Among the articles of Christian faith there is the second coming, when the dead shall be raised incorruptible.  The recent funeral of Chicago's Francis Cardinal George included a statement of that hope.  Yet although the cardinal objected to recent developments in Catholic social teachings, nowhere did he or like-minded clergy and laity argue that church positions would change by one nanosecond the day and the hour of the last judgement.  That is not true of all Christians: here is a lengthy essay suggesting a connection between evangelical support of Israel and hopes of advancing that day.  Another lengthy essay suggests that loyalists of the caliphate have a similar motivation.  "Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest." Yes, God Helps Thofe who Help Themfelves, but that is of this life.

In Old Norse tradition, there is also a battle at the end of the world, Ragnarök.  A different sort of chosen dead will be raised incorruptible, to do battle at the right hand of Odin.  And although the recently-concluded third season of Vikings on History Channel brings in too many concessions to post-modern sensibilities for my liking, among the cast of characters is the devout boat-builder Floki, who comes off as wanting to immanentize the eschaton without the assistance of a Wagner libretto.

And perhaps in the caliphate's snuff videos we have an echo of Norse tradition.  "Islamic State operates as policies of mercy rather than of brutality ... the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict."  So must it have been with the blood eagle.

No comments: