Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Interpreting Prophecy Shouldn't Be This Pavlovian

Through some strange warping of the space/time continuum, I've received a copy of the March edition of Rev. Falwell's National Liberty Journal.

The front page article is a theological rumination on a theme I surfaced a month and a half ago here...that of the possibility of war with Iran. What's the National Liberty Journal's take on it? Do we get a grounding in the geo-politics of the region? The potential impacts of that war on stability in the Middle East and our energy needs? Well...that depends on how much you think the prophet Ezekiel speaks to those issues. Yup, it's time to cart out Ezekiel 38 and 39 again.

The intrepid Dr. Hindson leads us through a series of biblical gyrations, which claim that Ezekiel foresaw that Israel may be attacked...in the very near future...by an alliance lead by Iran. According to Dr. Hindson's interpretation of Ezekiel, who will join Iran? The list is impressive. There's Libya...which will apparently forget that it's primarily secular and Sunni. There's Sudan, which really hasn't shown much military capacity outside of slaughtering unarmed villagers in Darfur. Then Turkey, which will apparently just give up on Ataturk's egalitarian vision and seeking membership in the EU. Finally...and I love this one...Russia. Russia.

Why Russia? Because in Ezekiel 38:2, Gog is identified in Hebrew as the neshi rosh Meshech v'Tubal. The KJV, NIV, and NRSV all translate that as "chief prince of Meshech and Tubal." Why? Because neshi means "prince" in Hebrew and rosh means "head." The "head prince." Seems easy enough. But if you choose not to interpret rosh as head, and follow the minority scholarly opinion that it could be a place name...well, he's the Prince of Rosh! Which is filled with Roshians! Gaaah! The Roshians are coming...I mean, the Russians are coming! See how it works? See?!!

Beyond the rather...shall we say...creative...use of scripture and the tenuous grip on reality, what is most troubling is the eagerness of the article. There's just a bit too much hunger for this to be true, a bit too much anticipatory drooling over the possibility of a coming apocalyptic middle-Eastern war.

As we've been learning, that's not nearly as much fun as you might think.