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Coronavirus meets QAnon – conspiracy, terror threat, new religion!

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

[ by Charles Cameron — the Phoenix Field Office of the FBI has already suggested QAnon should be considered a terror threat — now two writers in quick succession suggest it qualifies as, or indeed contains, a new religious movement ]
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I’d like to draw the attention of my New Religious Movement (NRM) friends and those working on extremism to three recent posts concerning the QAnon conspiracy as a new religious movement:

  • Adrienne LaFrance, The Prophecies of Q
  • Marc-André Argentino, The Church of QAnon: Will conspiracy theories form the basis of a new religious movement?
  • Marc-André Argentino, There’s a lot that I couldn’t include so I will supplement with a thread
  • **

    The Atlantic article, by Adrienne LaFrance, is the most wide-angle of the three. Let’s start with her rough description of QAnon, pitched to its political side:

    Nine years later, as reports of a fearsome new virus suddenly emerged, and with Trump now president, a series of ideas began burbling in the QAnon community: that the coronavirus might not be real; that if it was, it had been created by the “deep state,” the star chamber of government officials and other elite figures who secretly run the world; that the hysteria surrounding the pandemic was part of a plot to hurt Trump’s reelection chances; and that media elites were cheering the death toll. Some of these ideas would make their way onto Fox News and into the president’s public utterances. As of late last year, according to The New York Times, Trump had retweeted accounts often focused on conspiracy theories, including those of QAnon, on at least 145 occasions.

    What’s interesting about this article, and will be missed by many analysts and other readers because they are blind to religion, is the religious emphasis present from the title, The Prophecies of Q, through the italicized intro, with its subhead “Genesis”, its talk of “adherents” and a “clash between good and evil” and “Great Awakening” that is coming — shades of the “Great Awakening” that Jonathan Edwards was associated with! Indeed, the eschatological (end times) content is even more explicit:

    QAnon carries on a tradition of apocalyptic thinking that has spanned thousands of years. It offers a polemic to empower those who feel adrift.

    and:

    “There are QAnon followers out there,” Shelly said, “who suggest that what we’re going through now, in this crazy political realm we’re in now, with all of the things that are happening worldwide, is very biblical, and that this is Armageddon.”

    Too, there’s the suggestion that QAnon effectively comprises a system of belief, enshrined in the closing, one line paragraph:

    You know all this because you believe in Q.

    And the next day, the Atlantic took things a declarative stage further, heading a note:

    QAnon Is a New American Religion

    **

    Okay, QAnon Is [according to the Atlantic] a New American Religion. But Marc-André Argentino‘s approach is more tight-focused: he actually attends “ekklesia” [roughly, here, “house church”] services with strong QAnon content over a period of a couple of years, and reports back:

    What I’ve witnessed is an existing model of neo-charismatic home churches — the neo-charismatic movement is an offshoot of evangelical Protestant Christianity and is made up of thousands of independent organizations — where QAnon conspiracy theories are reinterpreted through the Bible. In turn, QAnon conspiracy theories serve as a lens to interpret the Bible itself.

    Here are a couple of samples:

    At a service held on April 26, Wagner and Bushey spoke about a QAnon theory, called Project Looking Glass, that the U.S. military has secretly developed a form of time-travel technology. Wagner suggested to e-congregants that time travel can be explained by certain passages in the Bible.

    On May 3, the theme of the QAnon portion of the service was about COVID-19. Bushey spoke about a popular QAnon theory that the pandemic was planned. (There is no evidence of this.) And when an anti-vax conspiracy theory documentary called “Plandemic” went viral , the video was shared on the HCW websites as a way for e-congregants to consume the latest in a series of false theories about the coronavirus.

    **

    The QAnon ekklesia Marc-André Argentino attended is called the Omega Kingdom Ministry, and quotes Q:

    It’s going to be Biblical

    — where Biblical is intended both literally and metaphorically — enormous!!

    This is emphasized in large letters on a greenboard reproduced in Argentino’s subsequent twitter thread, which is also used for four panels explaining the parallels between the Biblical Passover and “Passover II” associated with QAnon, of which I’m reproducing on here:

    The rhetoric here, “For as Benjamin Netanyahu is to Israel, so shall this man be” is nicely reminiscent of Romans 8:14, James 2:26, and [forgive me] I Corinthians 11:12, “For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman>”

    **

    Whether or not the entire QAnon movement as a whole can be considered a NRM [New Religious Movement], there certainly exists within it an ekklesia and ministry.

    NRM scholars, as well as FBI agents and other terrorism analysts, should keep their eyes on the QAnon phenomenon.

    Eclipsing the Sun, and reaching the Limit, in religious texts

    Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — two footnotes in the study of religions ]
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    There are plentiful references in prophetic and apocalyptic writings to eclipses of the sun, but I’d like to suggest that religious texts suggest an alternative to darkness as the result of a solar eclipse — the “divine light” knowwn to mystics.

