The Fall of Malignant Materialism

The globe is now in severe financial trouble. The Malignant Materialism’s Confused Babylon bubble is bursting. Its confused cancer has cut too many lifelines. Itts systems have been way off balance for far too long. Its precarious economicHumpty Dumpty is crashing beyond recovery and will be crushed to pieces. No Greenspan can put Humpty back together again. The present financial crises (2008–9) seem to be just the start of the road to the Greatest Depression that Revelation’s fiscal Chapter 18 predicts.
Abrahamic Faiths condemn Babylon across the board:
Judaism sees Babylon fallen, fallen, with all the images of her gods crashed to the ground...upended by God like Sodom and Gomorrah‌...swept with the broom of destruction, and turned into a swampy waste with name and remnant, kith and kin wiped out.[1] God declares:against Babylon I will raise a destructive wind...and strip her land bare....A gold cup in God’s hand, Babylon has made the whole earth drunk. Nations have drunk her wine and gone mad. Suddenly Babylon has fallen and is shattered...incurable....I will deal with you‌...destroyer of the whole earth…and will tumble you down from the crags...desolated for ever....The sea has risen over Babylon....Her officials and wise men shall sleep forever, never to awake....Peoples shall toil for nothing. Nations are in flames and tired....From the disaster I bring upon her, Babylon shall sink and never rise again(Jeremiah 51.1–64, excerpted).
Christianity repeats many of words of this prophet Jeremiah in Revelation heard above. It condemns Babylon as the huge whore, woman, and city intoxicating, fornicating with, and corrupting leaders, nations, and peoples, flashing riches, living luxuriously, hosting demons and foul spirits, riding a scarlet beast, splitting into three, killing prophets and good folk, and hurting believers.[2]
Islam paints Babylon as a backdrop to evil disbelievers who taught what was revealed in Babylon.[3]
Some Jews identify Babylon as also “America”. Christians add that the love of money is a root of all evils (1Tim. 6.10). Muslims add that Capitalism is a curse and Communism is a calamity and identify Babylon as “America” too.[4]
The Baha’i Faith sees Babylon as a vivid…waste of rubble resulting from a relentless and all-pervasive materialism and the cancerous growth of…unbridled…rampant and cancerous materialism [my emphasis] undermining the fabric of human society alike in the East and in the West, eating into the vitals of the…peoples and races inhabiting the American, the European, and the Asiatic continents.…This crass materialism…lays excessive and ever-increasing emphasis on material well-being, forgetful of those things of the spirit on which alone a sure and stable foundation can be laid for human society.[5]
The Apocalypse commits its whole Chapter 18 and some of Chapter 19 to the fall of Babylon. Why this single event get over a chapter of Revelation coverage, given how brief John’s narrative texts are usually? The Bayeux Tapestry offers an answer. Its 210–foot length has 58 scenes of events before and during the 1066 Battle of Hastings. Most, some 44, scenes are just 1–2 feet long. But the 14 other scenes are long—each 1–3 yards. Long scene numbers 36–38 show the furor of the Normans building their navy and scudding it across the English Channel. Long scene numbers 48–58 show the furor of the Normans winning the battle with archers and cavalry, Umayyad-style.[6] Clearly, the long scenes of the tapestry sound furor stopping time in its tracks. So similarly, the long narrative in Chapter 18 of the Apocalypse captures the furor of Babylon falling. Even the Codex Sinaiticus adds emphasis to this Chapter 18, into the middle of which (v. 18.13) it inserts 11 of its mere 29 precious paragraph-breaks.
Chillingly gruesome and violent rhetoric at the cusp of Chapter 17/18 delivers the prescription of God’s shockingly violent final solution for the fate of the whore of Babylon:
As for the ten horns that you have seen with the beast, these shall detest the whore. They shall ravage and strip her naked, consume her flesh, and burn her up in a blaze. For God has put into their hearts to carry out this will of His, to carry out a single intent, and to submit their royal power to the beast until these Words of God shall be fulfilled. Moreover, this woman whom you have seen is the colossal city that retains rule over the rulers of the earth....Colossal Babylon Confusion has fallen, fallen!
Similar violent rhetoric (v. 8.21) follows the fall of Babylon:
A certain mighty Angel plucked up a boulder like a massive millstone and threw it into the sea, declaring: ‘Thus—with sudden violence—shall Babylon Confusion’s colossal city be thrown down and shall never be found again!’.
After already a few decades of Muslim Militarism, history will decide how violent a role it played in bursting the bubble of Babylon and in felling Malignant Materialism. Many potential catastrophes hover. Top of the list are a mega-9/11 or Middle East war. Soon enough Al Qaida may obtain and detonate a small nuclear device at some key economic site. You can take your pick; the New York and London stock exchanges, the Chicago commodity market, the Seattle and Silicon Valleys computer centers, and the Fort Knox and Zurich gold stocks (as in Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger) come to mind. Or the Middle East may erupt over the nuclear ambitions of Iran and its proxies, with the recipe of its rockets, Israel’s air-force, and American Stealth bombers cooking some “small” nuclear disaster. But however deafening the crash of Malignant Materialism, the global paralysis of the resulting Greatest Depression will silence it.
An Economic Catastrophe: Baha’i Writings anticipate that
a paralysis more painful than any it has yet experienced must creep over and further afflict the fabric of a broken society ’ere it can be rebuilt and regenerated,[7] for even though
economic plans of reconstruction have been carefully devised, and meticulously executed…crisis has succeeded crisis, and the rapidity with which a perilously unstable world is declining has been correspondingly accelerated. A yawning gulf threatens to involve in one common disaster both the satisfied and dissatisfied nations, democracies and dictatorships, capitalists and wage-earners, Europeans and Asiatics, Jew and Gentile, white and coloured.[8]
The paralysis will involve a
catastrophe of undreamed-of dimensions and of untold consequences to the social structure, the standard and conception of the American people and government.…The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day.…Winds of despair are…blowing from every direction.…The strife that divideth and afflicteth the human race is daily increasing.…Signs of impending convulsions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch as the prevailing order appeareth to be lamentably defective [my emphasis].[9]
The present world unrest, symptom of a world-wide malady...must needs culminate in that world catastrophe out of which the consciousness of world citizenship will be born, a consciousness that can alone provide an adequate basis for the organization of world unity, on which a lasting world peace must necessarily depend, the peace itself inaugurating in turn that world civilization which will mark the coming of age of the entire human race.[10]
These events shall suddenly appear and cause the limbs of mankind to quake…with the governments and peoples of both the developed and developing nations…helpless to reverse the trend of the catastrophic events of the day…bewildered and overpowered by the magnitude and complexity of the problems facing them.[11]
Much suffering will still be required ’ere the contending nations, creeds, classes and races of mankind are fused in the crucible of universal affliction, and are forged by the fires of a fierce ordeal into one organic commonwealth, one vast, unified, and harmoniously functioning system. Adversities unimaginably appalling, undreamed of crises and upheavals, war, famine, and pestilence, might well combine to engrave in the soul of an unheeding generation those truths and principles which it has disdained to recognize and follow.[12]

