Freethinker Sunday Sermonette: Happy End Times are here again

Maybe you think a bird flu pandemic will be a world destroying event and maybe you don't think so. Most people who read this site, however, fear a pandemic. There are others, though, for whom a really bad pandemic is just the ticket. They are the "End Times" religious groups, and all of the Big Three western superstitions have them. More (if you can handle it), below the fold.

. . . mega-church pastors recently met in Inglewood to polish strategies for using global communications and aircraft to transport missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission: to make every person on Earth aware of Jesus' message. Doing so, they believe, will bring about the end, perhaps within two decades.

In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a far different vision. As mayor of Tehran in 2004, he spent millions on improvements to make the city more welcoming for the return of a Muslim messiah known as the Mahdi, according to a recent report by the American Foreign Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank.

To the majority of Shiites, the Mahdi was the last of the prophet Muhammad's true heirs, his 12 righteous descendants chosen by God to lead the faithful.

Ahmadinejad hopes to welcome the Mahdi to Tehran within two years.

Conversely, some Jewish groups in Jerusalem hope to clear the path for their own messiah by rebuilding a temple on a site now occupied by one of Islam's holiest shrines.

Artisans have re-created priestly robes of white linen, gem-studded breastplates, silver trumpets and solid-gold menorahs to be used in the Holy Temple -- along with two 6½-ton marble cornerstones for the building's foundation.

Then there is Clyde Lott, a Mississippi revivalist preacher and cattle rancher. He is trying to raise a unique herd of red heifers to satisfy an obscure injunction in the Book of Numbers: the sacrifice of a blemish-free red heifer for purification rituals needed to pave the way for the messiah.

So far, only one of his cows has been verified by rabbis as worthy, meaning they failed to turn up even three white or black hairs on the animal's body.

Linking these efforts is a belief that modern technologies and global communications have made it possible to induce completion of God's plan within this generation.

Though there are myriad interpretations of how it will play out, the basic Christian apocalyptic countdown -- as described by the Book of Revelation in the New Testament -- is as follows:

Jews return to Israel after 2,000 years, the Holy Temple is rebuilt, billions of people perish during seven years of natural disasters and plagues, the antichrist arises and rules the world, the battle of Armageddon erupts in the vicinity of Israel, Jesus returns to defeat Satan's armies and preside over Judgment Day. (LA TImes)

This is the bedrock for evangelical Christian support for Israel.

For Christians, the future of Israel is the key to any end-times scenario, and various groups are reaching out to Jews -- or proselytizing among them -- to advance the Second Coming.

A growing number of fundamentalist Christians in mostly Southern states are adopting Jewish religious practices to align themselves with prophecies saying that Gentiles will stand as one with Jews when the end is near.

Evangelist John C. Hagee of the 19,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio has helped 12,000 Russian Jews move to Israel, and donated several million dollars to Israeli hospitals and orphanages.

"We are the generation that will probably see the rapture of the church," Hagee said, referring to a moment in advance of Jesus' return when the world's true believers will be airlifted into heaven.

Well, that's fine, but friends of Israel might want to be careful whom they get in bed with:

By contrast, Bill McCartney, a former University of Colorado football coach and co-founder of the evangelical Promise Keepers movement for men, which became huge in the 1990s, has had a devil of a time getting his own apocalyptic campaign off the ground.

It's called The Road to Jerusalem, and its mission is to convert Jews to Christianity -- while there is still time.

"Our whole purpose is to hasten the end times," he said. "The Bible says Jews will be brought to jealousy when they see Christians and Jewish believers together as one -- they'll want to be a part of that. That's going to signal Jesus' return."

Jews and others who don't accept Jesus, he added matter-of-factly, "are toast."

Oops. Well, nevermind. Jews are also in on the act:

Meanwhile, in what has become a spectacular annual routine, Jews -- hoping to rebuild the Holy Temple destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 -- attempt to haul the 6 1/2 -ton cornerstones by truck up to the Temple Mount, the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock shrine. Each year, they are turned back by police.

Among those turned away is Gershon Solomon, spokesman for Jerusalem's Temple Institute. When the temple is built, he said, "Islam is over."

"I'm grateful for all the wonderful Christian angels wanting to help us," Solomon added, acknowledging the political support from "Christians who are now Israel's best lobbyists in the United States."

However, when asked to comment on the fate of non-Christians upon the Second Coming of Jesus, he said, "That's a very embarrassing question. What can I tell you? That's a very terrible Christian idea.

"What kind of religion is it that expects another religion will be destroyed?"

