Posts Tagged “armageddon”

Blender Cycles - ArmageddonMost people my age recall televised tests of what used to be called the Emergency Broadcast System. We all heard, “If this had been an actual emergency, the Attention Signal you just heard would have been followed by official information, news, or instructions” more times than any of us wanted to. These days, this program is a little less intrusive, and is called the Emergency Alert System (the need for a name change isn’t quite clear, but hey, this is government in action). But those tests do still go out. Just this past Thursday, September 21, people in Orange county, CA got a test warning with an unusual twist. As the Orange County Register explains, they were warning about the Armageddon that had been predicted for today, Saturday, September 23 (Archive.Is cached article):

Some Orange County residents were stunned Thursday, Sept. 21, when television programming was suddenly interrupted for about a minute with an ominous message predicting the end of the world.

Stacy Laflamme of Lake Forest said she was watching the HGTV channel via Cox Communications about 11:05 a.m. when suddenly an emergency alert flashed across her screen followed by a voice.

“Realize this, extremely violent times will come,” a man’s voice boomed, according to a video of the alert.

This “warning” was about a “Biblical prophecy” I’ve already blogged about a few times, by a crank named David Meade, which definitely will not come true.OCR offers video of what they saw:

This was strange, but what might arguably be stranger, is the explanation that was offered for it (cached):

The end-of-the-world message heard on some Orange County channels during an Emergency Alert System test on Thursday was a technical glitch prompted by a local radio station, broadcasting officials said on Friday.

KWVE-FM, a Santa Ana station that broadcasts Christian programs, was conducting the test for the region that did not properly kick off – prompting a pastor’s comments meant only for that station to be heard over TV and probably radio channels in the county and beyond.

“During a regularly scheduled test of the Emergency Alert System for Orange County, KWVE-FM experienced an equipment failure that resulted in KWVE-FM not sending the end-of-message tones that would disconnect those media entities participating in the Emergency Alert System test,” a statement from the station says.

“When KWVE-FM resumed its regular programming, approximately 90 seconds of that audio was sent to the rest of the participants of the Emergency Alert System test.”

KWVE-FM has volunteered to be the primary Emergency Alert System station for the area since the inception of the alerts in 1996 and has never experienced a similar equipment failure, the statement says.

That this supposedly-prophetic warning would go out this way, is an awfully specific “failure.” I’m not sure I buy this explanation. It seems too convenient. Besides, the station itself never ought to have issued this apocalypse warning to its own listeners in the first place, let alone everyone in Orange county via the EAS — because it’s not going to come true. Period. End of discussion.

Photo credit: NGCHunter2, via Flickr.

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Operation Upshot-Knothole - Badger 001There’s something about blood moons that seems to get people’s panties in knots. Blood moons aren’t common, but they’re also not that rare. So I have no idea why people would go all nuts over them, but they do.

The obnoxious Christian Zionist troll Pastor John Hagee penned a book about them, for instance (WebCite cached article). As he tells it, they have something to do with Biblical prophecy — but as I explain at length in a static page here on this blog, all Biblical prophecy is bullshit. Every last fucking word of it!

Hagee isn’t the only one who’s constructed a “prophecy” around blood moons. A Mormon named Julie Rowe has cooked up her own weird scenario. Even though the LDS Church has disavowed her nuttiness, as the Salt Lake Tribune reports, it seems a lot of Mormons are buying into it … and buying survival supplies (cached):

Mixing a brew of biblical prophecies, the Hebrew calendar, a volatile economy, world politics, a reported near-death experience and astronomical occurrences, hordes of Utahns have become convinced that calamitous events are imminent — maybe by month’s end — and are taking every precaution.

They are called “preppers” and are buying up food-storage kits, flashlights, blankets and tents. Some are even bracing to leave their homes — if need be.

At American Fork’s Thrive Life, which sells mostly freeze-dried food, sales have shot up by “500 percent or more in the past couple of months,” says customer- service representative Ricardo Aranda. “There is a sense of urgency, like something is up. A lot of people are mentioning things about September, like a financial collapse.”…

Here’s how the doomsday scenario plays out: History, some preppers believe, is divided into seven-year periods — like the Hebrew notion of “shemitah” or Sabbath. In 2008, seven years after 9/11, the stock market crashed, a harbinger of a devastating recession. It’s been seven years since then, and Wall Street has fluctuated wildly in recent weeks in the wake of China devaluing its currency.

