Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The end times are near...

The rapture index is at 151 and counting! My favorite move in the index is #33, the "beast government" factor : "The possibility of the EU reforming into a smaller group of core nations has updated this category." Does this mean it went down?

Seriously, though, making fun of religious fundamentalists' wacky ideas about the imminent end times is all fun and games, until the apocalypse comes. And it's not funny at all when you have groups actively hastening the end times, and tons of legislators beholden to these wackos.

We're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half of the members of Congress are backed by the religious right. Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian-right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian Coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who before his recent retirement quoted from the biblical Book of Amos on the Senate floor: "The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land."

Is this just alarmist fear mongering - another freaky lobbying group, and our legislators pay them lip service because they are are financially beholden to them? Or is this a malignant and malicious influence on our legislative process?

I go with the former. As influential as these end-timers may be, I think they are best ignored. They won't go away, but they feed off attention, and would only grow stronger if we try and destroy them.

Just like the terrorists.

13 Comments:

Blogger mkchicago said...

"Is this just alarmist fear mongering - another freaky lobbying group, and our legislators pay them lip service because they are are financially beholden to them? Or is this a malignant and malicious influence on our legislative process?"

I have the same questions about these guys and their wacky index .

10:26 AM  
Blogger George W. Bush said...

I appreciate that, thanks for enlightening us Martin. You're right, Atomic war is an objective, concrete threat and very scary. The "Rapture" on the other hand, well, let's stick to the basics, it's a whole lot of flubber gubber erroneously pumped up by the corrupt God Squad to manipulate the masses. But forget that, have faith, God is tough and God is virtuous and wouldn't want to harm us Americans, from here on out, beware the quirky Atomic Scientist, they have the supreme power to sway the populace and legislature from their academic pulpit. They're not patriots.

11:53 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

I have no argument with you on wackiness of the rapture index. I also think Germanicus' take that legislators are paying lip service with them is about right.

"Atomic war is an objective, concrete threat and very scary."

This is also (mostly) true. My problem with all of this is the idea that a bunch of physicists have any particular expertise in political science. The atomic clock has almost nothing to do with physics. It's a social sciences construct. Thinking that we are "7 minutes to midnight" because a group of physicists has declared it so is about as nutty as thinking that a PhD in linguistics makes a person an expert on world affairs.


BTW, who's Martin?

1:08 PM  
Blogger George W. Bush said...

Sorry, I thought Martin was your name, is it Mike? I lose track of names w/ our online monikers.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

"...is about as nutty as thinking..."

Nice try, but the apples/oranges equivalency is stretched too thin here. The existence of atomic weapons makes their use possible, if not inevitable. The existence of gay marriage amendments does not similarly validate the rapture.

I never got the Atomic scientists' clock either, but the whole idea is to keep public consciousness of the existence and horrific consequences of The Bomb at a realistic level. Not sure what this has to do with "political science", but scientists who take their professional obligations seriously, and actively warn humanity of the possibility of their annihilation, are to be commended. People who babble on about the rapture are to be ignored, or at best ridiculed.

If you purport to be an expert on world affairs BASED ON your linguistic credentials, then yeah, you're full of shit. Like when "Doctor Laura" purports to solve people's psychological problems, when her PhD is in physiology or something. If you can point to a pile of books you've written on world affairs, then you can credibly be considered an expert in the field, irrespective of any other epaulets you have. Besides, "world affairs" and "politics" aren't really akin to psychology or linguistics, where only those with "credentials" can speak with certainty and authority.

4:01 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

I don't know about hastening the end times, and I readily admit that every generation has seen its fair share of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in diverse places.

What I take great issue with is the assumption that the end of the world is not at hand. How does one know this? How can such an idea be so easily relegated to the world of kooks? Ok, I'm not putting out any "rapture indeces" or anything, but I fully expect it will happen. As far as "financially beholden" is concerned, my sum political contributions lifetime is twenty bucks. And I got a mug for that, a big one!

