If you’re thinking “What the fuck?” right about now, I don’t blame you. When I heard that shit, I was stunned myself. But, it’s true; Donald Trump is the messiah…, or, more likely, the harbinger of the messiah, a la John the Baptist. Well, according to end times nut case author and lecturer, Thomas Horn, he is.
Horn bases most of his claims about Trump on the words of some Orthodox Zionist rabbis who have reconstituted the Sanhedrin and are pushing to rebuild the Temple. I’m guessing these rabbis view Horn and compatriots as useful idiots who will help them reach that end. Which probably is okay with Horn and his end times believing pals because they think the rabbis are all dirty Jews who will be cast into the lake of fire when Jesus comes back. It’s what you might call a weird evangelical/Orthodox mutual contempt society.
This insanity is way to convoluted to get into with any depth here. Basically, it sounds a lot like this clip of Cartman explaining the 9/11 attacks from South Park’s “Mystery of the Urinal Deuce” episode:
Like I said, a bit much for a blog post. But, here are a few highlights:
The End of Days will come sometime next year. This goes back to Daniel’s “time, times, and a half a time” comment. According to an obscure 17th century interpretation of that passage, the messiah will appear and the end times will begin before September 30, 2017 (the end of the year 5777 in the Jewish calendar). Guess Jesus was just kidding with all that “thief in the night” business. What a joker.
Horn even goes so far as to say that, in gematria (Jewish numerology), Trump’s name actually means “messiah”. And, I guess it does, if you go down a rabbit hole that makes Alex Jones’ wildest conspiracy theories seem positively sane. If you’re a glutton for punishment and want to read the actual article, here’s a link.
He presents 3 bullet points that he feels point to Donald Trump, not as the messiah himself, but as John the Baptist. But, he does say that there is an ongoing effort to research Trump’s genealogy and show that he is a descendant of David. No joke on this point. I don’t think it needs one.
Of course, Horn tells us that this messiah the rabbis are saying is about to appear is a false messiah, the Anti-Christ. And, that he believes that Trump isn’t the Anti-Christ. Why? I’m assuming because he thinks a white, American man can’t be the Anti-Christ.
Trump is “God’s messenger”. What the hell kind of message God would send through an asshole like Trump, I don’t know. And, what kind of God would choose a semi-sentient hairball for their messenger doesn’t bear contemplation in my opinion.
All things considered, Horn’s pronouncements are not bad. It’s all bullshit, of course, but still not bad; for entertainment value, that is. Horn has some game in this arena, but even with all his “Trump is the messiah” talk, he’s still no William Tapley, the self-proclaimed Third Eagle of the Apocalypse and Co-prophet of the End Times. But then, who is, beloved? Who…, is.
Actually, that was just subtext in a larger narrative of insanity about how the Syrian Civil War is paving the way for Armageddon. I’m not making this up, I swear. This woman, who until recently was an elected official of the U. S. government, truly believes that a) the End Times are upon us and b) Barack Obama is Satan’s agent on Earth, doing his part to make all this come to pass.
This isn’t the first time Bachmann has hinted that Obama is the Antichrist. Last April, on Jan Markell’s “Understanding the Times” radio show, she said the Iran nuclear deal had stepped up the timeline for the Rapture™ because the President’s “number one goal” was to make sure that Iran obtained nuclear weapons and thus “cut the legs out of Israel and lift up the agenda of radical Islam”. Oh, and God is punishing America for marriage equality and abortion. Which, of course, has nothing to do with any of this, but what’s that got to do with anything?
On a side note, the President takes these claims of his demonic status with amazingly good grace. At last year’s White House Correspondence Dinner, he told the crowd that bringing on the End of Days would be one hell of an accomplishment, cementing his legacy as a great leader.
Unfortunately for Bachmann, her concerns rest on an interpretation of scripture that is…, let’s say “sketchy”. And, by “sketchy”, I mean, “something that isn’t even in the Bible”. It’s based on dispensationalism, which can best be summed up as “John Nelson Darby’s fever dream”. As if Revelation isn’t weird enough on its own, dispensationalism pulls in various bits and pieces of other books in the Bible, both apocolyptic (Daniel) and not (I Thessalonians) to “interpret” this odd piece of literature.
The belief is understandable, though. Unless you’ve spent a lot of time studying it, the book of Revelation makes about as much sense as the space opera back story of Scientology. I mean, seriously, is there really that much difference between Lord Xenu loading several billion of his citizens onto Douglas DC-8’s and sending them to Earth, only to be killed by h-bombs exploding inside volcanoes (to steal a line from South Park, “This is what Scientologists actually believe”) and the fifth angel’s trumpet unleashing hordes of scorpion-locusts whose sting inflicts such terrible pain that people try to kill themselves, but can’t die? Or, what about a skanky chick riding on 7-headed beast that’s covered in blasphemous names? They both sound like drug-induced hallucinations, but only one is about “what happened when God got religion.” But, I digress…
Bachmann is unhappy that Americans just aren’t as excited as she is about the “End Times”. I believe there’s a couple of reasons for that: 1) most Americans aren’t psychopaths who become giddy at the thought of billions of people suffering and dying in horrible ways and 2) we just aren’t able to complete the mental gymnastics necessary to keep with Bachmann’s lunatic ideas. Considering what’s going on in this country right now, that is a ray of hope. A small one, sure. But, I’ll take it.
