead? the Mormons are as deep a cult as the hard core right Muslims, jews, and other brain dead religious types.

    keep up the fight…

    personally, i’m, into leather.

  5. Hraf… the Mayans are still very much alive and around. They’re pretty decent folk, but keep a low profile.

    Their language and a fair amount of their culture is still intact (and their elders have been outraged at the way the ancient calendar was misused and misunderstood – they said that when the cycle ends, another will begin).

    You don’t hear much about them because they’re at the bottom of the heap in their traditional territory (same as most of the rest of us American Indians). They’re the peasants, the poor in the countries in which they live.

  6. No, I know the Mayan people are still around; I was referring to the Mayan civilization. Sorry I wasn’t more clear. It was very early but that’s no excuse.

  7. The problem is getting people to realize that the future of humankind itself is in dire threat from these “Good Christians”… and that conservatives are spreading their poison (which is highly addictive and reinforces American -false- stereotypes as it kills the ability to think critically, and eventually turns people into “sheeple”).

    The threat wouldn’t be so bad – it could be even stopped – if we could get the media to report accurately and truthfully, but they’ve been Koched and ALEC manipulated (which is actually an extension of their inherent conservative and bigoted nature anyway). The people don’t get anything that goes against the lies pumped into them, and thus don’t consider where they’re actually being led.

  8. (Laugh) The Mayan elders would have an issue with that.

    Their civilization is still here… they just abandoned the big cities and power structure they had (they’ve said that it stopped working for them). It’s still present at a much more local/individual level, although also badly impacted by white culture (same as ours and almost all other Native civilizations).

    Of course, that gets into the argument as to when a civilization dies or not… and how one would define and delineate a civilization (or culture) in the first place.

    People generally tend to think of it in terms of political structure and a visible “presence”, but anthropologists see a much bigger picture.

  9. Not only that, but the book was included due to some of the most nasty and vicious politics you are likely to encounter. The votes for including the book were in trade for votes to excommunicate Arian, who was hated by a couple of the other bishops.

  10. I have always wondered if these people are in it for the religion or the power. I now know its the power.

    The GOP and tea thugs need to be pushing for small religion not small government. Those of us who just want to live dont need it

  11. Growing up in the post WWII Cold War America, they have little past to reference and no real sense of how to become part of history. Thanks suburbia!

    So they are terrified of death. They think that the end of the world has been conveniently scheduled to occur in their old age, and will destroy everything to make that a reality.

    VERY brutally rough outline.

  12. The biggest problem with the belief that the second coming of Christ can happen at any minute of any given day is that the big problems we face as a nation, as a human race are neglected and dismissed by people who see no value in saving this Earth if we are all going at any minute to our paradise. People just expect that 1. there will always be poor people. 2. That the weather and the planet is under God’s control and we are not responsible for it, and 3. The end times will sort everything out. That may be true, but for now we should be the good stewards of the Earth as God has asked of us. The problem is nto Christianity, but the fundamental aspects that fail to consider the world around us and our obligations to it.

  13. THANK YOU!

    I’ve observed that same reaction, but never thought of it in those terms. I think your comment also helped a lot to explain something they did.

    I never was all rapturous about “End Times”, in fact, I hated the topic – all I ever heard from them was “Death Doom and Destruction”. I didn’t understand why they seemed to HAPPY at the misery of others.

    When I belonged to the Assemblies of God cult, I was a single young man who was, to be blunt, love-starved (NOT horny). I didn’t like all of the end-times preaching and it really angered them that I didn’t have orgasms over the topic. Suddenly it was decided I was meant to be single all of my life… and they tried to enforce that.

  14. To continue (this new 750 character limit is a pain)…

    They may have been trying to force me into a position of wanting “end times” by denying me the very thing I needed most. It failed. (They sent out an order to all the single young women connected to the church to stay away from me and not to date me… one of the girls let it slip.)

    They had theirs, and they were angry with me because I didn’t share their enthusiasm for death doom and destruction – I had dreams for a life and future.

    I never thought about that until now. Your comment may have helped to further something that has mystified me for almost 30 years.

  15. Wow, we can go on forever: political entity as in Mayan Empire complete with ancient cultural and religious ties to the calendars in question – the Mayan civilization that created the works now studied by archaeologists

  16. “…xtian fetish jesus lickers”.

