The Apocalypse of St. Peter (Garrett)

“Bible prophecy” teaches gullible Christians to mangle the words of the Bible. So I guess it’s not surprising that those poor folks would turn around and apply the same interpretive method to the songs of Midnight Oil and of 1980s hair band Europe.

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For those who can’t watch the video, it’s an earnest word of “prophecy” from a man who has apparently bought the deluxe package of bamboozling BS from the “Bible prophecy scholars.” He’s sure that the Rapture will occur this year, in 2013, because God spoke to him through a Midnight Oil song and told him “the time has come.” This prophetic message from God was confirmed to him by another good Christian whom God spoke to through the same song, and then confirmed again by yet another believer to whom God spoke through the song “The Time Has Come,” from Europe’s Final Countdown album. (Did they have another album besides that one?)

I never realized that “Beds Are Burning” was about the Rapture. I always thought it was about justice for Australia’s indigenous people — but then I also thought that John’s Apocalypse was about the late-first-century Roman Empire, so what do I know?

The poor guy in the video above, bless his heart, is not wrong to detect something apocalyptic in the music of Midnight Oil. Apocalyptic was kind of their thing. Their catalogue is filled with apocalyptic warnings and old-school prophecy — not the fortune-telling, Nostradamus parlor-tricks of predicting the future that Tim LaHaye et. al. think of as prophecy, but the emphatic justice-or-judgment message of the actual biblical prophets. “Your dreamworld is just about to fall” — that’s apocalyptic. “In the end the rain comes down … washes clean the streets” — that’s apocalyptic. “The sunset empire shudders and shakes” could almost come from the book of Revelation itself. That’s from “Sometimes” — which is the essence of apocalyptic:

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The empire is falling, don’t give in. Apocalyptic in a nutshell.

The fascinating thing about that earnestly awful “prophecy” YouTube post at the top here is the way the poor guy so perfectly replicates the way that “Bible prophecy” Christians distort and dismiss the meaning of apocalyptic literature, twisting it into something wholly unrecognizable. This guy does to Midnight Oil precisely the same thing that Tim LaHaye does to the book of Revelation. He clips a phrase out of context, tosses away the rest, and then pretends that phrase means something that the text itself never mentions at all.

The guy says God spoke to him, giving him the phrase “the time has come.” And for him that phrase can only mean one thing: the Rapture. He heard the song, but he refused to listen to it, completely ignoring its urgent, passionate cry for immediate, tangible justice. (Here’s a bit of personal background on Midnight Oil’s lead singer, Peter Garrett, that suggests “Beds Are Burning” expressed the strongest imagery he could imagine.)

Justice gets set aside, replaced by talk of the “Rapture.” But the song doesn’t say anything at all about the Rapture. Neither, for that matter, does the book of Revelation.

(Happily, our friend’s YouTube prophecy has only been viewed about 20,000 times since he posted it back in August, so his theory that “Beds Are Burning” is really all about the Rapture hasn’t yet wormed its way into conventional wisdom the way the LaHaye/Scofield/Darby/Lindsey nonsense has. So we’ll probably never hear cable news reporters glibly parroting the idea that this is “Midnight Oil’s hit song about the Rapture” the way that they thoughtlessly, incorrectly love to repeat that Left Behind is “based on a literal reading of Revelation.”)

This is always the pattern with “Bible prophecy.” This is how they always mangle and misread apocalyptic literature. Ignore injustice. Ignore context. Pretend everything is about something it never mentions. Then breathlessly predict the imminent “Rapture.”

But what about thosee multiple “confirmations” of this guy’s prophecy? How should we regard them?

I’m holding out for additional confirmation. Somewhere, another brother in Christ is listening to Lionel Ritchie’s “All Night Long.” Somewhere a sister in Christ is listening to “Pikachu’s Goodbye” from the Pokemon soundtrack. And other brothers and sisters are hearing “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music, or U2′s “Kite,” or (if they speak Swahili) “King of Pride Rock” from The Lion King. And perhaps all of them will also decide that God is speaking to them through those songs to give them all those same prophetic words: “The time has come.”

And surely that must mean the Rapture is at hand. “The time has come” — what else could it ever possibly mean?

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax –
Of cabbages and kings –
And why the sea is boiling hot –
And whether pigs have wings.”



