Left Behind: Pretrib Porno

Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Tyndale House Publishers, 1995.

Pages 1-3.

The first words of Left Behind are "Rayford Steele," the protagonist's name.

It sounds like a porn star's name — and in a sense it is. The Left Behind series is dispensational porno, but it's more than that. One of the most disturbing things about this book is the way LaHaye and Jenkins portray men, women and the relationships between them.

Note that Tim LaHaye's wife is something of a professional misogynist. She runs the 500,000-member "Concerned Women for America" — jokingly referred to by its critics as "Ladies Against Women." For years, while Beverly LaHaye's husband pastored a church in San Diego, Mrs. L. spent most of her time 3,000 miles away, in Washington, D.C., running a large organization committed to, among other things, telling women they should stay at home and sacrifice their careers for their husbands. She is not an ironic woman and doesn't seem to find any of this inconsistent. (Nor, as I found out firsthand, does she appreciate jokes about the Freudian implications of the view from her L'Enfante Plaza office window. Sometimes the Washington Monument is just a cigar.)

Our porn star hero, Rayford Steele, interacts with women just like any porn star does — minus, of course, the sex. It's all about dominance, exploitation, titillation and the stroking of — in this case — egos.

The character Rayford Steele is, like the authors, no longer a young man. Younger authors might not have been compelled to give their protagonists names — "Steele" and "Buck" — that seem such a blatant assertion of male virility. Bev is apparently not the only LaHaye who seems oblivious to phallic imagery.

If you're thinking I'm reading too much into all this, that this theme isn't really as present in the text as I'm making it out to be, consider the opening lines:

Rayford Steele's mind was on a woman he had never touched. With his fully loaded 747 on autopilot …

That's more than just subtext.

The name of the woman about whom Steele is fantasizing is "Hattie Durham." (Eldridge Cleaver could have written volumes trying to unpack all the Southern sexual myths crammed into that name.)

A paragraph later we read that Steele's wife, Irene, was "attractive and vivacious enough, even at 40." The authors do not say "enough" for what, but the choice of adjectives — the first description we have of Irene — is tellingly reductive. Then there's that "even at 40." L&J would not approve of an older, steely, fully loaded man betraying his wife for a younger trophy bride — but they sure seem to appreciate the impulse.

Irene's 40-ish attractiveness cannot compete with Hattie's youthful good looks. The first thing L&J tell us about any female character is whether or not she is attractive. Hattie is, they tell us, "drop dead gorgeous." Like so much in this book, Hattie's beauty eludes the authors' powers of description, forcing them to fall back on cliche. There are enough hackneyed phrases in the first chapter of this book for a whole album of Bon Jovi songs.

Despite L&J telling us that Steele's "libido" had "caused his mind to wander" (aha — somebody has been reading Freud!), their description of Steele's behavior toward Miss Durham betrays another motive at work:

They had spent time together, chatting for hours over drinks or dinner, sometimes with coworkers, sometimes not. He had not returned so much as one brush of a finger, but his eyes had held her gaze, and he could only assume his smile had made its point.

Steele's "libido" seems firmly in check. He keeps it — like Hattie — subservient to his need for emotional dominance. Throughout the book, Rayford keeps Hattie in her place — waiting for signals from him, but always withholding those signals. The authors seem to regard this as a sign of Steele's virtue and self control, but it reads more like something deeply kinked and cruel. He gets off on this.

On the third page of the book we read:

He was no prude, but Rayford had never been unfaithful to Irene. He'd had plenty of opportunities. He had long felt guilty about a private necking session he enjoyed at a company Christmas party more than 12 years before. Irene had stayed home, uncomfortably past her ninth month carrying their surprise tagalong son, Ray Jr.

By this point, Rayford Steele's warped sexuality — the book's primary theme thus far — has become so blatant that one begins to hope the authors are attempting something more subtle and artful. Perhaps Steele is an antihero — an unreliable narrator like something out of Nabakov? (The voice is not first person, but our omniscient narrator is, so far, focused on Steele's P.O.V.)

But little in the rest of the book supports such a view. The only unreliable narrators here are the authors themselves, apparently agreeing with Steele that his "private necking session" (who talks like this?) with a nameless, undescribed, inconsequential female does not constitute "unfaithfulness" to his pregnant wife.

