Friday, September 30, 2005

Countering Terrorism: Power, Violence and Democracy Post 9/11 | Church of England: "The book of Revelation, far from being a justification of American expansionism, is in fact a fierce critique of the imperial enterprise. It is not about detailed predictions of how history will unfold, but a revealing of what has truly happened through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although Roman power appeared to remain rampant in fact, according to the visionary writer of Revelation, the Lamb of God has defeated all the forces of evil and death. All imperial systems have been in principle overthrown by God’s rule in Jesus.... “Revelation is in other words a powerfully anti-imperial tract. Its coded and symbolic language pointed the first Christian to the real truth of history, which is that all empires will ultimately fail and be supplanted by the direct rule of God through the communion of the saints.”

According to Wikipedia, as recently as May 2005, scholars looking at the Oxyrhynchus collection (a tremendous discovery of ancient papyri) have added confirmation to the thesis that 'the number of the beast' is none other than a numerical code for Nero Ceasar. If one is allowed to 'interpret' Revelations, then its meaning, far from being God's approval for George W Bush, the American Empire and American Exceptionalism, would rather be something like this:

'The Beast' is the United States empire itself; Dubya Bush is the 'beast from the land'; Cheney is the 'beast from the (oily?) sea', aka Cthulhu; Barbara 'beautiful mind' Bush is the 'whore of Babylon'; the 'mark of the beast' is the US dollar ("... no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or name of the beast, or the number of his name"); Rupert Murdoch is 'the false prophet' (liar for evil); Pat Robertson is 'the antichrist' (Christ's teachings of love and mercy twisted into their polar opposite, hate and killing); the Pale Rider and the Four Horseman are Death and War (of course), avian flu, global warming and nuclear irradiation (depleted uranium, fallout); etc etc. And this too shall pass.

However, bad as Bush and the US empire are, of course, nothing can quite compare with the corruption and depravity of the Julio-Claudian imperial family. Which just might be another way of saying that Jesus' message, although having made some progress, still has a ways to go.

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