Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom: More news from the End of the World

We had a plague of locusts across the Middle East, at Passover no less. Then we had a two-headed shark. So it’s no wonder that National Public Radio is asking “How Close Is Doomsday?” or that books about “The Antichrist” are big business all over the world.

Here’s a roundup of some other news and commentary about “Bible prophecy,” the End Times, etc.

• Chad Thomas Johnson remembers the day his parents were raptured. (Spoiler alert: Not really — they were just up the street talking to the neighbors. But everybody who grew up in post-Hal Lindsey evangelicalism has a story like this one.)

• Chris Stewart has been called “the Mormon Tim LaHaye” due to his own series of novels based on “Bible prophecy” — The Great and Terrible. He’s now Representative Chris Stewart, R-Utah. Stewart is convinced that the end is nigh and that the planet is doomed to soon suffer an apocalyptic cataclysm. And like LaHaye, he believes this is prophesied and is thus a Good Thing.

But Stewart doesn’t much care for talk of other potential cataclysms and calamities. Like climate change, for instance, which he says isn’t a real threat. A bigger threat, he says, is the existence of the Environmental Protection Agency, which he wants to abolish.

With views like that, it’s no surprise that the Utah Republican is now chairman of U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on the Environment. If you agree with Stewart’s science-denying apocalyptic religious views, you’ll probably think that’s great. If not, you’ll probably think that’s terrible.

The End of Days has come for “Bible prophecy scholar” Dave Hunt. Hunt died in his 87th year. He never expected to reach such an age — not because he thought he’d die sooner, but because his “Bible prophecies” quite clearly taught that the Rapture and Tribulation and Millennium and all that were going to come way sooner than 2013. Hunt began preaching the imminent End back in 1973 — that’s four decades of being wrong.

• The Seventh-day Adventists have been wrong much longer than that. They’re marking 150 years of being completely, totally wrong about the imminent End of the World. As Daniel Burke notes for Religion News Service, the anniversary comes with some embarrassment:

Back in the 1860s, the founders of Seventh-day Adventism preached that Jesus would return – and soon. That’s why they called themselves “Adventists.” By Second-Coming standards, the church’s long life could be considered a dismal sign of failure.

“If you took a time machine and visited our founders in May 1863, they’d be disconcerted, to say the least, that we’re still here,” said David Trim, the church’s director of archives and research.

… Adventist leaders say the apocalyptic pull is still strong at church headquarters, especially during planning sessions. “I see that in our education system,” said [church director of education Lisa] Beardsley-Hardy. “Not wanting to over-invest in building because Jesus is coming.”

Beardsley-Hardy said she feels the same tension in her personal life. Should she sock away extra money in her retirement account, she wonders, or gratify immediate needs?

• Meanwhile, other Armageddon-loving Christians are doing both — planning for the future and gratifying immediate needs. They’re desperately searching for the next Left Behind or Great and Terrible series of books or movies that will keep the cash pouring in for several more decades of being lucratively wrong about the imminent End of the World. I hope the Lord tarries long enough for me to see the upcoming Left Behind “reboot” with Nicolas Cage and Ashley Tisdale. Vorjack heightens my anticipation with a look back at some of the other fine films from the Cloud Ten studio producing the new movie. Corbin Bernsen and Mr. T? Oooh.

• But just because these “Bible-prophecy” books and movies are ridiculous and poorly executed doesn’t mean they’re not influential. They’re quite effective at reinforcing beliefs that some people want to believe — as demonstrated by the recent PPP survey that found: “13 percent of voters think Barack Obama is the Antichrist, including 22 percent of Romney voters.”

Don’t laugh. Our Adventist friends aren’t the only ones reluctant to invest in education and in retirement security because they think the world is about to end. The PPP survey shows that’s the view of about a third of Republican voters (another 19 percent of whom are “unsure” whether or not President Obama is the Antichrist).

• What does LaHaye-ism and “Bible prophecy” mania look like when it’s translated into politics and policy? Well, it means that idiots like Michael Farris — head of the Christianist home-schooling racket — get to rave about Nicolae Carpathia’s United Nations without being dismissed as lunatics. Sen. Rand Paul takes his cues directly from the Left Behind series when he calls for the United States to withdraw from the U.N. (Does Sen. Paul say stuff like this because he’s a true-believer in Anti-Antichristianity? Or is he just sucking up to Anti-Antichristian voters? I’m not sure it matters.)

