Arming for Armageddon
John Wesley White
Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1983
As someone who came of age during the Reagan presidency, I admit to having held some pretty bleak views about the future, but never was I so pessimistic as Torontonian John Wesley White, whose Arming for Armageddon I happened upon Saturday while killing time in a Salvation Army Thrift Store.
White is an 'Associate Evangelist with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusade' and a recipient of 'the Ph.D. from Oxford University', but not much of a writer; indeed, the bulk of his book consists of quotes from others, real or imagined. Johnny Carson, Charlie Brown and 'Mark MacGuian [sic], our Canadian Minister of External Affairs [sic]', are among the hundreds he cites in support of his contention that the reader will soon witness the 'final tragic triumph of "Evil" over "Good!" We are at the 'edge of the end of times'. The Antichrist will soon make his presence known. 'He'll emerge as a nice guy... not unlike the burglar who was caught in a break-in, wearing a President Reagan mask.' Just who is this seemingly swell, yet evil being? White speculates repeatedly that Spain's King Juan Carlos is the Antichrist. Why? Well, for one, he rejected the path laid down by Franco.
Of other world leaders, White wonders: 'Are they, like the maniac of Gadara, actually demon-possessed?' Yet, nice guy Ronald Reagan gets a pass (no thought that he, too, might be wearing a President Reagan mask), as does genocidal Guatemalan General José Efraín Ríos Montt, whom White describes as having come to power through 'spiritual miracle steps' (known in the secular world as a coup d'état). Margaret Thatcher is another leader who, it appears, is demon-free. The Iron Lady's words – 'We are reaping what was sown in the sixties: The fashionable theories and permissive claptrap!' – are used to support his condemnation of our prime minister's estranged wife:
Margaret Trudeau is a pathetic figure, a morose example of flower power gone sour. Is Margaret Trudeau's hedonism relevant to the bursting dyke that will unleash Armageddon? Yes!
Signs of the coming final conflict spread far beyond the dance floor of Studio 54, they are found in the pages of 'MacLean's [sic]', 'The Montreal Gazette [sic]', 'The Toronto Globe and Mail [sic]', the writings of Margaret Atwood... everywhere, really:
The Antichrist is referred to frequently in both Daniel and Revelations as "The Beast" and certainly Hollywood is on to this with The Raging Bull [sic], The Elephant Man, and yes, believe it or not, The Beast and The Little Beast.*
White's is a strange world in which his hometown has a team called the Mapleleafs, 'troups' do the fighting, music mag Sounds is a 'Nazi-Fascist organ', astronauts are the leading creationists and Laurie Anderson's 'O Superman' tops the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. The New Yorker's song, he informs us, concerns the character Christopher Reeve was 'acting for'. Avert your eyes, children, Superman is but one in a series of creations 'preparing the human psyche for an Antichrist who can solve the problems that have stumped man on his own.' 'We've seen them come and go', White writes, 'the Purple Monster from Mars in The Purple Monster Strikes; Mota the Martian in The Flying Disc Man from Mars' and in unnamed characters featured in The Phantom from Space, Devil Girl from Mars, I Married a Monster from Outer Space and, curiously, The Man Who Fell to Earth.
And on he goes: Jimi Hendrix and John Belushi committed suicide, Sid Vicious is by turns a person and a band (his/its theme song is titled 'Anarchy'), 'most of us have had a micro-electronic impression imposed on our hand', John Diefenbaker expresses opinion from beyond the grave, the Ayatollah Khomeini is a communist plant, Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Muammar al-Qadhafi, the Dead Sea covers one of the largest untapped sources of oil and Harry Truman's 1948 victory over Thomas Dewey was 'inarguably a vindication of God's ancient promise to Abraham'.
It's very tempting to dismiss White as a clumsy loon... still, after spending an afternoon with his book, I find myself wondering when the 'bursting dyke' will reveal herself.
Object and Access: A trade-size paperback, there are plenty of used copies offered online at US$1. I bought my signed copy from the Salvation Army for 99 cents. It would appear that only one Canadian library carries the title: that of Providence College and Seminary in the village of Otterburne, Manitoba. Predictably, it is much more common in the republic to the south.
* Hollywood has produced three films titled The Beast; all silent, they were released between 1914 and 1916. IMDB has no listing for anything called The Little Beast.