Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Antichrist is Among Us! (And His Name is Possibly Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz)

OK, so in the course of researching the Deathers (yes, I do research, even when there's only one real point to the whole thing), I came across the next meme the unhinged Right is trying to push. Obama is the Antichrist!

(cue scary music)

Yes, they're still at it. And it looks like this.

(This is the updated version, by the way, which even tries to incorporate the second of the three "minor problems" below. But fails.)

But since I get into stupid, geeky language arguments like this, I started looking into it. Only to discover that somebody already went there. So, from Mark Chu-Carroll:
In general, I find arguments like this to be extremely silly. This is, basically, like playing with gematria - only instead of doing real gematria (which can be quite silly enough), it's like our friend "Gotcha" - mixing systems and screwing things up until you get the results you want.

Lots of the particularly crazy strain of Christians really, desperately want to believe that Barack Obama is the antichrist. They want an explanation for how this black man with a muslim name could possible have actually been elected - they don't believe it could possibly have happened honestly. And their doctrine requires the antichrist to come soon. Combine those two, and you've got what, for them, is a sort of perfect storm.

Which gives us things like this. For more mockery, see beneath the fold.

According to the video, if you take a phrase from the new testament that supposedly talks about the antichrist, and then you translate it to english, you'll get the phrase "lightning from above". If you then take the word lightning, and translate it to a third language, hebrew, you get "xarak". If you then take the word "above", and translate it, you get "bamah" or "bimah" (depending on conjugation). If you put those words together, hebrew requires a prefix on the "bamah" part, which our oh-so-brilliant video author claims would be "O-". So, according to this fundie nutcase, if you translate a line from the new testament into hebrew (using English as an intermediate), you'll get "Barak O-Bamah".

There are a few oh-so-minor problems with this.

1. The phrase in greek is actually "lightning from heaven". "Lightning from above" is a clear, blatant mistranslation. But hey, what's a minor mistranslation if it produces the results you want?

2. The correct conjugation in hebrew would use the prefix "U-" not "O-", and either prefix would cause the initial consonant to be shifted to the "V" form. So the phrase in hebrew wouldn't be "Barak Obamah" but "Barak Uvamah"

3. The name "Barack" in the case of the president of the US, is not the same as the Hebrew name "Barak". Our presidents name is arabic - the corresponding hebrew name isn't Barak, but "Baruch". The two words are quite different in Hebrew - Baruch means "Blessed"; "Barak" means lightning. They're different words, pronounced differently. (Barak ends with a hard-K sound; Baruch ends with an aspirate-H. The K and the CH are written with different characters - BRK versus BRC.)

So... If you mis-translate greek to english, and then translate the english to hebrew making a conjugation error, you get something which sounds (to an english speaker) kind-of like the name of the current president of the US. Therefore, he's the antichrist.

I'll just point out (in an attempt to work in something vaguely on-topic) that mathematically, this really isn't surprising at all. It's basically exactly the same as my usual critique of gematria-type stuff. There are a finite number of phonemes in human languages. Almost any combination of phonemes that you can imagine is a word in some language. If you're willing to search a bit, and be flexible in your translations, you can find almost any kind of pattern or correspondence that you want.

Looking at this, it looks unlikely. The number of phonemes is fixed, but it's big enough that the number of combinations is pretty staggering. For instance, english has somewhere around 40 distinct phonemes. It's a whole lot. Even if you're willing to cheat, what are the odds that even a mistranslation of a passage would produce a result like this?

And for that, we go back to the bible codes. You're not working forwards, looking for what's there. You've got a result that you want, and you're working backwards from it. You've got a name, like "Barak Obama", and you want to make an argument that he's the antichrist. So you try to find some way that you could translate something close to those phonemes into something from the texts that purport to speak about the antichrist. It would be surprising if you couldn't. There's no shortage of passages in the bible, and for many of the fundies, they see a huge number of them as being, in some way, about the antichrist.

Let me show you an example. I'm going to "prove" that I am the antichrist.

Let's start with my first name, "Mark". The name "Mark" has several possible histories to it. One connects it to the god Mars; another one to the babylonian god "Marduk". Some christian sects associate Marduk with the devil, because among other things, he was the god of magic.