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The devil has been in twice as many movies as Jesus (and how that has changed our theology)
  • Jim Roberts

    Love myself some Midnight Oil. In the years of grunge, it wasn’t Nirvana or Pearl Jam that inspired me to take action for social justice, it was, appropriately, “Beds are Burning.” Lacking indigenous Australians in my area of Southern Ontario, I made do with volunteering at a homeless shelter.

  • AnonaMiss

    “But wait a bit,” the oysters said,
    “Before we have our chat -
    For some of us are out of breath
    And all of us are fat.”
    “No hurry,” said the Carpenter.
    (They thanked him much for that.)

  • G.G.

    The Walrus was Paul!

    Somebody needs to get these guys some really crazy things to look for prophecy in.

    How about Prisencolinensinainciusol?

  • SororAyin

    This is the problem with anticipating Heaven and the afterlife every minute of every day. It’s a sign that you’ve given up on this world and this life.

  • Michael Mock

    The time has come to take a shower? The time has come to buy new socks? The time has come to write the Great American Novel? The time has come to finally try sushi? The time has come to learn chess, karate, or ballroom dancing? The time has come to summon forth Gozer the Destructor? The time has come come to start excavating that mess in the garage? The time has come to listen to some newer music?

    …The last time I heard such a dramatic pronouncement – “The time has come!” – it marked a truly world-shaping event: our first child was going to start sleeping in his own room.

  • AnonCollie

    “Ray, what did you think of?”
    “I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood. Something that could never ever possibly destroy us. Mr. Stay Puft!”

  • G.G.

    ” Ray, when someone asks you if you are a god……. you say ‘YES’!”

  • Panda Rosa

    I remember reading someone describing the song “American Pie” as predicting The End Of The World.

  • Vermic

    Fair enough. It certainly does describe an apocalypse of a kind.


    No, the time has come to create something that combines chess, karate and ballroom dancing! Preferably to the tune of “One Night In Bangkok”

  • Vermic

    I remember getting angry at “Beds Are Burning” because (knowing nothing at the time about indigenous Australians) I thought the song was about Native Americans, and where did a bunch of Australians get off haranguing us about that?

    That was the same year that Europe (a Swedish band) released their song about the Trail of Tears, and I got angry for the same reason. Apparently this was a touchy subject for Teenager!Vermic in 1987? It’s hard to put myself back in my old shoes.

  • Mark Z.

    All songs are about the end of the world.

  • LoneWolf343

    You probably shouldn’t listen to “Creek Mary’s Blood,” by Finnish metal band Nightwish. It actually uses the words “Trail of Tears.”

  • dpolicar

    If done right, karate combines chess, karate and ballroom dancing. :-)

  • Jim Roberts

    Yeah, I don’t even recognize teenageJim

  • bekabot

    Reminds me of the way Charlie Manson used to parse Beatles songs so as to prove there was a race war on the way. (How’s that for an objective viewpoint?)

  • jesuswithoutbaggage

    M Mock,
    No matter what significant thing a phrase in a song reminds me of, I don’t assume it is God talking to me.

  • Michael Mock

    Yeah, I tend to think that if an all-powerful being wanted to communicate with me, it would do so a lot more clearly and unmistakable than leaving coded messages in decades-old song lyrics.

  • Michael Mock

    I’ll give you “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider”, but I’m having a hard time seeing it in “Coming Home For Christmas”.

  • commonlaw504

    Fairly certain the music video for “One Night in Bangkok” combine those things. So the time has arguably come and gone.

  • G.G.

    “We’ll Meet Again” and “Waltzing Matilda” are my go-tos for apocalyptic songs thanks to their use in Dr Strangelove and On the Beach. I can’t hear them without thinking of WWIII.

  • Abby Normal

    Sorry to be armchair psychiatrist here, but it sounds more like this is a dude that’s off his meds. “Secret messages hidden in pop songs” is pretty common paranoid schizophrenic thing. Kinda telling that the Left Behind guys use the same line of reasoning, though.

  • Albanaeon

    What ever happened to god ol’standby’s like angelic messengers, burning bushes, and talking asses?

    God seems to hace gotten lazy when we now have to rely on grilled cheese sandwiches and LeHaye.

