How to Be a Prophet

The Amazing Criswell has nothing on me in the prophesizing game.

The Amazing Criswell has nothing on me in the prophesizing game.

I drive quite a bit for my job, often in Eastern Kentucky where the radio choices are limited.  As a result I listen to radio preachers.  Some are quite good and inspiring.  Most aren’t and are downright terrifying.  On a recent road trip, I heard a preacher talking about prophecy and he humbly said:  “Brothers and sisters, some say I have the gift of prophecy! I would never claim to have that gift, but if I do, it’s because the Lord has blessed me to speak  the truth of His word!”  In other words, “Of course, I am a prophet.” He then went on the explain the End of Days in terms only slightly more complex than the Unabomber Manifesto.  Frankly, I couldn’t follow it.

It did, however, get me thinking:  What if this guy is a prophet?  More importantly, what if I am?  If I am, I’ve never really tried to use my skills.  Maybe I should.

All your major religions have prophets.  The Abrahamic faiths have Moses, Isaiah and many others.  Islam throws in Mohammed, too.  Mormons have Joseph Smith.  Scientology gives us Tom Cruise.

I can’t claim to be a theologian or even particularly religious.  I have, however, read the Bible–the entire thing.  In fact, I’ve probably read it all several times.  I don’t think of the Bible as a book.  It’s really a collection of short stories, memoirs and musings by a variety of authors.  These writings are chock full of sex and violence, good news and bad news, rules, laws and, of course, prophecy.

Isaiah is the Babe Ruth of the Biblical prophets, the big hitter of the bunch. Others, like Nahum, are more Dal Maxvill.  They all foretell the future with varying degrees of accuracy.  The wildest, though, is John, and he is saved for the very end.  His book–Revelation–is like something Hunter Thompson might have written after a peyote bender.  This book is the one that almost everyone knows something about, regardless of religious faith or lack thereof.

A good prophet can interpret this mess and make his own predictions.  Those are my aims.

Let’s clarify up front that the book is Revelation, not Revelations.  Technically, it is the Revelation of John.  Who was John?  No one knows for sure.  Some think he was John the Apostle, while others think he was an entirely different cat.  We know he lived on the island of Patmos; thus, we can call him John of Patmos.  Even though my name is John, it damn sure isn’t me.  The wild imagery of his book seems completely out-of-place with the rest of the New Testament, but it made the cut when the books of the Bible were canonized way back when, so it’s part of the playbook.

I offer the preceding paragraph only to make it appear that I am an erudite Biblical scholar.  I am not.  Regardless, I know quite a bit about it and am willing to speculate as to its meaning.  This puts me on par with the vast majority of folks who think they are, in fact, erudite Biblical scholars.  Thus, I can be a prophet, a false one mind you, but a prophet nonetheless.

I won’t debate the literal versus figurative meaning of the Bible.  I know that a lot of folks say that the Bible is to be taken literally.  For example, Adam and Eve is a true story right down to the last detail.  Hey, how do I know? As a prophet, I would only predict the future, not try to interpret the past.

One thing, though, that has to be subject to some consensus is that Revelation cannot be taken literally.  If is literal, the signs of the last days are going to be very easy to identify.  A seven-headed, crown-wearing monster will be hard to miss.  There will be beings that look like animals with eye balls all over them; angels blowing trumpets; an archangel; a whore; and a bunch bad doings.  I’m not the quickest on the uptake, but if this all literal, I’ll catch on fairly quickly.  I’m into symbolism, and I like to think John was, too.

Most of us are concerned about the Beast.  Actually, there are two beasts:  One from the sea and one from the Earth.  The Sea Beast has a seven heads, crowns, etc.  The Earth Beast has a couple of horns and is basically charged with making everyone do the bidding of Sea Beast.  Got it?

If I were a prophet–a real one–I could and would interpret this symbolism.  I think I can do that.  Revelation is the best source for prophecy because you can make into whatever you want with just a little imagination.  For example, Charles Manson made it all about the Beatles.  Read and learn.

Everyone will have to get the mark of the Beast, which we all know is the number 666.  Without that, we can’t buy or sell stuff. To make a long story short, the Beast (or Beasts–I get a little confused here) do battle with the Lord of Lords and, predictably, lose.  They are thrown into the Lake of Fire to be tormented for all eternity.  It goes without saying–even though I now say (or “prophesy”) it–the Lake of Fire is a bad beat.

Here’s what you don’t want to do:  DON’T JOIN UP WITH THE BEAST.  If you encounter a seven-headed anything or a dude with horns, steer clear.  But, what if it IS symbolic?  Then, we’ve got a problem. That’s where a prophet has real value.