You mean like, "Islam will be over"?

What a bunch of fruitcakes. As I remember, most people don't really like fruitcake, though. Bad for the teeth.

More like this

Unfortunately religious fruitcakes have burned other humans at the stake making them toast. Unfortunately for the religious fruitcakes they don't realize that if they get rid of all other religions they will begin to turn on each other - sects will replace other religions - Puritans having escaped persecution turned on Quakers, Sunni vs Shia, etc etc -

Perhaps H5N1 will make a quick sweep and those who are left will turn on their gods and governments and say where were you when I needed you?

But meanwhile 200,000 human souls are added to planet earth each day, 1.4 million a week, more than the current population of the US each year. This can't go on, and as much as we dread a pandemic and wish to stop it or slow it, it seems as inevitable as any other species that overpopulates its environment.

Local public health and emergency planning not only is the best multi purpose response (useful for tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes etc as well as pandemics, but perhaps also a way to rebuild from the ashes - concentrating on local populations - people who know each other, can asses much better who is worthy and reliable to lead, who is cheating etc. Methinks we were not meant to live in such large groups of people and have not successfully developed good memes to do so. If the memes can't save us we perhaps must return to the lives that the genes are programed for.

Richard Duncan has a theory called the Olduvai theory - it relates to Peak Oil, Electricity and the future of mankind.
"The Olduvai Theory states that the life expectancy of industrial civilization is approximately 100 years: circa 1930-2030. Energy production per capita (e) defines it. The exponential growth of world energy production ended in 1970... Average e will show no growth from 1979 through circa 2008 ... The rate of change of e will go steeply negative circa 2008 ... World population will decline to about two billion circa 2050 ... A growing number of independent studies concur...."

And James Lovelock has just published the Revenge of Gaia - it examines what would happen to global warming if global dimming stopped - his answer - runaway warming.

Meanwhile in the words of the 60's song "Their rioting in Africa, there's strife in Iran, ... what nature doesn't do to us will be done by our fellow man".

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

-- Robert Frost

McKenna's mushroom (some good press recently on the value of that particular entheogen) inspired eschatology has a nice clean sweep feel. Comin' right up - Winter Solstice of 2012 when we may encounter the singularity brought by the chaotic attractor at the end of history. Most will go out of their minds; a few will go beyond mind. Seems a good solution - a cold reboot.

By tympanachus (not verified) on 16 Jul 2006 #permalink

Amen Revere. I can remember the first time I said, "end of days" to my mother during the 68 war in the Sinai and she said maybe but she doubted it. I asked why? Because she said it was the same question she had posed to her mother and dad on December 7th, 1941, and the same thing she said that my grandmother posed to her mom and dad on the day the Lusitania was sunk.

My priest, now a bishop in the Episcopal Church when I was an altar boy gave me some things to remember about "end of days." The discussion came up and being in the south a lot of cross religion thoughts happen. Baptist end of days was the topic and we had a few in a discussion that was being held. The "I know I am saved" became the issue.

His assertion was that even as a Bishop he couldnt say definitively that he was "saved." Why? Because he said that is Gods judgement, not your assessment. To take that one on would be a little beyond us. Then the Bible came up and that, "The Bible says....".

His direct quote about the Bible was, "If it is of God, there will be no question. If it is the end of days, it will be. All things that are of God shall if a prophecy, become completely true. You cant believe in a parsed God, modified by anything man says. To do so is heresy. You cant sit and say that the Bible says.... and expect anything to come of that if man wrote it. There has to be something beyond a "play book." in religion."

Having asserted that the Bible was not 100% was just too much for the Baptists, and they left. One parted by saying that the Bishop would burn in hell for saying that the Bible was not totally correct and that God would judge him severely.

The arrogance of Man to stand in judgement of other men in matters of faith is surely a sin if you believe. Jews, Christians, Muslims and others. What a damned mess. God will surely smack us all.

End of days? Not unless I hear a trumpet. When it happens "this time" I will know the poo-pooh has hit the rotary grinder and I should forget about getting that new boat.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 16 Jul 2006 #permalink

Good point, Revere. We've got a whole bunch of problems that could result in global catastrophe, but which could also be manageable if we approach them sensibly. Not much chance of that if we keep putting the lunatics in charge of the asylum and giving them free rein to bring on the chaos they crave.

The thing is, these people have always been around. But for the most part, we've seen them for the loonies they really were (from the various Middle East radicals to Jones, Koresh, and the raving televangelists). For those of us who have been largely watching helplessly from the sidelines in Canada or Europe, it's gotten even scarier in the past six years, ever since the American mainstream was collectively "born again" as Christian patriots with enormous influence on the world's most powerful leader, thanks to Osama and 9/11.

