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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Whose End Times?

The One-Donkey Solution: A Satire
Richard Bulliet
Paperback:  328 pages
Publisher: (April 18, 2011)
Language:  English
ISBN-10:  1462000126
ISBN-13:  978-1462000128
Paperback for $19.95
Kindle for $9.99

Terms like Apocalypse, Eschaton, Parousia, Rapture, and Second Coming are part of our vocabulary. With the publication of The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970 the question of what the end times would be like again surfaced.  And resurfaced.  Reverend Harold Camping was predicting the Second Coming for 21 May 2011.  Best I can tell, he was off on his prediction.

The book at hand takes a look at some aspects of the question of the end of times, weaving in the traditions of Jews, Christians and Muslims, including the Shi'a belief in the 12th Imam, who is believed to be occulted at this time.  Not only the beliefs, but also a couple of the players, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is believed to be a Twelver or someone who believes that the 12th Imam will soon return.  The book also talks to the question of whether President Ahmadinejad is actually Jewish.

The author, Columbia History Professor Richard Bulliet, knows his subject.  Further, he knows the territory, including being the man who extended the invitation to President Ahmadinejad to talk to Columbia University on 24 September 2007.

This book covers the territory in a light hearted manner.  It advertises itself as a Satire and it is.  The book is a spy novel, but it is in the style of Eric Amber more than that of Ian Fleming.  While we meet the professional spies along the way, it is the amateurs who prove the most interesting and resourceful.

The book ranges from Cambridge, MA (of course there is a Harvard Professor) to Germany to Israel to Morocco to Iran to Scotland, back to Virginia and then up to New York City.  Oops, I left out Venice, Italy.

The book ranges from Christian Evangelicals (to include a TV Preacher) to the Episcopal (Anglican) Church, to the Catholic Church, to Judaism, to Islam and to Shi'a Islam, and throws in a Mormon and a Seventh Day Adventist to boot, as well as some skeptics along the way.  The book's characters indulge in sex, but like an older writing model, the steamy scenes are left to one's imagination.

The MacGuffin is a donkey, by the name of Ya'fur, the donkey of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad, and of others of a prophetic bent.  People from several faiths are searching for this donkey in that he is the donkey upon which the Mashiach, the Messiah, and the Islamic Mahdi, who the Shi'a see as the Twelfth Imam, will ride into Jerusalem upon his arrival at or return to earth.  There are those, of course, who believe the Messiah will descend to earth, catching up the faithful to meet him.  Such are probably not impressed by the donkey solution.

The key, however is the donkey, Ya'fur.  It is through this donkey that we examine the views of all the other participants, including the CIA, which comes in for a lot of satire, as a clueless and bureaucratic organization, bogged down in paperwork and the filling out of forms.  And sometimes those forms actually result in progress being made, but one is left to ponder the cost for the benefit.

A quick read, unless you stop to check on all the side bar activities noted and go to the trouble to trace them down on the Internet.

Regards  —  Cliff

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This may be a bit of a liberal interpretation of scripture...but hey...I'm a heathen protestant. Seems that God threw A&E out of the Garden because they fell for the line the snake gave them that they could have the knowledge of God himself. The message was pretty much, "NO, you can't and don't try." So then we have Revelations with the same admonishment implied and actually stated elsewhere. "Don't get into predicting what God will do, but just be ready for whatever He does."

Of course, nobody listens to that stuff. After all, if someone hits the big numbers on the prediction they will be world (or universe) famous for accurately foretelling what God is going to do...maybe even get a Nobel AND a Pulitzer (you just KNOW that the winner is going to publish).

I am drifting deeper into the SOS time of my life (Slower, Older, Smarter) so I am of a mind to not hold my breath for anything spectacular predicted....donkeys or raptures....or some cataclysmic second big bang. Maybe we will all fall into a gigantic black hole...and find all of our national wealth once again. I'm sure that is where it went.

Now...where did I put my ouija board?