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When the subject of the Anti-Christ comes up, the only question is who, not if. Nobody ever asks, Why does there have to be one?
This seems to be the assumption — Well, since there's a Christ, there has to be an Anti-Christ. Just as, since there's matter, there's bound to be anti-matter. And, since there are histamines, there have to be anti-histamines.
But what if the Anti-Christ is like the Easter Bunny? Or like the Great Pumpkin, and we're six billion Linus Van Pelt dupes ignorantly waiting for him to show up?
That would be my guess. And it'd be my further guess that 10,000 years from now, that aeon's version of Jack and Rexella Van Impe, after long clever prayerful study, will deduce from ancient parchment scraps that the rough beast has come round at last and is just about ready to pounce.
And then he won't show up again, as he always doesn't.
I say “he,” as if having ruled out that the Anti-Christ might be a woman. I haven't ruled that out at all. As smitten as I've been of Xena, the warrior princess? — not hardly. I know about snake-haired Medusa, and Lady Macbeth, and Mimmy Zorak, and Endora — and I might've already awarded the title to Livia Drusilla, the all-time nastiest mini-series villainess, except you couldn't have the Anti-Christ coming before the Christ.
That would be like allowing Republicans to appear before there was anything for them to screw up.
So the reference to the Anti-Christ as “he” isn't gender-meant; it's merely a convenience fallen back on mainly to avoid the awkwardness of the he/she construction that the correcter, politer, often unreadable columnists employ.
But even he/she is preferable to the dillweed practice of alternating the he's and she's when referring to a character of uncertain sex or who might not even have one. For example, God. In Methodist and Episcopalian renderings, it's often God Himself and God Herself taking turns.
What got me back onto the Anti-Christ topic was a coincidence.
I was moving an armload of books to the yard-sale bin recently, and a battered old copy of “War and Peace” fell open before me to the very first page, where Napoleon Bonaparte is boldly proclaimed to be the Anti-Christ. Lots of people back then thought Bonaparte was the Anti-Christ, not stopping to consider the dimensions of the proposition. Ask yourself, if you hoped to shock and awe the human race into falling down and worshipping the ground you walk on, would you first thing take up dinky habitation in the carcass of a frog shrimp? I don't think so.
How could a pipsqueak Anti-Christ do any credible anti-christing?
Milton taught us that all immortals, good and bad alike, are colossi. Great stature is simply a job requirement. So the Anti-Christ was never going to be a toy Frenchman sitting around muttering woeful palindromes. But on the other hand, modernity has become skeptical of the other extreme. You never hear anyone nominate Ed “Too Tall” Jones for Anti-Christ, for example. Nor Manute Bol.
An imposing Anti-Christ would foil the requisite furtiveness or insidiousness.
Modern Anti-Christ authorities have held that he's more likely to be middle-sized, the better to blend inconspicuously into the generality until the time comes for him to throw off the disguise and lead the last great tea-bagger crusade against all decency, or whatever the hell it is that Anti-Christs do.
You'll recall that Bro. Falwell, our latter-day consensus arbiter on this topic, had the mists of the ball parted for him sufficiently to attest that the Anti-Christ was a normal-size Jewish man, already extant, living at the time (1999) in New York City, New York. Not a Goliath Gotham Jew guy, not a Munchkin one either, but a normal-size one — most likely 5-foot-10, or exactly halfway between Dolph Schayes and Billy Crystal, just right for going unnoticed.
The other part of the coincidence was that just as the Tolstoy tome hit the floor and popped open to the Bonaparte Anti-Christ nomination, a news item flashed on the TV in the corner yonder, reporting a poll showing that as of last week more than a third of voting-age conservatives in New Jersey are either dead solid certain or somewhat certain that President Obama is the Anti-Christ.
My first reaction was: surely, there are more than that. You're telling me two-thirds of New Jersey moron dittoheads don't believe President Obama is the Anti-Christ? Try running the same poll in South Carolina, Georgia, or Texas, and I'll kiss your grits if you don't get at least 90 percent saying, “Aw, yeah, hell, everybody knows he's the Anti-Christ.”
At least 90 percent have seen the video confirming beyond any reasonable scientific doubt that the historical Jesus spoke the actual Aramaic words “Satan [is] Baraq O'Bama.” How could you argue with that? What could that fool doubter 10 percent be thinking?
What they might be thinking is how 15 years ago the same 90 percent of them were just as lead-pipe convinced that President Bill Clinton was the Anti-Christ. Obviously that fishhook-peckered old geezer's not the Anti-Christ. How could I ever have believed such a thing?
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.
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