The Long View 2003-12-22: Some Readings from Revelation

Doré Bible

Doré Bible

The DHS scrapped the color code warning system in 2011. Which is a good thing, I never really gave it much heed.


Some Readings from Revelation

Here is one way to look at the uptick of the security level to Orange:

Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.

---Revelation 12:12

Yes. Rejoice. Whoopee. I have great respect for Tom Ridge, but his press conferences remind me of the scene in Airplane! when the stewardess says: "Ladies and gentlemen, everything is under control. By the way, does anyone here know how to fly a plane?" Nonetheless, it is possible to distill a drop of comfort out of the latest miasma of all-enveloping dread. The Belmont Club of Sunday, December 21, does this very well:

Stepping back, is reasonable to suppose that with the capture of Saddam, the gathering collapse of the Ba'athist insurgency and the Libyan capitulation the AQ leadership feels it must risk all in a counterattack. If it does not stem the American tide now its funding sources will dry up, it supporters may defect and the resulting weaknesses will be exploited ruthlessly.

The Coalition command in Iraq seems to be of much the same mind: it speaks of "last ditch" strikes against Coalition forces in the next few days. Any terrorist actions in the US or Britain must have been in the pipeline for some time, but one suspects another round of major assaults in Iraq at this time would have to be hurriedly improvised. The Ramadan Offensive did manage to replicate the Tet Offensive of 1968 in that it was an operational defeat for the insurgents; unlike Tet, it was also seen to be a defeat. If the Ba'athists don't do something, they are in danger of becoming just a police problem.

There is more than a little danger of wishful thinking in this kind of analysis. When the prospect of burning buildings and dead bodies becomes good news, you could be on your way to a state of mind in which no event in the objective world can puncture your optimism. Nonetheless, though the Terror War will continue for several years, I cannot stop my attention from straying to what the world and America will be like when it is over.

* * *

The current security warnings are too broad to provide much information: bridges, tunnels, nuclear power plants, chemical factories; and don't forget hijacking passenger planes and using them as cruise missiles again. This is misdirection by inclusion, and I suppose it is the correct thing to do now. We should recall that there are just three terrorists tactics that don't depend on luck or exotic technology: shoulder-launched ground-to-air missiles, truck bombs, and suicide bombers. We should also recall that Al Qaeda favors simultaneity. So.

* * *

By the way, far stranger things can fall out of a clear blue sky than are known to Al Qaeda's philosophy. You can find some of them in Rev. 16:21.

* * *

Here are some figures on the box-office success of The Return of the King, which opened everywhere in the world last Wednesday, except for Australia and Japan. US domestic receipts have reached to $125.1 million, with $73.6 million coming in over the weekend. Believe or not, that's not a record, but the film did set a record worldwide: $246.1 million in total. According to The New York Times today, you pretty much have to do global premiers for a film like this, since pirated versions will appear around the world within a day or two in any case.

The Fellowship of the Ring grossed $861 million; The Two Towers $921 million. The Return of the King should reach a billion. Still, the record of $1.8 billion for Titanic seems safe for a while.

In any case, since I saw the Return, I have been boring everyone I know with a prediction of "every rec-room a Bayreuth Festival." Once the DVDs are available, watching them back-to-back will become an annual ritual for groups of true believers. I know this because I have every intention of doing so myself.

* * *

Speaking of liturgies, here's a poster [no longer online] for Christmas Eve. It's for a Tridentine Mass, but the organizers asked me to remove the word "Latin" from the text. Some things you just don't argue about.      

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