Just to follow up on yesterday's item, CNN's interest in characterizing recent world events as some kind of Biblical apocalypse is quickly becoming ridiculous. As Media Matters noted, the network's coverage is enough to wonder if it's CNN or CBN.
For the second time in three days, CNN featured a segment on the potential coming of the Apocalypse, as indicated by current conflicts in the Middle East. The July 26 edition of CNN's Live From … featured a nine-minute segment in which anchor Kyra Phillips discussed the Apocalypse and the Middle East with Christian authors Jerry Jenkins and Joel C. Rosenberg — who share the view that the Rapture is nigh. At one point in the discussion, Phillips asked Rosenberg whether she needed "to start taking care of unfinished business and telling people that I love them and I'm sorry for all the evil things I've done," to which Rosenberg replied: "Well, that would be a good start." Throughout the segment, the onscreen text read: "Apocalypse Now?"
This must be some kind of major ratings booster because there's no sensible reason for CNN to devote nine minutes to the subject twice in three days. Of course, it's also worth noting that the network's discussion featured two "experts" on the subject — both of whom agree that we may be witnessing some kind of end-times prophecy. We're still waiting for the nine-minute segment from two skeptics who explain that this is total nonsense.
But as it turns out, that's not the part of the CNN interview that bothered me most.
Rosenberg claimed that he had been invited to the White House, Capitol Hill, and the CIA to discuss the Rapture and the Middle East, and noted — several times — that the apocalyptic events described in his novels keep coming true.
In fact, Rosenberg said he'd been invited to speak with officials at the highest levels of the federal government — as well as Middle East officials — all of whom "want to understand the Middle East through the lens of biblical prophecies."
Now, it's possible that Rosenberg just wanted to exaggerate his significance. It's likely his only access to the White House and Congress is from public tours. But if Rosenberg's telling the truth, and public officials really have invited him to share his "ideas" about current events, then the problem is far worse than what's become of CNN's absurd standards for what constitutes news.
One of the commenters (MNProgressive, #11) points out
"How incredible is it that this biblical novelist can capture th einterest of the MSM and government leaders because of a war in the Middle East (because that is such a rare event) but Al Gore has been talking about global warming for decades and we are now inundated with hurricanes, drought, floods, heat waves etc. etc. and the MSM and government leaders are making a concerted effort to confuse and obfuscate the issue."What this observation points out is the root of the profound appeal of the neocon and theocon arguments - they are for lazy people. God's behind it all and everything will work out OK in the end as long as you're right with God. Ta-dah. The difficulty that living in reality poses is that you need to have true faith in your ability to do something meaningful. Al Gore embodies this belief. It has none of the self-satisfied triumphalism of the guys mentioned above. It has at its heart the acknowledgement that what you do may not be enough. Most of all, it calls upon individuals to make common cause against things too large for the individual to deal with.
Not unlike true faith in God.
Not a god of deals and exchanges (I'll be good and you'll let me into Heaven), nor one of country club mores (Only the elect beyond this point, riff-raff can go to Hell), and most particularly not one of vengeance (I'm smiting the enemies of Heaven), but one of humility, hope and hard work.
In apocalyptic thinking, whether or not a deity is involved, there is a glorious struggle between the demons and the angels, and good wins out. This is the foundation (indeed, the entire substance) of the Bush White House policy, particularly the foreign policy. We're right, we need to destroy the evil-doers, and everything will be perfect on the far side.
The engine of apocalypticism is fear of individual failure. Bush is the embodiment of this as surely as Al embodies the opposite. Bush does not risk the misery and want the way a poor or even middle-class failure would feel, which perhaps makes his failures all the worse - he truly has no excuse. But if he can blame it all on terrorists, liberals and the coming end times, then he need not directly confront the miserable failure that he is, thus the need to forge on into greater folly - anything else means acknowledging he failed.
Better to wish the destruction of entire civilizations, even the entire world, rather than live with the gnawing fear of failure. Thus, inviting the End Timers to the White House is less letting them have influence than reinforcing existing patterns.
We need leaders with ethical courage who do not hide in fantasies that the world will go away before it all gets unbearable.