Now, let's look at with my pre-marriage last name. One way of transliterating it into hebrew gives us the word for "melody".

"Chu" has no direct translation to hebrew, because hebrew has no "Ch" sound. But the closest thing I can come up with is a hebrew prefix which translates as "the".

So my name could be (stretching, but stretching no more than this Barak Obama" thing) translated as "The melody of the devil".

So, the things that I'm saying to you are the melody of the devil. Sure sounds like I'm the antichrist, doesn't it?
Damn it. Now I have to find something else to blog on.


Diogenes said...

This whole story is so depressin gto me. Not because Barack Obama is the AntiChrist... he told me that in a dream before the eletion.

No, I wasa history and religious studies double major in college. My favorite prof, a retired Episcopalian priest, convince me to take two semesters of Calssical Hebrew to fulfill my foreign language requirement. I don't do well with foreign languages, but he convinced me on the poit that there ARE no Classical Hebrews walking aroun nowadays to correct your pronunciation, since it's a dead language.

And I have no diea whether thiese words actually are Baraq Bammah or not.

The ONE time it could have come in handy, and my Classical Hebrew eludes ne,

Nameless Cynic said...

Which is why it's used so (relatively) effectively in stupid little games like this. People predisposed to believe it, are already ignorant enough to think it's true, but this adds that gloss of scholarship that makes them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

It's like a strange subset of circular logic. If they were going to believe it anyway, this allows them to think it's true.

ToeJamm said...

I don't think he's the anti christ because of his stupid muslim name. I think he is the anti christ because he is destroying the first and last good nation this world has ever seen. I hope all the poor, lazy, unemployed, and unfaithfull nasties out there enjoy Obama's undeserved hand outs whom he stole from the hard working red blooded Americans who are still left.

"From each according to his ability and to each according to his need."- An Ill Fated Philosopher, circa any century

Diogenes said...

What are the odds?

Three different commenters, each with a screen name befitting their station in life.

Anonymous said...

You are including yourself...right?

Oh, I for got, screaming liberals are perfect.

You remind me of a person whose eyes are open and whose mouth moves but the brain has long since departed. If brains were lard Diogenes, you couldn't grease a pan. Every comment made by you that I read on this blog and others tells me you just need to be someone special, but all you have is special needs. I have read the blogs you comment on and have read the bloggers thoughts. You both are so truly rudderless.

And as for you, Mark, or Bill, or nameless or whatever, I am deeply concerned that someone who served such a great country has no respect or knowledge of how it became so great and now wants it to become something it never has been and espouse socialism, which has never worked. To read your rubbish is to read Carl Marx. You liberals aren’t brave enough to kill our nation’s enemies, but they have the courage to kill the unborn, and you make terrorists the victims. As for your support of Obama, voting for someone because he’s black is as racist as voting against someone because he’s black. I have nothing but contempt for you. No pity, no remorse or sorrow, simple contempt of all you stand for.

You are the disease, the virus, the disorder and not the solution. You earned my respect as a veteran, but you lost it because you have no honor. I will never return to this garbage heap. You two deserve each other.

Nameless Cynic said...

ToeJammer - I'll just assume that the closest to visiting all these other nations you're talking about is a possible trip to Mexico to get drunk and hope to have random meaningless sex, right? OK, then.

And incidentally, the President is not, has not, and will never try to establish some weird socialist/communist state (there's a difference - look it up), he's just trying to, in the words of the Constitution, "promote the general welfare."

Every other industrialized nation has healthcare, and we're wasting massive chunks of money on bandaids that we can't afford in a recession.

As for my new Anonymous friend, I suppose a full answer won't be necessary, since he claims he won't be coming back (that worked so well for eMan), but it raises an interesting question.

Why is it that the only conservative commentators never have a point, just random invective? They come toddling in here and just spew random talking points and political terms they don't really understand (yes, 'Jamm, I'm looking at you). "Socialism, communism and fascism are all bad, so they must be the same, right?"

That last guy couldn't even spell the name Karl Marx (You know, the sixth Marx Brother - Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, Gummo and Karl).

(And "Mark?" Where the hell does he get that?)

Ah, well, if I wasn't willing to defend myself, I probably shouldn't go for walks over on the Dark Side.

ToeJamm said...

