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US/ Giant Killer Snails and the Dominion of Creation

Lorenzo Albacete discusses the ideological clash in the US and the temptation that many people, especially Evangelicals, have to interpret politics in theological apocalyptic terms.

Giant snails in Florida Giant snails in Florida

Giant killer snails seem to be invading the State of Florida. I am not making this up. It was in the news last week and a number of friends asked me (only half-jokingly) whether there was something in biblical apocalyptic literature about giant snails as a sign of the coming Day of Judgment.

I was reminded of a story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (I don't remember the title) in which birds start to fall dead from the sky and everyone becomes convinced that it is a sign of an approaching divine punishment. The last person to begin to consider this possibility is, of course, the town's priest who begins to think of a possible sermon about it. In the case of the giant killer snails, I thought, it might be used to describe what is going on politically in this country.

The economy continues to be the leading news in the United States this week, especially the political dimensions of the economic crisis. It seems that the political ideological clash between Democrats and Republicans will once again make it nearly impossible to arrive at a consensus on how to deal with the crisis. The problem is that the ideological extremists on both sides continue to define the political battle.

There was an interesting column by Jon Meacham in the latest issue of Time Magazine that reveals how this atmosphere encourages those at least tempted to interpret contemporary politics in theological apocalyptic terms. After I read it, I wondered how these people might interpret the invasion of the giant snails.

Meacham writes about a movement within American Evangelical Christians called "Christian Dominionism". The term "dominionism" comes from the Book of Genesis, where Man is given dominion over all of creation. Christian Dominionists believe that true followers of Christ have the obligation to control or influence the seven areas that shape human life, called the "seven mountains": business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family, and religion.

American evangelism has always contained within its view of faith and social life those who thought this way, but prior the legalization of abortion, most evangelicals shunned organized political action. Meacham argues that it was the failure of traditional evangelism to win the abortion struggle (followed later by the gay and lesbian movement) that led to a growth in the number of those who began to think in ways such as the Dominionists. Jesus' commandment to make disciples of all nations began to acquire more and more a political dimension, not only domestically in the USA, but also in other countries.