Their intention is to clone Jesus by extracting DNA from a cell in a Holy Relic, creating a fertilized egg, and implanting it into a young virgin's womb, “who will then bring the baby Jesus to term in a second Virgin Birth.”
According to the article, members of the group see cloning technology as a chance to literally bring Christ to the modern age, find out exactly how divine He is, and perhaps bring about a miracle.
If all goes according to project's plan, “the birth will take place on December 25, 2001, thus making Anno Domini 2001 into Anno Domini Novi 1, and all calendrical calculations will begin anew.” Project members are resolute: “No longer can we rely on hope and prayer, waiting around futilely for Jesus to return … there is no reason, moral, legal or Biblical, not to take advantage of it.” The group made an urgent plea for donations “if Baby Jesus is to come to term on the predicted date.”
Fox News interviewed several theologians about the project, each of whom took a dim view of the idea. For instance, Dr. Thomas Breiden-Thal, professor of Christian ethics at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church called the project, “a crude misunderstanding of what is actually the goal of the Christian life, which is to become like Jesus ourselves.” Nevertheless, the news report solemnly concluded, cloning opens the possibility that multiple Christs could be produced. But the Second Coming Project spokesman demurred for the time being, stating that “The more the merrier, but we'll start with one.”
Major news stories on the Second Coming Project followed on several wire services, and the Drudge Report carried links to the articles. Editors must have been thinking, “Who knows what those crazy Christians might be up to next?”
Predictably, the story is a hoax. A visit to the Second Coming Project's web site is full of tongue-in-cheek asides belying the “Project's” seriousness (“We're not satisfied with evasive answers like, ‘Jesus is in our hearts,’ or ‘Jesus is everywhere.’ We want concrete action and we want it now.”) Even the group's location in “Berkeley, CA” tends to make one suspicious. It turns out the Second Coming Project's address is that of the Jolly Roger Press, publisher of Ted Kaczynski's “Unabomber” manifesto and other low-brow, counter-cultural entertainments.
I don't know how many poor souls contributed to this phony cause, but there was certainly at least one gullible victim. Like an unsuspecting groupie, the media was taken in, hook, line and sinker.
As jokes go, this isn't a very funny one. Nevertheless, the prank is useful in illustrating two of modern man's worst traits: his irreverence and his pride.
Unfortunately, modern culture has given “irreverence” a good name. It now implies genial, poke-in-the-ribs jabs at the Establishment's stuffy and elite. All well and good on occasion, as the humor is often aimed at deserving targets.
But the word “irreverence” itself means, “lacking in reverence or respect for something sacred.” Sure enough, American popular culture now proudly proclaims that it holds nothing sacred: religious objects are profaned in music videos; a dung-splattered portrait of the Blessed Virgin becomes a First Amendment cause celebre; and here, Our Lord is used as the source of howls for a sophomoric hoax.
Like everything else, of course, irreverence has its price. If nothing is sacred, then a cultural nihilism prevails, and our own existence is held meaningless and useless. Thus, the practical result of a truly irreverent society is absolute despair.
Is it any wonder, then, that so many young people feel they have no hope for the future?
But that's not all. This incident also points out another of modern man's blind spots: his arrogance. Why were so many press members taken in by an obvious hoax? Because it fit nicely with their preconceived notions about God-fearing believers.
For most in the media, religious faith is a form of superstition, either a comforting refuge for the ignorant or the remnants of childhood fairy tales for those refusing to mature. So no alarms went off in editors' minds about the fakery, despite the ludicrous nature of the story. It exactly fit their stereotype of evangelical Christians.
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines a bigot as “one intolerantly devoted to his own opinions and prejudices.” Bigotry comes in many forms, but it all stems from the same root: Adam's sin of pride. Many people working in media today are, quite simply, proud bigots.
Ironically, this rather unedifying incident reinforces the veracity of one of Christianity's foundations not of the Second Coming, certainly, but rather of Original Sin, man's irresistible tendency to do wrong even when he knows what's right. Nothing else accounts for so much of what we see around us.
The older I get, the more firmly I believe in Original Sin. It's the only rational explanation for the irrationality of the modern world.