I am not a religious person. I will not go so far as to outright state that there is no ‘God’ (or Universal Center, or Cosmic Creator, or merely some flash of astronomical light that burned all forms of life onto the still forming universe)–whatever It might or might not be I have no way of knowing. Just as religious folk are painfully arrogant in declaring the absolutism of their beliefs, non-believers alike smugly state their truth as though they know something that others deny in ignorance. There are the standard, dismissive turns, as though the bulk of atheists are theoretical physicists, pronouncing the true realities of how everything came to be. They use high school phrases like “if you try the scientific method there is no evidence,” or “I need proof before I buy into your bullshit, and even then . . .” These terms are not much different than “Accepting God (or Jesus, or Allah/Muhammad, or whichever other messiah has come to save the world) is the one path to salvation,” or, blandly, “Read the bible and you’ll know” (like some layperson quoting Richard Feynman on quantum reality, having no idea what they are trying to say).
And yet I would like to take up this issue–particularly with religious people, Christians specifically, who oddly align themselves with US President Donald J. Trump. I have lately been sliding what will follow, in far shallower ways, onto various social media sites, perhaps only looking to stir the pot, but very serious in my intention to get some true believers to pause for a moment and think.
In many ways, at least as a textbook definition, the radical followers (again, ‘true believers’) of President Trump are a cult. But before you dismiss such a statement, please realize that all growing and stabilized religions were and remain cults in one form or another. There are atheistic cults, scientific cults, purely hedonist cults, selfish cults, death cults–a cult for every idea that comes into our minds. Check it out on line. Here: https://allthatsinteresting.com/insane-cults Perhaps, after all, these are the true faiths of man?
Anyway, for those who believe the President when he vaguely refers to himself as “The chosen one,”
perhaps it is time for you to refer back to the Holy Book, especially the surreal and horrifying final chapter, John’s Book of Revelation.
 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
There have been thousands upon thousands of interpretations of this, the story of “The False Prophet,” and since the time of its composition The Book of Revelation has inspired terror among the masses, doomsayers who see the end of everything rapidly coming our way. And like I said, I don’t believe any of this, but there are plenty of people who do. And so, in anticipation of the coming 2020 Presidential election, I would like to attempt a breakdown and comparison between Trump and the biblical false prophet, the priest of the antichrist welcoming the War of Armageddon.
So 13:1 has been used as a metaphor since the beginning, declaring seven evil nations and seven evil kings, and ten different weapons and ten different wars, et cetera. And so we can turn this metaphor into anything we chose. Talk about riches or business success or failure. Talk about seven disruptive moments or ten times he offended the whole world. The crowns upon his horned head require no great leap of imagination. His rise from the sea could be from the sea of corruption his whole life has involved and “the name of blasphemy” is even more obvious. To much of the whole world’s population, everything the man says: his lies, his exaggerations, his cheap personal attacks, all of this is a form of blasphemy, of turning the people away from the implied morality of the biblical narrative and destroying everything that ever was of civilization.
13:2-4 starts us on the path to some frightening realities, allowing us to make the bare minimum of leaps to suggest Donald Trump. With “the mouth of a lion,” surely we hear the man roar. “The dragon” giving him his power seems to imply that those worshipping the man have been deluded by Satan (or, if we like, let’s define “the dragon” as intolerance and hatred. As resentment of one another and those who do not believe as they do). It is these very people who are the cause of this shift, as unquestionably they are. A friend of mine just yesterday described the current minority of the Trump-worshipping far right as people easily manipulated by the current Republican party (perhaps the seven heads are people like Mitch McConnell and talking heads on Fox News and zillionaire political lobbyists, and various conspiratorial loons with growing followings?). They focus on two things, he said. One, that the angry and desperate people, they too can someday somehow become insanely wealthy; and two, they have heightened the natural rage over the presumption that someone thinks they are better than them. And whether this is true with anyone (and unquestionably all of us have encountered such assholes in our lives), it is something to exploit to use that very anger to claim a vote that is ultimately against their own personal interest.
13:3 can easily be Donald Trump’s rise and fall and rise and fall and rise again, and then another fall, and then TV stardom, and then as public conspiracy theorist, and finally as President of the United States. He is healed. And as for 13:4 . . . “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” So they worship, in this case, the resentment that is the dragon. They worship this champion of them, raising him to a messianic level, seeing him as stronger than anyone else. No one can challenge him. He always wins.