  • Athiestic Hell Bound Heathen

    Unfortunately Christina, although you would like to believe that we can’t understand your thoughts because we spend all our time being scared of women and God and thinking about sex and sodomy, the real reason is due to your abominable grasp of standard english grammar. While I understand that being homeschooled allows your parents to further indoctrinate you and cement in your mind a very un-Christian bigotry and intolerance, that is no reason to skip over something that allows you to better communicate your views with a literate audience (unless you end up in what I assume to be your ideal marriage with a husband who forbids you to work or speak and allows you little else than to be subservient, meek, and quiet). And as Dazir said above, attacking people, and acting in any manner other than that of compassion is very un-christian. I on the other hand, do not profess to believe in God or any other religious(fictitious) being, so I am under no such compulsion (although I do try).
    Cheers
    –J

  • alphabitch

    I have somehow found my way through books 1-10 of the LB series. I haven’t read the latest yet because no one I know has purchased a copy and it’s been checked out of the library since it came out. And I’m not giving those people my money. Also I’m kind of embarrassed to read it in the bookstore where people can see me. Call me a snob. While you’re at it you can also call me totally wacko on account of I fully intend to read all 12 of books in the series (n.b. the authors have stated their intention to end with book 12, but who knows what they’ll do next). Why? you may ask. I’m not sure I can answer this. They are hideous books. I’m not a christian nor any kind of religious scholar and I can’t speak to their theological accuracy (though I did read Revelations the other day, just as sort of a fact-checking thing, and I didn’t get it — Revelations, I mean — so I started back at Genesis to see if that helps. So far it hasn’t, but I’ll read the whole thing just to make sure.). I was hoping, by reading the series, to gain some kind of insight into the mindset of folks who were raised into or who have bought into this apocalyptic tradition which is so a la mode these days. The feeling these books leave me with cannot be described as insight. If I had read these books 25 years ago, I would have just giggled and gone back to Ayn Rand, but now they leave me with this creepy feeling I can’t quite shake (so does Ayn Rand, now that I think of it). I understand that these are mass-market books, and intended as prosyletising tools. One expects a certain heavy-handedness. I’m perfectly happy to suspend my disbelief and critical thinking temporarily in the name of a good read, but I can’t understand how anyone could be convinced of anything by this prose. Each character encountered by the main characters (and each of the main characters themselves) exhibits a set of traits or espouses a set of pat arguments against christianity or for some deliberately silly straw-man ‘ecumenicism’ or liberal theology, and the main characters do their witnessing and testifying and eventually many are saved when they realize that the world really probably is ending and this might be their last chance. The series does have a fairly clear ‘how to effectively evangelize to the sort of person you as a good christian might not have encountered before’ agenda. But the sexual undertones, as noted above, are hilarious and astoundingly bizarre. And the man/woman role thing is completely alien. But what disturbs me most about the series is the focus on the possession/acquisition/control of the biggest-best-coolest-most expensive gear (yes–they steal shit from the bad guys all the time, and occasionally kill them but by golly they don’t sleep with ‘em). Yeah sure the bad guys have cool stuff, but the good guys really *deserve* cool stuff. Or something. And then there’s a whole race/class subtext that’s vile and scary. Oh, and I can’t remember which book it is that reveals the shocking truth that the oh-so-virile, smart, and handsome thirty-something Buck Cameron (world-traveled prize-winning journalist) is a virgin when he marries the barely legal daughter of Rayford Steele (herself, of course, chaste despite being a rebellious co-ed). Sorry, did I wreck it for youall?

  • Jeff Scott

    My better half and I smell a troll. After looking at “Christina’s” blog she thinks “Christina” has a far better command of the english language than “she” lets on and that “her” errors are too obvious.
    At which point I checked “Christina’s” blog myself and noticed that “her” posts don’t go back very far. Monday afternoon is “her” earliest post….
    I wouldn’t waste my time with this one folks.

  • Anarch

    Not to spoil your fun, Christina, but…
    http://www.calpundit.com/archives/002463.html
    You can find the appropriate links there, folks.
    And Slacktivist? You’re so much a better man than I to try and slog through the LB series like that. I gave up after 5 pages, and I wasn’t even trying to review it…

  • Patann

    RE Christina’s post … I thought home-schoolers had better grammar than that. Anybody else think maybe the up-thread (here) Christina was maybe a put-on?
    Whatever, she should read Karen Armstrong’s “The Gospel According to Woman”. Easy enough for a 14-y-o to understand. Especially the chapter on ‘witches’. It’s about christianity and the perception of women in the west. I doubt if Christina has gone much beyond her own state (physical or state-of-being) yet. There’s absolutely no excuse for any 14-y-o to be so uninformed in this day and age.

