Sunday, 9 November 2008

Perfect Six

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.


BBrow said...

Any politician who is not a puppet to these deluded fanatics is always declared "The Anti-Christ".

valdemar squelch said...

1. He's popular.
2. He disagrees with me.
3. He's evil.

Perfect chain of logic.

Seriously, though, how can a Catholic claim that abortion - i.e. doing what nature does anyway, in the case of millions of pregnancies - is a hideous sin when the leaders of the church concealed child rape on a huge scale for decades? Or didn't that count as 'anti-human'?

WeepingCross said...

It is possible for both to be hideous sins. But yes, it ought to make the Roman observance in particular a little more cautious in making grand moral statements about the world outside it - which of course applies to all Christian denominations, not just to them.

Just two points: I can never understand the willingness of religious leaders to endorse or oppose any particular politicians when it's clearly utterly impossible to translate the sort of ethics Jesus talks about into a secular order. Is a pro-abortionist any worse than a warmonger and pro-executionist? How do you decide? (I doubt even Thomas Aquinas ever thought of asking the question).

Secondly, I've noticed these Roman apocalypticists tend to have their mental landscape coloured not so much by Scriptural apocalyptic, but by all the prophecies associated with Marian apparitions over the last century-and-a-bit. All very peculiar, it seems to me.

Edwin said...

Wonderful love the 666 thing - and Snopes confirms it is true

Wonder what Mr O'Brien's novels are like. I read one of those evangelical Left Behind novels and it was utter keech - and utterly unpleasant.

A made up name said...

>It's this point, of course, that upsets manyCatholic 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.

You really aren't qualified to write about American politics, you know. Take up golf instead.

The separation of church and state is not about the exclusion of religion, or the opinions of the religious (priests or otherwise) from public life. Here's the start of the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech..."

The bishop, like everyone else, is entitled to say what he likes about public policy; the rest of the population is entitled to agree, disagree or ignore it.

It may interest you to know that there's a good case for thinking that the establishment clause is there at least in part to PROTECT the established religions that existed in several of the original 13 states (Virginia and Massachusetts among them, from memory) from interference by the national government.

The Heresiarch said...

"The bishop, like everyone else, is entitled to say what he likes about public policy; the rest of the population is entitled to agree, disagree or ignore it."

Indeed. But the Roman Catholic Church has historically claimed authority over teaching of faith and morals. Thus to tell people, "If you vote for this man your eternal salvation is at stake" is to attempt to tamper with the political process via a form of spiritual blackmail. My point had nothing to do with the Constitution and everything to do with the overweening attitude of the bishop. It's one thing to advise voters to take morality into consideration, quite another to threaten them with hell if they disregard instructions.

It says in the Gospel (Matthew, I think) "To you I give the key to the kingdom of Heaven". The RCC interprets this, and has always done so, as giving it the power to put people in hell if it chooses to excommunicate them. To invoke such an idea - and thus to elevate one particular electoral issue to overwhelming importance - is, in my view, an abuse of power. That the constitution doesn't have anything to say about such an abuse, because it is outside the scope of the temporal scope, is irrelevant.

As Jesus said, My Kingdom is not of this World. And as he also said, Render unto Caesar... I wish some of his followers, like this bishop, would pay more attention.

passer by said...

The truest phrase in the English language. "the road to hell is paved with good intentions"

Even as a militant agnostic, I find Mr Bam, a little too well intentioned.

Anonymous said...


My memory of the '666' story was back in the 1980s: Ronald Wilson Reagan.