The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians. (Andrew Clarke and GH) These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Friday, February 04, 2005

The Great Antichrist

Much of the astonishing rubbish written about the Islamic faith in recent years brings to mind the glorious newsbooks an pulp publications printed during the violent political and social dislocations of the English Revolution of 1640 to 1660 In the pamphlet "New News and Strange News from Babylon" (1641), for example, we are given the description of a fanatical terrorist that is recognisable to the modern American ‘neocon’. It purports to be "a copy of a letter which was sent from the 'Master of Malta' to a gentleman and kinsman of his resident [representative] here in England."

This ‘letter’, describes an important Islamic leader that lived somewhere near Babylon: "He calleth himself the Great Prophet," and he had cat's teeth and a beast's claws on his fingers and toes, and "his eyes sparked like gold." The writer seemed to be unaware that Babylon was, at the time, an uninhabited pile of dried mud.

In order to curdle the blood of good protestant Christians, the Great Prophet's views were dwelt on with good journalistic puff: "He will not abide to hear of the Scriptures for he saith there was no such thing as is there specified but they are all most strange lies and not to be believed by man". He predicted the imminent collapse of Christendom and warned that "at his death there should be wars and rumours of wars in so much that all the western countries shall be laid desolate but this country shall flourish." The Great Prophet is said to have many deluded followers "many poor silly people do believe this man to be the saviour which was promised and now is come", though the writer is careful to add his view that "this is rather the Antichrist than any true prophet"

Like Bin Laden, the Great Prophet is made more sinister by his austerity and devout manner. "He loveth to walk solitarily in the fields and he careth very little and that which he doth eat is very coarse". And "he much delighteth in and loveth images and pictures and very devoutly will pray seven or eight times each day." Nevertheless, there was added a satisfying air of un-protestant decadence as, whenever he entered his temple, he was "conveyed with such a sweet harmony of music that hath not been heard on earth before, and at his coming out thereof there was such a clang of drums, guns, and trumpets in the air which made the whole country amazed".
I shake my head in disbelief that anyone could read and believe this addled uninformed rubbish and return once more to reading the daily paper.

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