I once worked with a Seventh Day Adventist who passed out literature in our office saying that the Papacy is the Beast.  Honestly, it was very hard to follow.  I wasn’t convinced.  A lot of brainy folks think old John was talking about Emperor Nero Caesar, because through some convoluted numerology his name corresponds with 666.  I talked to a lady once who said that the Social Security Administration is the Beast.  While those are enticing theories, take a look at this:

BARACK:  6 letters

HUSSEIN:  7 letters

OBAMA:      5 Letters

Note how his full name totals 18 letters.  What numbers divides into 18 three times?  6, of course.  THREE sixes or 6-6-6.  It couldn’t be any clearer.  That’s my prophetic take on it.

(As an aside, some ancient texts show the number as 616, but we’re not going down that road.  Such reckless speculation would render meaningless Iron Maiden’s classic song The Number of the Beast.)

But, what of the seven heads and whatnot?  Well, first the Beast of the Sea is obviously the United Nations which covers all seven continents.  The ten crowns could well be the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council for all I know.   Maybe Obama is the Beast of the Earth.  His ears are kind of like horns.  Plus, he’s a smoker.  That would explain speaking like a dragon.

It makes perfect sense.  The first beast (the UN) and the second beast (Obama) will gather together to make war against the Lord of Lords.  We can all see that coming, can’t we?  I do.

How about the Whore of Babylon?  Centuries ago, lots of folks said it was the Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church said it would be a fake Catholic Church.  No one, apparently, ever thought it would be a real whore, so don’t try to burn Miley Cyrus at the stake.

We know that ancient Babylon is in Iraq, so I say we call Iraq Babylon.  When John spoke of this whore reigning “over the kings of the earth,” could he have been speaking of the United States?  Hmmm.  Starting to make some sense now, huh? No?  Who’s the prophet here–me or you?  Ignore me at your own peril.

There are tons of details in Revelation, but I have neither the time nor interest to become familiar with them. I’ve made my point, whatever it may be.

Through a cursory reading of the Bible and libelous logic, I’ve just turned the President of the United States of America into the Beast (or Beasts).  Someone reading this agrees with me.  (By the way, don’t tell me if you do).  So, I’m now a prophet, false of otherwise.

In truth, I’m not a prophet (at least as far as I know).  I used to bet on football games and displayed no gift for prescience.  The last great prophet was probably The Amazing Criswell, star of several of Ed Wood’s films, including as the narrator of Plan Nine From Outer Space.  While he was wrong about Mae West becoming President and the outbreak of cannibalism in Pennsylvania, he wasn’t far off on predicting all-homosexual cities.  He predicted the end of the world to occur on August 18, 1999.  He was certainly no less of a prophet than the clown who predicted the end for May 21, 2011.

On the off-chance that I’m wrong, and I am a prophet, I need to make some predictions, so I conclude now with ten simple predictions or prophetic musings, if you will:

  1. In 2014, Tim Tebow will get a try out with an NFL team, and it will receive news coverage similar to the Super Bowl.
  2. In late 2013, a minor celebrity will be arrested.  His or her mug shot will be quite embarrassing.
  3. Any day now, a politician will become embroiled in a sex scandal, which he will blame on a troubled childhood or substance abuse.  Or both.
  4. The 2016 Presidential race will be littered with an appalling array of unqualified candidates.
  5. In 2018, the United States Constitution will be amended to replace the Electoral College with an American Idol-style reality show hosted by Eminem and Brent Musberger.
  6. By 2020, the U.S. will return to its conservative values, outlawing all forms of sexual activity, unless it involves use of a firearm.
  7. In 2022, Scientology will cease to exist, as the last member states:  “No one ever believed this nutty shit anyway.”
  8. At 80 years old, O.J. Simpson will die when someone just stabs the living hell out of him.
  9. In 2031, a cure for cancer will be perfected.  Unfortunately, it will so expensive that no one can afford it.
  10. In 2036, Jesus will return to Earth.  He will quickly be branded a dangerous socialist and denied a work visa in the United States.

If none of that happens, then I’ll second John on predicting a multi-headed sea beast.  That should cover all my bases.

© 2013

The Zen of Nothing


I live in Kentucky, and it’s been raining lately.  By “lately,” I mean daily.  Constantly.  It keeps me indoors.  It keeps my children indoors, too.  As result, I’ve been thinking–or trying to think, but I’ve got nothing.  Zip.  So, I thought I’d write about that.

Why write about nothing?  Any egghead or self-important jackass can write about something.  Lord knows I have.  Just read some of my blog posts.  One might argue that many of those are about nothing, but I disagree.  Just because something doesn’t interest you doesn’t make it nothing.  It’s something, albeit something uninteresting.

Nothing gets a bad rap.  (By that, I mean “nothing,” not that nothing gets a bad rap.  You know what I mean.)  You don’t want to do nothing with your life.  Or be a “nothing.” Or learn nothing.  Or accomplish nothing. Or have nothing going for you.