I have to admit I was a little bummed last week, when I missed the opportunity to write about yet another End Times “prediction”; aka, the blood moon. Well, as bummed as one can be while on vacation in the (sub)tropical paradise that is Florida’s Tampa Bay area. Early in the week, when this story was actually relevant, I was having some computer problems after “upgrading” to Windows 10 and by the time I got it all sorted out (which cost me $100. Thanks a lot, Microsoft), the iron really wasn’t hot enough to strike anymore. With more than a little sadness, I let it go; figuring I could use it for background sometime in the future. Imagine my elation when I read that someone else claims the world is going to end today, a little more than a week from the earlier prediction.
In a series of podcasts, online Christian broadcaster Chris McCann informed us that, “According to what the Bible is presenting it does appear that 7 October will be the day that God has spoken of: in which, the world will pass away.” McCann is basing his theory on an earlier prediction by Harold “Save the Date” Camping, who said The Rapture™ would occur on May 21, 2011. And, when that didn’t pan out, changed his prediction to say that the world would end 5 months later, on October 21. McCann, using what has to be some of the most impressive mental gymnastics ever, has decided that A) on May 21, 2011, God stopped saving people and B) October 7th marks the 1600th day since that happened, so it’s all going down today…, maybe. You see, McCann did learn something from Camping’s little boo-boo. Not “better understanding of the text” or anything else so mundane, of course. No, what Brother Chris seems to have gathered from the shitstorm that surrounded Camping’s failed attempt at prophecy is “hedge your bets”.
Everything I’m reading from this latest “the world is gonna end!” hysteria is filled with phrases such as “strong likelihood” and “it does appear that”. McCann even goes so far as to say that there is “an unlikely possibility” that we won’t have a hot time of it today (because God will burn all this shit up, per 2 Peter 3:10). Is it just me or is that some weak tea when it comes to an end-of-the-world prediction? I don’t know about you, but I prefer my End Times prophets to have a little more conviction than McCann is showing. I mean, shit, if you’re not sure you believe it, why should I?
As have others in the past, McCann’s divination has me wondering where all this…, “stuff”, came from. Because, after engaging in some bible study, I know that most of what they go on about isn’t even in the Bible. Of course, that brings up the question of why do people believe it if it’s not in there? I think it’s because that nutjob Darby came up with a cracker jack story. You’ve got to admit that while futurism might be sucky theology, it does makes one hell of a science fiction/fantasy tale. In fact, it already has. I’m speaking of the Left Behind series, of course. And, maybe I’m reaching here, but an amazing story is the only way I can think of that explains the popularity of books whose writing makes “Twilight” and “Fifty Shades of Gray” come off like classical literature.
I know this is a bitter pill to swallow, but we must face facts: the historical interpretation of Revelation (e.g., it’s “the declaration that Jesus will return, justice will be granted to the oppressed, and all things will be made new“) is nowhere near as interesting as the craziness version that occurs in “Left Behind”. While we’re at it, we should also admit that, unless you’ve spent a lot of time studying it, the book of Revelation makes about as much sense as the space opera back story of Scientology. I mean, seriously, is there really that much difference between Lord Xenu loading several billion of his citizens onto Douglas DC-8’s and sending them to Earth, only to be killed by h-bombs exploding inside volcanoes (to steal a line from South Park, “This is what Scientologists actually believe”) and the fifth angel’s trumpet unleashing hordes of scorpion-locusts whose sting inflicts such terrible pain that people try to kill themselves, but can’t die or a skanky chick riding on 7-headed beast that’s covered in blasphemous names? They both sound like mushroom dreams; but only one of them is about “what happened when God got religion.”
Do you honestly think an appeal to reason is going to stand up against that kind of thing? Hell, we can’t even get conservatives to understand that the Planned Parenthood videos are full of shit when the evidence is right under their noses, so what makes anyone think boring explanations about what Revelation actually means won’t fall flat? Part of me says we need to come up with a story that can compete with dispensationalism, but another part says that reinterpreting scripture to counter a reinterpretation of scripture makes about as much sense as saying the Beast of Revelation 13 is the Anti-Christ when that term doesn’t even appear in Revelation. (See what I did there?) But, right now, we’re pretty much fiddling while Rome burns (A Nero reference. Get it?) and we all know how that ended up.
On Monday, I began telling you about my charismatic/evangelical upbringing. Part I of this story painted a fairly rosy picture of my early years, concluding it by telling you that rosy childhood ended in 1971 when my father met and became friends with Leon Williford. So, let’s pick up the story there.
