Tuesday, September 02, 2008

By the Way, Nostradamus Didn't Know Beans Either

Back in high school I read Hal Lindsey’s book The Late Great Planet Earth and got all freaked out about it because this Lindsey character’s interpretation of the Book of Revelation indicated pretty clearly that we were living in the end times. That would be the 1970s, if you’re keeping score.

Lindsey had it all figured out. I don’t remember the details, but the Soviet Union figured heavily into it, and the European Economic Community, and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, and of course everybody’s favorite boogeyman, the antichrist. There was rapture this and tribulation that, and I was terrified. I mean, it had to be true, right? They wouldn’t have published it if it weren’t true, right?

I had all the critical-thinking skills of a gnat back then. Hell, I thought The Amityville Horror was a true story because it said “A True Story” right on the cover. Luckily I took a religion class in college and learned that people had been interpreting the Revelation pretty regularly for centuries, and that oddly enough they all found parallels between those biblical prophecies and whatever was going on in the world that day.

But this brings me back to an earlier post, about the co-worker who claims to believe Barack Obama is the antichrist. I still don’t know who this co-worker is, but I’d love to find out so I can ask if he or she is planning to vote for Obama. After all, a key element in any serious interpretation of Revelation is the antichrist’s rise to power. Do the people who make this outlandish Obama/antichrist claim really want to be the ones to thwart biblical prophecy? Aren’t they afraid of crossing up their deity?

Which is it? Do they take the prophecy literally or not? If they do, it sets up a catch-22 Joseph Heller would be proud of:

Co-Worker: I believe Obama is the antichrist.
Runes: Really. So you’re going to vote for him and help bring about the end times.
Co-Worker: No! I can’t vote for Obama—he’s the antichrist!
Runes: So you don’t believe the prophecy.
Co-Worker: Wrong. I do believe the prophecy, but that doesn’t mean I want it to happen in my lifetime.
Runes: So you think somewhere down the road, the antichrist will come to power.
Co-Worker: Exactly.
Runes: Therefore, it’s not Obama—so you can vote for him.
Co-Worker: I can’t vote for Obama.
Runes: Why not?
Co-Worker: He’s a Democrat/liberal/socialist/Muslim/ terrorist/African-American. And inexperienced.

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