  • http://www.bluntedonreality.com/archives/000203.html blunted on reality

    Wackiness in Blogland

    She an evangelical Christian, has an obvious distaste for athiests, supports Harry Potter, opposes the death penalty, and isn’t interested in dressing up like Moses on Old Hallow’s Eve.. she’s Christina, and she can be found at Christina Blogs for…

  • Rachael

    Poor Christina. She puts all of us other homeschooled people to shame. I took the liberty of emailing her the correct spelling of the word ‘atheist,’ since she seems to be so fond of using it.

  • MJ

    After going to “Christina Blogs for Jesus” I think Christina MUST be a troll… no homeschooler has EVER read Atlas Shrugged. :-)
    …Although I must admit that her observation that “Rayford Steele” could be a character name from that book is pretty good.

  • http://nielsenhayden.com/electrolite/archives/003901.html Electrolite

    Revelations.

    Slacktivist is blogging about the mega-bestselling “Left Behind” novels, so far here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here….

  • Nathan Delee
  • http://www.nobody-knows-anything.com/mtarchives/000476.html Nobody Knows Anything

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    I drove Darin to work the other day and ended up listening to Fresh Air with Terry Gross as a…

  • Jeremy

    Obviously Christina is a poser.. that first comment proves it all. Some of you were just so eager to flex your opinions you didn’t even think about her response. Now, as far as the series goes, I am a strong Christian and have been living my life as such for the past three years and I have never read it, but I am always a little wary about reading Christian fiction, especially one that is so universally praised. That may sound a little strange, but being familiar with Christian trends in media, I have really found that a majority of the time, it is either theologically weak or poorly produced(books,movies,shows,etc.) The reason most Christians are so eager to tout a new piece of media as “life-changing” is because there is just such a lack of good Christian-based media and they want to be able to share their views. The only thing that I really have thought to be an excellent piece of media is the recently released Passion. It is accurate with the bible with very little artistic license taken. But I digress… After reading through these comments there were a few I’d like to address because.. it scares me that people actually think Christians would even consider some of these things. First quote was,
    “They genuinely think that the Enemy is going to use it to bring about a reign of hell on earth. Which you would think they’d be looking forward
    to, what with being so saved and all.”
    I mean come on, I know us Christians can be pretty closeminded sometimes(that’s the point right?) but that is about as ignorant a comment as I’ve ever heard. -Yes, I want you all to die because you’re not Christians and don’t believe the same things as me- Now doesn’t that just sound a little ridiculous? If you were just flaming the book, fine, we all do that.. but if you actually believe that, then I suggest you actually get to know a Christian, because I know approximately zero Christians that actually want all of you heathens to die, and I’m actively involved in a church. The heathens part was a joke in case you didn’t get the tone ;) Ok, other comment was,
    “You know, I bet there’s plenty of filthy porn in heaven, there sure is in the bible…but I digress.”
    All I have to say to that is … No. There is no porn in the Bible. Not even an active imagination could come up with porn as being in the Bible. The only thing I could possibly see as being “porn” to someone who simply wishes to make a point hoping nobody researches it, would be the book Song of Solomon.. which is describing the process of courtship and marriage in correlation to Jesus and the Church, oh.. its hot stuff. Not really.
    Finally,
    “…just wondering, are you insinuating that a girl who does not subjugate herself to a man’s wishes is automatically a whore?”
    Now, Christians don’t expect women to “subjugate” themselves via Medieval ideology, most people just take a piece of a verse.. chop off the parts that contradict what they’re trying to say and then say “LOOK, THE BIBLE IS EVIL” so… here’s the real deal. Let us think about who the bible is talking to.. a society based upon male dominance and authority. What do you expect the bible to say “Hey, all you guys that were taught to be dominant.. SUBMIT!” No, it uses language such as “love your wife as you love yourself” and “treat your wife as Jesus treated the church” and many other comments. This is basically tricking the men of that time to submit to their wives.. there are even a few passages that ask the husband to submit to their wives as well. I think this is an important point to bring up, simply because it is probably one of the biggest misconceptions of the Christian faith.. right up there with “we hate Jews and homosexuals”. But that is an entirely different discussion. So, sorry if nobody cares, but I will just assume that you’d rather not be ignorant(not said with anger, but honesty) because Christians really haven’t done a whole lot to give themselves a good image. I’m also not assuming everyone here is Atheist.. so please don’t bring that one up again.

