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Finding the Anti-Christ.

by Dear Jon
September 2, 2003

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Sort 232_Dear Jon-Finding the Anti-Christ ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

I am finding a puzzling pattern in my interactions with other people, primarily when talking about anything of real import.

This pattern is that say I give my opinion about current American imperialism, my interlocutor either responds with some stock answer about America's destiny and moral obligation to rid the world of evil as the true heir of European culture, or responds with platitudes about personal liberty and some comment about W being the anti-Christ.

All I want is some real discussion about what America is doing: How it is a democracy that is creating a benign empire (or not so benign) and the implications for us as Americans. Do you have any insight on this pattern and why no one seems to want to engage me in reflective conversation on such important topics?

Sincerely, Puzzled and Perturbed

Dear P and P,

I also am puzzled and perturbed at several points in your letter. First, concerning the opinion that the true heirs of European culture will “rid the world of evil:”

Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, and Milosevich, were all Europeans. Their systems brought poverty and racist genocide to the ends of the Earth. How can the heirs of the culture that brought us Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon, Richard III, Edward Longshanks, the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Spanish Civil War, the IRA, the Orangemen, Nicolae Ceausescu, Chernobyl, the Concorde, Paris restrooms, Polka music and accordions, be considered the right persons to rid the world of evil?

Second, concerning that George W. Bush might be the anti-Christ: Those who are looking around and pointing fingers at possible Anti-Christs share many common beliefs about how the world is going to end (and soon). These beliefs inspired the hit Non-Fiction sensationalist book called “The Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey, then the classic horror movie “The Omen” starring Gregory Peck, and the best-selling novels of the “Left Behind Series.” Among these common beliefs are that people who interpret the Bible correctly should be able to identify the Beast of Revelation, who is commonly associated with the Anti-Christ in the letters of John.

If I have lost you already, you may turn to your New Testaments and read First John and Revelation (at the end of the Bible that was given to you as a graduation gift from your weird Aunt who is like some kind of Lutheran Nun or something). However, doing this will probably NOT lead you to the same conclusions as are offered by Hal Lindsey or the authors of the “Left Behind Series.” The problem with the novels is that there are at least nine of them by now. The problem with “Late Great Planet Earth” is that the Soviet Union does not exist anymore, forcing Hal Lindsey to make revisions in newer editions regarding the battles that destroy civilization. So I suggest you rent “The Omen,” microwave some popcorn and watch it late at night in the dark, since it is creepy, especially with the weird nanny and then the baboons at the safari.

These common beliefs of the Hal Lindsey “where’s the Anti-Christ” end-of-the-world belief system are faithfully presented in “The Omen.” 1) That the Anti-Christ will be a recognizable political leader. 2) That in some way or other, he will be associated with the number 666, either by a tattoo or by an association arrived at by numerology. 3) That the Anti-Christ will head up a reconstituted empire taking over for the power and prestige and even some of the pomp and regalia of Rome on the way to global domination. 4) That the Anti-Christ will be indwelt, at some point, by the spirit of Satan. (In the movie this happens from conception, as the exhumation of the mother’s grave demonstrates, and then the black dogs get after them. Yeesh.)

Also, part of the theory (although “The Omen” does not get there because it ends when the Anti-Christ is only six years old) is that the Anti-Christ will start out by conquering three nations and incorporating them in the New Roman Empire.

So, does George Walker Bush fit the criteria for the Anti-Christ? Already the USA supersedes the unrivalled power of Rome. The USA has further adopted some of the trappings of Rome, such as: coins stamped with the images of leaders, neo-classic architecture in its capital buildings and monuments, military pageantry, and Latin mottos.

In addition, Bush has conquered two countries so far. We are “nation-building” in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, I can’t figure out how George Walker Bush gets associated with 666. Maybe he is just doing his best in a world that has thrown up a minefield of challenges to the American way.

Besides, all kinds of other suspects have been plausibly presented as the Anti-Christ, only to disappoint the End-of-the-world fans in THEIR generations by falling short of bringing the world to the apocalypse.

For example, the earliest church likely associated the number 666 with a numerological rendering of NERO CAESAR in a Hebrew transliteration of the characters. The Roman Caesar fits well the metaphors rendered by Revelation.

Even so, later on many in the Church Universal (which lasted until the 2nd Millennium) believed that the Anti-Christ was Mohommed, whose armies of Jihad swept through the Christian lands of Asia, North Africa, Turkey, and Spain. The Muslim jihad deprived Christendom of three-fourths of its territory and population LONG before any Christians mounted a Crusade of any kind to deprive Islam of territory equal to the size of Albania.

Later, Protestant Reformer Martin Luther believed the Pope was the anti-Christ.

And then a lot of people believed that Napoleon was the Anti-Christ. Here is why: He made deliberate attempts to recover the Roman legal system as well as its pageantry. He formed a European continental league where his Napoleonic code was in effect, effectively re-establishing the Roman Empire. He dressed and had his portrait painted wearing togas and crowns of laurel. In addition, as is pointed out by Leo Tolstoy in “War and Peace,” if you take the French “le empereur Napoleon” and assign numbers to the Phoenician letters in the same order as in the Hebrew alphabet, and total them up, you arrive at 666. What is good for Nero is good for Napoleon.

Then Hitler became a pretty good candidate, all things considered.

Some folks in the late 1980’s, desperate for the world to end according to the Hal Lindsey plan, really wanted Gorbachev to be the Anti-Christ, and tried to trace 6’s on that famous birthmark. (Remember how those kooks insisted Gorbachev was just “pulling the wool over our eyes?”)

Question: Does Bush rank with Nero, Napoleon, or Hitler? Answer: Absurd. Not even the most paranoid religious extremist (whether an Al Qaeda jihadist or a Tim McVeigh disciple) can throw Bush into those ranks. When extremists do, they are being dishonest with you and themselves, proving the bankruptcy of their faith and their intellect.

So my advice, P and P, is to forward this SORT 232 to all your friends with an invitation to gather at your place for a Hallowe’en party, and rent “The Omen.” Also, if your friends keep wanting to cut short any reflection on current events with their own party-lines, just sigh and change the subject to sports.

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