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cretin/creator of the Rapture Index is Air Force supply officer Todd Strandberg (for insights into him, go to Yahoo etc. and type in "Open Letter to Todd Strandberg"). Also type in "Pretrib Rapture Diehards" (& note Tim LaHaye's gay hypocrisy under the year "1992") to see long covered up facts about the 175-year-old history of the imported-from-Britain, pretrib rapturescape - the biggest money-maker for the Religious Right's political agendas! The RR will lose power only when mainstream scholars begin analyzing and airing the rapture's 19th century primary documents which are now available - documents exhibiting massive dishonesty (plagiarism, revisionism of early sources, etc.) which has been repeated in present prophetic works by LaHaye, Lindsey, Falwell, Van Impe etc.
J. E.

1:13 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Hi Germanicus,

Aren't these Rapture Ready people "experts" of sorts on end-times theology? They are taking a look at a set of realities (and, one might note, that FRANCE and it's "non" vote on the EU is what they mention to be part of keeping the antichrist at bay right now) and making a "scale" which you find ridiculous. Yet, like the scientists, they have an ideological axe to grind.

Pretend for a second that you are a born-again Christian. Just pretend. You read in the Bible, which was written thousands of years ago, that there is a set of events that leads to the end of the world. Wouldn't you be a bit interested in how those events were playing out? If you believed them to be playing out, wouldn't you say so?

Even if John the Revelator had some really great mushrooms, and Daniel was written when the liberal scholars say that it was, they both still look forward to fascinating events, made possible only in the last 100 years. If the religious right is so powerful over these members of Congress, I hardly understand just how "we're all going to disappear soon" would lead to certain public policy, and just because someone gets an 80 on the Interset Group scale, doesn't mean that they expect that person in the Rapture.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

sexyretard: "...like the scientists, they have an ideological axe to grind."

Not if they're real scientists practicing real science. There's nothing in the scientific method about grinding ideological axes.

OK, I will pretend I am a born again Christian. I'll even pretend I'm a born again Christian who believes in the Rapture (I'm willing to argue you can be a Christian without "believing in" the rapture). According to my understanding of the teachings of Christ, preparing myself spiritually for the second coming through piety, humility, and good works should be my #1 priority. Advocating a war in Mesopotamia, encouraging the consolidation of Europe, and turning a blind eye to ecological disasters, as a means to hasten the apocalypse, really wouldn't enter my mind as very "Christian" things to do.

But maybe I'm not "projecting" well enough, and these things would come naturally to me, if the power of Christ compelled me. I doubt it.

The apostles thought the rapture would happen in their lifetimes. So have tons of the faithful since them. Exercising the humility noted above, Germanicu$ The Born Again Christian would be inclined to take the current predictions of imminent rapture with a pillar of salt.

"...they both still look forward to fascinating events, made possible only in the last 100 years."

You're going to have to get specific here, because Germanicu$ the Secular Atheist has a hard time believing that John the Revelator or Daniel actually and specifically predicted any events that have borne out, any more than the Weekly World News claims Nostradamus's predictions have. I am willing to listen, with aforementioned pillar of salt firmly affixed in place.

1:16 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

"I'm willing to argue you can be a Christian without "believing in" the rapture"--Germanicus, during his fantastic voyage

Of course.


"The apostles thought the rapture would happen in their lifetimes. So have tons of the faithful since them. Exercising the humility noted above, Germanicu$ The Born Again Christian would be inclined to take the current predictions of imminent rapture with a pillar of salt."

To some extent, yes, my dear pretend-comrade in faith. Even though I'm defending them (I feel a sort of odd obligation to), I have to roll my eyes whenever any definitive pronouncement is made as to when the end will arrive, or for that matter who just the antiChrist is (the most traditional one being the Pope, which is still the official position of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod).

"According to my understanding of the teachings of Christ, preparing myself spiritually for the second coming through piety, humility, and good works should be my #1 priority."

I would agree with that.


"Advocating a war in Mesopotamia, encouraging the consolidation of Europe, and turning a blind eye to ecological disasters, as a means to hasten the apocalypse, really wouldn't enter my mind as very "Christian" things to do."