• And if you’re looking for a recent example of Tim LaHaye’s paranoid, Neo-Bircher, anti-U.N., Anti-Antichristian panic influencing American politics, look no further than the defeat in the Senate last week of gun safety legislation for background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. That defeat came about due to weird conspiratorial lies about an imaginary “national gun registry.” That’s what happens when the Senate is controlled by a minority of members who believe that Barack Obama is Nicolae Carpathia.

• Let’s end on a happier note. Biblical scholar and all-around mensch Craig Keener wrote a nice Huffington Post column on what Revelation really means — “Revelation, Politics and Injustice“:

Revelation suggested that the empire’s economy, built on injustice, was ultimately doomed to collapse, taking with it the economic systems too dependent on it. On the one hand, Revelation offered comfort and hope of a better future for the suffering churches. To those churches that were complacent about others’ sufferings, however, the book sounded a stark warning: there is a God of justice, and those who unjustly indulge their comforts at the expense of others will one day have to face reality.

 

  • aunursa

    So it’s no wonder that National Public Radio is asking “How Close Is Doomsday?”

    With the Cubs already in last place by 4 1/2 games, Doomsday is a long way off.

  • Vermic

    It’s not a two-headed shark, it’s two sharks who happen to share a body. Each head is a separate and beautiful individual with its own identity, personality, and feelings which can be hurt when someone tries to deny their sharkhood. They deal with this rejection, as all sharks do, by indulging in comfort food: stingrays, turtles, the occasional toe.

    19% of Republican voters are open to the possibility of Obama as Antichrist, but don’t want to commit just yet. They’re keeping their options open in case the Pope starts vomiting pea soup, I guess.

  • P J Evans

    Rand Paul is out to get money, votes, and power, not necessarily in that order. Doing what’s good for the country (and his constituents) is somewhere down the list.

    (He now is saying it’s okay to use armed drones. On US citizens. *In* the US.

  • The_L1985

    Is it wrong that when I read the title of Chris Stewart’s book, I immediately thought of the Wizard of Oz?

  • aunursa

    “If there’s a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I’m not against drones being used to search them out, heat-seeking devices being used, I’m all for law enforcement,” Paul said on Fox Business Network’s Cavuto last night. “I’m just not for surveillance when there’s no probable cause that a crime’s being committed.”

    “Here’s the distinction, Neil, I’ve never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, active crime going on,” he added.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    To paraphrase one of the few true prophets of history… Why go to college? Why go to night school? If you truly believe that the end is nigh, why run for Congress?

    If we lived in a remotely sane culture the proposition that government exists to make peoples lives better would be completely uncontroversial. But even if you do disagree, even if you do think that government should do no more then what is needed to preserve the One True American Way as envisioned by the Founders; Wouldn’t even that be pointless if everything is about the end? Why not just let the proles have our seven years of CommuSatanic fun? Compared to the annihilation of everything, what harm could it do?

    The USA is, after all, just another subdivision of everything in the end. Surely one’s idea of ‘exceptionalism’ could not so extreme as to put us on a higher plane than the physical universe.

  • JayemGriffin

    Considering that they’re both charlatans who deceive the public for their own personal benefit, it’s not wrong at all.

  • Lori

    Because every time there’s an active crime going on the police are tracking the right guy and they’d never, ever expand the use of the technology once they get on a roll with fighting active crime.

    Rand Paul is a Very Serious Champion of Civil Liberties. In the sense that means not so much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Don-Gisselbeck/520678931 Don Gisselbeck
  • Panda Rosa

    Admittedly, it isn’t easy for a shark to be a distinctive and beautiful individual when it generally spends all day just swimming around and looking for food.
    From what I heard, it/they didn’t live very long.

  • Lorehead

    It’s literally a direct quote. “I am Oz, the Great and Terrible.” (The movie changed it to Great and Powerful.) I haven’t read the gentleman from Utah’s books, so can someone who has tell me if there’s any self-awareness there?

    Edit: Okay, it also appears numerous times in the King James Bible.

  • glendanowakowsk

    A two-headed shark? We REALLY need a bigger boat.

  • Nick

    I haven’t been a Premil for quite awhile, but every year it’s getting harder and harder to believe that the resurrection is *ever* going to happen :( …

  • skybison

    This reminds me of an article in Scientific American from a few years ago. The author quoted some statistics 24% of republicians believe “Obama might be the antichirst” and 22% believed “he wants the terrorists to win.” Since these groups probably overlap, that would imply that 2% of republicians think Obama is the antichrist but wants the terrorists to lose.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Space Marine Becka

    Ronald Reagan was the antichrist as well. There’s a subset of US citizens who seem to always think the POTUS is the antichrist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    Maybe they think the Tribulation Saints are included as terrorists?

