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I would like to preface this essay by noting that I should neither be impelled to clarify my current position nor disavow my prior in order to be taken with some degree of serious thought. At the same time, I own stock in salt mines. Please act accordingly.

UPDATE: I must conclude, tentatively, that being turned into a whale (by a wizard, but not by a reverse-Darwin) is awesome. I will tell Bill O'Reilly that Kos believes whales are more awesome than people. Thx!

My preface was admittedly confrontational. I say this because, in previous references to my religous affilations, I have been rather heartlessly assailed ("your family represents everything that is wrong with this country, etc etc etc). Let me assure you: I cried the first time I read Noam Chomsky (2000 - I'm not emo) -- because I knew I was wrong and he was right. So, to those who would cast stones at me for my evangelical relations, I hope in my deep soul, that when you fuck yourself, you fuck yourself to satisfaction.

Any time there is unrest in Iran, the Western christian community gets a bit of an erection. Those with a distaste for nuance will glibly assume such boners can be explained by the Christian anti-semite undercurrent. That's a laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame assumption. Evangelicals LOVE Israel. Srsly. They want to marry it. Correction: They believe the Lord is married to Israel. Yes, indeedy. Ask any Christian theologist, and they will tell you: Israel is the bride of Christ, and the Church is her modern incarnation. The nation of Israel is a rebellious bride who has strayed from her betrothed, but will soon return to His side.

It sounds creepy because it is.

I run the risk of becoming boring... right... about... now. So, if you want to leave a dismissive comment, this is the time to do it. I will hate you. But that's what I do best. I have a great personality.

My point, when I arrive at it, is not going to be very awesome. But no one will read this, so I feel okay about it. If you were waiting for me to start sticking to my outline and stop being so mouthy, this is where I do EXACTLY THAT.

As many of you know, there are a lot of prophecies in the Bible. Since it would be totally boring to analyze those prophecies, I'll summarize them for you: Israel is the fucking center of the world. When the Bible refers to the "North", it is invariably referring to Russia (although leading eschatologists in the eighteenth century were quite certain the "North" meant Mongolia or Prussia). I think it's pretty well understood that Evangelicals feel as if Russia is an unredeemable waste of politics. When the Bible says "Persia", it means "Iran." When the Bible says "Israel", it means "the specfic chartered nation we helped invent in 1948."

Oh, and Babylon means "Iraq."

Of course, if one were to read the prophetic books of the Bible with no eschatoligical bias, they would simply assume that most of the passages referred to clashes (or future clashes) with regional bands of raiders or loosely organized millitant bedouins. Such conclusions would be accurate.

Christians are not willing to approach these passages from a logical standpoint. They are unwilling to address the following questions (and they've built mountains of theology to avoid definitive declarations):

  1. What good did it do to anyone to have Daniel ranting about some clash between Israel and the north -- if it were supposed to happen 2000 years later?

I think there is a damn good answer to this question. The prophecies of Daniel, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, and St. John are fucking USEFUL. They are WARNINGS. They are not warnings of a definitive Apocalypse (there is no evidence to conclude that ancient Israelites even had a concept of a "final confrontation"). Biblical prophecies are detailed and laborious -- often poetic. They are not the screeds of laughably bigoted hayseeds, but the nuanced perspectives of the leading thinkers of the era. These words were written by men who were often caught in the midst of enormous cultural upheaval, violence, and imprisonment -- even genocide. They would not waste their time waxing poetic about some future impossible danger. They were seeking a lesson. They were seeking a way to avoid repeating their current pain.

There are resounding themes in Biblical prophecy to support such an assertion: Compromise leads to disorganization. Disloyaltaly leads to tyranny. Unquestioning obedience leads to annihilation. It's ridiculous to disembody these men (and women) from their era.

  1. Did the Lord pre-judge future nations?

If you ask this question too vigorously, you'll understand why there are Presbyterians and Baptists -- and ne'er the twain shall fucking meet. Some will insist that the eventual doom of man has been written in the heart of the universe since the day of Creation. Such men should probably be sent to gulags.

  1. Why do Christians of every generation since the Roman persecution insist that their generation is nighest to Armogeddon?