  • Guy

    Jeremy, thank you. Score one smack upside the head for fair debate. What’s with all the atheist hyperbole anyway?

  • http://hownow.brownpau.com/archives/2004/04/blood_im_afraid How Now, Brownpau?

    “Blood, I’m Afraid.”

    The Slacktivist has some excellent running commentary on Left Behind and its implications for Christianity and faith with its pulp treatment of eschatology, doctrine, and…

  • Sandals

    I mean come on, I know us Christians can be pretty closeminded sometimes(that’s the point right?) but that is about as ignorant a comment as I’ve ever heard. -Yes, I want you all to die because you’re not Christians and don’t believe the same things as me- Now doesn’t that just sound a little ridiculous? If you were just flaming the book, fine, we all do that.. but if you actually believe that, then I suggest you actually get to know a Christian, because I know approximately zero Christians that actually want all of you heathens to die, and I’m actively involved in a church. The heathens part was a joke in case you didn’t get the tone ;)
    Jeremy,
    The thing is is that that IS the kind of message we see from such as the Freepers and the LGF. And from certain far right figures.
    I don’t think most people quoting the bible and saying “LOOK THE BIBLE IS EVIL” are actually trying to say that “LOOK THE BIBLE IS EVIL”. Mostly, they are deploring acts that some say are “justified” by some interpretation of the bible. So people say the Bible also says this, so why arn’t you doing that?

  • Ratan

    I know I’m really late to this, but damn, this made me smile. I never saw the appeal in those books, not that I tried to read them or anything.
    On to the rest of this series.

  • http://hownow.brownpau.com/archives/2004/04/blood_im_afraid How Now, Brownpau?

    “Blood, I’m Afraid.”

    The Slacktivist has some excellent running commentary on Left Behind and its implications for Christianity and faith with its pulp treatment of eschatology, doctrine, and…

  • http://www.permanentred.com/archives/2005/04/15/pocksie-kitch/ All Day Permanent Red

    Pocksie Kitch

    Who knew that I was so far ahead of my time? I spent 3rd and 4th grade in a Pentecostal school (chosen, I swear, because it was supposed to be one of the best schools in the city).
    We had apocalypse drills, just as kids in California had earthquake …

  • Ken

    So the authors made Steele out to be a schmuck, then he wasn’t raptured. There;s nothing pro- or anti-Christian about that, the first chapter is just the setup, and the punchline is a few pages later. Big deal.

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  • Lydia Cornell

    I’ve talked about these “Left Behind” books on my blog, and I find them to be not only horribly written, but sophomoric, dangerous and absolutely false. La Haye & Jenkins (as well as Christian fascists Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Jack Abramoff, and the Bush family) — are engaged in the most corrupt, dangerous perversion of Christianity I’ve ever seen. They have completely misunderstood and perverted the most peaceful force that ever came to man, in order to set themselves above others and arrogantly look down on “sinners” while they are “saved”. God is Love. Christ, the Great Peacemaker, the Prince of Peace came to teach us that we are all ONE: we are all God’s children. We must love the unlovable ones, we must love our enemies and our neighbor as ourself, and never exclude others — no matter how far down the scale they have gone, no matter how immoral, sick or offensive they seem to us, all people are in need of love and healing. We must not judge, condemn or ostracize our fellow man. “Leave judgment and vengeance to God”. And by the way, there is no anthropomorphic God; the kingdom of heaven is within us all. The God of Love would never cast a single one of his children into eternal damnation just because they didn’t declare “Jesus Christ as their savior”. I hate to break the news to these new Christian fascists, but the only ones who are not going to be seeing God (or “raptured” as they believe) — are them! Until they get the hatred and pride out of their hearts — because you see, it’s an inside job. We are spiritual, not material, and the “Second Coming” will only arrive when we all turn to Love in our hearts. That’s when we will see God, which is love. That’s why the gate is narrow: it’s hard to love your enemies. Very few will get through that gate.
    Slacktivist is a wonderfully hilarious website! I’m putting your link on my website: http://www.lydiacornell.com

  • Brian

    Thank You Lydia – your comments soothed my heart! But why lump the whole Bush family in your offering. We “Christians” need to love them too! Maybe most of all!!!! Yes, it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for anyone to get through the gates of heaven. I am thankful for the chance to try and pray GW keeps on trying (and failing!). No one is perfect, me least of all.