13:5-9 are all about how people come to believe his “blasphemies,” in our parlance let’s call them “lies.” People believe every blathering, crazy thing he says because the man, the “false prophet” has been transformed into a deity, into a savior, if not of the world, than at least of what these angry white people believe they have lost. He will restore them to what they dream they were once upon a time, with the same mystical beliefs that inspired the Book of Revelation itself. And everyone is challenged, insulted, condemned. There is the promise of “great things,” really just those hollow words with nothing to back them up. He attacks “saints,” or perhaps only those moral do-gooders that too many people have no more patience with. The “blasphemy” is his painting those sincere people as enemies, as people out to destroy all that is left to his worshippers. He offers solutions. He assures them that the world will change under his reign, dismissing all the cooperative treaties and mutual understandings, and smugly saying there will be a “new deal.” His influence over people the world over, in all languages, is unquestionable. They can all hear him and see him as either a god or demon. There is no middle ground. As for the 42-months . . . not impossible, is it? And while that might be one of those biblical calculations that has been lost in translation, the stark reality of scandal that we live in keeps it in the back of our minds.
13:10-13 can mean nothing less than full scale war with nuclear annihilation. And while when the book was written those possibilities could only come from an unknown sky creature, today’s technology has invented a true chance of burning everything off the face of the earth. Trump’s climate change denial and greed, and his inspiration to other nativist leaders around the world to bulldoze the Amazon and Arctic is also another reign of fire consuming us all.
Of course in the face of such catastrophe new religions are born. New gods are prayed to. A more desperate form of salvation is offered, and the world gets smaller and smaller and more tribal. Mankind returns, eventually, into the shivering fear of peeking out of the mouth of your cave and seeing nothing worth living for. All there is is the false prophet and those who follow him, the actual serpent, the dragon, the very beast Itself. And the prophet promotes this apocalyptic figure, whether for good or bad is irrelevant. With Trump it might imply a loss in the election and his conviction that whoever replaces him is out to destroy the world (which to him and his followers is merely “America.”) Painting this individual as “the beast,” the one whose power is unquestioned and for whom their rivals see the image of Satan (the socialist, the liberal–perhaps even the foreign born!)
13:14-18 refer to, first, a dictatorial style imposed law, killing all those who do not kneel before the new messiah. They are “the enemies of the people” and need to be slain for the salvation of the earth. People are convinced of this. Holy wars break out. Civil wars spread across the globe. Millions of people are killed, sometimes in a single day. People stop caring about one another, refuse to trust each other. They see vast conspiracies out to undermine and target specifically them. The whole world starts revolving around only you, a solipsistic horror show where everything is out to get you. Explanations for this grow increasingly tattered and insane. Anything becomes possible in the diseased mind of paranoid humanity.
Let’s look to the end of chapter 13. The mark of the beast. Economic collapse. Here’s a bar code on your hand that will feed directly into your dwindling finances, allowing you to purchase whatever goods you need to just barely survive, like a young mother out in the freezing cold waiting on a breadline in 1964 Soviet Russia. Your bar code, in this instance, might be 666 9471 8390. Scan, be counted, let us know what you are buying, and stick your soul into the databank. Like on Facebook. And for those who resist the new way of life, let them be ostracized, cast out of the new Eden. Let them suffer and die of hunger and thirst, of exposure and disease. Allow the whole world to crumble under the final reign.
Of course Revelation ends on a slightly up note, with the return of an angry Jesus to smite these monsters, and the true salvation of a handful of the faithful. But that is clearly not the moment we can relate today’s chaos to. Again, I am not a religious person and I believe this prophecy to be nonsense. And yet, considering the faiths at war all across the world, and the technological age that consumes us, it is not impossible that some holy lunatics with a great deal of money and influence, those who have been licking their lips ever since the re-formation of Israel in 1947, seeing the return of Christ, might not help such a prophecy come at least partially true.
There are rich British and American farmers tying to breed a true red heifer, another sign of the coming end.
The fusion of crazy politics and crazy religion is coming full circle. Too many people are praying for the end times. And we are all increasingly alone, lost in the void of our own cynically sneering creation. This is why a commentary such as this can even be written. So again, Christians, please: take this to heart. It is from your own holy book. The interpretations may be my own (as well as thousands of other people who have written on a similar topic). Do you want the endtimes, or do you pray for a future where your greatgrandchildren may thrive. I know that many are too self-absorbed to even consider hope for anyone beyond their own children, but it is something to seriously ponder. Do you want the end right now, or should we try and hold out for the foreseeable future? This should be your vote in 2020, true believers. Living or dead. Which side are you on?