Let’s start by acknowledging that every religion has its nutters. As a Mormon growing up in Northern California, I remember a guy who would show up at food & crafts fairs selling jars of preserved fruit from what he called “The Tree of Life” (the focal point of a revelatory dream/vision had by one of the Book of Mormon’s key figures). On closer inspection this divine fruit usually turned out to be peaches.
But that man never sought public office and no one ever suggested he should. He occasionally disturbed congregational meetings with his antics, suckered some gullible Mormon moms with some canned fruit and gave everyone else a great laugh and a bit of a story to tell.
His counterparts in the Islamic world are running the show. Ahmadinejad isn’t just a fervent believer in Islam, he’s a fervent believer in Mohammed’s magical horse Buraq that he rode from Jerusalem to heaven and back. He’s also avidly waiting for the return of the “hidden Imam” who seems (after some investigation) to be some kid who fell down a well 1,500 years ago and has since been fetishized into some Arthurian figure or returning God. The good news for everyone else (including the millions of Iranians who just want to live their lives and don’t give a damn about imams or magic horse rides) is that the beloved 5-year old imam is only going to spring out of his well after a long period of chaos and destruction after which Islam will reign supreme.
Is it so wrong for us to come out and say this guy’s nothing but a deranged peasant who wandered into scary-as-hell political power?