Thus, they believe, starting Sept. 13, the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, there will be another, even larger financial crisis, based on the United States’ “wickedness.” That would launch the “days of tribulation” — as described in the Bible.They say Sept. 28 will see a full, red or “blood moon” and a major earthquake in or near Utah. Some anticipate an invasion by U.N. troops, technological disruptions and decline, chaos and hysteria.

The part about UN troops, of course, plays into fierce Rightist paranoid conspiracies about how Barack HUSSEIN Obama and his minions in the Muslim Brotherhood, who’ve infiltrated the federal government, plan to bring in UN “peacekeeping” troops to arrest all their enemies (i.e. Christians, conservatives, gun owners, whatever) and imprison them in the hundreds of FEMA concentration camps that Homeland Security has secretly scattered around the country.

In any event, it’s no surprise that the religion that launched the paranoid Christofascist career of Glenn Beck should yield something like this. I mean, as absurd as it is, it’s the sort of thing that appeals to people like that. I guess. I mean, it must, because they aren’t strangers to being told to stock up on food (cached) and survival supplies, as well as speculating in gold (cached). Obviously there has to be something about all this panicky chatter that gets them all worked up.

At any rate, it goes without saying that none of the thousands of “end of the world” predictions that have been made through history have even remotely come close to coming true. This one will fail, also. I have no doubt about that. Just as the late Harold Camping’s predictions failed, and so too did the New Agers’ putative Maya apocalypse.

But I have no doubt of several things: First, Ms Rowe will not concede she’d been wrong about anything; she might try to weasel out of her failed prediction by saying that her apocalypse did in fact happen, but we just can’t see it. (I’ll set aside that the word itself means “unveiling,” “revelation,” or “uncovering,” leading to a contradiction, so it’s semantically impossible to have an “unveiling” that remains invisible.) Second, she will probably move her date for the end of the world up to some future time, which she may or may not reveal (having learned the hard way not to make predictions that can be verifiably falsified). Third, she won’t apologize to anyone for having been wrong; she won’t take responsibility for having frightened people for no good reason. No doomsayer has ever done so, so why should she be the first? Third, no one will learn the lesson of her failed prediction … people will continue calling doom down on humanity even though they have no evidence to support it, and even though all prior predictions of cataclysm have failed. Each doomsayer will — arrogantly — think s/he’s the very first one who’s ever been right.

P.S. I reiterate, the LDS Church itself has not gone in for Ms Rowe’s apocalypse. This is not official Mormon teaching. Nonetheless, a lot of Mormons appear to believe it … so make of that what you will.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Flunking Sainthood at Religion News Service.

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Teachings of Jesus 38 of 40. the rapture. one in the field. Jan Luyken etching. Bowyer BibleAs I’ve blogged so many times, religionists love to use any and all disasters to promote their dour metaphysics. Everything that happens is, for them, an object lesson and/or a warning that proves them correct. Earthquakes, hurricanes, epidemics, droughts, famines, wars, accidents, etc. are all useful to them in this regard. It makes no difference what sort of awful thing happened … religionists are mercenary enough to just go ahead and use it.

The latest example of this involves the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 (which has gripped the mass media like nothing else over the last couple weeks). And it comes from Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the famous evangelical preacher Billy Graham; to her, the plane’s disappearance is a harbinger of something to come (WebCite cached article):

The pictures of grieving friends and family members of those who are missing are heart-wrenching. I have prayed for God’s peace and comfort for them, as well as God’s direction of the search and rescue teams who are desperately looking for clues that will solve the mystery. But the unanswered questions seem to intensify the horror…

How could a modern airliner drop out of sight so quickly and completely? …

Bottom line: Where are all the people?

The answers don’t seem to be forthcoming as I write this. But as I have prayerfully pondered all of the above, I can’t help but wonder…Is this worldwide sense of shock and helplessness, of questions and confusion, of fear and grief, a glimpse of things to come? Is this a small snapshot of what the entire world will experience the day after the rapture of the church? Because the Bible is clear. There is coming a moment in time when Jesus will come back to gather to Himself all those—dead and alive–who have put their trust in Him. And on that day, the world will be asking, Where have all the people gone? Not just 239 of us, but millions of us.

On that day, with millions of people directly impacted by their own missing friends and family members…in the midst of overwhelming shock and helplessness, of questions and confusion, of fear and grief…when the world searches for clues, how easily will they find The Answer in what I leave behind? Instead of an oil slick, will there be traces of His grace and glory and truth?

