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Climate Anxiety

We live in Biblical times. Fires, floods, famines, pestilence are all prophesied in various books of the Old and New Testament. Some passages will be quoted in this article, as a way of understanding the great divide in our country.

Everyone has climate anxiety these days. Most of us have been impacted by increasingly ferocious floods, fires, monster storms, drought, rising sea level, the pandemic.

The 25% of Americans who believe, or want to believe, that Trump is still president cope with climate anxiety by living in an alternate reality. This is based on a hijacked version of the Bible. The same book that guided Martin Luther King and many other fighters for equality, peace, freedom for all, has now been turned into an instrument of pernicious forces. The fundamentalists who now claim the Bible seem intent on destroying our democracy, taking away our freedom, and wrecking the biosphere beyond repair. Thus the Bible has been discredited, and its wisdom ignored.

The fundamentalists who now claim the Bible seem intent on destroying our democracy, taking away our freedom, and wrecking the biosphere beyond repair. 

All of this was carefully plotted by oligarchs in the 1970’s, working in think tanks like the Hoover Institute. The false interpretation of the Bible was ramped up to emphasize subjugation of women, reliance on a strong father figure, dumbing down of the population. A popular series of sci-fi books, the Left Behind series, amplified the message. In these books, believers are beamed up to join Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4: 17 we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord ) They simply disappear, leaving behind all their belongings, even the clothes they are wearing, to the bafflement of those “left behind”. It’s glorious, and painless.

You’ll get pie in the sky when you die - it’s a lie. (Joe Hil)

George Lakoff explains it all in his book Don’t Think of An Elephant. The oligarchs engineered the indoctrination and politicization of fundamentalist churches, which then took over the Republican party. Within 30 years, they controlled the US government, first in during the GW Bush administration, and recently with Trump. (During the last administration, Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo openly expressed belief in the rapture.) The rapture cult has enabled the oligarchy to legally plunder the planet and concentrate wealth through the electoral process.

What is the psychology behind this? How does it work? We’ve heard about QAnon paranoia, antivaxxers, antiabortionists, racists, climate deniers. But what provokes the loyalty, the fanaticism that led to the January 6th, 2021 insurrection?

A core group of Trump supporter have a set of beliefs which goes something like this. “We are the Elect, fundamentalist Christians who believe the Bible is gospel. Trump was sent by God to hasten the destruction of the biosphere, in order to fulfill prophecies about the Tribulation. This corrupt earth will disappear. Trump has been anointed to rule God’s Kingdom on earth. The Forces of Darkness stole the election from him, and it’s the job of his followers to reinstall him.”

Although many people who voted for Trump do not consciously hold these beliefs, they identify with the sense of belonging to the Elect. This explains the religious fervor of the insurrectionists, and the devotion of his core voters.

Of course, the central laws of Christianity - love the Creator of life, and love your neighbor, are totally ignored by those who buy the myth. Peace and justice go out the window.

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Since the Trump followers are Bible-based, we can only hope to reach them by reclaiming the sacred books, and showing the true meaning of the passages. These verses are ambiguous, and give us a choice. We can take them literally, or understand them as they are meant to be understood, as referring to the purification of consciousness and expansion of cooperative intelligence, so that we can make peace and solve global problems The sacred books tell us which choice to make: 

Deuteronomy 30:1919 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live"

A simple example of the rapture cult and its fallacies is playing out now. To these people, the vaccine and the mask are the mark of the beast.

Rev 13: 16-17 (The beast) forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

Revelation 14:11: And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”

Only if they refuse the jab will they avoid the torment. Only if they refuse to wear masks will they be eligible for “the rapture”.

Of course, in reality, their refusal to accept “the mark of the beast” makes it more likely that they will die a horrible, tormented death on a respirator, in an ICU. If the hospitals are overflowing with their “saved” friends, they may end up on oxygen in a hospital corridor. 

Yet, despite this obvious clash between what they believe and the horror of what actually happens, they cling to their faith. Even Trump’s acceptance of the vaccine, and his weak, belated endorsement doesn’t shake their world view. 

They have chosen death, for themselves and for life on the planet. How can the Creator of life be on their side? From what spiritual source does the power of their movement come from?

Perhaps MAGA hats are the mark of the beast.

The deep comfort of this alternate world view underlies, I believe, the tenacity to which the GOP holds to Trump. The worse the climate catastrophe, the worse the plague, the happier they are that Judgment Day is near, and the more they cling to him. There is a desperation to it, a kind of psychotic certainty that only Trump can save them, and so he must be restored to power. 

carol-wolman

If we who choose life are to succeed, we have to reclaim the spiritual power which is rightfully ours. We deserve the sense of righteousness which can overwhelm the pernicious myth that Trump can save anybody. We have to actively love life, truth, justice, and our neighbors, including the whales and the bees. Only by aligning ourselves with the Creator of life, can we save the planet.

Carol S. Wolman, MD