It seems, a few years ago, a man named Harold "Hayseed" Stephens, proposed drilling for oil in Israel - and not just to get rich, but to:
drain the oil fields of the Persian Gulf, prompt Arab countries to attack Israel, and at last touch off the great battle that would usher in the end of days.
I'm not kidding. I so wish that I was. But, the wingnut section of Christianity truly believes that their oil exploration efforts in Israel will bring on the apocalypse. Old people with more depth in their pockets than in their brains, are backing these people. Poor James Cojanis (well, he's poor now!) gave $120,000 to old Hayseed - who, at the time, didn't even have any drilling rights secured in Israel. Now, his investment is worth about $3,000, but he still hasn't soured on the deal:
"I'm glad the stock price is in the tank," he says. "When they hit oil and the stock goes sky-high, that means Armageddon is around the corner." At that point, he plans to use his gains to spread the word that the end times are here, preparing as many souls for heaven as possible.
Hayseed? He's dead, so he doesn't really care anymore - but his son "Sha" is continuing the tradition.
The Mother Jones article really sheds some light on why oil is so important to wingnuttery branch that George W. Bush represents. Sure, Bush wants to line his pockets and the pockets of his friends with oil money and war profiteering. But, at the core of his agenda is bringing the four horsemen over the horizon so Jesus can come in all his glory.
I wish the anti-Revelation crowd had won the battle way back in the day and that piece had never made it into scripture. A book that so obviously talks about the Roman empire of the day is repeatedly misread and used to scare the hell out of people and bilk old people out of their money on some misguided mission to induce Jesus' return to Earth. If I were Jesus, I'd stay put just out of spite because people are just too dumb.
For an eye-opening and sobering look at why the wingnuts are well, nutty, read this incredible piece from Karen Armstrong:
This nihilistic religiosity is based on a perversion of the texts. The first chapter of Genesis was never intended as a literal account of the origins of life; it is a myth, a timeless story about the sanctity of the world and everything in it. Revelation was not a detailed programme for the End time; it is written in an apocalyptic genre that has quite a different dynamic. When they described the Jews' return to their homeland, the Hebrew prophets were predicting the end of the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BC - not the second coming of Christ. The prophets did preach a stern message of social justice, however, and like all the major world faiths, Christianity sees charity and loving-kindness as the cardinal virtues. Fundamentalism nearly always distorts the tradition it is trying to defend.