The day Lotz mentions, when “millions” of Christians will supposedly vanish spontaneously, is a reference to what evangelical Christians like her call “the Rapture.” This eschatological legend is based upon Matthew 24:31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17. It describes how “the faithful” will be sucked up into the sky (the dead first, the living after them) to meet Jesus as he descends to earth during his Second Coming. Now, that by itself isn’t a lot to go on. Paul’s remarks about Jesus’ return doesn’t contain much narrative, and although Jesus says quite a bit about “the End,” he doesn’t say much about the Rapture moment, either. Taken as they are, these passages seem to be a sequence of events that comes in rapid order; first, Jesus and his heavenly host begin their descent (Mt 24:30 & 1 Th 4:16); the deceased “faithful” go up to meet him, then the living “faithful” (1 Th 4:17 & Mt 24:31), and after that, “destruction” will befall the earth, and presumably those who remain on it (1 Th 5:3). What evangelicals have done with the “rapture” verse is to couple it with other scriptural passages elsewhere that describe “the End” in greater detail.

As one might expect of such an exercise in creative reinterpretation, they’ve come up with a variety of ways to wedge it into their “End Times” mythology. In this regard it’s interlocked with another Christian legend, the Great Tribulation, a coming time of cataclysm and torment, described among other places in Revelation 9:1-21. Some evangelicals believe the Rapture will come at the end of the Tribulation; others believe it will happen somewhere in the middle of it; and the most popular belief — conveniently for them! — is that it will happen before the Tribulation begins. Each of these scenarios has what appears to be definitive and often exclusive scriptural support … all of which just demonstrates the folly of this kind of interpretation game. (Full disclosure: During my own fundie days, I was a “mid-tribber.”)

In any event, the notion that their Jesus will vacuum them off the earth at some point triggers a lot of fantasies in the minds of fundamentalist Christians. They imagine those who’re left behind will be horrified by the fact that so many people suddenly went missing, and they revel in this (“Hah, you insolent Jesus-haters! We’ll be up in heaven with our precious Jesus, while the rest of you will wallow in torment down on earth, terrified by our sudden departure — and then you’ll see we were right, after all!”). The famous and lucrative “Left Behind” publishing and media empire is built upon this schadenfreude.

This sort of giddy fantasy, based on suppositions built on suppositions, and capped by diatribes like Lotz’s, is all very irrational. It reveals a lot about evangelical Christians’ character … and it’s not flattering.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Christian Post.

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Signorelli-Antichrist and the devilAt times I’ve mentioned the phenomenon of Christian Zionism, a philosophy held by a lot of evangelical Christians. These people militantly support the state of Israel, but not out of any love for that country, its people, or Jews generally. Rather, they’re agitating for the Battle of Armageddon, which they believe will usher in Jesus’ return and the End of the World. Evangelicals encourage Israel’s belligerence; the idea is to instigate an attack by “the kings from the east” as described in Revelation:

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east. And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”) And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon. (Revelation 16:12-16)

My position has always been that, while Christian Zionists profess respect for Jews and their place in God’s cosmic plan, the truth is that they’re actually anti-Semitic. But evidence for this can be hard to come by, and disappointingly so.

Recently, however, a prominent Christian Zionist exposed the anti-Semitism that lurks deep inside that philosophy. As Right Wing Watch reports, Pastor John Hagee let the cat out of the bag (WebCite cached article):

Trinity Broadcasting Network hosted a Praise The Lord prophecy special this month, featuring a number of speakers including televangelist John Hagee. The right-wing pastor explained that during the End Times, the Jewish people will not accept Jesus as the Messiah until he returns “because they have just — three-and-a-half years or seven-years before — made a deal with the Antichrist, who is the false messiah, and they are extremely skeptical of that.”

Here’s video of Hagee saying this, courtesy of RWW, via Youtube:

Hagee’s claim that Jews will collaborate with the Antichrist is offensive, revealing the villainy to which he thinks Jews will be willing to stoop. He’s saying Jews are going to betray humanity to the Antichrist. If that’s not distasteful, I don’t know what is!

