Ray Bradbury - Prophet From God?

There is a widespread conviction in the church today that the only prophets which can accurately see the future, or provide visions, are Christians - men of God - and that all else comes from the adversary. This is not true, and has never been true. For Biblical proof, I present Deuteronomy 13:1 - 5:

13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; 3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn [you] away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. {to turn...: Heb. revolt against the LORD}

The word translated "to turn [you]" in verse 5 is the Hebrew word carah (Strong’s #5627) and has the following definition:

BDB/Thayers # 5627

05627 carah {saw-raw'} from 05493; TWOT - 1480a; n f

AV - revolt 3, rebellion 2, turn away 1, wrong 1, continual stroke 1; 8

1) apostasy, defection, turning aside, withdrawal

1a) defection (of moral or legal offenses)

1b) apostasy

1c) withdrawal (negated)

God makes it clear that He sends us people who will tell us the future and then, when we see it unfold, will encourage us to go away from God. God does this to test us; will we go, or will we stay with Him? Further, I find no evidence in the Bible that the adversary has the ability or power to give such prescience to man. In fact, the only other type of prophet found in the Bible is the false prophet, who claims to be speaking in God’s name, but the things which they prophesy do not come to pass. So, we need to be more alert and cautious to the man whose prophesies come true - we need to judge what he says after they come to pass to see if God is using him as a test or a true leader.

These men, then, if they existed today, would not be men of God - not Christians, or even devout Jews. By their very definition, they could not be. But they would probably (though not necessarily) be influential, and able to command attention. One such man, I submit, is Ray Bradbury. I believe he is one of the men empowered by God to have seen the future, written it down, and then encouraged us to leave God. The evidence I would present for this resides in his book, Fahrenheit 451. This book was written in and before the early 1950’s, and the picture it paints of the current day is so "dead on" that it could only have been provided by God Himself.

The book is filled with examples of prophetic prose, but the following is one of the outstanding ones. The central character of the book is Montag, a futuristic fireman whose job is not to protect dwellings, but to burn books. Montag has been smitten with his profession’s worst nightmare: He has become curious about the books which he has been assigned to destroy, and has begun to cadge one here and there and hide them in his home. The speaker is Beatty, his fire captain, who has figured out that Montag has fallen victim to this professional hazard. He comes to speak to him about it, and we join in the middle of a conversation which attempts to explain how they came to be in their condition. To prevent copyright problems, I can only print snatches of the conversation in this review.

..."Picture it. Nineteenth-century man with his horses, dogs, carts, slow motion. Then, in the twentieth century, speed up your camera. Books cut shorter. Condensations. Digest. Tabloids. Everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending...."

..."Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fit a two-minute book column, winding up at last as a ten- or twelve-line dictionary resume... ... many were those whose sole knowledge of Hamlet... was a one-page digest in a book that claimed: now at last you can read all the classics; keep up with your neighbors. Do you see? Out of the nursery and into the college and back into the nursery; there’s your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries or more."

..."Speed up the film, Montag, quick. Click, Pic, Look, Eye, Now, Flick, Here, There, Swift, Pace, Up, Down, In, Out, Why, How, Who, What, Where, Eh? Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom! Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline! Then, in mid-air, all vanishes! Whirl man’s mind around about so fast under the pumping hand of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!"

..."School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work. Why learn anything except pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?"

..."More sports for everyone, group spirit, fun and you don’t have to think, eh? Organize and organize and super organize super-super sports. More cartoons in books. More pictures. The mind drinks less and less. Impatience. The highways always full of crowds going somewhere, somewhere, nowhere. The gasoline refugee...

..."Now let’s take up the minorities in our civilization, shall we? Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don’t step on the toes of the cat-lover, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere. The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that! All the minor minor minorities with their navels to be kept clean. Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did. Magazines became a nice blend of vanilla tapioca. Books, so the damned snobbish critics said, were dishwater. No wonder books stopped selling, the critics said. But the public, knowing what it wanted, spinning happily, let the comic books survive. And the three-dimensional sex magazines, of course. There you have it, Montag. It didn’t come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God. Today, thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time, you are allowed to read comics, the good old confessions, or trade journals.

"Yes, but what about the firemen, then?" asked Montag.