  • reynard61

    So…um…God had an Oz complex?

  • Turcano

    The real eye-opener from the PPP poll is the fact that 5% of Obama voters thought that Obama is the Antichrist and voted for him anyway. I’m pretty sure there aren’t that many Satanists out there.

  • stardreamer42

    There was in fact a point at which I realized that IF I believed in the Signs of the Rapture, GWB would be an excellent candidate for the False Messiah role as described in Revelations.

  • Hexep

    Talking Heads +1

  • Emerging Human

    People have been calling for withdrawal from the UN since it started. I clearly remember the John Birch Society in the south advocating it in the early 60s, along with their “Impeach Earl Warren” billboards. Fundamentalism may be a sinking ship elsewhere, but in north Georgia it’s gonna take more than just one generation to sink it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.mcirvin Matt McIrvin

    And after they discover the truth about him, they immediately start sarcastically calling him “Oz, the Great and Terrible Humbug.”

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    Furthermore, if the government dropped a Hellfire missile on the Kwik-E-Mart right after a robbery they might get Snake. They’ll probably also get Apu, Homer, Bart, and Lisa, too. That’s assuming they aim the damn thing correctly and don’t hit the Flanderseseses’.

    Of course, I can imagine Quimby and Wiggum putting their heads together and coming up with that plan. I also don’t want to live in a world where Quimby and Wiggum are in charge…

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    That actually makes a certain amount of sense, really. How often do we scratch our heads around here and ask why the Tribbles are even considering trying to stop Nicky Appalachians? They’re thwarting god’s plan if they do, after all.

    Maybe the 5% there just think that voting for the anti-christ will get everything going already.

  • JustoneK

    I dunno, I have the impression that overlap is from people afraid to say they DON’T suspect Obama’s the capital A Antichrist because of the culture they’re in. Real peer pressure, yanno. The vote is hella easier to lie about,

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.kopycinski Randy Kopycinski

    What do they think of former presidents? Do they think they were wrong about, say, Bill Clinton being the Antichrist? Or have they created a new dishonorary “formerly potential Antichrist” club to include all all living former U.S. Presidents, pope emeritus Benedict, Bill Gates, etc…

  • http://twitter.com/count_01 Jared James

    Or two boats of approximately the same size.

  • histrogeek

    It’s unfair to say that the lawmakers believing in the gun registries are influenced by Left Behind, Nicolae Caparthia, UN fever dreams. Why, some of them are simply influenced by The Turner Diaries and the Zionist Occupied Government trying to weaken the white race’s ability to resist. That’s better, right?

  • Ygorbla

    I suspect that 22% of Republicans would checkmark any bad thing they could about Obama on a poll, just to make a point.

    (Really, polls should have “do you believe Obama is a vampire?” just to screen for that.)

  • Carstonio

    If you truly believe that the end is nigh, why run for Congress?

    They sure don’t act as if the end is nigh. That is Fred’s argument about the folks who Godwin legal abortion.

  • J_Enigma32

    The poll designers are smarter than that; they don’t have that option because there’s the danger they might mistake “blood sucking elite” for their own leaders and not check it.

  • Panda Rosa

    C’mon now, we all KNOW the Antichrist has to be Prince Charles! I mean, his mother is a disguised Reptilian, he had Princess Di killed, and just LOOK those ears!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon
  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    To be fair, I’m not sure from the article abstract that it was ever born. It’s described as a “shark foetus.”

  • Lorehead

    Not to be confused with the Highly Magnified Woggle-Bug, T. E.

  • http://twitter.com/AbelUndercity Abel Undercity

    Charlton Heston once opined that Ice-T was the Antichrist.

  • Panda Rosa

    Does anybody really remember Earl Warren anymore? Or Roman Ruscha, for that matter?

  • Matri

    Unfortunately, we are living in a world where Quimby and Wiggum are in charge…

  • phoenix_feather

    A 2-headed shark is ushering in doomsday? *shrugs* Well, I guess John of Patmos did say the world would end with a many-headed beast coming out of the sea.

  • roisindubh211

    “He might be the Antichrist, but he’s our Antichrist!”

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Are we going to douse the burning bush and find an old guy speaking through cupped hands behind it?

  • Brightie

    …Or a werewolf, if you watch Doctor Who. ;)

  • Brightie

    Bullet point under that question: Is he the kind Buffy kills, or the kind that sparkles?


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