Obama for Mahdi?

Another diversion into the arcana of eschatology, with no particular violence implicated.

We’ve had discussions of Obama as Messiah:

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and discussions of Obama as Antichrist:

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That’s a nice “pair” of bookends, to be sure — but it by no means exhausts the possibilities. There are some legitimate concerns and more moderate positions that are intermediate between those two poles. And while the ones that seem perceptive to one group may seem obtuse to another, the territory they cover is worth examining through the lens of religious rhetoric.

There’s Paul Krugman in the New York Times suggesting that the Obama campaign back in February of this year seemed “dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality“(which is still quite far from a “messianic cult”). There’s Mark Morford’s recent San Francisco Chronicle article titled,perhaps by a whimsical editor, “Is Barak Obama an Enlightened being?” Morford suggests that “Barack Obama isn’t really one of us”, and indeed that “many enormously smart, wise, spiritually attuned people” have been “blown away” by Obama’s “sort of powerful luminosity, a unique high-vibration integrity” (which is coming a bit closer to the messianic cult bit).

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What’s behind all this? There’s a para-religious phenomenon here, I’d argue, a translation of political content into religious vessels, perhaps — in a January news report in the Sacramento Bee, “one of the campaign’s key strategies” was described by an Obama team trainer as “telling potential voters personal stories of political conversion.” And that in turn reminds me of the remarkable description of working in the Obama campaign penned by Ginger Lapid-Bogda, which I received from Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute, a slightly different version of which can be found on the rio grand-i-o blog.

I wanted to share just a little of my experience working in the Obama campaign because it very much relates to OD [organizational development]. I don’t do anything so very important, yet there is a sense in the air that everything anyone does matters and is deeply appreciated. I do phone banking and help them with provisions for the West Los Angeles office. But anything I do is met with amazing gratitude from people there, and I feel deeply grateful for being able to contribute. This is a very resonant exchange: gratitude for gratitude with absolutely no fakeness or overly-sweet quality.

It is such a bottom-up system, essentially driven by the vision of what this country can be, much more than being centered solely around Obama, although his approach is deeply shared. It is an amazing example of a vision and principle-driven self managing structure and system in which everyone does whatever is needed. And what is needed can change every hour, yet nothing feels unfocused or chaotic. It is truly a self-organizing system. The big office provides some guidelines, a few protocols, some materials, a few suggested tactics that are highly strategic, but people in this office — and it is just one of many throughout the country — just figure out what to do and then do it amazingly.

Of course, it is a thrill but only because it feels important. Everyone is a volunteer, all supplies, furniture, etc, are donated, many are exhausted, but no one gets difficult or crabby. It is amazing what a sense of purpose does.

The volunteers are as diverse a group as I’ve ever seen working together — age, race, gender, social class, profession, education. That is a lot of what makes it so thrilling. It’s like experiencing the change we’re trying to create. We’re a virtual team in which parts of it are in one another’s physical presence, others are not, and the team members change from day to day. Most of the volunteers, no matter their age, have never been involved in any campaign before so this high-performance is not based on experience.

For me, the most important principle followed is that the end does not justify the means. It is akin to a transformation from the more Machiavellian era we have been operating in for many decades to one that is working from a high level of conscious awareness. They are very process oriented and believe that if the processes used (the means) are not consistent with the ends that are desired, the ends will never materialize because they will be too compromised and tarnished by the process.

Dr. Lapid-Bogda is describing the campaign in “organizational development” terms, but what comes across to me is the sense of what Victor Turner would call communitas — an exhilarating sense that hierarchy has been dissolved and that as a result the ideal is hovering in the atmosphere, in the room, so close as to be tangible. That feeling — and it is indeed a heady one — can be found in peace marches, in communes, it was present among the early Franciscans, and with it, great things are sometimes possible.

Having a leader also helps — someone who can plausibly be portrayed with a halo in an age that wears them lightly, a charismatic personality, to borrow Max Weber’s phrase.