Leon Williford was a natural leader. Unfortunately, he was also a manipulator and a con man. Professionally, he was an insurance salesman, a field these particular traits allowed him some measure of success. In addition to being a con artist and manipulator, he was also a huge control freak. Everything the man did was about control. Whether he just enjoyed it or it was a survival skill for him, I couldn’t say. He was a recovering alcoholic and, later, I learned that control issues are common to people who struggle with addiction. I suppose he had such little control over his own life that he tried to exert control over everyone in his vicinity. Or maybe he felt he had to control his environment in order to control his addiction. Or, and this is my personal favorite, and, out of pure meanness and spite, he wanted to make everyone around him just as miserable as he was. I don’t know the man’s pathology and, to be honest, I don’t really care. I just know he was a grade A son-of-a-bitch and…, well, we’ll let it go at that.
Williford’s need for control meant that he had an overwhelming desire to be in charge of anything he was involved in. He tried that at Rehobeth UMC, but the pastor wasn’t having it. Once he saw the writing on the wall, he departed with his followers in tow. Of course, those followers included my family. In the years since, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure why my father got involved in such a group. The best I can come up with is that he was searching for some kind of meaning in his life. The problem was, he didn’t seem to know what that meaning looked like. I guess he thought he’s know it when he found it. His pursuit took him many places, Christianity and New Age Spirituality most notably. It wasn’t until he and Mama moved to a small community in the Virginia mountains that he began to find some peace. He told me once that, growing up, he often felt like an outsider in his own family (his mother told she didn’t worry about him because he could take care of himself). In Vesta, he finally found a place he belonged. Whether he knew that or not, I couldn’t say.
Unfortunately, my father’s quest meant he was fertile ground for all sorts of bullshit. Williford, being a con artist extraordinaire, realized that and pulled him in. The BS Williford peddled was based in Charismatic Christianity. Really, his “theology” was his own version of Pentecostalism tweaked to help him suck in and control followers. And, it worked. Immediately after we left Rehobeth, there were about 15 of us and we met in Williford’s home. Williford coined a name for his little flock, calling “The Body”, as in “the body of Christ”. But, it wasn’t long before “The Body’s” numbers swelled (at its largest numbering between 40 and 50 people every Sunday) and we find a new place to meet. We bounced around for a while before settling in a community center in Pleasant Garden. But, that growth was short-lived. Most people saw through his con and within a year, we were back to the inner circle and meeting in Williford’s home again.
Early on, things weren’t that bad. There was even some fun to be had. Williford and his family had a vacation home on High Rock Lake, near Lexington NC and I learned to swim, ski, handle a boat and lots of other cool stuff. But, it wasn’t long before things started to turn ugly.
I don’t remember when the beatings started, but I do know that almost from the beginning, I did very little that was good or right in Williford’s eyes. I could never do “enough” to satisfy him, whether it was work, school, recreation or anything else. And, while he threatened to often enough, he never laid a hand on me. I think he smart enough to know that was a line he couldn’t cross; even if my father wouldn’t have stopped him, he still had to contend with my mother. And, believe me, you don’t want to contend with my mother on that kind of thing.
But, the abuse was only part of those years. There was also some really weird theology and more than a few raucous Full Gospel Business Men’s Association meetings. And, that’s not even talking about the fact that “The Body” was a cult. According to Wikipedia, a cult “is a religious or other social group with deviant and novel beliefs and practices. Were our beliefs “novel”? Well, there was the one about the End Times, where Williford said we’d be raptured, but not the way people thought. His idea was that when Jesus came back, we wouldn’t be taken away to “spend seven years eating dinner”. No, we’d be lifted up a few feet in the air for a moment and set back down. Then, we’d go through the Tribulation with the all the sinners. So, there’s that. Were our beliefs deviant? Considering that every beating I got ever was “God-ordained”, I’d say yes they were. Beyond that description, check out practices this article about cults and leaders. It’s a pretty good description of how we operated.
Eventually, “The Body” petered out as a religious entity and became a conduit for one of Williford’s “get-rich-quick” plans. He became a distributor for a national pyramid scheme multi-level marketing business selling vitamins, supplements and cleaning products. Of course, the suckers who stuck around had to sell this crap while Williford took his cut of the profits. This was all part of a “back to nature” nutritional model (which wasn’t all that natural or nutritious) he claimed to have found because his wife had been sick for years. The truth was, she wasn’t sick; he’d turned her into a hypochondriac to keep her under control.
This was the beginning of the end for Williford and my family’s association with him. Shortly after abandoning his religious pretenses, Williford began drinking again. Of course, when he drank, all the other adults had to also. The downhill slide accelerated after that. A couple of years later, his wife took her own life. One night, she got into bed with a .38 caliber revolver Williford bought “for protection” and blew her brains out. Since she didn’t leave a note, I don’t know why she did it. I think she finally woke up to the fact that her life was a shambles and saw no other way out. Within the year, Williford had deteriorated to the point that my father, one of the most loyal people I’ve ever known, cut ties with him. We were the last family to do so.
You might think things immediately got better after that. Maybe they did, I don’t know. I do know I spent the next 25 years or so wandering in the wilderness. But, that’s a story for another day.