    Wow, sounds like the title of an Christan porn video with an apocalyptic “stuff out” ending.

    Something about this expression lends itself to an extremist, fundamentalist reality; there doesn’t seem to be a bottom to their “vision”.

  17. If you want to know what Romney thinks his place in history is destined to be, just Google – Mormon White Horse Prophecy. He believes that he is the fulfillment of that prophecy. In their cult’s fantasy prophecy, a great Mormon rises up to save America by becoming POTUS and bringing all of the US into the Mormon fold, which they believe is the only true Christianity. As if they even were to begin with. Lol. You might think I’m kidding, that’s why I said Google it. You’ll have an entirely new perspective on why this man lies and flip-flops so much. Trust me. Read about the White Horse Prophecy.

  18. Not to mention that he’s already been the Roman Catholic functional equivalent of a priest AND a bishop in the Mormon Church. Do you think JFK would have stood a CHANCE of being elected POTUS if, rather than being a practicing Catholic, he had been a BISHOP of said church? I think not. Practitioner of unusual faith=one thing, ranking clergy unusual faith=entirely different/scary thing. Just sayin

  19. This article is LONG overdue; I’ve been saying this for 25 years as I watched these lunatics screech, claw and buy their way into mainstream political power and office.

    We are way past being silent for fear of being accused of being ‘anti Xtian’ – we must speak up NOW. Loudly, and louder than they do. Start asking the hard questions of these moonbats running for office. Don’t let them dodge the questions. They wanted religious litmus tests for office? Fine; that sword bites two ways.

    Now people…do it NOW.

  20. The lying and flip-flopping goes along with the Mormon teaching of “lying for the lord”. Google it.

    Also, that white horse thing is creepy and scary.

  21. Huh. Mainstream protestants aren’t really christians? Sounds like the puritans who left England and then tried out a theocracy in Massachusetts…and of course, proceded to persecute each other. They, too, were waiting for end times – one reason they wanted to convert the “indians” is because some thought it would bring on the apocalypse sooner.

    I recommend reading Roger Williams and the Creationg of the American Soul. It gets into some intersting history of the pilgrims and discusses the battle between those who believed in theocracy and the believers in separation of church & state.

    Alas, if only the tea baggers would learn to read. I’ve heard that some of them not only know their letters, but some numbers as well!

  22. If fantasy could be called into reality the way theists go on about payer or wishes to genies, I’d opt for realising the Ark of Truth from the Stargate SG-1 plot arc closure DVD.

    When they turned it on, The priors of Ori (pron: Or-eye)the give up the war for the Milky Way Galaxy because they understood they were deceived by the power hungry Ori.
    Only in reality theists, would understand that myths and traditions created by people primitive of primitive cultures are creating enormous harm.
    Gendercide, honour violence, wars, economic instability, witch persecution.
    And failure to deal with easily remedied problems hunger, disease, illiteracy. The single most effective treatment for poverty is the sexual emancipation of women.

  23. I loved the Left Behind series. It was well-written and the graphic novel was spine-tingling and chilling. The only downside? They left many conservatives behind! Boy how I love to see the Sky-Spook and Jeebus rapture the conservatives to heaven and leave us lefties behind so we could heal the earth. Why not? The book was a work of fiction and if the book is fictitious, why not have a happy ending?

  24. Their view is one of incredible hubris and retribution. They believe that they may not have the Rolls and mansion now, but Jesus is coming back and they will have all those things after which they lusted, and those who have them now will squirm in the fires of hell. Why? Because God loves *them* more than anyone else, including all those 1,2,3 Century Christians who actually were tortured and suffered. They believe that they are better even than those early followers of Jesus. And, it is their duty to force Jesus to return and give them what they deserve for being “holier than thou.” Praise Jayzuuuuuuuuz.

  25. I made one of my fundamentalist friends very angry (to the point they no longer talk to me) when I told them that this “end-times” fantasy is nothing more than the religious version of Psychic Phenomena; in other words, just a “get rich quick” scheme concocted by mega-church pastors to stoke the flames of fear and get the money rolling in by the tons.

    It wasn’t that that hacked the guy off. It was my assertion that the events that took place in Revelations applied to Jews, not “Christians”, and that they occurred 70 years ago, under Hitler.

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