The Christian church, for as long as I’ve been alive and much earlier, has badgered the notion of the ‘mark of the beast’ to the point that reading the phrase makes the mind want to shut this down. Close the tab and go back to Facebook. The fear of the unknown sparks panic, and nothing induces panic like previously-unknown technology beginning to come to the forefront of culture after WWII. So there was speculation and panic. Everything from credit card numbers to bar codes were postulated to be the proverbial mark of the beast. It all made its own odd sense, but the human mind can recognize panic and speculation, and will make a decision as to when to ignore it and move on.
Though it’s never gone away, the ‘mark of the beast’ has a rather tainted reputation concerning authenticity.
What thoughts enter your mind when seeing that above graphic? I suspect I can relate to them.
Perhaps one day an actual beast will step from the ocean. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. In the meantime, however, more pragmatic thoughts are needed.
What is the ‘beast’ and what is said beast’s ‘mark?’ Of course, there a myriad theories and I ignore the vast majority of them. Mickey D’s version of Christianity, plaguing us for far too many years now, both oversimplifies and overspiritualizes them. The ideas from the Christian church are far too simplistic and yet over-analyzed. The ideas generally mean nothing to the public writ large. Breathless, conspiratorial hearsay and little more. Easy to ignore, easy to dismiss.
Look up the definition for beast and the English word returns a few variants. One of the most useful here is something not human. The Greek word used in the Bible (therion) has several definitions, some wolf-based, and some citing the word to mean a dangerous and venomous animal. A serpent fits this nicely. So we expound on this idea of a venomous animal.
A serpent generally lies in wait. It most often does not pop out of the weeds and declare itself. Growing up in the Deep South as I have, you learn to watch your step during certain times of the year in the woods, in a field of weeds, and so on. Unless it’s a rattler, nine of ten, it’s generally way too damn late by the time you know that the serpent is there and you just stepped on it. Never once have I encountered a snake (and I’ve encountered a helluva lot of them) when it required me to tattoo its name on my right hand or give it my credit card number. Whether the serpent is acting as a predator or in self-defense, the MO is the same: hide and wait until the best possible moment, then strike the blow.
When John the Revalator informed us that the number of the beast is the infamous 666, I believe it had less to do with ciphering out the name of the beast as it did determining the nature of the beast. The Bible cites the number 7 as being the number of the True God so many times that I’m not even going to try and list them here. In this sense, six is less than seven. The desire of Lucifer, and his ilk, is to be like unto God, but this desire has always and will always fail. The lesser gods will never attain the power and divinity they seek, for their aim is not pure. The Godhead rests in a state of pure perfection and harmony. The lesser gods, having rebelled, forfeited such a luxury, and thus spend their days twisting, spinning, and trying to change the entirety of the world in order to appear as powerful as the Godhead. Their desire burns within them like the fire of Hades—to be like the Most High. Yet they have missed the point entirely: they were already created as the image of the Most High, thus their desire is futile, and were they to simply obey the Laws of the Universe that the Most High put into motion, their very desire would thus be attained.
I look at our world today and I see a beast system already in place. Technology, entertainment, social media, instant gratification; all have led humanity again to a state of utter Hubris. Humanity possesses the same desire as the lesser gods, which is to be like the Most High, and thanks to the cleverness of humanity, we have created a world in which we want for nothing. We walk entitled through our madness as though we were ourselves gods.
Yet we are unfulfilled, bored, and self-destructive. We have no hope. We are not as the Most High, who is Love and Goodness, in the least. We have lost touch entirely with the belief in the goodness of life itself.
Societies turn bad when they lose any sense of this goodness. Instead of expecting life to bring them positive things, people look toward it with a combination of paranoia and narcissism that has them seeing themselves as the likely victim.
This makes them want to preemptively strike against everyone and everything else. To them, it is no longer stealing or inaction when they take more than they need or avoid pitching in when necessary. They are merely protecting themselves against inevitable future victimhood.
In addition, they gain a sort of metaphysical solipsism that has them see themselves as the object of the acts of the universe. If it rains, it was designed to rain on them; if there is a shortage, life has injured them.
From this outlook a malevolent individualism is born which says, essentially, “I will do whatever I want, and should not be judged for this, because nothing good will come to me otherwise.” All individualism (hubris) goes this way, or at least, individualism does not arise without this latent attitude.
Individualism takes the opposite form of goodness. It says that the world is bad and the only good is found in the individual. In other words, we retreat into our individual selves because we perceive that our surroundings are hostile.
Western people originally had a sense of the goodness to life. We studied our world, did what was sensible, and received benefits; these corresponded to a notion of a metaphysical goodness, or life reaching toward improvement, so that the best always won.
Somehow, we lost this, and life became — like a bourgeois job, filing your taxes, or making small talk at a party you did not want to go to — an obligation. In the hands of human control, what was once liberating and beautiful became repetitive and odious.
Initially, it seems, Lucifer felt more than slighted because he was not at the level of the Most High. Thus Hubris took root, and he decided to take this matter into his own hands, which resulted in him being cast from the all the wonderful goodness that God had given him. Having been punished in this manner, one might think that such a lovingly created being might have learned his lesson. Instead, however, this Hubris festered, and resulted in the nachash working diligently since time immemorial to taint the entire human race, because the shining one knew how much God loved humanity.
This is much like our society today. Based mostly on envy and Hubris, our society seeks with something like a fever to destroy all that is good because this goodness rises above the base nature that humanity has been inflicted with to take the easiest route in life. When those who believe in the old ways (common sense, decency, morality, spiritual goodness, self-reflection, self-reliance, self-awareness) succeed and change the world, then society seeks to tear them down. Identity politics (the ultimate example of Hubris and envy) sort people into angry, sensitive groups that cannot abide the success of those who maintain principle and honor.
But this is only part of the problem.
Even those who do not subscribe to identity politics have succumbed in their own way to the beast system. While their core beliefs are good and decent, they still desire to have their ‘rights’. They desire the cake and believe they also have the right to eat it. The serpent has beguiled them as well. This unholy trinity (666) is far more aware and intelligent than the average human, and knows that simply fooling a few people is no goal. It has sought and succeeded in luring the vast majority of modern, first-world society into believing that humans deserve to have the things that they want simply because they walk upright and breathe. The same people who lament the corruption of our modernity willingly engage in the desires afforded them by this corrupt system, all the while believing that there is no cognitive dissonance in doing so. Mickey D’s Christianity (thanks, Brett, for that one) is a willing accomplice to the beast system. Gone is the reverence of spirituality and the understood holiness of the Most High and the Laws of the Universe. In the place of those things are material desires, entitlements, and shallow requests through ‘prayer’ to have more stuff. All the while, Mickey D’s Christianity trudges right along the path to doom.
What is the mark of the beast? While I am certain that there will be physical, technological marks that will determine who’s who in our future, the mark of the beast seems, in short, to be Hubris. Entitlement. Division. Envy.
It is a sad thing, when one realizes that humanity, just like the lesser gods, need only recognize and follow the Laws of the Universe that are in place in order to be like the God whose power they so desire. But abiding by laws requires self-awareness, discipline, and decency, and these are things that our beast system and its mark upon us have removed.
We have gained all we can possibly want, and lost everything that we need.