Apocalyptic Times

Exctract from: http://www.buzzflash.com/farrell/06/03/far06005.html

by Maureen Farrell

"We are living in dangerously weird times now. Smart people just shrug and admit they're dazed and confused. The only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb. It is the beginning of the end of our world as we knew it. Doom is the operative ethic." -- Hunter S. Thompson, Nov. 20, 2000

A few years ago, a Time/CNN poll found that that more than a third of Americans search the news for signs of the Apocalypse. Since Sept. 11, they've not had to look very hard. In the immediate aftermath of World Trade Center attacks, for example, the Associated Press reported on Satan's visage in the smoke clouds, an incident Peggy Noonan wrote about in the Wall Street Journal. "If you are of a certain cast of mind, it is of course meaningful that the face of the Evil One seemed to emerge with a roar from the furnace that was Tower One," she wrote, before reminding readers that a cross emerged unharmed amid the falling concrete and wreckage. Of course Jesus made his fair share of appearances, too.

A "winking Jesus" from Hoboken, N.J. was featured in the New York Daily News while a Jesus-in-a-window got considerable airtime on a Texas NBC affiliate. One North Carolina TV station was prophetically prolific, reporting on the Messiah's apparitions on everything from tail pipes to dental x-rays to fish bones. Yes, since Sept. 11, the news has gotten more surreal, with divine sightings and apocalyptic musings becoming more commonplace. Such talk has always been with us, of course, but it's no longer tied to David Koresh or Marshall Applewhite or Jim Jones-type cultists.

"One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress," Bill Moyers wrote, regarding the shifting political realities fueling this mindset. From the political to the personal, people are reporting on, and preparing for, the end of the world. And though apocalyptic reports have ranged from the superstitious and silly to the sensational and scary, few can argue that they're not on the rise. How weird have things become? Consider the following

Former GOP Strategist says 'a lot of Americans have stopped worrying about the economy because they're waiting for the Second Coming.'

The Emerging Republican Majority author and former GOP Strategist Kevin Phillips bluntly states that "[T]he Religious Right and the would-be theocrats are the danger now," telling Lou Dobbs that many Americans have literally stopped worrying about the economy "because they're waiting for the Second Coming." Phillips' latest book American Theocracy was also the basis for a question posed to Mr. Bush in Cleveland this week when a reporter asked, "Do you believe this, that the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism are signs of the apocalypse?" It took Bush five minutes to answer, when a simple "Yes or No" would have sufficed. Why? As Phillips points out, with 45% of Americans now believing that the Antichrist is already on earth, Bush risks alienating a large segment of the population, regardless how he answers. "He can't answer the question weather or not he believes in Armageddon or it's happening in the Middle East," Phillips states. "He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't."

Madonna is trying to purchase a front row seat for the return of the Messiah

In March 2006, it was reported that Madonna is attempting to buy a house overlooking the Sea of Galilee, to get a bird's eye view of the Messiah when he returns. "US pop diva Madonna wants to buy a house in the Israeli town of Rosh Pina, where the ancient Jewish Kabbalah tradition expects the Messiah to appear at the end of the world," the AFP reported. According to the Times of London, representatives for the singer have been propositioning homeowners "offering to pay any price to secure a property on her behalf," with one resident already agreeing to sell her house, which is worth approximately $500,000, for $1 million. Will Madonna ante up? Will she find her apocalyptic dream house in time? Stay tuned.

London's Independent runs the headline: 'Apocalypse Now: How Mankind is Sleepwalking to the End of the Earth

' Is that headline apocalyptic enough for you? If not, the accompanying article offers plenty of food for fretting. Citing urgent warnings from 200 of the world's top climate scientists, the article highlights the climate changes currently taking place and the consensus that time is running out to reverse this disastrous trend. Floods? Droughts? Oceans turning to acid? Oddly enough, some actually welcome such trouble. "Many Christian fundamentalists feel that concern for the future of our planet is irrelevant, because it has no future.

