eschaton deficit in the west

Fri, 10 Jan 97 13:24:05 CST
Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.UIC.EDU)

Professor Rozov, I believe that should have been, "God save the Tsar!"
Which, I recall, was the last demonstrable Saving plausibly attibutable
to the quondam Supreme Being; elsewise, I should have been born in Russia,
not in the USA. For my ancestors reasoned, soundly enough, that whereas or
wherein the god of the Christians saw fit to conserve the Supreme Autocrat
when the latter was so egregiously expendable for so long, emigration was
clearly dictated as the least of the three evils the tsar enunciated: "One
third will convert, one third will emigrate, one third will starve." Now,
when by inference the former Almighty cut His losses in 1918 and permitted
dys-Saving upon the son-and-heir of *that* monarch, He, as He then was,
should, in perspective, be credited with Salvation-to-excess of Tsars-in-
general. Think upon the superfluity of your good fortune, Professor Rozov,
to have not merely had a Direct Experience of the End of the World yourself,
one of the hallmarks whereof being its Advent when, ideologically speaking,
*things cannot get much worse* yet promptly do; but additionally perhaps
heard in childhood the Elders' tales of the *previous* End of the World.

Our friend Mark Jones, in Britain, is contrariwise bursting with
religious yearnings attributable to living in an Eschaton-Deficit
country in the Real West. (Where the West is by convention to increase
in Realness in a steep gradient somewhere near the Atlantic Coastal
regions of Europe till one crosses the mountain peaks of Wyoming or
Idaho.) Thwarted of Nuclear Doom, we have got faddish about the Millennium,
the calendrical one; just possibly, Something will End it All.

Eschaton-Deficit regions await, hopefully howbeit at times camouflaged
as Fear, impending doom of exogeneous as well as human-agency varieties.
What with the discovery, off Yucatan, of the actual remains of the asteroid,
six miles across when it struck the Earth, responsible for the mass-
extinctions at the end of the Cretaceous, catastrophism is faddish even
amid the sacred precincts of Geology and Biology; its prime beneficiary,
Stephen J. Gould, has been severly chastised by Daniel C. Dennett, in
Darwin's Dangerous Idea, for, when you come down to it, being more famous
than himself. (It's hopeless, Dennett; Tufts may not prevail against
Harvard.) Elsewhere amid the Broad Masses, ie, those ineligible for HIV,
there was a brief vogue for the Ebola virus. But what can compare with
good old Bubonic Plague. Doom via human agency took a body blow with
the end of Class Contradictions as an emotionally compelling scenario.
Replacements therefor are even less inadequate intellectually whilst
seeming hardly less boring. Most widely ignored, and in my opinion,
deservedly so, is the Lovolution of Doctress Neutopia, featuring its
culminating "Massgasm." Whatever these words mean, it is to be expected
that, like all sex fantasies of the autistic (don't ask me how I know
that), this scenario would be far too silly to watch, let alone to do.
For this reason alone, it is a project well worth funding.

This has all left religion as the *faute de mieux* beneficiary. Now,
of the Fundamentalists of this world, the Muslims seem indeed to have
use for the supernatural; the Christian literalists are more likely in
quest of prophylaxis against Social Deviance whilst inclined to legislate
more Social Deviance requiring prophylaxis against. Whatever, Secularization
is Dead, and the gods, howbeit senile dementia cases all of them, have
been called forth from dishonourable retirement to shuffle about
robotically for a while. At the other spiritual extreme is New Agerdom,
wherein there is a prodigious crafting of niche-market religions for
those ill-suited for Faith but willing to expend money upon whatever
obsession will benignly self-destruct in no more than six months.

Without religion, or at least the residue of religiosity, it is not
possible to have a true Eschatological Experience without the Eschaton
itself, which as I said only arrives when Things Seemingly Couldn't Have
Got Much Worse, except when it happens out of a Clear Blue Sky. The
Bubonic Plague of the fourteenth century was of the latter kind. Jewish
Messianism was perhaps the prototype, unless you're inclined to give
Zarathustra priority, which I am not, as it's not certain what he had
priority for, if indeed his historicity is certain, which it is not.
But for Jewish Messianism to propagate, it must be packaged into Christianity.
Before Christianity and Mahayana Buddhism, religion was not "portable."
It could not be abstracted from its ethno-cultural matrix of origin for
Transplanting into the heads of Heathen or *kafir*s on some other continent.
Clearly, in the instances of Christianity, Islam, and Mahayana Buddhism,
a superlative job of packaging, ie, software portability, was accomplished:
There is hardly any culture so refractory that, with a lot of propaganda
and a bit of religiopolitical terror, its bearers are not susceptible to,
in the end, taking it for granted that they are Sinful and Dirty. Buddhist
Hells are as effective as Christian and Islamic ones, if they take a bit
of appreciation by skeptical white folks. You've got to understand Yama
as a Chinese magistrate, Doctoral Degree and all, and it'll all make sense.

Once, at a party, I posed the problem of comparison shopping, in terms
of cost-effectiveness, ie, more Salvation-bang for the buck (US$1.00;
slightly cheaper in New Zealand), as between the Blessed Holy Virgin and
the Bodhisattva Guanyin. I put my money on the Virgin. Because, "Can
you imagine us, in contradistinction to the Japanese, having Blessed Holy
Virgin 35mm cameras and copiers?" The people at the party, of course,
wouldn't have me back. Virgin, with us, is an Airline, anyway. The difference
should be readily apparent to anyone capable, as I am not, of explicating
the theological importance of the Double Procession of the Holy Spirit. (I
can, at best, situate the latter historically in terms of the endgame of
Visigothic Arianism after 590, but that's it.)

Without your world religions, you cannot have your world-destroyers and
world-avengers. Call the Jewish Messiah mere local talent, he doesn't count.
Which leaves us with the Second Coming, the Mahdi, the Hidden Imam, the
Maitreya Buddha, the Manichaean Prince of Radiance, and a few odds and
ends in secondary roles (Sts George, Michael, James; the relevant
Archangels exclusive of that icebound port in Russia whither Good Queen
Bess sent Sir Francis Dreco or somebody to make possible the Muscovy
Company in pursuance of Creative Engagement with Ivan Grozniy (1533-1584,
right?). No Girls Allowed; they aren't all that plausible, genderwise,
to Level All with Flaming Sword in the Last Days to bring about Final
Universal Justice and Equality On Earth as Foretold.

Now, it is impossible to ascertain whether another Great World-Religion
is possible. All we can say is, it hasn't been done recently. Also, it
cannot be done by design; only by bizrre indirection, that is to say,
"schizopolitically." Once you say to yourself, "Wouldn't it be nice, not
just for me but for the whole trucking industry, if this entire Trade
Route got unified under a single governmet," you have blown your scene.
If you add to that, "Without, as an additional constraint, losing my own
hometown's tourist traffic," you are a downright charlatan, and I'll have
you Reported myself. For a Common-Law Fraud.

With all you gotta *know*, these days, who can be bothered with Believing
in any Faith with a straight face. Anyhow, For It Is Written, where? here,
and you can quote me on this, "Sin is what uses God for a Crutch."

Peace be unto ye,
Daniel A. Foss