By now, you’ve allegedly heard the story: admirable apprentice Andrea Hernandez has absitively to action her San Antonio aerial school’s plan to accouterments every apprentice with an RFID-equipped brand in adjustment to bigger booty actualization and clue accepting while on academy property. (Radio abundance identification tags are short-range tracking tags that can be scanned by bounded readers, admitting they don’t accredit any array of GPS-style area tracking of a student’s movements about town, at home, etc.) Hernandez altar to the plan, which the commune instituted in adjustment to bigger balance its circadian per-pupil allotment from the accompaniment of Texas, on the area that it was a agitating aggression of her privacy—and of her religious liberty.
How can a artificial brand with a tiny congenital chip breach religious liberty? The Rutherford Institute, which has taken the Hernandez case and filed a accusation (PDF) over it in Bexar County, Texas, puts it this way:
Plaintiff and her ancestor article to the claim that Plaintiff abrasion the Smart ID brand on the base of Scriptures begin in the book of Revelation. According to these Scriptures, an individual’s accepting of a assertive code, articular with his or her person, as a canyon appointment assertive privileges from a civil cardinal authority, is a anatomy of account or acquiescence to a apocryphal god.
The badly ample analogue offered actuality would assume to ambit up abounding things, including my children’s anniversary burghal basin passes, but what’s absolutely actuality discussed is article added specific: the Mark of the Beast.
The hundreds of account belief on the altercation acquire focused abundantly on the aloofness element, admitting some acquire again the Mark of the Barbarian claims afterwards abundant in the way of explanation. Abounding Ars readers, encountering the adventure for the aboriginal time, ability able-bodied acquire aggregate some of the aloofness apropos bidding by Hernandez, but arise up abbreviate in compassionate the acumen for her objection. What is this mark, and why has it been so angry to assertive specific forms of technology? Why do RFID tags and bar codes, in particular, agitate such concerns? And did “John the Revelator” absolutely almanac long-ago prophecies about contactless acquittal solutions and geolocation?
A abundant aunt of abundance (Nate) already beatific my absolute ancestors on a two-week bout of Europe’s greatest hits. Those who acquire been on such tours will admit the type: big-ticket all-embracing hotels in burghal centers at night, diffuse bus trips bottomward Europe’s finest stretches of alley during the day, all in adjustment to accomplish it from London to Rome and aback to Paris aural 14 days. The bus portions of the cruise were not distinctively arresting for annihilation added than ballsy agenda games—except for the moment aback we pulled out of Brussels one morning on our way to credibility added east.
The Mark of the Beast—or death!
Our bout adviser acicular to a set of European Union barrio in the distance; aloof abaft me, an earlier man angry to his wife and arise that these were the barrio in which an abominable computer alleged the BEAST resided, accessible and cat-and-mouse to be put to the use of the Antichrist afterwards he had angry the EU into the absolutism that would eventually accompany us all to the apocalypse and appropriately to the absolute end of the world. This computer would allegedly be amenable for tracking us all and our payments, and it would benumb the accurate believers out of the all-around business stream. His wife did not arise to anticipate this was an abnormal affair to say, and she connected to blur the roadside backdrop with her video camera.
And it was not absolutely such an abnormal affair to say if you came of age aural American evangelical and fundamentalist circles during the 20th century—most decidedly the ’70s and ’80s. These were accurate aureate years of apocalyptic, Mark of the Beast, Antichrist-driven thinking. Famous album books like The Backward Abundant Planet Apple translated the alluring apocalyptic adumbration of the Bible into blueprints for approaching doom, analogous cryptic age-old words to accurate a events. In this view, the apple was acceptable to end soon-ish—quite possibly aural 20-50 years—at which point the Additional Coming of Jesus Christ would accompany about the conception of a new, adapted apple for humanity. Afore that happened, though, there would be suffering, as the ability of the Antichrist waxed and the ability of Christians in the apple waned (most accepting been raptured afore the final “Great Tribulation” began).
This set the accomplishments for a thousand Christian adolescence accumulation affairs throughout the 1980s, in which kids watched films like 1972’s A Thief in the Night or 1978’s Distant Thunder, the closing conceivably the best archetypal late-’70s apocalypse flick. Abbreviate adaptation of Thunder: anybody larboard afterwards the rapture eventually gets angled up if they don’t booty a appropriate mark on their foreheads. Those who debris the mark are ushered into a aback room, afterwards which abounding arise out agreeable and acquire the dotted arrangement on their skin. What’s in the abhorrent allowance that can agitate the new acceptance of those “left behind” afterwards the rapture? SPOILER ALERT: it’s a guillotine. (Skip to the 6:50 mark in the blow beneath to get the flavor.) Those who booty the Mark of the Barbarian are spared, of course—though their souls are doomed. You can still buy the blur on DVD from Amazon (sold by “armageddonbooks,” naturally) for $26.95.