Hagee goes on to say that Jews will only be convinced that Jesus is the Messiah once he returns and they’ve seen “the riven side.” I find his stated reasoning for this interesting; he claims the original Greek of Romans 11 states that Jews have been “judicially blinded” to the identity of the Messiah. He doesn’t say it, but the specific verse he’s referring to is Rom 11:7:

What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened …

In Greek, this is:

τι ουν επιζητει ισραηλ τουτο ουκ επετυχεν η δε εκλογη επετυχεν οι δε λοιποι επωρωθησαν

The verb in question is the final word in that verse, a form of the Greek verb πωροω (póroó), which doesn’t mean “judicially blinded” at all: Hagee just made that up. It actually means “to be made stubborn” or “to be made unfeeling.” Semantically, this isn’t too far off from what Hagee is saying, however, his claim is rather specific, and as such, clearly false; as someone who presents himself as an expert in Biblical languages, he has no excuse for this. He thus betrays his ignorance of Greek and his lack of expertise.

The RWW article adds Hagee’s claim September 11, 2001 attacks were an act of divine judgement against the U.S. because it had fallen away from him. This is pretty much the same sentiment as had been expressed by the late Jerry Falwell and his friend Marion “Pat” Robertson, just a few days after the attacks. Yeah, folks, this is the Religion of Love in action.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Crying… you end up facing a situation that very well might cost millions of lives, and for no discernible, rational reason. The trifecta of Israel, Iran and the Right within the United States is rapidly reaching this point. It would have been hilariously funny, if not for the fact that it might lead to a latter-day holocaust.

First, we have Iran, which is led by a furiously religionistic cast-eyed freak known as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who can’t seem to get over the fact that a Jewish state exists, several hundred miles from his own borders. As the New York Times reports, he’s come to the Big Apple this week to spew yet more of his juvenile anti-Semitic rants (WebCite cached article):

Defying a warning by the United Nations secretary general against inflammatory remarks, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said Monday that Israelis had no historical roots in the Middle East and that the existence of Israel was just a passing phase in the region’s long history. …

At the breakfast meeting, he said that the Israelis had been around the region for only 60 or 70 years, in contrast to the Iranians, whose civilization has existed for thousands of years.

“They have no roots there in history,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said of the Israelis, according to Reuters.

This is, of course, a lie. DNA studies have shown that modern Jews do, in fact, have Middle Eastern roots. I’m sure Iran’s cast-eyed freak — and pretty much every other anti-Semite on the planet — would dismiss these DNA studies as products of the pervasive and evil “Jewish cabal” that controls the planet … but paranoiac thinking like that is par for the course, for this childish crew, so one can hardly expect otherwise.

So this is hardly the first time he’s unleashed this kind of tantrum and it certainly won’t he the last. However, this little childish antic has been compounded by another episode of juvenile religionism, and that is, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s desire to nuke Iran because it appears they may have a slim chance of someday creating a workable nuclear weapon, as NPR reports (cached):

During a joint press conference in Jerusalem with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Netanyahu expressed his frustration with how world powers are handling Iran and its nuclear program.

“The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time’. And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” Netanyahu said.

It doesn’t matter to Bibi, I guess, that Iran’s nuclear program is, in a word, delicate … so delicate that cyberattacks like Stuxnet and Flame have been able to derail it. Oh no. The fact that Iran’s cast-eyed freak has been rattling his saber for the last few years, is all Bibi needs to tell him that his country is only 10 seconds away from nuclear extinction at Iran’s hands. That Bibi is motivated to nuke Iran, by militant religionists within his own country, is something he’d never admit to … even though it’s true.

Now, added to all of this tension — which all by itself is sufficient to ignite a war that no rational person should wish be fought — we have a third party intruding on it, scrapping for a fight at all costs. That would be America’s Right, which is absolutely enraged that President Barack Obama insolently chose not to meet with Bibi, presumably in order to get his blessing for Israel’s nuking of Iran (cached). (Memo to the Religious Right: No, Obama does not have to meet with Bibi just ’cause Bibi asked to meet with him. The leader of the free world gets to choose who he meets with, and when. He is at no one’s beck and call … not even the Israeli Prime Minister’s.)

Because of the R.R.’s sanctimonious outrage over this, Mitt Romney, GOP presidential candidate and current commander-in-chief of the Religious Right’s political arm, is also aching to start a war in the Middle East, as CNN reports (cached):

“Tonight on 60 Minutes, President Obama called Israel’s legitimate concern about the impact of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons ‘noise’ and referred to Israel as merely ‘one of our closest allies in the region,’” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

Saul continued in the statement: “This is just the latest evidence of his chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East. Governor Romney’s views stand in sharp contrast to the President’s. Governor Romney strongly believes that Israel is our most important ally in the Middle East and that support for Israel is essential to extending freedom, peace and democracy throughout the region. As president, Governor Romney will restore and protect the close alliance between our nation and the state of Israel.”

