Posted 6:40 P.M. MST 11/9/01
Last Monday night an unusual aurora borealis appeared in the skies above the United States. This phenomenon, also known as Northern Lights, is rare south of Canada. From my vantage point in rural New Mexico, it was a spectacular, once in a lifetime display. The entire northern horizon glowed pale green as though a large city was just around the bend, and was framed on each side by shimmering, dancing pillars of red that would grow and change shape like a lava lamp.
To the south the planet Mars, the mythological god of war, looked down with his blood-red eye as he has done since early spring in his portentous close encounter with Earth.
A couple of hours after I watched and wondered at this display, William Cooper, a national militia figure and talk show host, was killed by police in front of his home in Arizona. According to news reports Cooper was wanted on charges of threatening someone with his gun, and as the police tried to serve an arrest warrant, a gun battle ensued leaving Cooper dead and an officer critically injured. Cooper has stated publicly for years he would never be taken alive by the authorities.
Two years ago, while traveling through Arizona, I stopped in Cooper's home town of Eagar on business. I stayed at a campground on the edge of town, and a local resident told me that William Cooper lived in a house across the road from where I was staying. I said I would be interested in meeting him, as I knew he that he was a federal fugitive. The resident told me, "If you walk up his driveway, you will probably be shot."
I didn't cross the road to find out what would happen, and I never did meet William Cooper. But I did wonder what life must be like for someone who continually lived on the edge of killing another human being. I felt it must take a toll on one's sanity.
Shortly after learning about Cooper's death I received an email from one of his longtime friends who said he "could be kind and compassionate when he wasn't being tormented by whatever demons tormented him." I received another message lamenting that the demons had finally "driven him around the bend." Perhaps these friends and admirers meant "demons" in a figurative sense even as they recognized Cooper had lost his sanity and was overcome by a very dark spiritual condition.
This dark, insane spirit is filling the world today. The red aurora seemed to announce his presence as it danced and flowed like blood poured out on the sky.
The various institutions of the land, society's guiding lights, are darkened by the same irrational paranoia attributed to the "right wing lunatic fringe" for years. Self-righteousness, hatred, fear and revenge are no longer the trademark of a few, but are revealing themselves as mainstream qualities.
Years ago, while working as a police officer, I was called to the home of a man who would have been considered "antigovernment." He and his family lived in a concrete bunker situated on several acres and had a large collection of firearms with which to defend it. Signs making various threats toward law enforcement were posted around the property.
The man and his wife had been in an argument with their daughter's boyfriend. The man brandished his pistol at the boy, who grabbed it and shot the man and his wife to death.
It seemed ironic to me at the time that, in spite of this man's best efforts to defend himself against tyranny, it was his own tyranny that ended his life and that of his wife. The government walked unhindered into their dark, cluttered bunker to collect their bloody corpses.
Today people do not see the enemy who is leading them into their dark insanity. It is their self-righteous stories about their own goodness and the evil "out there." To some it is the government. To others, it is al-Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, or Bill Clinton. As we can see from the two examples cited above, those who follow that path end up creating their own needless destruction.
A couple of days after the disasters of September 11 a federal survey taker came to my rural home. He wanted to "map out" the location of my house for a survey so the government could decide how to allocate "a federal pot of money" for drug abuse education in my area. I replied that I didn't use drugs and he could keep his money, etc., but that didn't dissuade him. I felt a stirring of "righteous indignation," as this was the third government survey taker wanting to map something on this property in the past year and a half. I felt with all the "terrorists" on the loose the government would have better things to do.
Through his patient persistence, and a flash of revelation that revealed to me a better way, the bureaucrat was permitted to draw his map and went happily on his way. I realized in that encounter the very beginnings of that dark insanity in myself and I chose to dispose of it quickly.
Last week I saw a recently filmed Italian documentary about a surgical hospital in the northern part of Afghanistan. They interviewed a 14 year old patient who said he had stepped on a land mine while on his way to "defend" his "honor". His legs were blown off. He should have stayed home. I think I will stay home and put a big sign up that says, "Federal agents and survey takers: WELCOME! -- and come prepared to stay for dinner."
Of those who claim to be "Christians," or Christ followers, many will respond to this with the incredulous question, "What are we supposed to do? Let evil people walk all over us?" Well, there was this man in the Bible named Jesus, and when a mob tried to throw him off a cliff he just turned around and walked away. Now, what is so hard about that? Jesus came to show us how it is done.
But religious people seem to be the first to pick up a gun, or a rock, or anything that isn't tied down to destroy their enemies with, not realizing that they themselves have gone nuts, and that they themselves are their own worst enemy. The Jewish wars following the murder of Jesus turned Israel into one long and narrow graveyard. It will be no different today, as the dogs of war are loosed to rid the world of evil, but not the evil in our own hearts.
I have watched with great interest as our reporting on Michael as the Messiah has sifted our readership. The religious bigots get all bent out of sorts, and they make war with their angry arguments. Then there is the Centurion or the Samaritan woman who believe with great faith. What a precious few they are.
The appearing of Michael is separating the sheep from the goats, just as Jesus' appearing did. The after effect will be the same as well, as the world is made desolate by angry, self-righteous people. Yes, "They know not what they do." They have embraced a dark, insane spirit that is driving them to their ruin.
This is God's Operation Infinite Justice. He doesn't pour out fire and brimstone to destroy the wicked. He steps out of their way as they grab their gun to "rid the world of evil doers," and in their blind, self-righteous rage, they rid the world of themselves.
"Militia leader killed, deputy wounded," Arizona Republic (6 November 2001)
"Aurora Borealis provides red, green light show," Associated Press (6 November 2001)
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