October 13, 2004
|MAUREEN FARRELL ARCHIVES|
An Entrails Readerís Guide to the November Electionby Maureen Farrell
"Fully 59% [of Americans] say they believe the events in Revelation are going to come true." Ė Time Magazine
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"What harm can he do in four years?" That was my initial reaction to the Supreme Court's selection of George W. Bush in Dec. 2000, back when I was trusting and naïve and life in this country felt oh-so-different. "Itís not the end of the world," I thought, not realizing, at the time, how many Americans were praying for just that.
Initially, Armageddon angst was amusing, yet embarrassing, like VH1ís The Surreal Life whenever Brigitte Nielson appears onscreen. Remember when people saw Satanís visage in the 9/11 smoke clouds? And how others kept tabs on the Rapture? A Time/CNN poll even showed that one third of all Americans were checking the news for apocalyptic signs, making "End Times Watch" a lot like "Cosmoís Bedside Astrologer," except that instead of learning that Sagittarians are "whifty," we discovered that Jerry Falwell rightly refers to G.W. Bush as "his bitch."
Yes, superstitious hogwash was entertaining at first, but by the time we figured out that members of Congress and the Bush White House had actually powwowed with End Times zealots, even comedians found it decidedly unfunny. "Thomas Jefferson said the book of revelations was the ravings of a lunatic. George Bush organizes his foreign policy around it," Bill Maher said, referring to the widely held notion that the Jews must control Israel before Jesus will make His long-awaited comeback.
But though Evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson also warned that Bush better play by Evangelicalsí rules (Roadmap, Schmoadmap, a Palestinian state is part of "Satan's plan to prevent the return of Jesus Christ," Pat says), others remain steadfast in their belief that George W. Bush was "chosen" by a power greater than Clarence Thomas. The newly released DVD Faith in the White House drives this notion home, at one point even showing Bush and Jesus side-by-side via split screen -- a Jedi mind trick if ever there was one. "Iím voting for Bush because I have to support the candidate who I believe has the most faith. Systematically, God is being erased from our culture, our society our government," actor Stephen Baldwin recently told Entertainment Weekly, echoing a sentiment shared by millions.
But do the nation's Stephen Baldwins ever question the propaganda? Do they wonder if G.W. Bush might be one of the bad guys the Bible warns of? After all, some of Bush's reported statements flash "false prophet" like a sign in a David Lynch movie. "I trust God speaks though me," Bush reportedly told the Amish. "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did," Haaretz quoted Bush saying. "We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of our great nation," Bob Woodward said Bush said.
"This is why religion is so dangerous in our society," Bill Maher told Larry King. "George Bush is not just a Christian. He's a born-again, they believe Jesus is coming back any day now. And they want everything to be perfect for him. They call it the rapture, right? . . . It's like half this country wants to guide our ship of state by a compass. A compass, something that works by science and rationality and empirical wisdom. And half this country wants to kill a chicken and read the entrails like they used to do in the old Roman Empire."
But the Book of Revelation is just the beginning. There are plenty of places to find ominous warnings of death, destruction and the end of life as we know it. In other words, there's more than one way to read entrails, Bucko. Here are but a few:
Entrails Reading: The Scientific Approach
"You know, this is one of the biggest differences between Europe and America. This is a huge cultural gulf between us... Brits, everyone in Europe, none of us go to church really very much... We can't understand the role that religion plays in your politics. We just don't get it. We don't get why there has to be this presidential candidate who has to go to church, has to profess their faith. It worries us slightly, makes us slightly uncomfortable." -- The BBCís Katty Kaye
Not too long ago, the History Channel ran a segment on the "Bible Code," featuring a controversial, semi-scientific means of divining the future. Based on Orthodox Jewish mathematiciansí assertion that hidden messages are embedded within the Torah, the Bible Code was first brought to mainstream attention in 1997, when former Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Drosnin's The Bible Code became a New York Times bestseller.
Using a letter-based numerological system created by Jewish mystics and facilitated by computer technology, Drosnin "decoded" the Bibleís hidden secrets and concluded that the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Kennedy killings were among major events foretold in the first five books. He also used the code to predict the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and searched the Mezuzah scroll for signs of the Apocalypse.
In 2002, Drosnin released a sequel, The Bible Code II, which, despite massive debunking of his first book, also became a bestseller. Retroactively asserting that the Bible did, in fact, warn of Sept. 11, Drosnin found these brand new hints:
What the entrails say: Using the Bible Code as a guide, it looks as if George Bush will be president again for the next four years. After all, when it comes to Armageddon, who better to 'bring it on"?
But, although the Bible Code's mathematical underpinnings make this method seem more rational than the more widely accepted "God will soon selectively suck up true believers in a gigantic Hoover" Rapture theory, Drosnin's findings should be treated with a heaping helping of skepticism. After all, one mathematician used the same technique to decode Moby Dick and found hidden messages regarding the assassination of Gandhi, Leon Trostsky and Martin Luther King, while another found "the code is bogus" embedded within Genesis and discovered "Guilty Lee Oswald shot Kennedy. Both died" within the pages of War and Peace.