Le sigh.

Because they try to make their Bibles do summersaults.

The interpretation of the Bible's prophetic books is more than just a cottage industry: It's a publisher's wet dream. Anyone from Frederick the Great to John Lennon stands an equal chance of being labelled as the AntiChrist (check me on this).

What disturbs me is the gusto with which the Evangelical commuity seeks a definitive end to humanity.

They seek out ways, not to preserve our species, but to warn of its impending doom -- with an odd glee. They pretend a sort of reluctance, but a reluctant view of death is frowned upon in the Christian community (which is odd, since they accuse Islam of fostering a non-reluctant view of death).  Disinterest in death is shorthand for disinterest in Heaven -- disinterest in God and his Kingdom.

So, to assume that conservatives applaud the disarray in Iran, secretly, because they don't want to lose an enemy --- is wrong. Conservatives are silently hoping (and silently fearing) that the End of All Days is near. The very concept makes me laugh aloud -- especially when I browse the Freeper comments lately (accusing Khameini and Ahmanejad of belonging to an "islamic death cult). What do you call a Western religion that fetishes an inevitable Armageddon between Israel, Russia, Persia, and the US??? A death cult almost seems too mild.

Originally posted to captive yak on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:42 PM PDT.

Poll

A wizard has turned you into a whale. Is this awesome?

76%55 votes
23%17 votes

| 72 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  You stumped me with poll question (5+ / 0-)

    It took me a while till I decided on "yes".

    I don't believe in wizards, so I wanted to vote "no".

    But the question assumes a wizard could do just that, and since I'm not dogmatic, I'd go with the flow if indeed a wizard could do that.

  •  Okay. (7+ / 0-)

    I got lost in the forest of words. I did discern some content in there that was quite interesting and you wore me out by bouncing around like a ping pong ball.

    You had an outline?

    Do I want to know more about the Fundy fantasies? Given what I saw about Jesus Camp, I sure do. I thought this sentence was right on time:

    What disturbs me is the gusto with which the Evangelical commuity seeks a definitive end to humanity.

    Oh, and just so you do not get the wrong idea, I am a Christian not of the Fundamentalist persuasion. I am not snarking. I am being straight.

    I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

    by CherryTheTart on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 10:02:53 PM PDT

    •  My current actual 'explanation': fear of death. (10+ / 0-)

      They want Jesus to come and take them to heaven so they don't have to die to get there.  The rest of us they couldn;t care less about.  Just 7 bil unfortunate collaterals.

      •  Reminds me of 'Equal Rights' by Peter Tosh (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        snakelass, Drewid, blackjackal

        Everyone is crying out for peace, yes,
        none is crying out for justice.

        I don't want no peace,
        I need equal rights and justice.
        I need equal rights and justice.
        I need equal rights and justice.
        Got to get it! Equal rights and justice.

        Everybody want to go to heaven
        but nobody want to die.
        Everybody want to go up to heaven
        but none o' them, none o' them, want to die.

        I don't want no peace,
        I man need equal rights and justice.
        I've got to get it! Equal rights and justice.
        I really need it! Equal rights and justice.
        Just give me my share! Equal rights and justice.

      •  It seems there's always been some twisted (4+ / 0-)

        fascination with living in the end times for a lot of people. If time ends on your watch then you won't be missing out by dying before you get to the end. Kind of like closing a book before you read the last chapter. But the fundies are even more attracted to the end times I think because they want to be the ones taken to heaven in the Rapture. It's not so much a fear of dying. After all, they supposedly believe in the Resurrection. I think they would see it more as it is an affirmation of their righteousness and holiness. After all, only Jesus and his mother Mary were assumed into heaven without undergoing death. We don't count the three days Jesus was in the grave. And it's the desire to see the wicked, or the people they believe wicked, punished. Fundies are very much into punishing the wicked. Some even feel that it is necessary for them to do so and save God the trouble. But it would be the ultimate triumph for them to be rising up bodily into heaven in the sight of the wicked as they watched the wicked being dragged down to hell. I think this is probably one of the big fundie fantasies.