And Obama is nothing if not charismatic… The London Telegraph introduced him to readers who might be unfamiliar with him in January 2007 as “the charismatic senator with near rock-star status” and “the new Jack Kennedy” — and short of messiah-status, JFK is hard to beat.

Still, it is important to note that Barack Obama acknowledges and makes light of this sort of thing himself — I’m assuming he spoke with a mixture of sophistication, self-deprecation and charm when he told and audience of Ivy Leaguers:

My job this morning is to be so persuasive … that a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Barack.

In summarizing the above, I’d say the “Obama is Messiah” and “Obama is Antichrist” memes are almost parodistic exaggerations of an insight that does ring true of Obama — that he is a charismatic leader attracting followers through the hope of major changes in the way the world goes about its business, an almost-apocalyptic hope of better things to come.

Which is not necessarily any more apocalyptic, however, than George Bush Sr’s comments about a “New World Order” — which horrified evangelicals in its own day” — and his “thousand points of light”.

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That might seem like quite enough — but I have saved the richest irony for last. Because out there in the same clash of rival apocalypticisms which gave us Sheikh Safar al-Hawali writing a book based on Hal Lindsey style Christian apocalyptic about the Mahdi and Joel Richardson writing a book about the Mahdi as antichrist, we now have one further level of rhetoric to contend with.

We now have to consider the implications of Obama as Mahdi —

Source URL here

This image, blending Obama’s features in along with thise of Osama, is intriguing and, I suggest, more than a little confused.

The Twelfth Imam is one of the specifically (“Twelver”) Shi’ites’ titles for the Mahdi, the messianic figure in much of Islam – identifying him with Abu’l-Kasim Muhammad, born 860 CE, the twelfth in the line of Shi’ite Imams, who is supposed to have gone into “occultation” while young, and whose re-appearance is widely expected and indeed longed for, eg by President Ahmadinejad of Iran.

Osama bin Laden, on the other hand, like his erstwhile mentor Sheikh al-Hawali, would reject out of hand any Shi’ite Mahdist claimant to the role of Mahdi…

And so it goes.

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2 Responses to “Obama for Mahdi?”

  1. MoniQue Says:

    • Obama is the AntiChrist, he’s AntiMessiah, Anti-Israel, and Anti-ME & YOU!

    Anti = “instead of”

    Christ = Messiah (Greek)

    Obama is the “instead of Messiah”

    He thrives on adoration and worship, adoration reserved for God.

    http://moniquemonicat.wordpress.com/2008/11/01/%E2%80%A2-obama-antichrist-antimessiah-anti-israel-anti-you-%E2%80%A2-the-blood-of-jesus-stands-against-you-obama/

    DON’T TAKE THE MARK OF OBAMA!

    DEATH OR PRISON BEFORE I’D WORSHIP THAT MONSTER!

  2. Marie Kennison Says:

    Barack Hussein Obama was born into a time in our world where globalization is not only possible but needed considering the earth’s numbers (6 to seven billion, more likely seven as census bureaus miss some, such as the lost of argentina, and illegals in the united states, and so on). These numbers are close to the earth’s holding capacity, or our ability to sustain ourselves. Political upheavals are rampant, the middle east, central and southern america, the instatement of the European Union, and the holy wars stemming from Pakistan and Indonesia. (Obamas Mother was actually responsible for the the financial planning of Indonesia) It seems to me that Obama is the only person who has the right profile to be able to lead a christian/muslim/islamic/communist world. The only indication I have that Obama is not the antichrist is a b religious movie that says the antichrist must come from the thirteenth kingdom, which is Rome and from Lost Souls with Wynonna Ryder where there is a bible verse at the first of the movie that says the son of perdition must come from incest. and yes I realize these are movies. From what I have studied on the environment and in religion, and the undeniable fact that the bilderberg group, (who has promoted Obama as a global leader) is getting ready to install computer chips for economy to be completed by 2017, and the recent enlargment of the European Union, and the nuvous ordem seclurum on our own dollar bill, and the very provable way that pride makes people delusional, I would say yes, Obama is probably our current day Andy (rosemary’s baby) ready to lead us into intrigue and death.

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