I concur with Name's remarks above. This Christian end-times thing is, imo, diabolical. The fundies seem to be thrilled to pieces to see the mayhem and destruction now being waged by their proxies.

Have just heard on CBC that five Canadians summering in Lebanon have been killed. Prime Minister Harper had been saying that the Israeli response to Hezballoh was a "measured" one. Wonder what he will say now. He did come out at G8 gathering and recite in both official languages a statement cobbled together by the leaders meeting there. He recited the statement and refused to take any questions from the reporters. Supposedly the government is going to send ships to evacuate 40,000 Canadians in the country. They have to send ships because the Israelis bombed the airport. What kind of measured response is that?

How many people have Christians killed in the last 100 years.

How many people have Communists killed in the last 100 years.

I have a memory. I fear the hardcore left thanks very much.

By Different Point... (not verified) on 16 Jul 2006 #permalink

Eight Canadians killed, six more in critical condition.


The hardcore left aren't generally in power, and don't have the nuke.

'Fearing' one side or the other isn't mutually exclusive.

You knew I had to stick my two cents' worth into this one, didn't you, Revere? For the record, yes, I do believe the end of the world is near and may in fact correspond to the December 2012 ending date of the Mayan calendar as noted above by tympanachus. Which, if you overlap that onto the Bible's Revelations prophecies, would put us at the beginning of the seven years of tribulation before the end. Which means things are going to get a lot worse, friends, over the next few years. But far from seeing this as a negative, and much farther from seeing this in terms of who's going to be "toast" and who's going to be "saved," I view the end of the world (as Hopi do) simply as an end to THIS WORLD - a wiping clean of the slate - after which time a new world can be formed, an opportunity for those who survive to correct their mistakes and start over with a better life plan. That plan, of course, is to live in harmony with Nature. The sad fact is that people in general are much too comfortable to change their ways now, and their ways are harmful to each other and to Nature. This current path must come to an end, either by choice or by force. And I hold out no hope that humanity will change voluntarily. A pandemic is only one piece of this forced change. Other catastrophic events are on the horizon. True, many will die, and more will suffer. Sad, yes. But death and suffering are a part of life, the flip side of a coin that cannot be separated. Death must occur for life to go on - basic fact of Nature, but one which many refuse to accept. I prefer not to focus on the suffering ahead but on the beginning of a new world on the other side, a chance to "get it right" this time around and I hope I will be among those showing the way. View the end of the world as a tragedy? No. Instead, view it as a birth: a miracle of joy gained only after the pain and suffering of labor.

Last night my son said much the same as Randy Kruger does above, that people have believed the "end times" were here every time a particular disaster struck. And for many of them, it was the end...for them, if not the world. But the question that mystifies me is why do people want the end to come? Is life really so bad, so bitter, so hard? Where is the joy in just being here? Yet I would propose that none of the end time seekers really seek death, none seek the end of their personality and identity: No, they all believe hard and fast that they will endure armageddon as the same essential being, just no body to put up with anymore.

So, extrapolation time: They hate their bodies then; these nasty flesh bodies that continuously betray them by urging them to commit one or more of the "7 deadly sins" every minute of every day? They hate the constant guilt and threat to salvation those dirty old gluttonous, sexual, egocentric bodies pose; so their solution is to rid themselves and everyone else of this blight upon our spiritual nature by bringing on a global catastrophe that will free us once and for all? How incredibly stupid, how horrific and perverse is a religion that seeks to control people through guilt over every basic natural urge and survival instinct that is part of being alive.

The joy of life, which is to love oneself and one's niche in this natural world, has been diminished, demeaned, stolen outright. Yet I cannot believe it was God or his son that promoted this idea, but rather some self-proclaimed prophet wanting to rule the unruly for his own personal power trip. Wasn't the most basic teaching of Jesus (per his own words) that one was to "love thy neighbor as thyself". You can't love your neighbor if you hate yourself. So all this war between "religious" peoples is actually a manifestation of their own self loathing, an overcompensation because inside they know they don't measure up to the demands of their religion for a purity of mind over flesh that none can achieve while alive.

Except maybe Stephen Hawkings, who says we should begin colonizing the moon before the end times get us.

By mary in hawaii (not verified) on 16 Jul 2006 #permalink

How many people have Christians killed in the last 100 years.

How many people have Communists killed in the last 100 years.

I have a memory. I fear the hardcore left thanks very much.