They believe we are living in the End Time, when the son of God will return, the righteous will enter heaven, and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire," Glenn Scherer pointed out in Grist Magazine. "They may also believe, along with millions of other Christian fundamentalists, that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed -- even hastened -- as a sign of the coming Apocalypse." In Feb. 2006, despite the Bush administration's attempts to muzzle him, Jim Hansen, President Bush's "top climate modeler," and the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, reported that Greenland's ice cap is breaking up twice as quickly as it was five years ago. "We don't have much time left," he wrote, giving a scientific slant to Biblical and other prophecies.

A talking fish says the end is near

Before the start of the war in Iraq, the New York Times and other major news organizations reported on how a talking fish stunned workers in New York City. "A fish heading for slaughter in a New York market shouted warnings about the end of the world before it was killed" the BBC announced in March, 2003, reporting on two fish cutters who heard the fish say 'Tzaruch shemirah' and 'Hasof bah'," which essentially means [in Hebrew] that everyone needs to account for themselves because the end is nigh." The Guardian/Observer reported that "some now believe the fish's outburst was a warning about the dangers of the impending war in Iraq," citing George W. Bush's alleged Messianic beliefs as cause for concern.

The 'mark of the beast' is making a comeback

In the 1760s, American colonists believed that the Stamp Act, which required a stamp to be placed on legal documents, might actually relate to the "mark of the beast" the Book of Revelation warned against.

In the 1930s, some opined that the mark might be found in the "union label" commercial jingles later told us to look for. These days, however, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has people seeing 666. Though the State Department was set to begin using RFID tags in passports beginning this year, the negative reaction was so overwhelming that the government had to hold off on its plans.

"No mark of the beast for me you Luciferian beehivers. You can take all those RFID chips wrapped like a burrito in the HR 4(6+6+6) national id bill and stick it up yor [sic] own arse!" wrote one irate poster on the State Department's Web site. Although anti-RFID activists (who despite Harvard educations, also believe these chips might be "the mark of the beast") continue to rail against this technology, RFID implants are being used by businesses and hospitals and are being marketed to parents. "Why is [former Bush administration official Tommy Thompson] volunteering for the Mark of the Beast?" Blogosphere heavyweight Boingboing.com asked, just months before RFID implants became the talk of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts' confirmation hearings.

A Seattle newspaper asks, "Is Bush the Antichrist?"

No news of the "mark of the beast" is complete without speculation regarding the Antichrist, of course, and Rev. Rich Lang's sermon "George Bush and the Rise of Christian Fascism," is a perfect place to start. "You sit atop the nations like the Biblical Whore of Babylon openly fornicating with the military men of might," Lang wrote in an open letter to the president, accusing the entire Bush White House of a "diabolical manipulation of Christian rhetoric" which is "the materialization of the spirit of Antichrist: a perversion of Christian faith and practice." (In a more secular contemplation of evil, former Wall Street Journal editor and Reagan administration official Paul Craig Roberts openly wondered if the Bush administration would covertly plot another 9/11 -- and perhaps even set off a nuclear bomb to advance its agenda. )

As Christian leaders squared off in a Seattle Weekly article regarding the nature of the Antichrist and his relationship to the current administration, columnists and bloggers wondered whether or not God speaks to (and through) George W. Bush. Recently, Congresswoman Katherine Harris, of 2000 election fame, told those attending a "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference that she believes God wants her to run for the Senate. If so, God surely works in mysterious ways.

Legendary American novelists say the world is coming to an end

"I'm trying to write a novel about the end of the world. But the world is really ending!," Kurt Vonnegut recently declared, right about the time that Madonna was reported to be looking for real estate for the event. The late Hunter S. Thompson also made a similar observation. "This is going to be just like the Book of Revelation said it was going to be -- the end of the world as we knew it," he wrote in 2003.