Resurrected Messianic Obama and “Being Apocalypse” – UPDATED

An interesting resurrection is taking place: the re-emergence of the Messianic Obama theme from the tomb to which it had been consigned.

It began rather modestly, with the release of The Gospel According to Apostle Barack. But that was a mere gospel. Jamie Foxx then upped the ante by referring (ironically?) to “our Lord and Savior, Barack Obama!” and today Drudge is featuring this story about a 2009 painting depicting a Messianic Obama who is “The Truth”

The truth painting is old stuff, of course, put out there during the Messianic Heyday of Barack, and I wrote about it back then:

Obama wears a spotless white shirt, the red tie, the blue jacket. Yes, that’s the old “red, white and blue” of the U.S. standard, but in Orthodox icon-writing those colors, specifically when adorning the body, are meant to communicate Christ’s transfiguration (and resurrection), royalty and divinity. On the head of Obama -whose life from graduate school on has rolled pretty easy- we see the thorny crowns worn by the suffering servant.

The restoration of the messianic narrative is not accidental, I don’t think. Good heavens, the last election has proved that people aren’t actually thinking very much, they’re simply responding to the flashiest lights; four years of this messaging and hey, the messiah is revealed — who needs elections, anymore?

Fascinating to watch a president who is bringing about the biggest threat to religious freedoms the nation has ever encountered being invested with religious meaning, himself.

This is bringing up some interesting conversation in my social media timelines, particularly among Christians who are wondering how a balance may be struck between the spiritual (which is reality) and the political (which is so much illusion) and what denotes the line between reasonable political engagement and political junkie-ism, which can be defined as an excess of reliance on (and belief in) political solutionism, and is very often half-rooted in idolatry. There is a challenge of balance, for people of faith: political engagement is a good and necessary thing, but too often our fervent engagement leads to excess, and then to defect as we lose perspective as to what is the reality of Christ versus the illusion of both political reach and the “saviors” who we invest with power, and then entrust to “bring things about.” Once that perspective is skewed, we are out of balance, and the best of our energies ends up being spent on the wrong thing. Misplaced.

Somewhere between reasonable political engagement and the political junkie-ism that foments idols and false messiahs there is a balance; when we move away from it, we move, necessarily, away from where Christ tells us to be; we venture too near the secular-solution-seeking Judas.

In light of all of this, my piece at First Things this week is generating some fascinating discussion among people pondering how to strike a that balance and what it really means and then, where to begin?:

For many, and for me, the election signaled the crossing of a Rubicon of sorts: twin-towering notions of Exceptionalism and Indispensability toppled for less conspicuous walk-ups of Isolationism and Nanny Statism; the running out of a clock, all illusions lain aside.

As might be imagined, the column generated an unusual amount of email and social media action, some of it jeering at the hilarity of my “apocalyptic pronouncements,” some grousing but in agreement, and some wondering, “so, what now? What do you mean by ‘playing strictly for God’ and how do we begin?”

My answer might surprise you. I am calling for Apocalypse and you can read it all here. It is about, in fact…First Things.

And hey, don’t be shy about commenting! Interested in what others are thinking about the topic.

Related:
The people obsessed with religion redefine a nativity scene

UPDATE:
Father Dwight Longenecker is thinking along very similar lines as I am in my First Things piece. And he’s doing it here, too. Do read them both — they’re very good.

Meanwhile, writing in the Evangelical channel (my take is that the Evangelicals, who have been more passionately dedicated to the political stuff, thanks to the religious right are also trying to establish a new balance) is saying the religious argument in politics is essential. I don’t disagree, but methods and tactics may have to change.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Will

    It is easy to demonize we do not like. And now back to religion…

    [Easy to oversimplify, too. admin]

  • archangel

    Regarding your article… I think what most faithful don’t realize is to what extent the church will suffer during the final age. The church has had its martyrs and its persecutions within various regions, but it is clear from all prophetic texts that the church will suffer to an extent that threatens the faith of even the most faithful. One has to ask… what could bring that about. Without getting to deep into the eschatology of Revelations, it is interesting to not that there will be two “deaths” of two servants who spread the word of God. These deaths will excite the world to the extent that there will be massive celebrations but after 3-1/2 days of laying in the open, the two will rise and be called to Heaven. What this means, IMO, is that for 3-1/2 days, months, years (who knows given the symbolism within the book but I’ll go with days given we’re talking about “corpses”)… for 3-1/2 days it will appear that the world has won over faith. That means it appears the church/God LOSES… is killed. THAT would shake those with weak or little faith.

    It is this losing… like Jesus “lost”, that we as “church” must prepare for. The church… the whole imperfect disconnected entity, the “body of Christ” must be prepared to suffer and die the way He did. Not just individually. As an entity.

