That said, there was a fascinating part discussing how the ideas of Millennial Rule propogated from one group to the next. The idea isn't new, but the most common thread starts with the Book of Revelations in the Bible. It goes something like this:
- There's going to be a time of great trouble.
- The world is divided into The Good and The Evil.
- Eventually, the Evil will be destroyed.
- Once all evil has been eradicated, there will follow 1,000 years of happiness and joy for the Good people left over.
In the case of the original story in Revelations, this was tied into the early Christian church and Yahweh worship. Eventually, everybody would believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of Yahweh and the Redeemer of the World, all the bad people would be cleansed off the earth, and everything would be awesome.
Ever since then, various groups tried to use this idea, only with changes, and with each adaptation the concept, the Good and the Evil was changed. You start off with Christians being The Good and everybody else being The Bad.
Then came along people like Lenin and Stalin. But in their view, it was the bourgeois (aka the rich and powerful) versus the proletariat (aka the regular/poor people). Once you got rid of all of the rich people and destroyed their power, then you'd have a utopia that would last for at least a thousand years.
Then the Nazi's came along, and they said "Oh, no no no. You guys have this all wrong. See, it's the Aryans who are the Good and the pure ones, and the Jews/gypsies/homosexuals/anybody but Aryans who are the Evil - especially the Jews. So if we just kill off all of the Jews, then anyone else non-Aryan, then we'll have a 1,000 year Reich where everyone will be happy."
Then, if my recollection of The Crisis of Islam is correct, this idea was then picked up by the Baathists. Certain scholars were in Germany as World War II was starting up,and when they returned to the Middle East they said "You know, these Germans have a great idea - only they got it all wrong. Clearly, the Arabians (or the Persians if you were in Iran) are The Good, and everyone else (especially the Jews!) are The Evil. So if we just get rid of all of the Jews and then the non-Arabians, only Good people will be left and we'll have a thousand years of peace."
Guess what happened when Al-Qaida popped up? In their case, The Good were Muslims (at least, their brand of Islam which was much more strict and something like you see the Taliban go by), and the Evil was everybody who wasn't Muslim - or their brand of Islam. Originally, they were attacking other Muslims in the Middle East, since if they could get rid of the "not strict enough Muslims" then they'd have peace. But then they decided that they had to get rid of the non-Muslims first, then go after the not-strict-enough Muslims - so Al-Qaida shifted its attention to the United States.
So where am I going with this? Well, it turns out that this crazy, stupid notion that if only you could get rid of (really, kill off) The Evil and then everything will be wonderful has once again returned to Christianity.
OK, it never really left it - there have been groups that have been looking forward to The End Of The World and the Destruction of the Non-Believers since at least 50 CE. This has been true in the United States, between the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and so on.
That said, those groups have been fairly benign compared to the other groups I mentioned. However, the US is now facing a new round of crazy. Take Hawaii, where a candidate for governor who's a member of a church that is campaigning against witches.
Witches. In the year 2010. And not just witches, but they want to go about and "If you have any idols in your home, we're gonna burn 'em! If you have any witchcraft items in your home, we're gonna burn 'em!" It's what you see in the Tea Party/David Barton/Glenn Beck historical revisionism that tries to convince people that the United States was always meant to be Christian, that the Founders didn't want any other religion than Christianity - and if you're of any other religion, or believe set, or even don't have a religion other than Christianity: then you must be evil.
It's a notion that seeks to replace all knowledge such as in the Texas schoolboard system to get rid of the ideas of The Evil (aka - non-Christian), because if we could just get rid of those, then we'd have a perfect country and have 1,000 years of peace and happiness. It's the same thinking that produces people like Christine O'Donnell, a Senate candidate who doesn't believe that the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits government from establishing religion. It's what leads people to make stupid comments like "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.".
The stupidity, the rank fearmongering isn't astounding. What's astounding is how many people are falling for it, and willingly embracing it.
It's the same old tribalism that "if only The Other" would