What this has to do with anything is beyond me. <>. Blah blah blah, those questions are completely irrelevant to the danger of a bunch of lunatics with political power trying to bring about the end of the world.

The Jehovah's Witnesses forecast a series of "it will happen on this day" days to mark on your calendar, starting some time after 1914 taking WW1 as the "beginning of the end". After each failed Rapture, there was some backpeddling and 're-interpretation' of the scriptures. Recently they started hedging about and not really coming out and saying it would happen on day X, but nudging and winking to the faithful. This gave them "plausible deniability" when, once again, it didn't happen.

By Ground Zero Homeboy (not verified) on 16 Jul 2006 #permalink

apropos of nothing above, just wanted to mention that there's a report in the ThaiDaily claiming that bird flu has re-emerged there but is being covered up for political reasons. here's the link

By mary in hawaii (not verified) on 16 Jul 2006 #permalink

Hi Mary, Yes, and when will people learn to live in the present, enjoy life, and keep their mouths shut? (At least when attempting to condemn others....) What is going on now is nothing new, even though some would like us to think that it is. It is simply more of the same crap that has been going on for centuries and centuries and centuries. And yet the solution is right here, all around us, every day.

Eschatology discussions always seem to involve the misunderstood Mayan calendar at some point.

Wikipedia has a good explanation of why 2012 is not even the correct year (not even close).

The ancient story of the 2012 Winter Solstice date is revealed by Jenkins. Whether it has anything to do with eschatology in our corner of the Milky Way will have to wait for 2012 for further illumination.

By tympanachus (not verified) on 17 Jul 2006 #permalink

Tasty bit of synchronicity here with the CrystalFire mum. I'll take that as positive "evidence" for the forthcoming singularity.

By tympanachus (not verified) on 17 Jul 2006 #permalink

So the Tribulation is only supposed to last *seven* years, eh? I suppose that means Bush gets impeached a year before his second term would have been over?:-)


Mary from Hawaii has it 100% right on target: The religious extremists all hate their bodies, and thereby hate themselves, thus preferring the next world over this one.

And it's easy to see what the root of this body/self-hatred is: stray boners. The reflex-driven nature of male sexual arousal, defying the will, and "popping up" at the most inopportune and embarrassing moments. Hence the Burka, as an example of the projection defense: blame the boners on the women. Hence the rabid homophobia in the US: controlled research shows that the biggest homophobes also get the biggest responses on the penile plethysmograph when shown erotic pictures of other men.

Perhaps the solution is to teach the men self-discipline. Perhaps it's to teach them to masturbate frequently and thereby keep their objectivity. Or perhaps it's just to teach them how to accept themselves as they are, self-contradictory swellings included.


Re. End Times and BF:

There are 6.5 billion humans alive on a planet that at most can support about 2 billion sustainably at European standards of living. The population increase tracks the rise of cheap energy in the form of easily-extracted petroleum (this includes the development of methods of agriculture that depend on heavy petrochemical fertilizer inputs). So, when oil peaks and starts to decline, the inevitable outcome is the reduction of available carrying capacity: the collapse that follows the overshoot. Of all the possible methods od dieoff, pandemics aren't as fast as wars but are a hell of a lot more faster and humane than starvation. And "humanity united against the virus" puts us in a better position to deal with other natural crises such as climate change; whereas resource wars etc. end up pitting humans against each other. Terrible paradoxes of our times.

g510 you are right on about oil and population. The aquisition of energy and minerals is what living replicating things do. The competition for energy and minerals is the driving force of evolution. Somehow big chunks of energy got sequested on earth in the form of coal, gas and oil. Like a person winning a lottery, humans have been on one big spending spree for the last 100+ years. We have invited many new souls into the party and found ways to keep already living souls alive longer (modern medicine, green revolution). "The party is over" and we now have to "Powerdown" (two excellent books on the subject by Richard Heinberg. At the same time a looming pandemic and global warming hang heavy over our heads.

Every human alive today will die - but for population to be reduced to sustainable numbers many will die earlier than they expected and perhaps in less pleasant ways than they hoped for. Perhaps H5N1 is a blessing in disguise, as it is a quicker death than starvation, but I am still pissed at WHO for withholding the sequences. They don't profess to believe that a population reduction is inevitable so they should do their part to stave it off.

Jay Hanson has done a mountain of work on Peak Oil and what it means for the world - available at - unpleasant for sure but science is about truth not about avoiding unpleasant facts. We can no more prepare for a world with less and less oil without facing what it means than we can prepare for a pandemic without facing what it might mean for humanity at this point in history.

