Saturday, January 12, 2019

Merging Religion and Politics or Stop Letting Your Dogma Chase My Karma

"Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains." (Mark 13: 6-8). This passage is from the Christian New Testament. Most would consider it to be a dark and foreboding passage, while others---the "true believers"---consider it a warning with an ultimately happy ending...of sorts. It's about the so-called "End Times" which is a popular theme among the three Abrahamic religions; namely Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

Groups like ISIS/ISIL/DASH, Al-Qaeda, Boku Harem, and other such terrorist organizations openly proclaim that it is their "divine mission" to provoke not just the West, but any and all nation which isn't under Sharia law in order to "hasten" the coming of the 12th Iman, which is their equivalent of the Messiah. Some even claim that that individual already exists but is waiting for the right moment to appear. This individual will be seen as the Prophet Muhammad reborn. Along with him will come Jesus, who is seen as a lesser prophet, whose job is to convert all non-believing Christians. After their successful victory, there will be a divinely inspired Caliphate to rule the world for eternity.

In Judaism, they await the coming of their two (or three) messiahs. Specifically, a return of the ancient prophet Elijah who will precede the Messiah ben Joseph, who is sometimes called Messiah ben Ephraim. This individual will be followed by the long awaited Messiah ben David. However, before any of these individuals can appear, certain conditions must first be meet. First, the Jews must return to their ancient homeland, Israel. Next, they must rebuild their ancient temple (for the third time) and reestablish the priesthood, both of which were destroyed by the Roman in 70 CE under the command of future emperor, Titus. Of course, there are numerous sub-plots which have to take place such as a great persecution of the Jews, the birth of "pure" white bull (that is, one without any physical flaws or marks) and so forth.

Ben Joseph will do battle with an evil ruler from the North named "Armilus", who is born of "a woman of marble" in Rome, will ultimately kill ben Joseph and leave his body in the streets of Jerusalem. Armilus and his minions will then descend on the nation of Israel and will be defeated by its new leader, ben David. Ben Joseph is brought back to life, along with all the "devout" Jews who've died down through the centuries, thanks to Elijah, along the world and its "true believers" will enter a new "Messianic Age", said to last 1000 years.

Christians have a different take, however. They believe that Jesus, their messiah, will return after the rise of two really nasty and evilly possessed individuals, the "Anti-Christ" and the "False Prophet" (some interpretations claim they are actually one individual). The "Anti-Christ" will come to power over a reconstituted Roman Empire with the "False Prophet" acting as his PR man. Together, they will seduce the world and force everyone to accept his personal brand or stamp---666---or the "Mark of the Beast". Those that refuse will be unable to conduit any financial transactions, buy food, etc. As an aside, the number is sometimes written as "616". Either way, it was intended to be symbolic of the then current reigning emperor, Nero Caesar.

A some point, Christians will be singled out for persecution (some Christian theologians claim this will include Jews as well). Meanwhile, things will go to "hell in a hand-basket". There will be all sorts of natural (or not-so-natural) disasters like in increase in volcanic eruptions, extreme changes in the weather and earthquakes, rampant diseases, starvation, and, as alluded to in the opening paragraph, wars and rumors of war. Eventually, Israel will be left standing alone with small pockets of Christian "true believers", and just when it looks like all is hopelessly lost, the dark and ominous clouds (these seem to be required in any apocalyptic story) will open and Jesus will coming riding down on his white horse (naturally) surrounded by an army of angels. A horrific battle in the heavens between the demon armies of Satan and Jesus and those on the ground will ensure; centering in a valley called Megiddo (hence the term Armageddon).

Ultimately, the Anti-Christ and his PR guy, the "False Prophet", are defeated, bound, and thrown into a lake (or pit) of fire for a 1000 years along with any remaining demons; his evil earthly minions follow him into the pit shortly afterwards. Meanwhile, any non-believing Jews remaining will convert on the spot, and a new divinely led or inspired era will ensue; one which includes a "New Jerusalem" and a divine kingship.

Now, I admit that I've given the abbreviated version of events. To spell out the apocalyptic visions of all three of the Abrahamic faiths in detail would take way to long: there are literally dozens of texts which deal with each religion, and hundreds of additional books examining each point, not to mention the dozens of books excluded from officially sanctioned scripture. However, I wanted to point out the difference and similarities of each of the three religions, which share a common origin, starting with their mutual founder, Abraham, who is credited with being the literal father of Judaism and Islam through Sarah and their son Issac and Hagar and Ishmael respectively.

All three believe there will be mounting violence and destruction. Some of it will be natural, while parts will be either divine retribution for straying from the "righteous path", while some demonic power reins over the balance of it in the form of wars, disease, pestilence, and their derivatives such as famine, a lack of fresh water, toxic pollution, and so forth. In the case of Islam, they believe they must act to help bring about the arrival of the 12th Iman, which includes destroying all those who are non-believers.

Judaism, on the other hand, believes it has a divine right to restore its former glory, especially the restoration of its temple complex on its original site and priesthood. The only problem, however, is that the site of the original temple is now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which were built between 692-693 by the Umayyad Caliph, Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, which was about 55 years after the capture of Jerusalem by the invading Muslim armies. As an aside, some Islamic scholars believe that al Malik purposely built the site as an alternative hajj (a mandatory religious pilgrimage) to Mecca and its "Ka'bah", considered the most sacred structure in Islam, since at the time Mecca was under the control of competing sect led by an individual named Ibn al-Zubayi.