  • NonyNony

    OMG – do you know what this means Fred? You’ve shown that “The Walrus and the Carpenter” is all about the RAPTURE! Of course, why didn’t I see it before? It makes so much sense – Jesus is a Carpenter! And walruses have “beards” so the Walrus must be God. And the good oysters leap up out of their beds to follow the Walrus and the Carpenter to their Rapture while the old oyster who refuses to follow is, of course, left behind! It even starts out with the end of the world imagery of the sun shining at night and all of the birds being dead and gone!

    Just astounding. Jabberwocky and The Hunting of the Snark are, of course, all about the Rapture. But I never thought of the Walrus and the Carpenter as apocalyptic prophecy before and yet it’s so obvious!

  • Boidster

    If Ylvis’ song The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?) isn’t a sign of the end times, then NO song is. However the Fox does say, among other things, “Joff-tchoff-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff!” which clearly is the sound of raptured souls being poofed out of their clothes and airline seats.

  • The_L1985

    “Creek Mary’s Blood” bugs me just a little with the Creek(?)-language section. I don’t know why.

  • The_L1985

    All right. *disco dances*

  • The_L1985

    The time has come.
    The time is now.
    Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now?

  • The_L1985

    Darn, you mean “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” isn’t a coded message? Next you’ll be telling me that the song “Jelly Roll” isn’t about pastries!

  • The_L1985

    …Well, it was the end of the world for Buddy Holly.

  • The_L1985

    It’s hard for me to hear “God Only Knows” without getting a feeling of impending doom since I played Bioshock Infinite.

  • The_L1985

    I dunno, man, System of a Down told me that my stepson and I shouldn’t eat the fish, and I’ve never suffered from seafood-related food poisoning since.

    Then again, Serj Tankian’s lyrical style is pretty schizoid itself (just in case the YouTube preview didn’t make that blatantly obvious by itself).

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    How about coded messages in a millennia-old book? Seems like a lot of people are still big on that idea.

    (Why does God make the messages so hard to find? Is He actually Professor Layton?)

  • The_L1985

    *shrugs* It still makes more sense than the Redwall mice. They were up to their eyeballs in ancient coded messages, but it wasn’t until Matthias came along that they actually started looking at them and trying to decode them.

  • MarkTemporis

    Europe actually wrote and performed songs that weren’t “The Final Countdown”? Huh. As usual, the Laibach cover is much better.

    Nightwish actually goes the extra mile and has a Native American artist (John Two-Hawks) perform flute and chant on that track. It was probably inspired by the book of the same name. (Same with “Tenth Man Down”)

  • The_L1985

    “What ever happened to god ol’standby’s like angelic messengers, burning bushes, and talking asses?”

    Pat Robertson still talks out of his ass on a regular basis.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    There are entire websites devoted to people analyzing the Hidden Messages the Illuminati leave in ALL pop culture.

    Why an ancient evil conspiracy does this, I don’t know. Magic reasons, maybe. Or perhaps it’s the Secret-World version of gang tags.

  • Aine

    the thing that always bugged me about Redwall Abbey was…you’re monks and nuns… *What* are you worshipping?

  • C.Z. Edwards

    Please, nobody give this guy VNV Nation. Because between the Milton inspired Empires album and Judgement, there will be brains all over the wall.

    I really wish that this variation of apophenia would occasionally work to the larger community’s benefit. If one must find coded messages from god in pop culture, why can’t those messages say things like “Treat each other better!” And “Clean up your messes!” And “Be good stewards to the planet I gave you!” Hell, I’d accept a “If you don’t stop fighting, I’m going to come down there!”

    I wonder how much of this sort of apophenia is subconscious self-congratulation, and how much is a deeply suppressed sense of helplessness. In the subthread yesterday about prepperism, someone brought up the notion that prepperism seems to be deeply routed in a sense of powerlessness and an inarticulate need for jubilee. Prophetic apophenia seems perhaps a variant of that — the world is so entirely without sense that the apophenically inclined make patterns out of the noise, and those patterns almost always excuse them from responsibility and culpability.

    Getting a message in pop songs that said something like “Clean up the atmosphere or there will be no hope of a Rapture,” would be deeply demoralizing to someone who otherwise sees the Rapture as the only chance for a better world.