It's already about 20 years ago that I heared CIA had worked out a great scenario on The Return of Christ. It was meant to disturb all people, on Cuba in the first place if I remember well.
So when it comes, everyone 'd better verify the political advantages of chaos at that particular moment at that particular place. It can be an old plan, but not as old as we 'believe'.

cougar: My spirit guide is bigger than your spirit guide.

By Ground Zero Homeboy (not verified) on 18 Jul 2006 #permalink

BTW, for those of you who are curious, the best path for survival after 2012 is this: SELF-SUFFICIENCY, SIMPLICITY and SPIRITUALITY. Life on the other side is going to be a helluva lot different than it is today!

It seems that for some people we are living through some messianic times.

It is not only true for fundamentalist Christian, but the shia Muslims have their beliefs as well. According to them, the twelfth Imam, the Hidden Imam or the Mahdi who disappeared in the 9th century, will return soon. His return will be preceded by cosmic chaos, war and bloodshed. After a cataclysmic confrontation with evil and darkness, the Mahdi will lead the world to an era of universal peace.

How soon? According to Mr Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, it should be within the next two years. And he is getting ready for it.

Now, we face two messianic theories saying about the same thing for each camp, which is cataclysmic confrontation followed by eternal peace and happiness.
One camp is trying to get nuclear weapons, the other one could have access to the largest nuclear arsenal existing on earth. If some mad guy on any side truly believes that he will bring eternal happiness for the ones like him, will he have any restraint from pressing the red button?

Another group waiting for the end. But they think it is sooon....very soon. Events on the ground however might lend credence to their claim ... but if it happens it will be result of human stupidity, not god damning.
Kenya sect bunkers down for doomsday
By Caroline Karobia
BBC News, Kinagop

Members of a religious sect in central Kenya are bracing themselves for a nuclear war predicted to take place no later than 12 September 2006.

The Book of Yahweh has doomsday warnings

Enlarge Image

This is the doomsday warning issued by their spiritual leader Yisrayl Hawkins, who is based in the United States and traces his origins back to Israel.

Kenyan followers of the House of Yahweh are taking his words seriously and have begun building special shelters to protect themselves.

Yleasor Kamothom, who has been a member of the sect in Kinagop since it was introduced in Kenya in 1997, explains that the prophecy will bring a great deal of destruction.

"It says that there will be three and a half years of great tribulation. These great tribulations will come because of people are not heeding and fulfilling Yahweh's laws," he says.

According to a monthly newsletter, through which the message was relayed, House of Yahweh followers have been given advice to help them survive a doomsday scenario.

The earth will be utterly emptied and utterly laid waste; for Yahweh has spoken this word.
Book of Yahweh, Isaiah 24 v3

"These nuclear fallouts destroy people's lives. But we are told to eat properly so as to not endanger ourselves. We're informed to build our houses into a place where we can have shelter," says Mr Kamothom.

The kind of shelter suggested is similar to a bunker in which they will be able to hide.

Although Mr Kamothom has not started his preparations for the so-called doomsday, he admits that his other religious brethren have done so.

One true faith

As I talked to him and other sect members, they quoted different verses in their holy book, called the Book of Yahweh, to back their doomsday claims, including these excerpts from Isaiah 24 v 1-6:

The building of some sect members
Sect members need to convert their houses into shelters

"Behold, Yahweh makes the earth empty, makes it waste, turns it upside down, and scatters its inhabitants.
The earth will be utterly emptied and utterly laid waste; for Yahweh has spoken this word.
Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell therein are found guilty. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left."

The House of Yahweh believes it is the one true faith which will be re-established in what it terms "the last days".

The sect members refer to their creator as Yahweh, not God, and the male followers all sport long goatee beards.

"We do not shave our beard completely or our head completely because there is a law in the 613 laws which states that a man should not shave completely his head or completely his beard," explains sect member Dominc Karichu.

"We want to follow each and every word that proceeds from Yahweh's mouth."


House of Yahweh is the latest, but intriguing, sect to have emerged onto Kenya's packed religious scene, where more than 100 groups are now registered by the Kenyan government.

A sect member hold up a copy of Yahweh's 613 laws
Sect members live by Yahweh's 613 laws

Six years ago, neighbouring Ugandans were shocked by a tragic end to a doomsday prediction.

After the world failed to end in December 1999, as predicted by the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, hundreds of the sect's followers were found murdered four months later.

Many Kenyans are concerned that should this prophecy prove untrue, its fallout will not prove as fatal.