"Ah." Beatty leaned forward in the faint mist of smoke from his pipe. "What more easily explained and natural? With schools turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual’, of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally ‘bright’, did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him. And wasn’t it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours? Of course it was. We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but every one made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of a well-read man? Me? I won’t stomach them for a minute. And so when houses were finally fireproofed completely... ...there was no longer need of firemen for the old purposes. They were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior; official censors, judges, and executors. That’s you, Montag, and that’s me."

..."You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can’t have our minorities upset and stirred. Ask yourself, what do we want in this country, above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right? Haven’t you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun? That’s all we live for, isn’t it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these."

..."Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. Take your fight outside. Better yet, into the incinerator. Funerals are unhappy and pagan? Eliminate them, too. Five minutes after a person is dead, he’s on his way to the Big Flue, the Incinerators serviced by helicopters all over the country. Ten minutes after death a man’s a speck of black dust. Let’s not quibble over individuals with memoriams. Forget them. Burn all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean."

..."Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to popular songs ot the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy. Any man who can take a TV wall apart and put it back together again, and most men can, is happier than any man who tries to slide rule, measure and equate the universe, which just won’t be measured or equated without making man feel bestial and lonely. I know, I’ve tried it; to hell with it. So bring on your clubs and parties, your acrobats and magicians, your daredevils, jet cars, motorcycle helicopters, your sex and heroin, more of everything to do with the automatic reflex. If the drama is bad, it the film says nothing, if the play is hollow, sting me with the Theremin, loudly. I’ll think I’m responding to the play, when it’s only a tactile reaction to vibration. But I don’t care. I just like solid entertainment."

It is difficult for me to imagine a more detailed description of what has befallen our nation today - the whole world, I imagine - than what you have just read. How could Bradbury have known this in such detail unless he was a "dreamer of dreams" as described in Deut 13? It seems certain that he had a foreknowledge - a clear and explicit picture - of the ride down that we have experienced. Not only the end result, but the sequence and causes.

But there is another passage which makes me even more certain. It is just a few sentences long, and stuck in the middle of the book. However, when I read it, it stood out like a beacon: LOOK AT WHAT HE SAW SO MANY YEARS AGO!!!!!

The passage deals with Faber - a man that Montag had marked as a possible book-owner in the past. He hadn’t turned him in, however, he had kept his name as a hedge against the day that he might succumb to the urges that were welling up in him. Montag takes one of the books that he has stolen to Faber so that he can share it with him. We join them in Faber’s home - Montag has shown him the Bible....

Faber’s hands itched on his knees. "May I?"

"Sorry." Montag gave him the book.

"It’s been a long time. I’m not a religious man. But it’s been a long time." Faber turned the pages, stopping here and there to read. "It’s as good as I remember. Lord, how they’ve changed it in our ‘parlors’ these days. Christ is one of the ‘family’ now. I often wonder if God recognizes His own son the way they’ve dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He’s a regular peppermint stick now, all sugar-crystalled and saccharine when he isn’t making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshiper absolutely needs."

This is such a clear picture of what the "church" has done to Christ that it makes me cringe. How could Bradbury have seen this? Surely this wasn’t the state of the church in the early 50’s? Perhaps it was, but I don’t believe so. No, Bradbury saw the future; he saw the lunatic "faith/word" movement and their blasphemous "We are God". He saw the charismatics who gave up sacrifice for the pursuit of blessings. He saw the "fundamentalists" who concentrate so much on the formula that they forget the person. He saw the "believers" turning Satan into a being as powerful as (or even more powerful than) God and Christ into a pepperminty milquetoast whose hands are tied because of "grace".

The 'parlors' mentioned above were rooms that had one, then two, then three then all four walls filled with TV screens. Each one got its own character. The ‘family’ referred to above would equate to a sitcom family which inhabited those screens, with Christ as a member - just another man. The commercialization of Christ has reached unfathomable dimensions today, and Bradbury saw it all.

I encourage every person who reads this to go out and obtain a copy of Fahrenheit 451. If you are interested in another atheist/prophet, try "The Marching Morons" by CM Kornbluth. I believe that this was another man who saw things that only God could reveal.

Further, if anyone else out there now has a spark of recognition: "Hey - I read something else that might be like this!", I welcome your comments and suggestions....

In the meantime, you might want to check out another essay in the same vein - A Return to Superstition.

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Copyright 1999, Bill Weaks - all rights reserved

June 24, 1999