  • Bruce Rockwell

    Ever wonder how old Tim LaHaye’s “rapture” view really is? You will stop wondering if you visit engines like Yahoo and type in “Pretrib Rapture Diehards” (while noting Tim’s hypocrisy in section “1992″) and gaze upon recently unearthed 19th century primary documents that long lay under layers of dust in libraries in Britain. When Falwell etc. constantly find excuses to sneak in mentions of the word “rapture” at political action rallies, it’s the password, the rallying banner, the miracle word that can mobalize and unite the traditionally-fractioned fighting fundamentalists into winning voting blocs for political purposes! It’s a fantasyland house of cards which can collapse if one simply breathes on it from a hundred feet away! The one thing Falwell, LaHaye etc. fear the most: mainstream scholarship finally taking a close look at the earliest rapture documents that have been located and are now available to all! Bruce

  • Rob

    Like the Bush administration, the Left Behind authors are using fear and shame to sell ideas and books. The least conscious and most naive and uneducated memebers of society believe them.
    Fundamentalism is a primitive tribal mindset. It is a venomous meme that infects an uncosncious host. These idiots have tapped into this meme and have made millions from the uneducated and the ignorant. For this reason…they are the lowest of the low and should pay for their crimes against the naive and vulnerable.
    There is not one shred of historical evidence for Jesus. There is no contemporaneous attestation for his life as an actual historical person. Not one of his so called contemporaries mention him. NONE. AND THE CHURCH KNOWS AND OBSCURES THIS FACT. The god-man cults pre-date Christianity. It is the same symbolic archetypal story in different dress.
    Yet the politically savvy of the 1st century used this meme to great effect. One of the earliest so called “church fathers” Eusebius openly encourages believers to lie in support of their myth. The earliest Christians were called Gnostics and knew full well that a literal belief in Jesus was pure bunk…a fabrication. Even Iraneus acknowledged the mythical nature and origins of the Christian belief system. Yet…the fundamentalists….driven and motivated by fear and hate, twisted these myths to manipulate the masses.
    It is amazing and alarming to watch the fundamentalists in action in our own age acting out their childish undeveloped psyches.(Bush, Robertson, Falwell, Delay et al.) Threatened in their immature primitive worldview…they make war ,poverty, and misery for countless innocent souls.

  • Ken

    Rayford Steele.
    Not so much a porn star name as that of a Thirties pulp hero. (Actually, the same pulp tradition that sparked all that “Bond Girl” nomenclature.) Or some of the minor character names Chesterton coined in his Father Brown Mysteries which still grate on me.