Here you lose me. I don't know anyone (and I know quite a few thumpers of various stripes, even some deep in them hills) who is encouraging either the consolidation of Europe or a war in Mesopotamia. I'm quite weary of the consolidation going on in Europe, but whether or not it will hasten Jesus' return, I'm not inclined to get involved in it. People who believe that they can "help God out" by raising the perfect red heifer or by starting World War III are horribly misguided, but I just don't ever meet these people.

Onto your challenge.

"You're going to have to get specific here, because Germanicu$ the Secular Atheist has a hard time believing that John the Revelator or Daniel actually and specifically predicted any events that have borne out, any more than the Weekly World News claims Nostradamus's predictions have."

First consider the Diaspora, from 70 AD through 1948. Ezekiel (granted not Daniel) says in 36:24 "I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land." verse 34 than states that "The desolate land will be cultivated," another reality of modern Israel.

I'll write back with more, hopefully morton's shaker worthy rather than an entire pillar

1:40 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Daniel 12:4 (NASB)

"But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase."

This doesn't say "immediately before the end," but I think we have seen worldwide mass travel, as well as the increase of knowledge (wisdom, not so much).

The issue with which I will sound the most like this feller with his rapture ready website (which I would be somewhat unlikely to recommend to others) is the rise of one-world government, which could truly rule over the entire earth, in a way that it really couldn't ever before in history. No matter how successful the Romans got, they were still bound by oceans and couldn't be everywhere at once. Big brother, on the other hand, is well able to be many places at once (notice our policing cameras here in Chicago), and he can send his minions to your doorstep no matter where you live, and that within the day, thanks to jets.

Photoshop makes deception very easy, and if you can convince a bunch of people that, say, massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction exist, you can convince people of a lot of other things, too. This makes the idea of a mass deceiver with world power
tenable today in a way in which it wasn't in 1950, let alone 1905, or whenever John wrote Revelation.

We have the whole world rejoicing over the murder of two of God's witnesses in Revelation 11, and there seems to be some ability for the whole world to see what's going on with them. We always hear about how many millions across the globe are watching the Super Bowl or the World Series.

I do no justice to these matters, but I do wish to encourage a sympathy to those who, in reading the Scriptures, have come to believe that they apply to their immediate surroundings (and I also agree with them). While my fellow rapturists and I can often lack tact or cohesive argumentation, that doesn't mean that we're wrong.

Also, the very best of rapture-expecting Christians are probably out doing good works and developing their piety, so we're not likely to see them on the next Trinity Broadcasting Network praise-a-thon or on Swaggert's "send me your money" special Saturday night. I think their quiet obedience makes the more loud-mouthed and preachy sector of Christianity seem larger in proportion than it is.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

I have the NRSV bible and Daniel 12:4 reads like this:

"But you, Daniel, keep the words secret and the book sealed until the time of the end. Many shall be running back and forth, and evil shall increase."

"Evil," not "knowledge." The footnote over evil says, "Cn Compare Gk: Heb knowledge," which is little help to me in discovering which language is responsible for confusing those two very different words. Greek? Hebrew?

I take back what I said about how ignoring end-timers is the best way to deal with them. Anyone who believes in the apocalyptic predictions of a book written in a language that has the same word for "evil" and "knowledge" has no business whispering in the ear of my elected officials.

7:31 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

I'm thinking altogether "knowledgeable" thoughts right now:)

"Knowledge," Da'at in Hebrew, (if Kohlenberger is to be believed) is used in Proverbs 1:7, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."

I don't see "evil" being interchangeable, even for the NRSV!

Indeed, Da'at is used as the opposite of folly in Proverbs 12, 13, and 14.

How the NRSV gets their translation I have no idea. We may have to bring in the "resident expert" in on this one; I'd like to know!

Incidentally, noble Germanicus, be careful on judging people based on their language; while Jeff can tell us of the ease of conversational English to learn, our mother tongue is rife with oddities. I certainly don't want to be judged based on whether you (singular) is conjugated with "are" even when there is only one of you!

9:29 PM  

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