This confluence of insane Islamic and Christian fundamentalism is going to make for some interesting foreign policy, and, if the crazies are to be believed, even more interesting theological battles.
This tradition holds that there were 12 legitimate successors (imams) to the prophet Muhammad, the last of whom did not die but went into hiding in the 10th century. The 12th Imam, who is also called the Mahdi, shall return in the Last Days to reign over a just world in which Islam is universally embraced.
Well, I hope the Mahdi and Jesus Christ get together and schedule their second comings so they don’t conflict too much. I’m thinking that maybe the Mahdi and Islam could rule the world for a good long while, then Jesus could come and depose the anti-Christ.
It’d be like a professional wrestling match, where both guys know who is going to play the role of hero and villain. When Jesus shows up, he throws the Mahdi out of the ring. Then a few millennia later, they can change roles. Sounds fair to me.
And also, it sounds crazy. Not only the idea of simultaneous Islamic and Christian second comings, but the whole notion of an apocalypse or Armageddon. Fundamentalists who hold weird beliefs like this should be banned from leading a nation. It’s just too dangerous for the rest of us who want to live in touch with reality, not fantasy.
For the U.S. News & World Report article says that some Islamic Twelvers believe that “the Mahdi will come back only after chaos has erupted and the apocalypse has begun, intervening just in time to save righteous believers from total destruction.” Just the sort of belief you don’t want the president of a nuclear weapon-seeking nation to hold.
Similarly, many Christians believe that Jesus will return to collect the faithful via the rapture before a tribulation period. Thus the more misery here on Earth, the better, if you’re part of the fundamentalist rapture-ready. There’s a helpful Rapture Index that keeps track of nasty events like earthquakes, famine, global turmoil, and the like.
When things get really bad, that’s good in the twisted world view of a disturbingly large percentage of Christian fundamentalists.
I hope George Bush isn’t among them. But plenty of evidence suggests otherwise. As Bill Moyers points out:
One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress… So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? As Glenn Scherer reports in the online environmental journal Grist, millions of Christian fundamentalists believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but hastened as a sign of the coming apocalypse.
Ditto for conflict in the Middle East. The Rapture Ready web site practically drools over the delicious Iraq War. I’m sure they’ll be even more ecstatic if Bush attacks Iran.
Scary and hilarious at the same time is this clip, “George Bush on the Apocalypse,” from The Daily Show. The president of the United States is asked, “Do you believe this? That the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism are signs of the apocalypse? And if not, why not?”
If you voted for Bush, watch his response and then honestly tell me that you made the right decision. I dare you.