No, I'm not pitching my Harry Potter and the U.S. Congress mashup fan fiction (at least not yet).
This story here makes me absolutely furious.
now what this says to me, I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, as I look at the End Times scripture, this says to me that the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times, which is your ministry, we are to understand where we are in God’s end time history.
This is a United States Congresswoman. This is a duly-elected representative of the state of Minnesota, and she believes that current events are signs that the end of all history is approaching, and that soon the creator of the universe will appear to judge all of mankind for its transgressions.
She is not alone among the leadership of the United States. Biblical Armageddon has been invoked by the conservative right for decades, from people as celebrated by the GOP as Ronald Reagan ("For the first time ever, everything is in place for the Battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ.") to people as embarrassing as Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee. While it is certainly possible that people like this are lying about their beliefs, I tend to think that these statements are more than rhetoric. Or, at least, I tend to take people at their word when they're talking about their religious beliefs. It is certainly true that they expect to be believed. But that doesn't even matter.
Even if we suppose that conservative politicians don't believe the things they say when they start to talk about Armageddon, it's still the case that statements like this are heard by the electorate. As dissatisfied as the public currently is with the U.S. government, people still listen to politicians, and some number of those people are going to have similar ideas, which will be reinforced by rhetoric like this. That has consequences vis-a-vis the sorts of representatives that get elected, and subsequently, the sorts of ideas that remain regnant in American political discourse. People love to have their opinions repeated back to them.
Progressives and liberals get rightly upset because the conservative right offers resistance to what appears to be reasonable, common-sense progress. I absolutely agree with this sentiment, but it's generally accepted that the reasons for this resistance to progressivism are wholly political, and I'm not certain I agree with that. Ideas like Dispensationalism are inherently hostile to progress. If you believe that God has already determined the course of history, then it becomes an act of hubris on the part humanity to take actions which may lead to a deviation from God's plan. What's more, any such action must be seen as an exercise in futility: God has already determined the outcome.
The situation becomes even worse with the introduction of eschatology. There is no point in trying to improve the world in which we live if it really happens to be true that Jesus is going to fly down from the heavens sometime soon and put an end to the difficult business of being alive. If you believe that God will appear in your lifetime to take care of everyone, what reason could you possibly have to do it yourself? Legislature becomes merely an effort to avoid offending the creator of the universe. No birth control, no abortion, prayer in congressional meetings, and a faith-based initiative.
If you introduce additional ideologies, such as the hateful collection of ideas known as Christian Zionism, then it isn't very hard to see how eschatological fanaticism in the U.S. electorate can have serious consequences in the real world. There is a faction of U.S. politicians who are opposed to a two-state solution for Israel/Palestine, specifically because they believe that once all the Jews are back in Israel, Jesus will return and kill everyone. Hallelujah.
I also think it's important to keep in mind that for the purposes of critique, it doesn't matter if these ideas are reasonable, or whether or not it's true that the end of the world is fast approaching. It would be easy to simply shake your head and say that the people who believe these sorts of things are obviously nuts. But the veracity or otherwise of eschatological beliefs is irrelevant. People like Michele Bachmann would be reprehensible even if it were true.
That's not what makes me really furious, though. What makes me furious is that these people seem to be esurient for death. They yearn for the destruction of the world. They think that the end of civilization is something to celebrate. I'm not bothered by liberal, or moderate religious belief. I don't share it, and I don't think it's true, but in all honesty it doesn't matter to me at all what people want to believe for themselves. That's not this, however. This is genocidal anticipation. Michele Bachmann wants us to cheer the coming holocaust. It's moribund wish-thinking. Mass-grave theology. And it has consequences.
“Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice, Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand,” Bachmann said. “When we see up is down and right is called wrong, when this is happening, we were told this: that these days would be as the days of Noah.”
I hate it.