    I have always thought that Iran has only two real targets in mind for their bombs… the seat of Judaism and the seat of Christianity; perhaps the two “messengers” mentioned by John, but that is pure speculation. Either way, as a church we must gird ourselves and be prepared to “LOSE” in this world.

  • Adam

    Let’s remember that when the “Our Father” was introduced in the Gospels, the original language wasn’t “lead us not into temptation,” but “do not subject us to the final test.” I increasingly find myself worrying about that final test, whether in the microcosm of my own life or the macrocosm of the end of history. Jesus asked to be spared that test in Gethsemane, but that prayer didn’t work out too well for him (in the short term).

    I remain cautiously optomistic that the “final test” is a possibility rather than a determined outcome. Jesus posed the question: “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith?” I have to wonder whether he meant this with a implied “no,” or whether he was reminding us that the outcome was in our hands. Someone once taught me that the tribulations of Revelation were only a possible outcome for humanity; the other being that we build as close to the Kingdom as possible within our limited human abilities, and Jesus returns to take over from there.

  • archangel

    Actually the proper rendering is to “the test”. The word “final” is not present. Trials and tribulations are a certainty and it is through them the faithful will be purified. It is also through them that the world makes its choice whether to be a “lamb” or a “goat”. Its the same test the Hebrews faced in the desert when faced with the choice between the old idols or God. That is the test being referred to and that is the test the world faces now and will face to the extreme. In the death of the two messengers… some will celebrate and some will despair (both will fail); the ones who succeed will HOPE (and not the Obama type of hope). Hope and faith will carry those who pass the test because the success in the test is trusting God even in that type of circumstance. That ultimately is the test. How much do you trust God?

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  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    As to the Messianic image of Obama, how blashemous. It’s the perfect symbol for their idolatry and lack of faith. No one can persuade me that Obama is a believing Christian, and neither are his accolides.

    As to your apocalypse article, I mostly disagreed. Here’s what I commented at First Things:

    No I don’t agree it’s the apocalypse. I do agree the election clarified how degenerated our culture has become. It’s not that Obama won that has had me down, but that he won on the issues of free contraception, gay marriage, support for planned parenthood and therefore abortion, and on restricting religious freedom. What it shows is that we have more work to do on changing the culture. The current generation may be lost, but we have to work on the next generation. It calls for a new strategy, it calls for us to work harder and double our efforts, but we are not headed for an apocalypse.

    “One generation passes and another comes, but the world forever stays.
    The sun rises and the sun goes down; then it presses on to the place where it rises. ” -Ecc 1:4

    So quoted Hemingway to describe the failed civilization of the 1920s (The Sun Also Rises) and then we got the greatest generation.

    We’ve got work to do. Prayer is a good start. I’m not ridiculing it, but a farmer can pray for his fields all he wants but unless he plants seeds and cultivates nothing is going to grow.

    [Manny, go reread my piece. I didn't say it is the apocalypse. I said we must BE the apocalypse. -admin]

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    Two typos in there. Should be “blasphemous” and “accolades.” I can’t spell, especially when I’m mad…lol.

  • http://NA Lorraine

    I personally do not like the picture of Obama. I would not have posted it, though a writeup about it is sufficient enough. Why would I not post the picture? The eye takes in what it sees! It’s forever in my mind now. In order to not ‘focus’ on this disgusting picture, I’ll talk about it, refocus and replace it with the one true Christ. That’s my take.

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    “Manny, go reread my piece. I didn’t say it is the apocalypse. I said we must BE the apocalypse.”

    On reread, you did. You said,
    “Let us begin, finally, to understand the true meaning of apocalypse by becoming it—not destruction and mayhem but revelation, as in the revelation of Christ to each other—in these strange and transitional days.”

    I guess I misunderstood, but I can’t say I understand exactly what you do mean. Perhaps we are saying similar things but my brain must be slow. I’m not quite getting it.

  • Fiestamom

    Let’s not forget Obama’s party booed The Real God at their convention. How did Christian voters overlook this? I am not saying they had to vote Romney….but the Dems.booed.God.

  • Adam

    Archangel: maybe it’s a matter of translation, but the NABRE at Matthew 6 and Luke 11 uses “final test.” (http://www.usccb.org/bible/matthew/6) (http://www.usccb.org/bible/luke/11).

  • lethargic

    This election and the immediately-commencing “holiday season” have punched me one-two in the face, resolving into an enlightenment moment … Americans may have believed that we had a nation and a culture founded on Judeo-Christian principles, but we no longer have that. The world we live in today is the world of Mammon-worship. It always was, I guess, but in the 20th-century, it became more and more clear. Then this election licked the adhesive on the post-paid envelope and sealed it.

