For people who take the Bible literally, today’s date, 6/6/06, may be a scary one, rife with anxiety over a passage from the Book of Revelation warning of 666, the so-called “number of the beast.” But for journalists across the country, today is a sacred day of sorts.
Call it a holy day for journalism by the numbers.
Over the past week, seemingly every news organization in the land has celebrated today’s date with a traditional offering of the sort usually associated with holidays: the formulaic, hackneyed feature.
How do they do it?
Herein: the six-step process (complete with helpful examples) to creating your very own “number of the beast” feature du jour.
(1) Detail the origin of the 666 spookiness.
“According to the King James version of the Book of Revelation, 666 is ‘the number of the beast,’” reports the Washington Post.
“The number has long been tied to the coming of the Antichrist, or the devil, from a reference in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament to 666 as the ‘number of the beast,’” reports the New York Times.
(2) Explore the Nero angle.
“Some scholars think that 666 may have been a coded reference to the name of Emperor Nero, a feared persecutor of Christians who died before Revelation was written …,” reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Nero, among other actions, slathered Christians in tar and ignited them to illuminate Roman gardens at night.”
“Others read Revelation as a veiled account of political developments in the Roman Empire of the first century,” reports the Baltimore Sun. “Many hold that the beast who emerges from land is the Emperor Nero, an enthusiastic tormentor of early Christians; ‘666’ can be derived from ‘Nero Caesar’ using the Hebrew numerological system of gematria.”
(3) Interview a pregnant mother due around 6/6/06.
“I refuse to give birth on that date,” Bethany Morian of Weatherford, Texas, told the Seattle Times. “I’ll cross my legs and watch the clock.”
“Hopefully I don’t … deliver on 6-6-6,” Jennifer Dahlke of Fargo, North Dakota told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “If I have the option to choose which day to be induced, I will choose another.”
(4) Plug the holy trinity of 6/6/06 entertainment tie-ins.
a. Today’s release of the remake of The Omen; b. Today’s publication of The Rapture, the latest in the “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins; c. Today’s publication of Ann Coulter ‘s latest book Godless: The Church of Liberalism.
(5) Interview the mayor of Hell, Michigan.
”I’ve got ‘666’ T-shirts and mugs. I’m only ordering 666 (of the items) so once they’re gone, that’s it,” Mayor John Colone told the Australian recently. ”Everyone who comes will get a letter of authenticity saying you’ve celebrated June 6, 2006, in Hell.”
“You can buy a square inch of Hell for $6.66 today,” the mayor said during an interview on Fox & Friends this morning.
(6) Sprinkle in a reference to Ronald Reagan.
“Ronald Wilson Reagan has six letters in each name and he lived at 666 St. Cloud Dr. in Los Angeles,” reports the Boston Herald. “He later changed it to No. 668.”
“Not everyone takes ‘the mark of the beast’ so lightly,” reports the Chicago Sun-Times. “Remember when the Reagans’ Bel-Air address was changed from 666 St. Cloud to 668 Cloud?”
For readers, we’d suggest the final ingredient would be some very large grains of salt — preferably from the Dead Sea.