Just because he says he is promoting the "general welfare" doesn't mean he is all the sudden upholding the constitution and what our great founding fathers intended. I could say I am promoting the general welfare by blowing up an SUV dealorship and destroying the pollution tanks that the rich parade around in. But we all know that would be morally wrong and illegal...Wait, the hippie environmentalist Obama supporters do this shit all the time(Earth Liberation Front in Oregon).
Fact of the matter is, any government organization that takes the blood sweat and tears of its hard working tax payers and gives to the needs of the undeserving, is a socialist program and undermines what this country originally stood for.

Ask Canada how their health care is going. I'm sure the lazy stoners say its great.

By the way, I've never been to Mexico. But I, just like you, have been to Iraq and Kuwait. Thanks for serving. Remember what happens when you Assume.

ToeJamm said...

By the way, its ToeJamm. Funny how you will criticize someone who mispells a historical figure but you can't seem to spell my name even though its right in front of your face. Another immature remark from a liberal. How can you argue politics by insulting the spelling of words. So someone mispelled a name? They must be wrong in all their political philosophy. How about we insult eachother for our eye color? Lets stick to the facts about politics here shall we?

I also want to ask you a friendly favor. Please keep visiting my blog "Robinson Talking Points". The contributors are four conservatives. I am probably the least knowledgable out of them. It is always interesting hearing the arguments of a liberal. But make sure to be prepared to get smoked by the rebuttle of reason. I don't want to hurt the femanine psyche of a liberal.

Diogenes said...

I'm sorry, but this is just too hilarious for words! This guy is suggesting you're immature, NC, for misspelling his screen name of "ToeJamm"? As John McEnroe once infamously said, "You cannot be serious!"

But you're too hard on yourself, TJ. If you hadn't ratted yourself out, how on earth could anybody else tell who's the least knowledgeable (oops, sorry, "knowledgable") among four conservative bloggers? That's an almost impossible task, especially for "femanine" liberals.

Well, gotta run. Time to blow up an SUV. Hope it's not my own, this time.....

Jeff said...

I don't think Obama is the "anti christ" unless you are talking about a general type of person; such as, a hitler or stalin like character. I agree with you ridiculing this ideal, but I do believe Obama is helping lay the foundations of a tyrannical government that will rear its head within the next couple of decades. All under the excuse of taking care of you. Read Alexisde Tocqueville,
_Democracy in America_ volume 2, section 4, chap 6 to see this. to see how this is possible. It is coming to pass.

I just took an American Government class and I learned a lot about he general welfare clause. Basically the government has and is using this clause to expands its size and influence over the nation. This is what my moderate instructor and textbook stated. In order for the government to be able to promote the general welfare as you see fit, it needs to have a lot of power: it needs to be able to take from everybody and then redistribute this capital as it sees fit. Since the GOV does not produce anything, it needs to first take what it provides to you. Basically you want the government to be your parent. Along with this they will have the authority that a parent has over a child. If all you want is a nanny state, just get put in a prison. They give you three meals a day, a place to sleep, and health care. No worries. Look at the health care of these other countries to see how well it is doing. Look at the VA and Medicaid to see government run health care.

Only a complete ignorance the history of mankind and especially the recent history with communism and Nazisms, can you say that Obama is not setting up a communist/socialist state. Maybe you are to in love with the ideal of the government talking care of you to be able to see that they are using this excuse to increase its power and make you a slave. Look at the Soviet Union, it was supposed to be the dictatorship of the common working person and provide all of their needs--history shows this was not the case. Ask yourself what does it take for a GOV to be able to take care of you? They need to put their true purpose in the garb of justice and equality and taking care of you, so that they can gain power over you. If you stop and think critically, you might see this to be the case. Thanks for the visit to the blog and I hope you gained something from our conversations.

Bud-D said...

Nice strawman you set up there, Nameless Cynic. Yes, there are wackos on both sides. I can remember, aways back, when Richard Nixon and/or (depending whom you asked) Henry Kissenger were considered the Antichrist. The same type of people thought that. Times have changed. Whatever. Most conservatives, like ToeJamm, believe that Obama is a fairly intelligent, fairly charismatic man, steeped in Marxism and Racial Identity politics, just as virtually all of his mentors on his way up the ladder, and is committed to fundamentally change the nature of the USA. I may disagree with admitted Socialists, but at least there is logic in their vote for Obama, and they have the courage to be open about their convictions. Everyone else who supports Government control of healthcare, Government control of major industries, Government control of what you can buy and not buy, Government conrol of how you live your lives, but declines to call it Socialism, as Obama does, are cowards.

