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Running Wild: Hulk Hogan, God, and the Coronavirus

Matt Baster via Reddit

“While feeding on an unclean beast alone may seem like a trivial act, it is arguably symbolic of mankind’s time-honored bastardization of the natural order.”

On April 6th, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) hall of famer Terry Gene Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan) controversially claimed that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a punishment from God. With COVID-19 running wild, The Hulkster took to social media to suggest that—rather than spending our time developing a vaccine—we should instead use this period of enforced isolation for personal revival and to focus on Jesus.

No stranger to preaching the Word, the All-American found fame in the 1980’s and 1990’s teaching his young Hulkamaniacs that if you “say your prayers and take your vitamins, you will never go wrong.” But as technology has evolved and as old habits die-hard, Hogan now finds himself routinely posting his evangelical messages to a much wider audience. After taking to Instagram, where he has over 1.5 million followers—just 2.2 billion short of the Lord himself—Hogan supported his thesis by comparing the current pandemic to the plagues of Egypt:

“In three short months just like He did with the plagues of Egypt, God has taken away everything we worship. God said: ‘You want to worship athletes, I will shut down the stadiums. You want to worship musicians, I will shut down Civic Centres. You want to worship actors, I will shut down theatres. You want to worship money, I will shut down the economy and collapse the stock market.’”

However, regardless of whether or not one shares his beliefs— in the face of over 500,000 deaths worldwide—Hogan’s account of divine smite provokes some interesting and timely discussion.

As mankind continues to struggle to control the virus and produce an antidote for the relenting pathogen, Hogan’s proposal of repentance as a cure has polarized his readers. While some have praised the former wrestling star for speaking out, others have simply expressed their disappointment and concern over the dangers of his passive message. However, regardless of whether or not one shares his beliefs— in the face of over 500,000 deaths worldwide—Hogan’s account of divine smite provokes some interesting and timely discussion.

The lack of detail on how to treat the virus has provided ample space for speculating about its origin, with one of the more common conspiracies claiming that the pandemic is not, in fact, a sign of God’s wrath but, rather, a man-made plague designed by the New World Order (NWO) to instigate social control. For clarity, the NWO referred to here is the clandestine totalitarian world government and not the group of unsanctioned wrestlers—including Hogan—who attempted to take over World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the late 1990’s. Assuredly, though, others have previously speculated about links between pro wrestling’s elite faction and the Illuminati.

As part of these speculative claims of a secret society inducing mass death by design, the fifth-generation wireless (5G) networking system has been grossly implicated, with some believing that the advent of new service is linked with the spread of the cotangent. Such assertions of a malevolent ploy have also been supported by other conspiracy theorists who believe that the Australian $10 bill contains a hidden message prophesying the virus. This takes place as the viral Plandemic video, which has recently exploded across social media, has made significant waves to corroborate the theory that the virus was released from a laboratory environment.

While these fanciful accounts of an enemy above have not been short of followers, the public mind on the origin of COVID-19 seems well-fixed, with the majority of people understanding that in late 2019 someone at the now world-famous Huanan seafood market in Wuhan was infected with COVID-19 after eating bat soup. This misinformation has largely been fueled by the widely circulated YouTube video of the Chinese influencer Wang Mengyun chowing down on a Chiroptera broth, apparently just weeks after the outbreak. However, contrary to accounts being propagated by the Daily Mail, RT, and YouTuber Paul Joseph Watson, the video was not actually filmed in a Wuhan restaurant this year but, rather, in Palau, Micronesia for a travel video in 2016.

Significantly though, scientists do believe that it is highly likely that the virus originated from a bat; however, they maintain that it was passed through an intermediary animal first, rather than being contracted by direct consumption. One animal that has been highly speculated to have acted as the host for COVID-19 is the  pangolin, which is understood to have been sold at the Wuhan market during the time of the virus’ onset. The meat of the endangered pangolin is considered a delicacy in certain parts of the East, while its scales are often used in traditional Chinese medicine, treating conditions including psoriasis and poor circulation. These unique properties have made the much-coveted beast one of the most illegally traded mammals in the world, with more than 1 million believed to have been unlawfully taken from the wild over the past decade. Indeed, in learning about this scientific inference, Hogan may argue that this evidence only serves to support his claim that COVID-19 is a punishment from God by preaching Leviticus 11:29. For though the pangolin is not directly mentioned in the Bible’s list of beasts not for consumption, one should clearly not eat it, for “it is unclean for you.”

However, it is appreciated that, in these increasingly tribal and secular times, citing any religious text as part of an argument is equally likely to draw blind negation and apathy, as it is dogmatic support. As such, Hogan’s argument has all too easily fallen on deaf ears and become the subject of mockery. But, by putting the divisive topic of religion aside, we may look to circumnavigate Hogan’s message by considering the notion of God as a representation of the natural order, rather than the creator of the natural order Himself. In adopting this very Greek approach, Hogan’s claim becomes more palatable and begins to take on the semblance of something increasingly rational.

While feeding on an unclean beast alone may seem like a trivial act, it is arguably symbolic of mankind’s time-honored bastardization of the natural order. Since the dawn of the Enlightenment, humans have sought to use reason as an antidote to myth and religion: phenomena that they had previously followed blindly. This concept was foremost defined by the philosopher Immanuel Kant in his 1784 essay, Answering the Question: What Is Enlightenment? Kant writes:

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one’s own mind without another’s guidance. Dare to know! (Sapere aude.) ‘Have the courage to use your own understanding,’ is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.”

This is an abstract concept but, at its essence, the Enlightenment is about man’s dominance over nature: the pacification and utilization of its power at our will. Unsurprising then that, with COVID-19 threatening our very existence, questions about the success of the Enlightenment project and our relationship with nature have found a renewed prominence.

In committing to the political decision to return to work while the threat to life is still apparent, the tag team of President Donald Trump (who bizarrely is also a World Wrestling Entertainment hall of famer) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson seek to reimpose man’s dominance over nature as they willfully engage in a contest of sorts against the deadly virus. Locked in this physical ballet, the less than dynamic duo have arrogantly disregarded the threat of their invisible opponent, declaring victory as the daily death toll slowly falls.

However, in much the same way that Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer consider Odysseus’ triumph over the sirens in Homer’s Odyssey, the methods of achieving this apparent victory do little to conquer nature but rather conversely bow to her might. In returning to Ithaca after the fall of Troy, Odysseus instructs his crew to plug their ears with beeswax to block out the alluring song of the sirens that beckons them towards the neighboring rocks. While Odysseus and his crew are successful in resisting this metaphor for nature’s call to certain death, they do so only by addressing her and the threat of her unrivaled power. Similarly, as President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson’s return to work agenda looks to reassert our dominance over nature, the enforced adjustments we will assuredly have to make—as we look to find a “new normal”—unreservedly yield all power back to nature.

Indeed, whether or not we believe that COVID-19 is a punishment from God, we must concede that, while man’s reason and cunning may negate nature, it is ultimately nature that will win in the end. It is time to be humble.

Al Binns is the author of “The Incredibly Strange Creatures: Or How I Learned to Stop Being a Mixed-Up Zombie and Survive Modern Work!!?” (2020) forthcoming with Zer0 Books.

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David George
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David George

Nature is always “trying” to kill us, eventually she succeeds. Our ingenuity helps us keep death at bay but it comes to us all, that’s inescapable reality; the will of God, if you prefer.