It’s not true that a war between Israel and Iran could ever be in the best interest of the U.S., and there’s no valid reason Americans should ever want one, so long as there are alternatives available (cached). But in order to appeal to the evangelical Christians here … who’ve been itching to ignite Armageddon and usher in the return of their precious Jesus … Romney is forced to agitate for a war he knows would be bad for the U.S.

What a fucking joke this all is. And it’s all useless and pointless. It’s only come about because of the militant religionism that comes from the Abrahamic faiths. There’s no rational reason for any of this tension.

Isn’t it time for the world’s leaders to just fucking grow the hell up already and get over their militant religionism? I’ve had enough of your goddamn infantile tantrums, fercryinoutloud.

Photo credit: Clover_1, via Flickr.

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The End is Not NearBible scholar religionist crank Harold Camping had run silent in the wake of the failure of his October 21 apocalypse. But the Christian Post reports that he recently broke his silence, and admitted he’d been wrong (WebCite cached article):

With his speech sounding somewhat slurred and labored, Family Radio Stations Inc. founder and chairman Harold Camping sought to address in a recent message why Christ failed to return on Oct. 21 as the Bible teacher had predicted. Camping confessed, after decades of falsely misleading his followers, that he was wrong and regrets his misdeeds. …

This is undoubtedly a radical shift for Camping, who has staunchly claimed since 1992 that he had discovered a special numerical system in the Bible that allowed him to calculate the exact dates of certain events, such as the Great Flood, the Crucifixion and the day of Jesus Christ’s return to Earth.

Camping first falsely predicted that the world would end on Sept. 6, 1994, then again on May 21, 2011, and finally on Oct. 21.

This is a remarkable departure for Camping … a man who, after his initial failed doomsday in 1994, chalked that failure up to a mathematical error (cached), and when Christ failed to return this past May 21, insisted that he had returned, but “invisibly.” So this is an improvement over his own personal history, and a welcome one, as far as it goes.

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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The End is Not NearI’ve blogged for well over a year about the cadaverous Bible scholar religionist crank Harold Camping and his two-pronged doomsday scenario, which failed spectacularly as of this past weekend, in spite of his insistence that it would, in fact, play out as he’d predicted. He and his organization, Family Radio, have been running silent for the last few days, in the face of that failure. But finally, the Christian Post reports, he or they have finally managed to tacitly admit that he’d been wrong (WebCite cached article):

For the past five months, Harold Camping‘s Family Radio website had posted on its main page an “explanation” of why the world did not end on May 21 and why it would truly end on Oct. 21. Four days after Camping’s failed doomsday date, however, that explanation has been removed, suggesting that Family Radio may be out of the rapture prediction business.

The move comes soon after Brandon Tauszik, a documentarian who has been attending Camping’s Oakland, Calif., church for eight months, confirmed with The Christian Post in an exclusive interview [cached] that the Bible preacher has informed those close to him that he will effectively retire.

It would have been more courageous of Camping to have overtly admitted having been wrong, rather than stealthily just deleting content from his Web site in the hope that no one will recall what he’d said. But that’s still better than what he did after the first part of his doomsday prediction (i.e. that Christ would return this past May 21) failed, when he insisted that Christ had, in fact, returned “spiritually” rather than violently in the wake of a vast, globe-spanning earthquake.

Oddly, though, the Christian Post proceeds to provide something of an apologia for the failed prophet:

Additionally, Tauszik told CP that Camping has changed his views about the possibility that one can know the exact date of the end of the world, a notion that Camping has maintained for at least 20 years; the doomsday prophet made his first public end of the world prediction in 1992, claiming the world would end in 1994.

There has been evidence of a “softer” apocalypse message from Family Radio, with more emphasis placed on perpetual readiness for judgment from God rather than a specific date on a calendar to prepare for.

Readers of this blog know that this is not true; far from “softening” his message, in the days leading up to his promised October 21, 2011 apocalypse, Camping insisted it woud still take place. I have no idea why the C.P. would choose to mischaracterize Harold Camping and his group, but they are.

Lastly, I’d like to say that I take no pleasure in the fact that Camping suffered a stroke this summer and has been forced to retire. I may find his apocalyptic religionism laughable, but don’t consider his ailment funny at all.

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