        •  i agree with your analysis (4+ / 0-)

          There is a desire for affirmation of righteousness. You should check out the 1970's movie series called "Left Behind." The wildly popular premise was that a liberal gov't would persecute the Christian church (with guillotines, no less!). You can feel the intense ache to be persecuted seeping through each scene. It's creepy.

          But i also have to correct you: Elijah and Enoch were translated directly to heaven. Protestants do not believe that Mary was.

          •  I'd forgotten about Elijah and his chariot of (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ibonewits, Amayi, CherryTheTart

            fire and Enoch as well. Mary's status is the subject of a number of disputes among the Christian faiths. I never read the "Left Behind" series or saw any films, although a co-worker used to talk breathlessly about it. Today, she is just as fascinated with the Dan Brown novels about sinister plots involving the Roman Catholic Church. I'm not sure if those seemingly diverse interests converge at some point, but it seems an interesting paradox to me.

            But there is definitely a sort of martyr complex that pervades the extreme Christians. I chalk this up to the teachings that martyrs went straight to heaven, no questions asked. Martyrdom, like the final act of perfect contrition, was a guaranteed ticket to heaven, regardless of what sort of life one had led before. Most modern apprentice Christian martyrs are not looking for a painful death like their predecessors. They merely want to be persecuted for their faith even if they have to invent the persecution, such as enduring Seasons Greetings message instead of Merry Christmas, or not being able to put up Nativity scenes on public property, or not being able to pray in school or post the Ten Commandments on the courthouse. And so the modern martyr sees these things as deliberate attempts to deny him/her the opportunity to express his/her faith, which while not being as courageous as being burned at the stake for one's faith, does cause some discomfort, or at least a bad mood, and must, therefore, qualify for a free pass into heaven.

        •  Disagree. I think it fear, not hope. They fear t (3+ / 0-)

          hey are wrong, in their heart of hearts.  Its why they yell so loudly, to block out that little voice of doubt.

          It's really a very common, very human thing, doubt.

          'Sides, if u know you're right, you don't need 'vindication' of ur 'righteousness'.  True certainty brings peace (see any evangelical buddhists?).  Or, if ur really nutty, toxic koolaid and self-mutilation before u go up to the comet! :-)

          •  i use to be one of those folks, though (4+ / 0-)

            It's hard to reconcile a broad interest in the world with a narrow interpretation of its meaning. I eventually gave up trying to.

            But in the meantime, I was fueled by hope that somehow the Lord would relieve me of the doubts that plagued my commitments and stands. I wasn't afraid. I was recklessly blind to consequences.

          •  I'm sure fear plays a role too (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            annominous, CherryTheTart

            Not only of being wrong, but of being dead and wrong. The problem with admitting to any doubt for people of faith is that it means their faith is a sham. And for many Christians, faith is the only means of salvation. If you don't have faith you have nothing and if you have doubt you don't have faith. For many Christians, the act of recognizing Jesus as their savior is the one and only thing that is necessary to go to heaven. Almost any kind of sin can be forgiven, but lack of faith cannot.

            Vindication or affirmation in this case is not for proof of their own faith or to remove any self doubt. They would never admit to any doubt, even to themselves, because that would be denying their faith. It's rather a means of proving to others that they were right and others were wrong.

      •  fear is all they know, the fucking freaks (0+ / 0-)

        "I don't do cowering." - Barack Obama

        by NamelessGenXer on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 04:57:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fear? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          captive yak

          No, they know a kind of ecstasy. And that is a good thing. What is not good is the uses to which this spiritual emotion is being put.

          I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

          by CherryTheTart on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 06:24:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  i refrained from mentioning the ecstacy (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CherryTheTart

            Because I didn't want 500 dkos diarists rushing to the nearest Assemblies of God church to get baptized.

            But to be srs(ly) for a second --- what's with the focus on the afterlife? If a Creator had intended that we long for death, wouldn't he have wasted less time creating such a detailed planet for us to observe and inhabit? Disdain for the undiscovered is, unfortunately, a signature trait of most established religions. Or, at the least, a lack of curiosity. And I simply don't understand it. It seems incompatible with belief.

