Sunday, May 20, 2007

Let's just get the dang Apocalypse over with, already!

Will Bunch at Attytood has posted about the #2-selling book at Amazon.com:
It's called: "The Final Move Beyond Iraq: The Final Solution While the World Sleeps," by Michael D. Evans. The "O" in "MOVE" has a very un-Christian set of crosshairs in the middle.
I blinked several times, then went and got some more coffee, then came back to my computer and the words "Final Solution" were still there. I have not read this book, nor do I know much about its author, but words are important, and those words especially carry some weight. These ideas, to the extent that they are widely shared, certainly merit discussion and a big ol' rhetorical smackdown.

Reviews of the book seem to be mostly negative:
I'm currently serving in the United States Army deployed in Iraq with the 25ID. Think for yourself. The fact that this book is on the best-seller list makes me want to vomit. The author is intent on seeing democracy controlled by religion, knowing that through these beliefs he can control the people. Think for yourself. Trust God and not the author who mangles and manipulates His words for the sake of power.
Then again, there was also this one:
Everyone should read this book but especially Americans. All indications are that the public has let 9-11 fade into the past. This book will wake you up. It's well documented, a very real fast read (unless, like me, you tend to highlight pertinent passages to pass on to those who have fallen asleep). I recommend this book to anyone who values the United States of America and our "remaining" freedoms.
I actually agree with everything this guy says, except that (a) he is actually making a case for the war in Afghanistan by invoking 9/11 and (b) he seems immune to the irony of mentioning our "'remaining' freedoms," ignoring who is principally responsible for the freddoms not "remaining."

What troubles me is the eagerness for further war in the Middle East as fulfillment of Biblical prophecy possibly bringing about a tribulation period or something. This did not start with Newt Gingrich's oddly eager invocation of "World War III" to describe the brief Israel-Hezbollah war of 2006 (whose outcome was hardly certain, anyway). This has been going on for some time, but the Iraq War seems to have resulted in increased rhetoric. What I don't understand is the idea (and this may seem somewhat straw-man, but the people making these arguments are notoriously slippery) that humans, by forcing the events described in the Bible to happen in the right sequence, can hasten the Second Coming, apocalypse, etc. Does God (and yes, I know I don't technically believe in Him, but go with me for a second) have a checklist of events that he is waiting on before sending Jesus back? Isn't it just a tad arrogant for people like Newt or John Hagee to think they can hasten the end times by encouraging war in the Middle East? My biggest beef with organized religion is the idea that any one man (or woman) can speak definitively for God, let alone be the catalyst for Armageddon. If the Bible is any guide (and most if not all Christians say it is), God is gonna do what God is gonna do, so everybody chill. Instead of the constant obsessing over the afterlife, take some time to appreciate all the great stuff He's created in this one.

2 comments:

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Todd Stadler said...

Amazon.com reviews are, in my opinion, a worse place to assess public opinion than comments on political blogs. They serve as a ridiculous public forum whereby people of various opinions drive hordes of like-minded people to comment according to their shared opinion, so that the bulk of comments says what they want it to. Then the other side reacts. The only people who win are Amazon.com

"Does God have a checklist of events that he is waiting on before sending Jesus back?" Well, obviously these people believe he does. I disagree with their interpretation of the Bible in constructing their timeline, but I also disagree with your implication that such a thing is absurd. You seem to read it as God somehow needing man to do something -- an admittedly strange position for an omnipotent God to be in -- but I'm fairly certain they don't see it that way. Rather, they believe they are carrying out God's will.

"Isn't it just a tad arrogant for people like Newt or John Hagee to think they can hasten the end times by encouraging war in the Middle East?" I might say it's wrong (based on my understanding of the Bible) or tragic, but I don't see how you can work in "arrogant". It's what they believe, based on a poor reading of the Bible. But it's no more arrogant than a suicide bomber who believes his actions will have spiritual repercussions in his favor. Both are tragic and wrong, but again, I don't see "arrogant".

"My biggest beef with organized religion is the idea that any one man (or woman) can speak definitively for God." My biggest puzzlement with atheists and those with rhyming labels is that they seem to reject belief in God based on what they believe God is like. Or, rather, would be like even though he (they believe) doesn't exist. If you don't believe in God, then why do you have opinions about what he's like and how he would choose to communicate? Don't get me wrong -- I agree with you that God is not speaking through many of the people you cite. But those are specifics.

"If the Bible is any guide (and most if not all Christians say it is), God is gonna do what God is gonna do, so everybody chill." I think you'd be hard-pressed to read the Bible and come away from it thinking that the take-home lesson is: Nobody do anything, just sit tight. There is more than one sentence in the Bible in the imperative form (the Great Commission comes to mind). And while the Bible makes it clear that man can do nothing to stop God's plan (notably, that of salvation), it also makes clear that God chooses to use men -- over and over -- to carry out his plan.

Also, why no comments on "In the Name of Jesus"? Now I'll have to comment here: What is the purpose of writing about such things? You preface your commentary by saying that this letter to the editor in a way-backwoods town "most likely does not represent the mainstream of Christian thought in America today", but then go on to react as if it did. Even in the relatively large city of Portland, I can find all sorts of odd, poorly reasoned ideas in the Letters to the Editor section. It's the old person's way to blog. They don't publish the best-written comments, they publish the ones they think you'll find most interesting, so that more people will write in, thereby keeping circulation up (in theory).

Look, the person in that letter obviously is reasoning poorly and greatly mistaken about several things. But by commenting on it as you did, you raise it to the level of serious commentary. I understand that this letter has implications for you, personally, but it's no different than how I feel when I read about Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins or any other person with a British accent who thinks that I, as a believer in God, represent a grave danger to our society and world.