Last week in this space, I took issue with the implications of one particular fragment of the Christian mythology: the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. In previous installments, I have suggested that "creation science" is an oxymoron vastly more preposterous than "jumbo shrimp". One might think from this that I bear some animus toward the book of Genesis, which is not true; there are plenty of Scriptural passages far more heinous than anything in Genesis. One might even conclude that I have something against Christians, which is not true either; to borrow a cliché, some of my best friends are Christians.

Where things get out of hand is when previously-rational people somehow mutate into True Believers, with loudly-proclaimed and generally ill-informed notions about Jesus, about UFOs, about Newt Gingrich, about black UN helicopters, about almost anything that gets lots of press for no good reason. It doesn't matter very much what the True Believer truly believes in, since he's going to get most of the facts, if there are any facts, totally wrong, and anyone who tries to point this out must be part of that sinister cabal that takes its marching orders from Satan, the US Air Force, the military-industrial complex, the Trilateral Commission, or whatever individual or institution can be conveniently demonized for the sake of these people's pathologies.

Thirty-nine True Believers, expecting more from the Hale-Bopp comet than mere space debris, shuffled off this mortal coil near San Diego this past month. It's very easy to scoff at these people, but qualitatively, what is the difference between what the Heaven's Gate crowd did, that week at Rancho Santa Fe, and what the minions of, say, Tim LaHaye, expect to take place during their vaunted "Rapture"? There's only one: so far, no one from Heaven's Gate has tried to seize government power in the name of some questionable spirituality.

And here, as the late Frank Zappa would say, is the crux of the biscuit: True Believers do what they think they have to do to turn their fantasies into reality, and the rest of us don't fit into the picture anywhere. If I dump on Christianity more than the others, it's simply because Christianity has, over the years, subsumed so many groups of egregious dimwits, driving away many of its mainstream adherents in the process, that it now represents more than just an easy target: it's becoming a tangible threat. The historical record demonstrates pretty clearly that Christianity is on the side of the angels only peripherally; its major goal has always been perpetuating itself and grabbing whatever temporal power it can. Jesus Christ, suggest the Gospels, would buy none of this nonsense, but it's not about Jesus anymore; it's about the previous generation, old I-Am-What-I-Am Himself, the entity who never turned the other cheek if He had any opportunity to kick butt. He, not the Son, is the actual role model, and viewed in this light, it becomes clear at last why, two millennia ago, the Son of God must have been sacrificed — not for your meager sins, or mine, or even Adam and Eve's, but to atone for the far more grave offenses of the Father.

You can't keep a good power-lust down, though, and ostensible followers of Jesus Christ are feverishly working to build a suitable kingdom here on earth, despite quotations from Christ to the effect that he wasn't interested in any such thing. As these latter-day Pharisees try to amass enough power to create a new order of Sanhedrin, it becomes incumbent upon those of us who see through the scam to resist whenever possible. Eventually, this particular outcropping of synthetic piety will subside — my best guess is 2003, after the end of the world unaccountably fails to occur as promised, and the Republican Party discovers that money-grubbing CEOs are far more reliable partners than money-grubbing preachers — but between now and then, we're in for some seriously rough times. Fortunately, mankind is more resilient than some of our doomsayers might have you believe. One billion people and more have been Christianized, some of them forcibly, but remember: by the grace of God, four billion have escaped.

The Vent

1 April 1997

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 Copyright © 1997 by Charles G. Hill