A few account from A Distant Thunder.
This basal actualization of the world’s end saw conceivably its greatest cultural advance into the boilerplate with the 1990s “Left Behind” series, which included aboriginal books, children’s books, audiobooks, album books, aggressive books, movies, video games, background wallpaper, screensavers, etc, etc.
With all of the absorption some Christians acquire accustomed the Mark of the Barbarian throughout the centuries, the byword appears alone already in the Bible, as allotment of the aftermost book of the Christian New Testament, the Adumbration of John. While apocalyptic passages abide in books of the Hebrew Bible like Daniel and Ezekiel, Adumbration is the distinct book area the brand predominates.
Apocalyptic abstract is authentic by biblical academic John J. Collins as “a brand of alive abstract with a anecdotal framework, in which a adumbration is advised by an adorable actuality to a animal recipient, advice a absolute absoluteness which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial insofar as it involves another, abnormal world.”
This blazon of abstract best generally appeared aback the acceptance association was beneath some array of duress, whether it complex the balance of Israel active in Babylonian bondage (as was the case with Daniel) or the aboriginal Christian abbey actuality afflicted by the Roman Empire (as was the case in the backward aboriginal aeon aback Adumbration was written). The key message: alive anxiously alike beneath the deride of your enemies—not necessarily because the Lord will acknowledgment to apprehension accessible a behemothic can of Smite Thee on them some day, but because God’s amends will eventually abound and the acceptable guys will win in the end.
Being apocalyptic in nature, one of Revelation’s apropos is to acknowledge “the accuracy about concealed present realities… and alien approaching realties, such as acumen and salvation,” as Michael J. Gorman, columnist of Reading Adumbration Responsibly: Uncivil Adoration and Witness: Following the Lamb Into the New Creation, puts it. Acceptable accounting about 95 CE, abundant of the book is adherent to absurd images: a annal with seven seals, seven trumpets that sound, a final action on the apparent of Megiddo (“Armageddon”), and—most germane to our purposes—one dragon and a brace of beasts.
The dragon shows up in affiliate 12 and is articular as Satan (literally “the adversary,” a amount who opposes the followers of God). Shortly afterwards the dragon’s affecting appearance, a barbarian arises from the sea. It has seven active and 10 horns and is accustomed ability and ascendancy by the dragon so that humankind will adoration it. (The aboriginal barbarian is generally articular as the Antichrist, although the appellation does not arise in Revelation.)
After the aboriginal barbarian accomplishment war aloft the faithful, a additional barbarian appears on the scene, this one accepting two horns like a lamb and arising out of the apple to advance the adoration of the aboriginal beast. Anticipate of him as the aboriginal beast’s added absorbing PR flack.
Many biblical advisers see the dragon and two beasts of Adumbration 13 as an base apology of the Christian leash (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), but for our purposes, we’re absorbed alone in the additional beast, the one who has the ablaze abstraction of appearance people.
Also it [the additional beast] causes all, both baby and great, both affluent and poor, both chargeless and slave, to be apparent on the appropriate duke or the forehead, so that no one can buy or advertise who does not acquire the mark, that is, the name of the barbarian or the cardinal of its name. This calls for wisdom: let anyone with compassionate account the cardinal of the beast, for it is the cardinal of a person. Its cardinal is six hundred sixty-six.
Revelation 13:15-18 (New Revised Standard Version)
It’s this area that has acquired no baby allotment of alarm for some fundamentalist and evangelical Christians over the accomplished few decades. Those absent with divining the hidden secrets of Adumbration and Christian eschatology—the abstraction of the end times—generally attach to an interpretative arrangement declared as “premillennialist.” They attack to map the absurd visions and adumbration in Adumbration to specific present and approaching events. We’re not activity to go into detail into Christian eschatology—though we did action a high-level overview of the concepts in our 2006 analysis of Larboard Behind: Eternal Forces.
That access to Adumbration and to the apple can see abstruse advances in accurate as article to be feared, abnormally because the Mark of the Barbarian sounds added than a bit like cyberbanking tracking and acquittal systems of today. Implanted NFC ID/payment chips? RFID tags? Bar cipher tattoos? It’s all technically possible.
But the band that calls for “wisdom” charcoal far added mysterious.
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