Nameless Cynic said...

Well, I appreciate that you don't think Obama is the antichrist. You aren't alone in that: even our friends at World Net Daily don't believe it.

Now, as for why we need healthcare, you're about two weeks late. We need universal healthcare in order to remain on an equal footing economically with every other industrialized nation.

Only a complete ignorance the history of mankind and especially the recent history with communism and Nazisms, can you say that Obama is not setting up a communist/socialist state.

OK, well, I could just counter with something about "only a complete ignorance of the English language," but instead, I'll point out, once again, that every other industrialized nation offers universal healthcare. If the American people are healthier, they can work harder, get richer, and not worry about going bankrupt because of of medical bills.

Please explain how trying to make Americans healthier is "setting up a communist/socialist state." You'd rather they stay sick?

OK, so you're a little more civil here. Let's see what you've got.

strawman: n. front man: a person used as a cover for some questionable activity
OK, so I guess that's not what you mean.

scarecrow: an effigy in the shape of a man to frighten birds away from seeds
Well, I hope that's not it.

a weak or sham argument set up to be easily refuted
I'm guessing that's the definition you're going for. Of course, since I didn't set up the argument, the video has gone viral, and it's therefore not my fault that it's easily refuted, this really doesn't qualify as a "strawman" in that sense, either.

Speaking of "strawmen" though, the whole "Obama is a racist" meme has no evidence to support it, nor does "Obama is a communist." (See my comments above.)

And, you know, it's surprising how many people are being named as Obama's "mentors", in an effort to demonize the lawfully-elected president of the United States.

There's Jeremiah Wright, who was the priest at a church he attended (you're saying that you see everything exactly the same way as the priest who you doze off during the sermons of?), Bill Ayers (they sat on one board together, Ayers ran a couple of fundraisers - but "mentor"?) - I mean, let's be real. We seem to be back to that "strawman" thing.

And, aside from healthcare, you list three things here:

- Government control of major industries
- Government control of what you can buy and not buy
- Government conrol of how you live your lives

And where do you get that from? So you're saying that 0.21% is the true measure of socialism? And it outweighs the 99.79% of the economy that remains blissfully free of government control? (And, in fact, damned little government oversight, thanks to Bush.)

That's kind of a weak argument, isn't it?

Jeff said...

This is a blog. Most people write these responses fairly fast and get on with their lives. I don't have time to completely check my grammar and make it perfect. Unless someones grammar is completely fucked up, you don't resort to ridiculing their English unless you don't have a point or any other way to poke holes in what they say.

"Now, as for why we need health care, you're about two weeks late. We need universal health care in order to remain on an equal footing economically with every other industrialized nation...that every other industrialized nation offers universal health care. If the American people are healthier, they can work harder, get richer, and not worry about going bankrupt because of of medical bills."

There was and is no other country that has been as great as America. I would rather not be like any other industrialized nation. America's poor are better off than another country's rich. So I guess when we have government run health care, health care will automatically become free? A band aid or any other complex medical device or medicine will just pop out of thin air? It will not take resources, both human and non human, to provide this health care? The government providing health care will lead the nation to having no health care cost? Ultimately someone has to pay for this health care. Just because the government is providing health care, doesn't mean it is free. Instead of individuals paying for their own health care, everybody pays for it. The government will be taking capital out of the private sector and will mismanage it. Look at Medicaid or any other government run organization, a lot of them are broke. This is the future of socialised medicine.

"Please explain how trying to make Americans healthier is "setting up a communist/socialist state." You'd rather they stay sick?"

I stated why above. This is where you are wrong. They don't want to make you healthier. Look at how successful any government run health care is.
This is ABC. A center left news organization. This is a big power grab by the government. Since everything you do is related to your health and the government will be footing the bill, the government will have the right to regulate just about every thing in your life. Health care is roughly 1/6 of the economy. They will be taking it over. Has socialism or a centrally planned economy ever been successful? I don't know of any examples.

