ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
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Some of you are taking this day far too lightly. Today is 6/6/06, or more simply "666" if you drop the zero. If I remember my childhood Bible lessons correctly, those numbers signify the day of the Beast - that's Lucifer, Beelzebub, or more commonly, Satan.
Instead of huddling in your homes or places of worship, most of you are just walking around like it's an ordinary day. Heck, the folks in Hell, Mich., are having a major town party - complete with a "Gates of Hell" play area for the kiddies, "Bloody Devil" cocktails and authentic T-shirts for revelers who want to advertise that they "Celebrated June 6, 2006 in Hell."
I searched the Web to see what else was going on today. A nonprofit company in Wyoming is kicking off "National Day of Slayer," to honor a rock group that epitomized "Satanic speed metal music."
Twentieth Century Fox released its remake of the 1976 horror classic "The Omen" today, a film about a young boy who may "literally" be the devil incarnate. The headline promoting the film reads:
"On the 6th day of the 6th month of the year 2006, the antichrist will be reborn. You have been warned."
What in blazing Hades is wrong with you people? This stuff is nothing to play around with.
Now, I'll admit I may be a tad "hexakosioihexekontahexaphobic," the official name for the malady of many, especially Western Christians, who believe the number 666 is linked to the Antichrist.
Sure, I've read the many stories, including the one in our Sunday edition, quoting religious scholars who debunk evangelical interpretations of the "Last Days."
Still, it's hard to shake off 15 years (give or take) of religious indoctrination.
Jehovah's Witnesses (the religion of my youth) study the Bible feverishly and take every word literally, especially those found in the New Testament, when the Apostles hung out with and took notes from Jesus.
I still recall some of the passages found in Mark 13:1-37 when Jesus predicted the "signs" of the last days.
He spoke of "wars and rumors of wars," nations rising against nations, earthquakes, famines and a time of brothers rising against brothers and children rising against parents."
Weren't those "signs" on CNN last night?
The illustrations produced by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society captivated me as a child. I still remember the "666 Beast," drawn as a lion with Babylon the Great (depicted as a seductive harlot) riding its back. I had recurring nightmares back then inspired by pictures of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on Judgment Day.
Then, the religion taught that only loyal Jehovah's Witnesses would survive Armageddon. In my dreams, the names of the surviving members of my household rolled, like movie credits, on the window shade. I never made the cut. So bear with me if I have a few hang-ups about all this 666 business.
The grown up, reasonable, ex-Witness that I am today realizes it's all nonsense. Surely, there were wars and reports of wars and brothers killing brothers back in 6/6/1706 and 6/6/1806. Mankind survived then, so why not now?
I guess these times seem particularly ominous to me because of another part I remember from Mark 13: 22:
"For there will arise false Christs and false prophets . . . that may lead astray . . ."
See . . . now, that's spooky stuff. Especially considering we have a cowboy in the White House backed by neocons itching to fight a global, holy war. Then there's the other certifiables in Iran and North Korea willing to die "honorable" deaths to hold or develop nuclear weapons. Worse yet are the bunch of voting, religious zealots who embrace doomsday scenarios simply because they believe God favors them over all others.
So party on you 666 revelers, with your devil music and Damien movie. As for me, I think I'll stay at home, huddled under my bedsheets. And if that dream comes to me again, maybe this time my name will be on the window shade, too.