During these rainy days, I’ve had nothing to do, so that’s what I’ve tried to do.  Nothing.  One day I slept until 10:30.  I thought that was doing nothing.  Then, I realized I hadn’t slept that late in years.  That was something, for sure.

My family has had nothing to do, either.  I haven’t seen my 18-year-old son in days.  He wanders in late, sleeps until noon and then leaves.  He has to be doing something, but I’d rather not know what.  My wife has had nothing to do and has talked a lot about it, thus filling her nothingness with talk.  My youngest son says he’s “bored,” but actually has been doing a bunch of stuff.  If my oldest son is bored, he has said nothing about it.  Nothing.

By habit, I’ve always asked my kids what they learned at school.  They always say “nothing.”  That’s hard to believe, but maybe it’s true.  The only exception was when my middle son–now 18 years old–was in preschool.  We asked him that every day, and every day he explained what he learned in great detail.  Dinosaurs, the planets, zoo animals, cars and many other things.  His brother, only two years older, had attended the same preschool and learned nothing.  We were so impressed that my wife called the teacher to commend her.  She paused and said: “All we’ve talked about are colors and shapes.”  I give my little man credit.  He already knew his colors and shapes.  He didn’t want to say he learned “nothing.”

Now that my two oldest sons are grown, I’ll ask what they’ve been doing.  “Nothing” is the standard answer–just plain nothing.  I don’t know how they do it, because God knows I’ve tried.

I’ve tried to do nothing lately.  I’ve watched the rain, but I guess that’s something.  During this rain, I’ve watched a lot of The Walking Dead Marathon on AMC.  My wife says that’s nothing, but it isn’t.  It’s something.  TV is something.  Why else would I stare at it?  Staring is something, too–not much but something.

I’m a lawyer and, despite what you might think, we think a lot.  We think like lawyers.  We think about our cases, clients and the law.  We think about money, too.  Sometimes, we even get paid to think.  That’s called “analyzing.” When I’m not at work, I like to relax my brain, and think about nothing.  That’s hard to do.  Even when I think about nothing, something creeps in.  Sometimes, it’s sex, but that happens even when I’m thinking about something.  Even when I watch TV, I’ll find myself thinking about something.  A couple of nights ago, I was watching a rerun of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo–mindless entertainment for certain.  Suddenly, I was thinking about how much Mama June looks like Fat Elvis.  Then, I started thinking about how I heard that Elvis died with sixteen pounds of impacted feces inside him.  Then, I thought about that.  Next thing you know, I was thinking about all kinds of things.

Even though I’m a man, I like to take baths.  My wife says that’s a decidedly feminine activity.  So be it.  I’ll lie in the tub and let my mind go blank.  Nothing.  Then it happens.  Something creeps in.  Maybe I think about someone bursting in and throwing a toaster in the tub.  My penchant for falling asleep in the tub might make me think about drowning in the tub, which seems unlikely but certainly can’t be considered impossible.  Often, I think about a bath being feminine and about my other feminine traits, like sitting with my legs crossed or the occasional trip to the tanning bed.

Bed time is a good time for nothing.  Think about nothing and go to sleep.  I can’t do that.  I have to think about something.  Usually, I think about all the noise being made in my house while I’m trying to go to sleep.  Sometimes, I ponder falling asleep.  That will mean that I won’t fall asleep for a good, long time.

Lately, though, with all this rain, there’s been nothing to do.  My eleven year old son has complained about it.  So has my wife.  Nothing.  Yet, we’ve all done something–eat, sleep, TV.  My wife went to a friend’s house. I took a nap today.  My wife calls that nothing, but she’s wrong.  It’s something.  It’s a nap, and I enjoy it.

I had nothing to do today, so I went to the store. Something.  I filled my wife’s car with gas.  Again, something.  I sat on our screen porch and looked at our two rabbits–Mitchell and Mollie.  Now, they do nothing.  They eat and then sit and stare.  Then they eat again.  They are like eating throw pillows.  Watching them, though, is something.  It’s close to nothing, but not quite there.

I often look forward to a day off work so that I can do nothing.  Yet, I always do something anyway.  I might read the newspaper or go to Starbucks or, of course, take a nap.  Those somethings fill up all the nothingness.

Bruce Springsteen has a song called The Nothing Man.  It’s dark and depressing, and so was I when it was released.  I used to listen to it quite a bit, but I didn’t think about nothing when I did.  I thought about something–most likely something dark and depressing.

So, here I am with nothing to do while it rains.  Nothing. It makes for long days, but that’s a good thing.  Life goes by way too fast anyway.  As Joseph Heller wrote in Catch-22, making one’s life last as long as possible is the whole point of life.

I’ve determined that there is no nothing.  Everything is something, even nothing.  This blog post, for instance, might be a total waste of time, but you read it.  So, you did something.  I wrote it, and that’s something, too.  We’ve both done something, and we can be proud of that.

© 2013