[ by Charles Cameron ]
Some people like banking, I prefer religion.
I’m perennially fascinated by the way myths and rituals, meditations and sacraments can not just motivate and move people but change them. That’s just the way I am. I spent ten minutes this morning listening to a zen nun explaining on YouTube how to strike a bell (she preferred to think of it as “inviting” the bell), how to listen to it, how to wake up.
So when it comes time for scenario planning, I find the logistical and economic side of things less interesting than the tada! End of the World! excitement that seems to pop up all over the place from time to time. On billboards here in California (with a date certain: May 21st, 2011), for instance. In videos from Iran (coming soon to a theater of war near Jerusalem). And on Glenn Beck (ditto).
It seems to be a meme that cartoonists and satirists enjoy, too…
The thing is, there are two worldviews here, which we could conveniently label sacred and secular – though there’s no reason why one can’t hold a “sacred” view of the world (as I do) and not expect it to end any time soon (I don’t), or a “secular” view, and expect a new ice age or terminal global warming around the next bend in the road…
Two worldviews. And here’s where we get a “clash of cultures”.
Either there exists a definitive blueprint for the future of geopolitics – in Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation — or the future of geopolitics is something we’ll have to wrangle ourselves, using our best intelligence, wisdom and material resources.
On Sunday, you can go learn about the blueprint in an evangelical church – or you can kick back with the Sunday supplements and “Meet the Press”. And nobody much minds if you do one thing, and your neighbors do the other.
Things get interesting, however, when geopolitical decision times come around, and a great nation must decide what to do about the Palestinians, say, or Iran.
Joel Rosenberg is a writer of popular, well-crafted thrillers – a Tom Clancy for the end times set.
Since his books are engaging, and since Glenn Beck frequently features Rosenberg on his show, his most recent novel, The Twelfth Imam, has been enjoying pretty decent sales, making it to #8 on the NYT best-seller list, #8 on Publisher’s Weekly and #10 on the WSJ hard-cover fiction lists in one week, not so long ago. And since I’m a student of comparative eschatology, I read his work with considerable interest, and follow his blog.
Today, he wrote:
As international support builds for the Palestinians to unilaterally declare their own state at the U.N. General Assembly opening session in September, I am growing increasingly concerned the President Obama is preparing to endorse such a move and even push for it. This would be a terrible mistake.Bible prophecy makes it clear that in the last days the nations of the world will divide up the land of Israel. But the Scriptures are also crystal clear that the nations will face the judgment of Almighty God for doing so. “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them to the Valley of Jehoshaphat [“the Lord judges”]. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.” (Book of Joel 3:1-2).
Let the nations be warned by the God of Israel: they are on a dangerous and disastrous road. Let us pray they turn around before it is too late.
That’s actually a pitch for geopolitics by Biblical fiat — as Rosenberg explicitly points out:
One could wish the clear warning of the Bible would be enough to dissuade the President from dividing the land of Israel. I am not sure it will. Perhaps sheer politics will help.
If you believe in the sacred “Biblical blueprint” theory, and believe that the end times are very rapidly approaching, this should encourage you. If you believe in the secular “let’s hope our politicians don’t fubar this one” it might worry you – because you don’t trust some writers a couple of millennia ago to have an accurate appraisal of today’s Middle East, when even our intelligence services don’t claim to be able to predict the outcomes of various interventions in a complex situation, with unknown unknowns to boot.
And of course you might also be Israeli (and hold a sacred or secular viewpoint), Iranian (secular or sacred), or just not interested in geopolitics.
In Iran, the holders of a sacred, end times tradition are in power. In the US, the holders of a sacred, end times tradition exert some political influence. If you’re in Israel, you may hope and / or pray the Iranian end timers don’t visit their scenario on your head. If you’re a Palestinian, you may hope and / or pray the American end timers don’t visit theirs on yours.
I think it’s good to be aware of these things, but not get too excited.
More to follow in A two part meditation, part ii: of monks and maniacs.