Robertson spins ‘prophet’ into profit

Pat Robertson claims that God gave him a message during a prayer retreat. The perennial figurehead of the 700 Club says the divine missive warned of an imminent terrorist attack on American soil in 2007. Whether or not the threat would be nuclear was unclear.

Whether it involves reports of superhuman strength or condemnation of Louisiana residents for exacting God’s wrath in the form of hurricane Katrina, Robertson finds regular excuses to thrust himself into the limelight.

If said attack does transpire, Robertson’s self-proclaimed status as a modern prophet is given credibility. If not, his faithful are sure to go along with whatever reason he comes up with for the hand of terror being stayed. Most likely, this will involve a sufficient supply of prayer, Christian piety and a demonstration of faithfulness in the form of pledges to his media empire – oops, I mean, ministry.

Robertson has been hit-and-miss with his previous God-given predictions, yet his spotty record as the Farmer’s Almanac of eschatology has done little to affect his stature. It seems the man can do no wrong in the eyes of millions of advocates, no matter how hateful, self-aggrandizing or deluded his claims are.

Does that say more about him or about us?

It’s with some reticence that I commit this much space to talking about someone who I consider to be nothing but a charlatan. Each time his critics go on the attack, it only raises his profile to greater levels, suggesting that his rhetoric is worth the ink. What is worth discussion is our insatiable need to know, to lay claim to a magic lens that will peer into the future, giving us a Godlike perspective on the universe, and subsequently some greater sense of control over the outcome of things.

Growing up, a lot of my friends were particularly interested in the prophecies of Nostradamus. I too bought a book of his writing and eagerly tried to connect historical occurrences to his ominously vague prognostications. Even today, people continue to use this sage’s predictions in an effort to determine the trajectory of our collective fate.

There’s one little problem with all of this, however; Nostradamus predicted the world would come to an end at the dawn of this millennium, rendering any predictions beyond the year 2,000 facetious.

Biblically a prophet doesn’t have a .500 average. They’re either a conduit for God’s truth or they’re not. Those who claim to be prophets without such a divinely ordained gift are called false prophets. We’ve been duly warned of the consequences of investing our faith in such characters.

Also, prophets aren’t just fortune tellers. Prophets are more broadly defined as proclaimers of truth, inspired by the word of God. This includes calling B.S. on those who would seek to mislead people with false hopes, misplaced fears or other human-seated motivations and desires.

Here are a few of my own predictions, just for fun.

Global climate patterns will continue to spiral into chaotic and destructive patterns as we continue to ignore the signs of ecological instability, right in front of our noses.

We will reduce our military presence in Iraq over the next few years, but the place will be a mess for decades. The Middle East will never achieve the kind of peace we think they should have in our lifetime, or our children’s lifetime.

Terrorists indeed will continue to target us as long as we are the biggest kids on the block. It’s always been that way.

Some day we will have a non-white and non-male president, but neither will happen in 2008. Finally, energy prices will continue to creep upward until we figure out it makes better financial sense to seek alternatives more aggressively and conserve non-renewable energy sources.

Here’s hoping these predictions offer you a bit of the solace you seek in the new year. Feel free to send any checks you had planned for Pat Robertson my way.

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