Nevertheless, many Jewish theologians and scholars hold that the temple complex must be completed for restoration of Israel's former glory (some scholars don't believe in a literal return, but more of a "Messianic Age" or a second "golden age" for Israel. However, they also recognize that to do so meaning removing---likely by force--the existing mosque, which will be like throwing a firecracker into a hornet's nest.

Christians tied their end-of-days story closely to the Jewish tale, with an obviously emphasis on themselves as previously described. They believe pretty much everything that the Jews do, except they are the intended victims, or at least as much as the Jews are. Their biggest difference is that their messiah returns a second time, from heaven, while the Jews believe theirs will come for the first time, and will be divinely inspired, but not a god or demigod; just a purely mortal human being.

What's interesting about all three interpretations is that for each, the other one's "messiah" is their demonic bad guy. So, for the Muslims, the Jewish reborn Elijah and Messiahs ben Joseph and ben David, are the "Spawns of the Devil". Jesus is actually a Muslim and a sidekick to the 12th Iman. His role is to convert or destroy non-believing Christians. Meanwhile, the 12th Iman and his forces are the evildoers of Judaism and Christianity. Now the really scary part of all this is that each believe with absolutely certainty that they are correct; there is no debate and definitely no questioning. This means that each is on a deliberate path to mutual self-destruction in order to see their particular vision come to pass.

An interesting side note to all is that is that neither Buddhism, Hinduism, nor Shintoism and any of the Shamanic religions contain this type of doomsday scenario, which is at the core of the three Abrahamic faiths. For the Buddhists, it's more of a natural, cosmic event. Think of it as the Big Bang in reverse followed by a simultaneous new Big Bang and the cycle of creation repeats. In Hinduism, which also follows a cyclical philosophy, the god Vishu returns in the final comic cycle (known as a "kalpus") as the god or avatar "Kulki", on a white horse carrying a flaming sword resembling a comet with a long tail, and destroys the forces of evil which has come to destroy all those seeking enlightenment. Interestingly, this final, fourth, cycle is known as the "Kali Yuga", which so happens to be our present one. Once this destruction takes place, the cycle of creation repeats.

The majority of shamanic or "natural" religions such as Wicca, paganism, Native American, Tengri, and so forth, all have their take on how things end, but they tend to believe that Mankind in general is blame, not any specific individual or entity is the cause. Mankind loses its connection to the Earth and to Nature. As a result, we destroy ourselves out of our own willful ignorance, arrogance, and old fashion greed. In a sense, Nature fights back to rid itself of what is "making it sick" as some of these religions believe. The Mayans predicted that we will (and have) enter a final cycle whereby there will be great change. However, it will not make an "end" has some have tried to predict. Just the end of one cycle and the beginning of another, and with all ends and new beginnings, there is change, often major change. It reminds me of a line from Frank Herbert's novel Dune in describing religion and politics, "the religion and politics ride in the same cart, the whirlwind follows".

So, just what does all of this have to do with politics? Actually a lot. There was time, not very long ago historically, where religion and politics were one in the same; different sides of the same coin. In some societies, such as exist in Islam, it still is. However, there seems to be a unconscious belief in the other two Abrahamic religions which hasn't fully divorced itself from the political secular and the private religious. At the same time, the native or natural religions may be on to something. We have, as a species, lost our way. Violence has dramatically increased, especially over matters of religion. Instead of allowing each other the right to believe or not believe as we decide, we're seeing an dramatic increase by some that all must comply or die.

That's wrong any way you look at it in my opinion. Whatever choice we make is ours and ours alone. If there is a Hereafter or some Divine Justice, then that's between us as individuals and that entity, not some person who claims to know the Divine Mind and what's best for us. It was just a few weeks ago that two Scandinavians girls were murdered; beheaded by a group of "men" who thought that by lobbing off the heads of these two innocent girls, they were appeasing their god! Throughout Europe, and increasingly in the US, Australia, and elsewhere, we see the same group demanding that all must "submit" or face death (of course, if we pay a tax and forfeit our natural rights, we get to live at their discretion). That ideology is fundamentally opposed to both Western and Eastern Thought. It seeks to deny us as individuals the right of free choice. It imposes a tyranny which is nothing less than enslavement.

However, every religion, philosophy, government, or political ideology which attempts to prohibit independent thought, the questioning of its so-called "authority", or our blind obedience to it is nothing less enslavement by other means. This "disease"--- for lack of a better term---is spreading across the world like one of those apocalyptic black clouds. If it's allowed to go unchecked, it will lead to either the shackling of the Human Spirit or to its destruction. Ultimately, we are our own deliverers; our own "messiahs". We are the ones who've fashioned the shackles and we are the ones who have the keys to unlock those shackles and our potential as a species. We can have faith, but it will be us as individuals and together, who must save Humanity.

Dome of the Rock Shrine

Buddhist Theories About the End of the World

Hindu Eschatology

Apocalypse Prophecies: Native End of the World Teachings

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