Nothing short of the fire of an ordeal…can fuse and weld the discordant entities that constitute the elements of present-day civilization, into the integral components of the world commonwealth of the future and that sense of responsibility which the leaders of a new-born age must arise to shoulder.[13]




[1] Isaiah 13.19; 21.9; & 14.22–23
[2] Rev. 17.1, 4 & 18; 14.8, 17.2 & 18.3; 17.4, 18.16; 18.2; 17.3 & 7; 16.19; 18.3, 7, 14–15; 18.24; 14.8 & 18.2; & 18.9, 18, 19, 21, 19.2
[3] Quran 2.102
[4] Hijazi, Islam AH 01–250 30–31
[5] Vividwaste of rubble, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá cited by Juliet Thompson in The Diary of Juliet Thompson
Relentless and all-pervasive, Shoghi Effendi (1957), Citadel 124–54
Rampant and cancerous materialism, Shoghi Effendi (1953), Messages to the Baha’i World 1950–57 136
Crass materialism, Shoghi Effendi (1957), Citadel 125
[6] Bertrand & Lemagnen, Bayeux Tapestry
[7] Shoghi Effendi, WOB 193–94
[8] Shoghi Effendi Lights of Guidance 444.133
[9] Catastrophe of undreamed-of dimentions, Shoghi Effendi (1954), Citadel 124–127
The world is in travail, Baha’u’llah GWB 61.118–19
Winds of despair,Baha’u’llah 11.171
[10] Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America 22–23
[11] These events shall suddenly, Baha’u’llah GWB 61.118–19; also cited by Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice 81; governments and peoples, Universal House of Justice, Lights 443.132
[12] Shoghi Effendi, WOB 193–94
[13] Shoghi Effendi (1931), WOB 46