    Thus in the commentary to Howard Schwartz‘ novella The Four Who Entered Paradise we find:

    It is significant that elsewhere this primordial light is said to have had the power to “eclipse the light of the sun,” just as the primordial Adam was so splendorous as to “eclipse the light of the sun.” And in size this primordial Adam extended “from one end of the universe to the other,” like the light that enabled him to see “from one end of the universe to the other.”

    When we read “signs of the times” which include eclipses of the sun, we might do well to remember this possible interpretation, referring to a spiritual rather than a physical eclipse.

    Consider, for instance Revelation 21.23:

    And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

    **

    Likewise, the Prophet Muhammadwas was enabled to see Jibril at the lote tree, which marks the farthest boundary near the garden, the boundary beyond which human knowing, physical and spiritual, cannot penetrate, beyond which Jibril dare not fly lest his wings burn. Sura 53. 10-18:

    So did Allah convey the inspiration to His Servant what He (meant) to convey.
    The heart in no way falsified that which he saw.
    Will ye then dispute with him concerning what he saw?
    For indeed he saw him at a second descent,
    Near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass:
    Near it is the Garden of Abode.
    Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded (in mystery unspeakable!)
    (His) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong!
    For truly did he see, of the Signs of his Lord, the Greatest!

    Muhammad also visits “the farthest mosque” — but being unable to recall its details, is given another vision of it, from which he is able to describe it…

    Coronavirus meets religion #8

    Sunday, April 12th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — two quick dips into the deep end of Christianity at Easter, a suitably humorous question for the physician zayde to the nation, and in closing, a personal note ]
    .

    Dr Russell Moore, Churches and governments are cooperating. Let’s keep it that way.

    Over the last few days, there have been sporadic reports involving local governments and churches that have been troubling to some Christians. Other than a tiny minority of these cases, the reality is that most churches and most state and local governments are working well together to maintain social distancing and to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in our country. The vast majority of churches recognize the legitimate authority of the governing authorities to prevent public gatherings for the sake of public health (Rom. 13).

    Paul to the Romans, 13. 1

    Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

    **

    Pope Francis and the Coronavirus Pandemic During the Easter Holy Week

    I see the Church as a field hospital after battle

    The Pope characterized the present moment, in his native Spanish, as a time of “the saints who live next door,” the people whose daily acts are enabling society to function. He added, “If we become aware of the miracle of the next-door saints, if we can follow their tracks, the miracle will end well, for the good of all.”

    **

    An open letter to Dr. Anthony Fauci. asking for Passover seder advice

    My Uncle Murray insists on tweeting that Manischewitz cures coronavirus. In case the president sees this, please tell him it’s not true. Also that he shouldn’t retweet it, no matter how tempted he is by Uncle Murray’s use of all-caps.

    Chag Pesach sameach! Next year, together!

    **

    I used to say that this Skilled Nursing Facility where I’ve been in the long-term care wing for over two years now was about eighty percent hotel and twenty percent prison — but you know, my God, it’s way better than that — it’s awash with service and compassion. How do you beat that?

    Christos Anesti! Happy Easter!.

    A Merry Christmas to all Zenpundit readers

    Wednesday, December 25th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — Christmas greetings, classical and jazz versions ]
    .

    If you’ve seen this picture of the interior of Notre Dame in Paris after the blaze..

    you might think of it as the Good Friday version of the great cathedral, central to France’s spiritual and national life, devastated by the fire that swept through the 800-year old structure in the heart of Paris in April this year.

    Today is Christmas day, however, so here’s a joyous Christmas version — from last year’s Christmas Mass, a great organ peal leads into the carol Adeste Fideles, here sung in Latin, but known in English as O Come, All Ye Faithful:

    Here’s wishing you a Merry (and if you don’t mind such things, a blessed) Christmas and Happy New Year!

    **

    And for those of you who prefer jazz to the classics, here’s a taste of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Church of St John Coltrane, held in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco this July:

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, happy holidays of your choosing!

    Greeting & three musics for Sunday Surprise: Rouse, Ligeti, Teeth

    Sunday, September 29th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — with a definition that places poetry and the drama as a subset of music ]
    .

    L’shana tovah!

    **

    Christopher Rouse just died. I knew nothing of him, but already I love his Gorgon:

    May he rest in peace.

    Ligeti, Mysteries Macabre with the astounding Patricia Kopatchinskaja:

    Furiously at play!

    Kopatchinskaja it is, I guess, who writes:

    Temperature and ocean levels go up. Whole world regions dry out. Hundreds of millions will have to leave, migrate, millions will fight wars, no end being in sight. Can we go on listening as usual to Buxtehude, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch, Bruckner?

    and at last Teeth — with the Ligeti from the late ’70s as context, the stunning Roomful Of Teeth plays Caroline Shaw‘s Pulitzer-winning Partita:

    **

    Music, it would seem, is the chosen placement of sounds, random or chosen, from the field of all sounds, in some form or container within which they may bounce and reverberate.

    Note that under this definition, the barnyard’s sounds may sound (Ligeti, children’s rhymes), as may silence..

    the words of operas and masses..

    Note too, that under this definition, plays and poetry are a subset of music, also.

    **

    L’shana tovah!


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