Entrails Reading: The Mystical Approach
"Anticipating George W. Bush, prophecy writers in the late 20th century also quickly zeroed in on Saddam Hussein. If not the Antichrist himself, they suggested, Saddam could well be a forerunner of the Evil One. In full-page newspaper advertisements during the Persian Gulf war of 1991, the organization Jews for Jesus declared that Saddam 'represents the spirit of Antichrist about which the Bible warns us.'" -- Paul S. Boyer
Soon after Sept. 11, a fake Nostradamus quote snaked its way around the Internet. Written by a student mimicking the French physician's style, it was identified as a hoax and was suitably debunked. Few seemed to care. In the aftermath of the greatest terror attack on U.S. soil, Nostradamus, a guy who has not written anything noteworthy in the past 500 years, became a best-selling author.
But Sept. 11 aside, Iraq has provided the perfect backdrop for true believers. Hitler analogies? Small beans considering that Nostradamus disciples have long felt that Saddam Hussein might be the third and final antichrist (Hitler was the second). Believing Nostradamus' "Mabus" to be a mirror reflection of the Iraqi pronunciation of Saddam (Sudam), many saw evidence of Hussein's Gulf War villainy in the lines: "He will enter, wicked, unpleasant, infamous; Tyrannizing over Mesopotamia, All friends made by the adulterous woman."
Of course, after watching the past two Presidential debates, Nostradamus could just as well have foreseen George Bush's performance. "He will enter, wicked, unpleasant, infamous"? Yep. Sounds about right. And setting aside the identity of the adulterous woman, some Nostradamus nerds have followed Internet ideologues' leads by speculating that "George Bush is the antichrist" Ė speculation that has spilled over into Op-ed writers' pens and perhaps even Papal minds.
But antichrist rumors are but a sliver of the overall picture. Other interpretations of Nostradamus' prophecies include predictions that:
What the entrails say: Using Nostradamus as a guide, it looks as if the future holds more death and destruction and more George W. Bush. Luckily, however, with a prophet as vague as Nostradamus, misinterpretation is always a risk. In the winter of 1939-1940, for example, Magda Goebbels urged her husband to consider to the seerís prediction that in 1939, Germany would go to war with France and Britain over Poland. Believing that Nostradamus foretold Germany's triumph, Joseph Goebbels used the prophetís predictions as pro-Nazi propaganda.
Conclusion? Believing interpretations of Notradamus is as risky as allowing evangelicals to dictate U.S. foreign policy.
Entrails Reading: The Native American Approach
"America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War." Ė John le Carre
In 1982, a blind Native American Indian shaman named No-Eyes was interviewed about the future. And while she foresaw the usual plagues, economic disasters and ghastly wars, her main thesis was that Mother Earth was unhappy and some "changes" were about to take place. But among her more noteworthy predictions were assertions that:
What the entrails say: Featured in an obscure book from an obscure publishing house No-Eyes sounds suspiciously like Bob Dole. Her warnings about secrecy, cover-ups and police states are worth mentioning, even though, by 1984, columnist Jack Anderson issued similar statements concerning FEMA. But, even so, predictions about the Supreme Court and the draft clinch it: These entrails foretell four more years of G.W. Bush and the end of life as we know it.
Have a nice day!
There are other prophecies worth mentioning, of course. The Mayan calendar for example, which centers on precise mathematical equations, ends abruptly on Dec. 21, 2012, signaling either the end of the world or that the Mayans got bored.
Then, too, regular folks have weighed in as well. Back in 2002, Arab League Secretary-general Amr Musa warned that an attack on Iraq would "open the gates of hell," and on Sept 14, 2004, it became official: "The gates of hell are open in Iraq," he said.
And finally, on the eve of war, former Nixon Aid Charles Colson spelled it out. "Some wonder if the president might be influenced by evangelical teachings that envision an end-of-the-world battle between Israel and its enemies," he told U.S. News. "It would be dangerous for a president to take a particular theology like that and apply it to world events."
Yes, it would be. With polls jumping all over the place, the future is less certain than ever. But clearly, in the midst of all this, the question, "What harm can Bush do?" now seems woefully naïve. And, of course, the phrase "it's not the end of the world" is less convincing, too.
But regardless what evangelicals or prophets or ancient Mayans believed, and despite slings and arrows of outrageous GOP goons, to some extent, "we the people" still decide our own fate.
And it doesn't matter what the entrails say, because though Bush has been a disaster, it doesn't have to end in disaster -- provided the "compass people" win out in the end.
But if we're stuck with Furious George for another four years? I'll
go out on a limb right here and now and make a prediction of my own:
Even if it's not the end of the world, it's certainly going to feel like
Maureen Farrell is a writer and media consultant who specializes in helping other writers get television and radio exposure.
© Copyright 2004, Maureen Farrell