    Our current antichrists are Lord Barack (Gimme a phone! Pay my mortgage! Free stuff yay!), Lilly (Have sex with younger women until you’re 109 with Cialis!), Kay Jewelers (Gimme a diamond, a kiss, and lifelong ageless love!), the Sierra Club (Salvation through right feelings!). We have no jobs, but we have free birth control so yaaaayyyy!!!! There aren’t enough shopping days in the year, so pitch Thanksgiving in the trashcan and get started yaaaayyyy! Stay on this carnival ride and you’ll never really feel sick or unfulfilled yaaaayyyy! Charitable people want to call it naivte or gullibility … but it’s really Mammon-worship.

    Serious Christians and Jews can’t worship at those altars and stay honest. Christ outright promised us trouble and persecution in this world … why aren’t those promises preached about? Or why and how did I ignore them for so long? No cross, no crown … I ignored that, too. I have been so blind and nonsensical. How do I prepare my children for martyrdom?

  • Brian A. Cook

    I just pray regularly to God that this world will be made a more peaceful, loving, and beautiful place through His power. I pray that truth can emerge from the polemics and noise. I pray for a mitigation of purgations that befall this world for the sake of the earth, human lives, and civilization. I pray that the Church will be renewed, as well as purified as needed, so that she can credibly witness to the Gospel. I also pray that I may be given the grace to love and care with a pure heart.

  • Victor

    Whow! I’ve only seen a few clips and I don’t need to read any more to understand as a Canadian looking in, why Mr Obama won your U.S.A. Election. At first in reality, in Canada I thought that Canadians, in our city at least, were just not aware like Manny said that Mr Obama stood for contraception, gay marriage, support for planned parenthood and therefore abortion, and on restricting religious freedom as to the reason why most approved of his government around here but I know the truth NOW.

    Long story short, call me crazy but honestly speaking and putting all kidding aside, I spiritually feel sorry for Mr Obama and his good family cause I don’t think that it is going to be that easy for him in reality to later ignore that some people consider him a god NOW and that in the alien gods eyes, he is no more important than any of your pass “Presidents”.

    I recall in 1970, after about a month of marriage, thinking without saying a word because of what was taking place around me that I was a god. Longer story short, I served a month in a Government Hospital and I was lucky cause I was not even an important man like Mr Obama. :)

    Anchoress, I’ll simply say in closing that it is not funny any more so let’s continue to pray and hope with all The Love we can muster that GOD (Good Old Dad) and HIS Angels will stay close to all HIS Children and protect the earth that HE created for all of U>S (usual sinners). :(

    Peace

  • ahem

    Even Pravda gets this one right:

    Obama’s Societ Mistake
    http://tinyurl.com/cu53syu

  • David

    @Manny

    Elizabeth is saying that we become the apocalypse, in that we do not allow the circumstances and occurrences around us to define who we are. If trust in Christ and represent him to one another, then we become the real change. (I hope I got it right, Elizabeth.) The hard part will be doing it.

  • http://laudsandvespers.tumblr.com dl

    From Psalm 37 and today’s Office of Readings:
    Be still before the Lord and wait in patience; do not fret at the man who prospers; a man who makes evil plots to bring down the needy and the poor. Calm your anger and forget your rage; do not fret, it only leads to evil.

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    @David (and Anchoress if David’s rephrasing is accurate)

    What’s different about that than our condition now? Are we allowing circumstances now to define us? And if we are, what are we going to do different?

    “The hard part will be doing it.”

    Do what?

    [BECOMING the reality we want to see around us. Being Christ for each other. See the "Ministry to young mothers piece" above. You're really having trouble seeing it, aren't you? :-) We've been a passive, "just paying attention to my own life" society for a long time. Read the Tim Muldoon piece I link to at First THings. -admin]

  • Debbie

    Just an FYI, and as a long time reader of the last five years, yesterday, I attempted to ask about how to go about taking prayer action on the bitterness I feel about the past election on First Things. I agreed with you; requesting some suggestions, and for some reason that went unexplained, my comment was not posted. I’ve double-checked their commenting policies and can’t fathom a reason for not posting it. Anyway, just a head’s up that it really turned me off as far as visiting the site.

    [Debbie, I know that the comment moderation is done differently over there -- it's in an office and only done during working hours (ppl actually go home and do non-internet things. I know, right? Amazing!) and when they get busy, sometimes moderation can get forgotten. Perhaps it is simply waiting for someone to release the comments. ;-) admin]

  • nan

    That picture – it’s a Michael Jackson pose isn’t it?


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