Smile: It’s the New Mark of the Beast

“Don’t smile!” the DMV agent ordered my sister as she posed for her license photo. He pointed to a poster with four unacceptable facial expressions and one model countenance.

“Why?” She tried to arrange her face properly.

“It’s the TSA. Their facial recognition technology can’t read cheekbone structure if you smile.”

She grinned her cheekiest grin as she told me the story and vowed to use it at every airport body scanner on our trip to the family reunion and back. I almost fell off my seat laughing at her. And at the absurdity of the national security system riding on a smile.

My sister is a missionary kid turned New York City actress. She’s always taken mischievous delight in subverting stupid rules, wherever they crop up, church to government.

At the next security checkpoint, she beamed like a Cheshire cat. “Have a good day!” she blessed the agent without a hint of cheek.

Here’s a thought. If a would-be terrorist grins enough to avoid facial recognition, will his smile subvert his own evil intentions by changing his heart and rewiring his neurons?

The TSA guy smiled back.

“Just being a good Christian,” she demurred at my own smirk. “TSA agent can’t be the most fun job in the world.”

Pray That All Unity Be Restored

They will know we are Christians by our love,” sing condemned Christians as they await the guillotine, “by our love.” Four years have passed since the rapture. They’ve refused the mark of the beast on their foreheads and have been rounded up by UNITE, the new world government. Patty struggles to reconcile a loving God who saves with a God who permits suffering. Her own sister has betrayed her.

If you grew up in a conservative church in the 70s, you’ll remember suffering the tribulation of A Thief in the Night II: A Distant Thunder, a sci-fi, horror flick based on a premillennial interpretation of eschatological (end times) Scriptures. At my church, regular Wednesday night Missionettes was cancelled so we could all be terrified into heaven.

I was 8. It worked.

At my church, we worried that bar codes were forerunners of the mark of the beast. QR codes would have driven us into hiding immediately.

Thankfully, New Jersey only restricts smiles at this juncture, but I suppose that ban could presage other facial requirements like, say, a QR code on our foreheads.

I’m messing with you. At least, I’m messing with the hairs on the back of my neck. Thirty-cough years on and I still can’t hear “they will know we are Christians by our love” without looking over my shoulder.

Back then we were scared of Soviets. Now as I hurry through the airport, I’m scanning for terrorists.

God Is in Our Land

Premillennialism holds to a thousand-year literal reign of Jesus on earth (Rev 20:4–6), preceded by a great tribulation. Amillennialism rejects a literal thousand years, but holds to one final resurrection and judgment. This does away with the preceding tribulation as well.

My uncle, a minister, used to joke that he was a panmillennialist. He believed it would “all pan out in the end.”

It’s a tidy theological position. Stick it to big government? Smile. Terrified that government scanners aren’t sophisticated enough? Smile. Either way, “they” will identify us Christians by our smile.


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