Friday, February 18, 2005


Antichrist Envy

A couple of days ago, I posted a piece on why our homegrown Kansas fundamentalists and their poor relations, the biblical literalists, loathe mainstream Christians who understand evolution and support teaching it in public schools. That post included a quote from Pat Robertson to the effect that Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists embody the spirit of the Antichrist.

Since then, a number of my atheist friends have contacted me to say that, after reading the post, all the joy had gone out of their lives.

Now the quote from Robertson is not new. In fact, it's been bouncing around the internet for years, but my atheist friends don't get out much, so the news came as something of a shock.

For these guys, atheism is a badge they wear on their sleeves. They took real pride in the notion that, to men like Robertson, they were the Antichrist.

To give you an idea just how central the notion of being the Antichrist has become to some of my atheist friends, let me relate the following story from an old college pal now living in California.

As an opening conversational gambit on long, cross-country business flights, my friend had developed the habit of leaning over in his seat, early on in the flight, to confide in the passenger next to him, that she was flying with the Antichrist.

He stopped this after Sept. 11, he told me, for fear of causing an emergency evacuation of the plane and ending up a prisoner at Guantanamo.

Then, after reading that one of the standard operating procedures at Guantanamo is to have a particularly good looking, young, woman Marine wearing a tight T-shirt, military boots, and a thong, rub up against a prisoner who is shackled to a chair, my friend briefly considered dusting off his old conversational opener.

This particular fantasy, it turns out, is the very one that, all his life, has prevented him from consummating any long-term, consensual relationships with a member of the opposite sex.

After much thought, however, my friend decided to open himself to new experiences. Last week, at a local watering hole, he had the bartender send a drink to a likely looking young woman with a note that said, "When you woke up this morning, did you know you'd be going home with the Antichrist, tonight?"

The doctor tells him he'll be out of the hospital in a few days, but lying in bed with nothing to do but watch the soaps has given him time to think, and the more he thinks, the more discouraged he's become.

The idea that your garden variety Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists are the Antichrist, and hard-working atheists, like himself, aren't really on the radar screen of Pat Robertson and his flock of fundamentalists is a very depressing thought.

As you can imagine, my friend has experienced many rebuffs during the course of his life, but he's always bounced back quickly in the past. That's why I was so concerned that his joie de vivre might have flickered and gone out. As you can imagine, I felt guilty, and more than a little responsible, as well.

He called me from his hospital bed this morning to tell me that he feels at loose ends. He senses that he needs to do something dramatic and utterly pointless to break out of his funk, but doesn't quite know what that something should be.

That's when it came to me.

"Why don't you move to Kansas?" I said.


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