Remember that nonsense a while ago about Barack Obama possibly being the Antichrist? Well, it's back. Only this time, it's not the Protestant fundamentalists making the running but the good old Whore of Babylon herself. Via the Times' Faith Central, I discover that Catholic novelist Michael O'Brien - a Candian, to boot - distributed an anxious-sounding newsletter a few days before the election addressing the vital question of whether "the One" was, in fact, the Evil One.
Fans of his apocalyptic novel Father Elijah (not a work I am familiar with) have apparently been writing to O'Brien drawing attention to imagined similarities between Obama and an Antichrist figure in the book:
During the past year I have read a number of his pronouncements, and saw the smoke and mirrors beneath the rhetoric, but couldn't understand why everyone south of the border (the other south of the border, the 49th parallel) was getting so excited about him, both pro and con. Then a few weeks ago a German friend called me immediately after Obama's speech in Berlin, to say that the presidential candidate had mesmerized the crowds, and that a commentator on German television had said: "We have just heard the next President of the United States...and the future President of the World." My friend felt that Obama bore an uncanny resemblance to the fictional character of the President in my novel Father Elijah. I have received several other letters saying the same thing and asking what I thought about it.
So yes, we're not even talking about the Book of Revelation here. O'Brien's correspondents were getting worried about the now President Elect because of what they read about in a work of fiction. And, it turns out, O'Brien even shares some of their concerns. Obama is, he fears, "an ultra-liberal, a social revolutionary with visionary pretensions". Can't see it myself - as Joan Smith points out in the Independent, though he's certainly no religious nutjob Obama has been (from a secularist perspective) disappointingly keen on faith-based initiatives. He "seems a nice guy but is confused about the role of religion in public life," thinks Smith. This morning I was listening to a discussion on the radio about that vital decision he will have to make before entering office in January, more important even than what sort of dog to buy: what church he and his family will attend.
On the other hand, Obama did express his opposition to California's Proposition 8, which overturns the recent acceptance of gay marriages, calling for "fully equal rights and benefits for same-sex couples" and denouncing the measure as "divisive and discriminatory". Not that most of the Californians who came out in large numbers to vote for him agreed, of course. He has also been unusually forthright in his support for abortion rights, something which pro-choice candidates usually tiptoe gently around. It's this point, of course, that upsets many Catholic leaders, with one bishop going so far as advising anyone considering voting for him to "give thought to their eternal salvation". A vote for the Democrat, he implied, was a vote for abortion, and thus a one-way ticket to Hell. So much for the separation of church and state.
This would seem to be Michael O'Brien's major concern, too. Though he doubted Obama's Antichristic status, being "too shallow a man to be the Son of Perdition" he accused him being "the most effective advocate of murder of the unborn ever seen" and wondered "why, most horribly, most shamefully, are so many Christians of malformed or unformed conscience supporting him?".
For these reasons - and because of his mass appeal - O'Brien thinks that Obama does, indeed, have something of the Antichrist:
But now that I have seen the video of the Berlin speech I think there is more here than meets the eye. He is indeed a powerful manipulator of crowds, even as he appears ever so humble and wholesomely charming. I doubt that he is the long-prophesied ruler of the world, but I also believe that he is a carrier of a deadly moral virus, indeed a kind of anti-apostle spreading concepts and agendas that are not only anti-Christ but anti-human as well. In this sense he is of the spirit of Antichrist (perhaps without knowing it), and probably is one of several key figures in the world who (knowingly or unknowingly) will be instrumental in ushering in the time of great trial for the Church under its last and worst persecution, amidst the numerous other tribulations prophesied in the books of Daniel and Revelation, and letters of St Paul, St. John, and St. Peter.
Scary thoughts, indeed. And here - just to spook you out a little more - is something I picked up from "Friendly Atheist" Hemant Mehta. On the day after the election, Illinois state lottery - Obama's state lottery - held its regular evening draw. And the three numbers that popped out of the machine were 6-6-6.