            •  500 kossacks dunked. Oh my doG. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              captive yak

              You are funny. I like that in a person. I love your questions. And I thank the diarist for providing us space to chat awhile.

              Anyone who is awake knows that THIS is paradise. Reward and punishment do not come in an after life. Punishment for wrongdoing is immediate. When we do good, we feel good. That is our reward.

              I am personally fascinated by these evil creatures who fancy themselves religious/spiritual. I have no answers but there are a number of psychologists, psychiatrists and social philosophers have described them. I have read a lot of the literature. I cannot say I understand them. What I do understand dismays me.

              Your love of and curiousity about the world around us is a form of religion, to my mind. You might find American Transcendentalists interesting. In any event, I give you this poem by Mary Oliver. I think you might like it.

              Wild Geese

              You do not have to be good.
              You do not have to walk on your knees
              for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
              You only have to let the soft animal of your body
              love what it loves.
              Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
              Meanwhile the world goes on.
              Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
              are moving across the landscapes,
              over the prairies and the deep trees,
              the mountains and the rivers.
              Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
              are heading home again.
              Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
              the world offers itself to your imagination,
              calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
              over and over announcing your place
              in the family of things.

              I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

              by CherryTheTart on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 08:22:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  in all fairness... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                CherryTheTart

                An objective argument can be made that even the most maligned elements of religious faith were developed for or proven beneficial to the wellbeing of mankind (in various multiple or isolated incidences). I've spoken with a few people who can make the argument quite convincingly. There are some folks, it seems, who are hard-wired for faith. LIke some kind of tether or curb. Or background information.

                Those kinds of folks hold a lot of governmental sway in Iran -- and, recently, in the US. It's amazing how similar the two countries are. The clerics in Iran have the kind of cultural veto power that James Dobson wishes he had. As I was writing this diary, I almost included a line about being grateful we have a president who doesn't seem to believe in the Apocalyptic Israel hooey.

                I like the poem. It does sum up nicely the idea that the world is way too big (and interesting) to allow justification for much of human behavior. But on we go. I haven't honestly looked into much American Transcendetalism. I have a fear of poetry and pastoralism! But it might be time to conquer those fears.

                "You disrespectful, ungrateful, selfish woman!" - Kirk Cameron, in "Fireproof"

                by captive yak on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 09:43:10 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  i hate my outlines (6+ / 0-)

      they ruin the diary, then, i write around the ruined parts.

      Anyhow... Thanks for getting the point. In a way, I'm trying to deal with the psychological triggers that insist on exploding in my own brain.

      However, so much of the conservative commentary that I read and see involving Iran is only very thinly veiled apocalyptic thinking.

      My worry has always been that fulfillment of prophecies is not inevitable (because a merciful God provides a way out): Fetishization of prophecies is inevitable. And fetishization leads to fulfillment.

      •  Thank you for your reply. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        captive yak

        You said:

        However, so much of the conservative commentary that I read and see involving Iran is only very thinly veiled apocalyptic thinking.

        Thank you for this analysis. Since I am not a Fundamentalist or a Fundy, this aspect of the situation passed me by. Now that you say it, I see it. You a smart thing.

        My worry has always been that fulfillment of prophecies is not inevitable (because a merciful God provides a way out): Fetishization of prophecies is inevitable. And fetishization leads to fulfillment.

        Per "fetishization leads to fullfillment," I (personally) sincerely hope so. The sexualization of religion is becoming more and more obvious to me. And disturbing.  Forgive me for the levity of the first sentence above, but consider my name.

        About the "exploding triggers," I have kids like that. Really smart and dyslexic. I gave you a recommend when I first started reading you. Then the explosions made me think you were jiving me. So I unrecommended. I am sincerely sorry I did so. It was intolerant. Please accept these sincere amends.

        I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

        by CherryTheTart on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 06:22:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This was a brilliant diary. (6+ / 0-)

    What would evangelicals say when confronted with the fact that their whole apocalypic tradition was likely imported from Zor-Astrains in.... Iran (persia)?

    Bringing it full circle, eh? ;-)

  •  These people don't want to die. Not the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rogerdaddy

    vast majority.  They believe in what the Bible says relative to Revelations and the end of times, but they aren't sitting there like Marine in Hawaii waiting for the next skirmish in Vietnam.  