  • mistformsquirrel

    The God-Emperor of Mankind has spoken to me through this song; I am to lead a nautical crusade in the Caribbean! This will lead to the salvation of all humanity from the perils of Chaos! (Also booty, which is nice)

    Who’s with me?! O(o_o)/) FOR THE EMPEROR! FOR GOLD!

  • VMink

    Full-contact ballroom chessboxing.

  • 1tomtheelder1

    If Midnight Oil set him off like this, listening to the Chambers Brothers 1968 hit would have left him quivering on the floor!

  • Lunch Meat

    And when the riddles are simple enough that the 10-year-olds reading them can figure it out first, how can the person who hid the sword/island/mountain/castle possibly be assured that the good guys would be the one to figure it out?

  • jesuswithoutbaggage

    Well ex-Seuss me, but I loved your quote!

  • jesuswithoutbaggage

    Now I have to read the entire works of Lewis Carroll to see what else he prophesied.

  • Hummingwolf

    Supposedly the Illuminati have a supernatural contract requiring them to reveal their plans to the world before they put those plans into action, thus giving the masses the chance to use their free will in order to oppose the Illuminati’s plans. The Illuminati, crafty beasts that they are, use entertainment, fashion, and other frivolous media to present us with their messages, thus fulfilling their part of the contract while ensuring that the vast majority of us don’t take the messages seriously.

    Yeah, sometimes I go visit those websites for my own entertainment. I’ve found out about some cool movies that way.

  • Andrew Marchant-Shapiro

    Prophecy is such a tricky thing. A couple of years back, I was telling my teenaged son about this, and suggested we take a look on YouTube for the 1970 song “Nostradamus” by Al Stewart. Found a nice video that “elucidates” this very pretty song. Yep, as I thought–”The East” (which was the USSR in my day) is now Iran; the two men/yet brothers not (who represent the north)? Obama and Putin. And of course, Teddy Kennedy was assassinated like his brothers…

    This all reminds me of a story told by my theater professor back in college about a man who had discovered that if you applied a certain formula to a given act and scene in any of Shakespeare’s plays, it produced “Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s Plays.” Of course, the only problem is that it produced that when applied to any given page of the telephone book, too.

  • ReverendRef

    Europe actually wrote and performed songs that weren’t “The Final Countdown”?

    You beat me to it. I always thought they released a video for MTV (when they did that kind of thing) and then quit.

  • AnonymousSam

    Sometimes things speak to us. The song Hey Alice makes me think too much of a certain dream I once had

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    To quote a guy from RPGnet on conspiracies and “Freeman on the Land” craziness:

    “Actually, a lot of conspiracy theories takes for granted that The Conspiracy is made not of humans of flesh and mind, but of fairy tales characters, Arabian nights’ djinns, goetic demons or, really, any other narrative-driven beings. In
    most case, They can’t lie, only half-truth and omit, They are compelled to leave clues and signs of their presence, They need to trick you into somehow giving your consent to Them for Them to have power on you, They are supposed to be controllable and exorcisable when confronted to Truth (notably their True Name)… Just in not so many words.

    Few theorists will tell you openly that, yes indeed, once you enter The Conspiracy, you stop being of human nature and start becoming a Fair Folk, but since belief in the Conspiracy is a desperate unconscious call to impose a comprehensive storyline on the chaotic events of reality…
    “This birth certificate is fake but only because it’s the
    non-contractual short form, if you can manage to ask in person the correct clerk for the Long Form at Hawaii, they will have to show you the REAL birth certificate that shows that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is born from the Harlot of Babylon and the Great Dragon Named Satan, a second
    before the Second Return and sent back in time in Kenya” ; “Of course Lady Gaga won’t tell you she’s an Illuminati, she said it well enough already with her show full of triangles, eyes and meat coats ” ; “Ha-ha,now that I pestered enough the city council to make sure that nothing
    in this town will ever be energetically efficient, we are safe from Agenda 21, which means that UNO has no sway in this city and that the One World Government won’t lead us to oblivion, CHECK AND MAT, ANTICHRIST ! ” ; “If someone dared to call the Queen a reptoid while
    looking into her eyes, she and her brood would flee the Earth post-haste”…”