So I’ve been reading book 2 of The Anti-Christ Handbook, Fred Clark’s collection of the blog posts that he wrote, starting in 2003, criticizing the Left Behind books by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins.
I’ve reached the posts, titled Boutros Boutros Carpathia (a reference to Boutrous Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time the Left Behind books were written) where Nicolae Carpathia, the Antichrist, makes his debut before the United Nations.
In the world of Left Behind, the United Nations is not a collection of powerless diplomats, dependent on its member nations for every dime and employee, permanently half-paralyzed by competing interests among its most powerful members. In Left Behind, the United Nations is the de facto government of the world, with a relationship to member nations similar to the U.S. federal government’s relationship to the individual states.
(Mind you, this isn’t a deliberate alternate reality; Lahaye and Jenkins believe that this is, or will be, how the United Nations works in our world.)
This, of course, means that to conquer the world, Carpathia must conquer the UN. This results in the infamous scene where he wows the crowd at the UN by reciting the member nations’ names in order, saying each name in the language spoken by the people of that nation. We later find out that Carpathia has supernatural mind control powers, but he’s apparently not supposed to be using them in this scene; L&J genuinely believe that reciting a list would bring the UN General Assembly to their feet in a standing ovation and start whoever could perform such a feat on the path of world domination.
It’s a shame, really. That would be a demonstration of supernatural power indeed, to have a character almost literally reading from the phone book, and have the crowds go wild while the unaffected few are left looking around themselves and wondering what the hell is going on.
But Fred points out that there is an even larger missed opportunity here: Nicolae is the Antichrist. This is a perfect opportunity to draw a contrast between him and the Christ, thus demonstrating the character of both. Now, while a gathering of “all nations under Heaven” hearing Carpathia speak in their native tongue is a passable anti-Pentecost, Pentecost wasn’t one of Jesus’s miracles. That one goes to Peter, the Apostles, and the Holy Spirit well after Jesus had returned to Heaven. Instead, there should be some sort of anti-Baptism performed by an anti-John (the character Jonathan Stonagal was almost certainly supposed to be this – why couldn’t they wrangle some way to have him make Carpathia’s introductions at the UN? They have Rayford Steele, a civilian, get hired to pilot Air Force One.). And rather than reciting a list of member nations, this would be a good opportunity for Carpathia to preach his anti-Gospel, complete with anti-Beatitudes.
That got me thinking. What would anti-Beatitudes look like?
For those unfamiliar, The Beatitudes are essentially Jesus Christ’s ideals presented as bullet points. They appear in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke as part of very famous sermons that are often mistaken for each other and which are probably both just summaries of three years’ worth of preaching. The lists are different, but the list from Matthew includes everything from Luke and then some. With that in mind, these are the Beatitudes as presented in the Gospel of Matthew (source: Wikipedia):
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Note that for most of history, “Righteousness” meant something closer to “Justice” than the personal virtue and glorification that it now means.
So what do the anti-Beatitudes of the anti-Gospel preach? What are the bullet points of the Antichrist’s ideals? You can’t just go down the list and go “Cursed be the Merciful, Cursed be the Peacemakers, etc.”. That kind of cartoonish villainy won’t convince anybody. The trick is to invert the values, but still sound positive:
Blessed are the wealthy: for theirs are the rightfully-earned riches of the world.
Blessed are those who harden their hearts: for they will never be hurt again.
Blessed are the strong: for they will shape the Earth to their agenda.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for their own self-interest: for they will be filled while those less prudent go hungry.
Blessed are the merciless: for no one will dare to strike them.
Blessed are the pure: for avoiding the filth of the world is all that is good.
Blessed are the warmongers: for they will be called strong leaders.
Blessed are those who persecute those who deserve it: for they are the keepers of order.
It’s still a bit supervillain-y, but I’ve seen people declare essentially the same principles as their own with language almost this blatant.
In addition to the Beatitudes, Luke also gives us the “Four Woes”, which go like this:
Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
The anti-Gospel version of that might go something like this:
Woe to you who are poor, for your poverty is surely your own fault.
Woe to you who are hungry now, for you have clearly squandered your bounty on frivolities.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will see we were right in the end.
Woe to everyone who speaks ill of you, for it is surely just a sign of their jealousy.
It troubles me that there are people who are essentially running for President of the United States using the anti-Beatitudes and the anti-Woes as their platform, and have a non-zero chance of winning. The United States is a much better launching point for the conquest of the world than Romania or the UN…