    "Peace cannot be achieved by force. It can only be achieved by understanding" Albert Einstein

    by BigAlinWashSt on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 10:07:07 PM PDT

  •  Being that I am (8+ / 0-)

    very much aware of the Evangelical desire to see me and mine bathe in righteous flame, I approach this with the ever-skeptical, suspicious eyes of a Jewish kid who grew up across the street from an Evangelical church weekly reminding me of my "failure".

    They are not the screeds of laughably bigoted hayseeds

    While this is very true, the eschatological interpretations are exactly that.  There is no present-based interpretation that is anything less than hate through rose colored glasses.  It looks upon the apocalyptic destruction of Israel and the Jewish People with an almost childlike glee, and it is the thing about the Evangelical community that disturbs me the most.

    So, in my confused state of the moment, I will tip and rec you, as you make a very clear distinction between eschatological crazy bigoted interpretive practice, and logical understanding of scripture in the intended historical context.

    •  thanks! (4+ / 0-)

      I can certainly understand why you'd see it that way. It was easy for me to buy my "Jews For Jesus" cassettes in the '80's, and feel as if I was super-stoked about Israel. A lot of evangelicals feel the same way about Israel as they do about the Egyptian pharaohs: necessary historical entities.

      Staggeringly, inhumanly morbid.

      The assertion runs contrary to most every purpose of religion.

  •  The only thing this diary is missing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snakelass, Kingsmeg, craiger, blackjackal

    is a violation of Godwins law.

    Good luck to you from an atheist.

    "Everybody does better, when everybody does better" - Paul Wellstone 1997

    by yuriwho on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 10:31:17 PM PDT

  •  Have read a shitload of diaries on this (3+ / 0-)

    site, even made a comment or two, but this is fine, fine stuff. Thank you for posting this.

  •  Everyone predicts the end, it doesn't come (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MagisterLudi, ibonewits, captive yak

    Rather than get dismissed as a false prophet, they put out another book with yet another new prophesy of the end. And people fall right in to follow.

    But there has been more of a trend of impatience with God's schedule, and a desire to cause the end of the world, as if God's hand can be forced. Craziness like looking for a red heifer, so it can be sacrificed to consecrate a new temple.

    Martin Luther was a enthusiastic about Jews. Like Evangelicals, he wanted to get them to convert. But once he realized that they weren't going to, he wrote "On the Jews and their Lies", one of the most anti-semetic books ever written.

    The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

    by A Citizen on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 10:48:12 PM PDT

    •  Beautiful summary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ibonewits

      "But there has been more of a trend of impatience with God's schedule, and a desire to cause the end of the world, as if God's hand can be forced."

      It's hard to argue with that.

    •  I'm reminded of the The End Is Near cartoons (0+ / 0-)

      I think after the days of the fallout shelters and air raid drills in schools, when people started to worry less about a nuclear holocaust, many newspaper comics ran cartoons with a character with long hair and a beard carrying a sign reading "The End Is Near" in which the joke made light of the concern about the imminent end of everything.

      We either fear the end, embrace it, or ignore it. I think that many people want to know what the future holds, including when the earth will end. This isn't just so they know whether to make lunch plans for Saturday. It's just so they can stop worrying about what will happen and can prepare themselves without the stress of being in a constant state of readiness, whatever that entails. They want to know what signs to look for so they know the end is coming, which is why Biblical prophecies, Biblical cyphers, Nostradamus, and the prophet du jour have so much appeal. The religious zealots on the other hand want the end to come to prove themselves right or holy or both.

  •  A splendid diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annominous

    As a recovered Catholic, an observer of the Religious Reich, a polytheologian who doesn't take any monotheistic theology seriously, and a practicing Druid (until I get it right!), I really enjoyed this.

    Keep on keeping on!

    Isn't it nice to have a SMART President?

    by ibonewits on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 11:25:47 PM PDT

  •  thanks for all the great comments! (0+ / 0-)

    This is the most fun i've ever had on Kos. Good night to all!

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