News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: The Anti-Christ in the Heart (Contd)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Anti-Christ in the Heart (Contd)

DH Lawrence, that omnivorously perverse sexual libertarian, once wrote a book about the book of Revelation. This might surprise some, but it does not surprise me. I understand the sense of freedom that the book promises. Lawrence used its powerful images to point at and bring to the light the amazingly darkly ecstatic nature of this thing we call reality.

Simone Weil, for her part, saw in the book's image of the Great Beast more than a metaphor for the modern nation state. In her mystical politics, the Beast is the animial we all idolize and curry favor with in our universal desire for control and power. The Red Virgin, as her friends affectionately called her, was prophetic in her own day. For, certainly her writings analyze the Beast in all its machiavellian machinery. Her analysis of oppression and liberty speaks as much to our own world of the surveillance state as it does to the fascist and communist states of yesterday's concentration camps and gulags.

I love this myth that is multi-valent and which can attract the spirits of an ecstatic sensualist and the politico-spiritual prophet...

Of course, this only goes to show that Luther was probably on to something when he wanted to throw the book out of the Christian canon. It is one of the strangest books in the world and has probably given birth to more bad than it has good. Besides, it distracts from the original messaqge of Jesus, doesn't it? Its grand conspiracy theory makes all this talk about aleins, Kennedy, and the new world order seem like child's play, right?

Then again, if Luther had left the book behind, it would've given Dan Brown more fodder for a new novel... Imagine the conspiracy of paternalistic nihilism he could string together with that one!

I confess, though, that I love to watch the variations on a theme that the mythology can generate. From the Omen (1,2, and 3) to the Left Behind fantasies, it's made Hollywood oodles of cash. You can't tell me that this book's themes haven't influenced everything from Terminator (1,2, and 3) to The Matrix.

Anyway, my own favorite variations on the themes in Revelation--see my poems--is Valdimir Solvyov's work, War, Progress, and the End of History: Three Conversations, Including a Short Tale of the Antichrist. I also highly recommend Czeslaw Milosz's seminal essay, "Emperor of the Earth," in the book of essays with the same name.
Last night, I watched a two-hour special on the AntiChrist. As you many know, the Religious Right uses this mythology to provide a template by which to read current socio-political realities in the US as well as to map out the future direction of this country on the world stage.

[Added 12/28/05: For a taste of how perniciously this mythology can work consider the conversation among evangelical youth about whether Bono is the AntiChrist or not]

While listening to that program, I noticed a new economic survey from the past few years which shows that the gap between those who have and those without has grown in the past 20 years. For many, this will not be surprising. But there are still those who believe that this land of milk and honey actually exists to benefit everyone...

Somewhat ironically, I posted a passage from the book of Revelation to go along with that report on weealth disparity in the US. And today I find an email from my daily biblical readings that has a Revelation passage inside:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe... (Revelation 19:11-16)
Now I am not a superstitious person--at least consciously--so when I found articles in my daily news sources chronicling more US lies, deceit and spying on friends and US contractors' efforts to sugar-coat what amounts to human slavery (also see this article), I was not fazed but intrigued at the coincidence.

As today's reading shows, the rider on the White Horse brings war to those who lie and destroy trust. What does spying do if not disseminate lies among friends aand sow distrust among them as well? Perhaps the Religious Right should be looking into their own hearts for the AntiChrist, as St. Augustine advised, rather than seeking abroad to wreak a self-fulfilling prophecy that spreads and empire of rapacious greed, civil war, and suffering and oppression to others that they brand as outsiders.

Human misery is human misery, however much you try to use laws and regulations to sugar-coat it. That American companies are trafficking in human cargo to build the infrastructure of its empire is indeed reminiscent of an apocalyptic landscape. But this trafficking and exploitation of foreign workers is not simply about toil, it is also about prostituion and exploitation of young women to gratify the passions and desires of US contractors.

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