Monday, July 30, 2007

Who is like unto the beast?

It's now August, and parents of youngsters here in Ithaca are stocking up at the back-to-school sales and hoping that this is the year that little Jack or Jill exhibits the kind of academic performance that will win them a full scholarship to Cornell. (What is tuition at CU now? Forty grand a year?)

The concerns of Twelve Tribes parents are a bit different. They are hoping that through their repeated administrations of discipline with varnished balloon sticks and as a result of doing away with distractions from duty such as games, toys, bicycles, and use of the imagination, junior will be worthy of martyrdom to the Beast of the Apocalypse, pictured here. (Keep in mind, this is but one artist's interpretation...the real thing may differ considerably in appearance!)

I cracked open the Book of Revelation recently, hoping for some clarification about just what the TTers think is going to go down in generation or two. However, looking into this last book of the canonical New Testament for clarity on the "end times" is a bit like looking for a Republican in the Ithaca Festival Parade.

There is a harlot "seated on many waters" holding a golden cup of her abominations and "impurities of her fornications" (eww) and an epic battle between archangel Michael and a heavenly host against a dragon. Beasts come and beasts go. Some beasts speak like dragons and make people believe in other beasts. (I confess I lost track of the beasts.)

In Revelations 12 there is a woman "clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars" who gives birth to a "male child" who is to "rule all nations with a rod of iron." There is "a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads" who with his tail "drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth." This dragon threatens to devour the woman's child. The male child is "caught up unto God, and to his throne," the woman flees into the wilderness, where she stays "one thousand two hundred and threescore days."

The Tribers, as I understand it, identify with this woman and see themselves as the "Bride of Messiah." The Male Child is not one well behaved kid, but 144,000 of them from Rev. 14 that are "not defiled with women; for they are virgins." The TTers raison d'être is to produce these virginal martrys. As far as I can tell upon my cursory reading of John's rapturous vision, these are the saints of Rev. 13 who are overcome by a beast that "is like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion." I think this is the mutt pictured above, but I invite the correction of any Biblical scholar out there.

So in a generation or two the TTers are going to produce 144,000 male children who will trade in their parents' balloon sticks for rods of iron. What happens to the girls? (I guess it's best if girls are out of the picture entirely, to prevent even a single of the boys from being "defiled" with them.) Could it be that in the final generation, the TTers will only produce boys? If so, then what better barometer of end time proximity than the sex ratio of their children? (Luckily for us, the ratio seems close to 50/50 at present.)

Now I don't claim to know the meaning of the shambolic yarn that is the Book of Revelation, nor to have understood in every detail or to have perfectly expressed what the Prophet Eugene has in mind for flock of sheep. However I think I understand well enough to reply to John of Patmos when he asks "who is like unto the beast"?

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