Archive for biblical prophecy

Book of Revelation, More Sacred Subterfuge

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, life, politics, random, thoughts with tags , , , , , , on July 11, 2011 by chouck017894

There is a modern myth circulating in United States political circles that is based upon taking the New Testament’s “prophecy” called Revelation as inescapable destiny, and thus believe that the contemporary nation of Israel, established May 14, 1948, will play a deciding role when “end times” judgment is levied upon Earth.  It is known that the book Revelation was actually written c. 135-137, and its declared author was “St” John the Divine, who, inexplicably, has never been authenticated.  Oddly, Revelation begins in letter form, “John to the seven churches that are in Asia, grace to you and peace.” (1:4)  And, peculiarly, the book ends like Paul’s epistles to the same churches, with the “grace” of Jesus being invoked (22:21).

The locale for the alleged transmission of Revelation to John was on the island of Patmos off the coast of the Roman province of Asia.  It was there that the risen Christ supposedly appeared to John and instructed him to write to those seven particular churches to tell them about future conditions (chapters 2 and 3).  Chapters 4 and 5 had John whisked off to heaven where he sees god enthroned and holding a sealed scroll which can be opened only by the “lamb” standing beside god’s throne, a figure who bears the marks of sacrifice.  Chapters 6 through 19 relates a sick orgy of gory violence, which then launches into god’s judgment of the  world.  Predetermined is a new creation (chapter 21), and the “New Jerusalem” is to descend like a “bride of the lamb.”  The ending, chapter 22, is rampant with typical religious name-calling and contemptuous imaging, assuring the reader that outside the gates to the new city “…are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”  The same stock-in-trade hate rhetoric is still being used by religious bigots today. Apparently the isolationist city of New Jerusalem is destined to have for its next door neighbors the rowdy citizens of Hell.

The timeframe in which the writing of the New Testament’s final book occurred is pertinent to understanding the alleged “prophecy” that it depicts.  (In spite of it placement, Revelation was not the last book written: the book of Hebrews was written later, c. 137-140.)  The late appearance of Revelation upon the scene followed upon the Jewish insurrection in Jerusalem under Bar Cocheba (132-135), an insurrection that spread to Cyrene, Egypt, Cyprus, and Mesopotamia.  The Roman’s were pissed.  And Roman authors were responsible for all the New Testament writings.  Thus the character of the mild teacher Jesus became presented as gradually transforming psychologically through the early gospels to culminate as the harsh judge presiding over the elimination of all faith systems except what the authors represented.  It should be noted also that the format of Revelation borrowed heavily from the Old Testament book of Daniel, which the priests of Yahweh in Jerusalem happened to have reworked from a Babylonian poetic epic.

The long recounting of planned godly rampage which makes up the tale of Revelation thus concludes with Jerusalem, the seat of Jewish faith, being whisked off the Earth and a “New Jerusalem” being plunked down far from heaven to replace it.  How the expected Christian rapture is equated with all the soot and ashes and bones and desecration upon which the New Jerusalem is to be put in place is another unanswered divine mystery.  Perhaps it is simply because the book of Revelation was written in the heyday of the Roman Empire which accounts for the city of Rome being spared a similar replacement policy.

A large percentage of Christian evangelicals in the US believe that the second coming of Jesus (do they mean the early gentle teacher or the later death-dealing judge?) hinges upon the Jews gaining and maintaining control over the so-called “Holy Land.”  Thus in the US we have fanatic believers such as newly installed (January 2011) Republican congressman from Florida, Daniel Webster, using Revelation logic to advocate doling out excessive “aid” to Israel because, as he put it, “…if we stop helping Israel, we lose god’s hand and we’re in big trouble.”  This was aired on “Good Life 45,” a televangelist TV program and replayed on YouTube.  Somehow that assessment of god’s character is more in keeping with the Republican characteristic of cutting backroom deals for personal gain and political domination.  The political power merchants in Israel smile and shrug at such Religious Right interpretations in the US, and humbly accept the “help” of $2.4 billion a year while laughing up their sleeves.  This is the political savvy that makes Israel the top recipient of foreign aid money from the United States—while the poor of our own nation are callously disregarded.

Faith-Ba$ed $cams

Posted in Atheist, Bible, Christianity, life, religion with tags , , , on June 22, 2009 by chouck017894

Con artists like to set up their investment fraud operations amid groups of  persons that are inclined to avoid rational inquiry and analysis.  It should not be surprising, therefore, that through the last few decades, as religious fanaticism has garnered considerable public attention in the United States, there was a virtual plague of such operations targeting those of faith.

Oil hustling and “biblical prophecy” may sound  to be improbable bedfellows, but they made for a hot and tainted love match for at least a generation.  In the last few decades multimillions of dollars were poured into penny-stock oil schemes lured by hustlers utilizing biblical passages that supposedly prophesized that great wealth lay hidden beneath the sands of Israel.  In addition a passage from the book of Ezekiel was cunningly interpreted that Armageddon will be triggered when a confederacy of nations attack Israel to “take a great spoil”—implying it meant oil—and spiritual craving and greed for material riches mated in frenzied fornication in the hearts of true believers.

Among the biblical references used by the oil hustlers have been verses from Deuteronomy 33 where Moses allegedly viewed the Holy Land from Mount Nebo and foretold the blessings that awaited Jacob’s  twelve sons.  The blessings alluded to “precious things” (verse 16) locked beneath the earth and “treasures hid in the sand” (verse 19); and in verse 24 it says “…let him (Asher, second son of Jacob and Zilpah, Leah’s maid) dip his foot in oil.”   This was just too good for con men to ignore, and here are a few who built upon these biblical gems.

In the 1960s a wealthy man in California, Wesly Hancock, confided to wide-eyed believers that he had dreamed that Jesus advised him that he would find black gold in the Holy Land.  Even the divinely inspired Pat Robertson praised Hancock saying that Hancock would tap into the “… largest oil field ever discovered.”  Uh-huh.  Those who answered the call to drill with Hancock lost all their investment.

In the 1990s a man named St. Clair, a deacon of an Illinois church, lured around sixty individuals to invest in oil wells.  The deacon falsely told them that two oil wells had been drilled and were already producing oil.  In truth no well had been ever been drilled.  The deacon raked in over a cool $8 million before he was exposed and sentenced to fifty-one months in jail. 

Between 1993 and 1999 a Florida-based church, Greater Ministries, had nearly 28,000 investors worldwide, all having been promised that their divinely inspired investments would double.  By the year 2000 Greater Ministries had taken in $578 million while the trusting church goers mortgaged their homes, maxed out their credit cards, or cashed in their retirement funds to invest—only to discover that they had been swindled by the church leaders. 

A number of the religiously inspired oil hustlers operated out of the state of Texas.  (Surprise!)  Among them was Harold Stephens, who drove up stock prices in his oil company, Ness, and collected $3.5 million by associating his Holy Land Oil venture with apocryphal prophecies.  The two companies that he recommended to believers in holy prophecy just happened to be owned by him, and the agreement that the believers signed stated, probably in smallest print, that only his companies would receive any profits if oil was ever found.  The investors, of course, never received a cent from Holy Land oil.

Is it sinful to question how fanatic believers in “holy word” can chase material riches and still believe that they represent a creditable balance with integrity or spiritual value?