Post number 666 is coming soon, and there is no way I can ignore it. It stirs things up, three posts worth in fact, so I have to start talking about it today.
Perhaps I should explain the number 666, because many people who read this blog do not live in overwhelmingly Christian countries.
666 is a number that appears in the Christian Bible, in the Revelation, which is its last book. Revelation purports to be prophesy of the last days and the end of the world. Serious Christians spend a lot of time thinking about that and not so serious Christians are fully aware of it. Smart ass kids joke about it; serious kids get freaked out by it. Writers of fantasy use it for inspiration, atmosphere, and images. If you take the time to read Revelation (get the King James version for the full smell of brimstone) you will find that it makes Stephen King sound like Little Lord Fauntleroy. The heavy metal band Iron Maiden rode to fame on it. Nobody ignores it.
Just to make my own position clear, I used to be a Christian and now I’m not. I have a tenuous relations with Christianity since almost all my friends are Christian, many deeply so, and I would not want to offend them. Still . . .
Here is the quotation in question, from Revelation 13:16-18, King James Version:
 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
The beast carried the number 666 in his forehead and all his followers were required to do the same. This quotation is just about the number itself. The rest of the chapter is about the beast, and it is terrifying.
The Revelation’s picture of the last days was deeply disturbing to a twelve year old kid sitting in the back pew of a small Baptist Church, deep in Oklahoma, well into the night service, surrounded by the moist heat of August, with darkness outside and the sweat-soaked preacher thundering from the pulpit as his hour of hellfire preaching reached its crescendo. And it wasn’t an isolated sermon. My church served up hellfire three times a week, and the Revelation was the text for the feast several times a month.
It still gives me a chill, and it makes me understand the almost superstitious revulsion many people have for the number 666.
* * *
Thinking about all this brought up a fairly frivolous question — since phone codes are three digit, is there an area code 666? Apparently not, although my authority is the internet, so let’s treat this as hearsay. Apparently the number 666 is “currently not assigned” which means that it is one of those area code numbers reserved for growth. It also means that it could be assigned at any time. Wouldn’t that be interesting?
My wandering through the internet in search of more bits about 666 revealed a lot of facts which may not be so factual. It is said that area code 666 was once assigned to an area in Louisiana and that local Christians petitioned successfully to have it changed. It sounds like something that could have happened, but stories that good are often invented.
There was one Q&A which I can’t resist repeating.
In what state is area code 666 located? Hellsavania.
That’s enough for one post about the infamous number, but the issues have barely been touched on. There’s more. Stand by.
Actually, according to a Schwarzenegger film, the number of the beast is actually 999. Something about dreams being like mirrors and everything being backwards… fun movie though! End of Days. If there’s anyone who can beat up the devil, it’s Arnie.
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I hadn’t heard that one.