If you like economics you should read _Basic Economics in one Lesson_
. _The Constitution of Liberty_ by Friedrich A Hayek. These books illustrates how government interference and involvement in the economy leads to economic ruin

On Bud-d point. The government owns a lot of the private sector. Look around. If the government takes over health care, they will have control of 1/6 of our economy. That is more than 0.21%. Obama is not enamoured with Communism? Read his auto biography. Look at people he as put in position of power: Carol Browner and Van Jones. One was a member of a socialist organization and the other was a self admitted communist. Look at his associations. Listen to his speeches--he hates capitalism. How do you explain this. (I hope this meets your grammar standards, if not my points will be moot.)

Diogenes said...

How does providing a public option for people who cannot otherwise obtain health insurance coverage somehow equate to a government takeover of the entire health care industry? Pay attention to what is actually being proposed, instead of the "Chicken Little" extremist nonsense promoted by Faux News.

Nameless Cynic said...

Well, the answer to the first half of your post is ground I've already gone over. Do I need to repeat the same things over and over? No, it will not be free. But it will be a damned sight cheaper, if the greed of the corporations is brought in check just a little.

John Stossel is a right-leaning libertarian, who's known to make up "facts" to support his arguments.

And I like how you describe ABC as a "center-left" network. Actually, most studies show that the media bias tends to run toward the right. (See, facts again, instead of talking points.)

And since the board of directors for ABC shares two directors with Proctor & Gamble, how hard do you think that they're going to support healthcare reform?

Jeff said...

"No, it will not be free. But it will be a damned sight cheaper, if the greed of the corporations is brought in check just a little."

OK, so medicare and other government run organizations have kept cost under control? Post Office? Cash for Clunkers? The whole federal government? Are they not going bankrupt? They sure are keeping those cost down.

"Actually, most studies show that the media bias tends to run toward the right. (See, facts again, instead of talking points.)"

A liberal university states that there is a right wing bias in the news. OK, then. WOW. Facts don't matter. Must be nice living in your reality. Hook me up with some of what you got.

"And since the board of directors for ABC shares two directors with Proctor & Gamble, how hard do you think that they're going to support healthcare reform?"

Evil corporate America, the source of all of our evils, is out to get you. RUN!

Nameless Cynic said...

OK, so if Medicare is such a big boondoggle and money-waster, why is it when Rep. Anthony Weiner tried to get Congress to vote to end it last month, not one single Republican in favor of the motion?

And, for that matter, why are you calling "Cash for Clunkers" a failure? It was funded for $1 billion, and was so phenomenally successful that it ran through the money early. So it was refunded with $2 billion (allocated from the stimulus money, so it can't even be said to be costing us any more) to keep it going. It's doing exactly what it was planned to do. How can you say it was unsuccessful?

Oh, but yes, looking at the whole gestalt, the federal government is, in fact, going broke. Has been doing so, really, since around 2005, when Bush managed to borrow more money than every other president combined. Basically like a young couple living off credit cards, only to the tenth power.

A liberal university states that there is a right wing bias in the news.

Ah, of course. And if a news organization said it, it would be the "liberal media" (heh). So who, exactly, would you accept as a source for that observation?

Just curious.

Evil corporate America, the source of all of our evils, is out to get you.

No, just your money. Subtle difference.

Anonymous said...

Where were these anti-big-government sentiments when the Patriot Act was proposed? Or when we invaded Iraq at such a devastating cost? The Bush administration expanded the authoritarian powers of the presidency by leaps and bounds, yet few right-wingers had the courage to criticize his dictatorial ambitions, preferring to goose-step right over the cliff with him.

Now instead we are offered the option of participating in government-sponsored health care, and these people have a hissy fit over it? It blows my mind.

If you like your health care, keep it. That's part of the plan. Personally, I make $58K a year, and $10K of that goes to health care (and that doesn't include copay, deductible, dental, prescription drugs, or medical equipment). We can't keep up with that.

Those who scream so loudly about the health care plan clearly are not in my situation, not paying like I am, and thus not motivated to see this change.

And to those who think a public health care system is going to ruin our nation, take a look at Europe. They are coming out of the recession already, ahead of us. Stop resting on stock phrases like "we're the greatest nation on earth" and start making it so.