  • Doctor Joshua

    I’m currently reading Left Behind, and I’m telling you, it’s not that difficult to come up with legitimate reasons why it is a bad novel. That you fail to do so proves you to be a ridiculous jackass.
    The name of the woman about whom Steele is fantasizing is “Hattie Durham.” (Eldridge Cleaver could have written volumes trying to unpack all the Southern sexual myths crammed into that name.)
    Prove it. Write just one volume. Even half a volume!
    Honestly. Eldridge Cleaver? The Black Panther? It’s like you’re playing Mad Libs. “The Crying Indian, Iron Eye’s Cody, could have written volumes trying to unpack all the Southern sexual myths crammed into that name.”
    By this point, Rayford Steele’s warped sexuality — the book’s primary theme thus far — has become so blatant that one begins to hope the authors are attempting something more subtle and artful. Perhaps Steele is an antihero — an unreliable narrator like something out of Nabakov? (The voice is not first person, but our omniscient narrator is, so far, focused on Steele’s P.O.V.)
    But little in the rest of the book supports such a view.
    First of all, I find it odd that you could conclude such a thing before reading the book. (You’re a bit like Rayford Steele struggling to read his wife’s Bible backwards on page 122.)
    This kind of line-by-line “critique” may work for a fucking Usenet flame war, but it’s not a critical reading of a book. This nonsense starts with the assertion that Left Behind is crap, then goes on to conspiracy theories, pop psychology, and misconstruing subjective POV. Taking a bullheaded approach like this, one could tear apart anything. It may make you and your buddies feel good, but it does nothing to increase anyone’s understanding of literature.
    Do you want to know why Hattie and Irene were described in the way they were? Because the POV character is a man. That’s it. There is no need to read anything more into it.
    If you do want to explore the authorial intent, however, he goes on to provide some Nabakovian–
    For fuck’s sake, will you stop with the name dropping? Eldridge Cleaver and now Nabakov. I guess you want everyone to think you’re some kind of genius. Well, it looks ridiculous.
    The author goes on to write (on page 89):
    He knew Hattie was not a bad person. In fact, she was nice and friendly. But that was not why he had been interested in her. It had merely been a physical attraction, something he had been smart enough or lucky enough or naive enough not to have acted upon. He felt guilty for having considered it, and now his own grief would obliterate all but the most common courtesy of simply caring for a coworker.
    So you see there was a good reason for the focus on Hattie’s physical appearance. Rayford Steele is a flawed hero. And now you look like a jackass.
    Since you enjoy reading subtext into things, though, let’s have some fun.
    Are you aware of the homoerotic subtext in Left Behind?
    I don’t know how you could have missed this passage from page 15:
    Not sure whether he’d follow through with anything overt, Captain Rayford Steele felt an irresistable urge to see Hattie Durham right then. He unstrapped himself and squeezed his first officer’s shoulder on the way out of the cockpit. “We’re still on auto, Christopher,” he said as the younger man roused and straightened his headphones. “I’m gonna make the sunup stroll.”
    Christopher squinted and licked his lips. “Doesn’t look like sunup to me, Cap.”
    Just why did Christopher have to “rouse” and “straighten his headphones”? It doesn’t say anything about him being asleep. Why did Rayford “squeeze his shoulder”? And why did Christopher “lick his lips”? Obviously, the first officer was performing oral sex on the captain, Rayford squeezed his shoulder as a signal for him to stop so he can go finish inside Hattie Durham, and Christopher licked what little pre-cum he could gobble off his puckered lips.
    The only question that remains now is: What does “sunup” mean?
    “Doesn’t look like sunup to me, Cap.”
    It’s obviously a flirtatious double-entendre of some sort, so I guess it doesn’t have to mean anything, but I’m not aware of any euphemism for gay sex involving “sunup”.

  • Doctor Joshua

    Doh! I get it now. “Doesn’t look like sunup to me” means Christopher was checking out Rayford’s ass.

  • Jesurgislac

    I was glancing at the wiki entry for Left Behind, and saw this under Triva:The basis for the setting of the book’s beginning is, according to Jerry B. Jenkins, rooted in an actual experience Dr. Tim LaHaye had once. Dr. LaHaye was reportedly on an airplane when he saw the captain, wearing a wedding ring, flirting with the senior flight attendant, who was single, and wondered what would happen if the Rapture were to occur at that moment.

  • Michèle

    > he saw the captain, wearing a wedding ring, flirting with the senior flight attendant, who was single,
    I have to wonder if what LaHaye saw as “flirting” would just be considered “talking” by any normal person?

  • Anthony

    Even if it’s doubtful you’ll ever read this, “Doctor Joshua,” I feel compelled to say *something* in response to that spiteful, overwrought attack on Fred Clark’s character.
    1. “…fail to provide legitimate reasons for LB being a bad book?” Have you even read ONE of these articles?
    2. Yes. Eldridge Cleaver, a southern man largely obsessed with sex his entire life. I’d say he’d be qualified to comment on the double-entendees inherent in a woman’s name.
    3. He’s not extrapolating the rest of the book. He’s *read it before.* These essays are being written as Clark reads through a second time. They’re not his first impressions. They’re conclusions he reached after seeing all there was to see. THAT is why he’s allowed to “begin with the assertion that Left Behind is crap.”
    4. As for “conspiracy theories?” What are you even *talking* about?
    5. On the crime of using “Pop Psychology and Misconstruing Subjective POV,” I have this to say:
    -Even a cursory glance at the descriptions of women and relationships in these books shows pretty obvious evidence that L&J are not “well” sexually. Conforming to a fundamentalist Christian view of sex tends to do that to people.
    -If their writing skills are any indication, L&J aren’t intelligent enough to use such a literary device.
    They’re not pretending to be bigots. They ARE bigots.
    6. We all know who Nabokov is. Fred isn’t “name-dropping” to make himself look smart to us. He’s making a valid comparison.
    7. Rayford Steele may be a flawed hero, but as I’ve already established, L&J aren’t smart enough to pretend this isn’t really their point of view. If it was only Hattie they end up describing that way, I’d agree with you, but they describe ALL the women in the book like this, no matter whose POV they’re using at the moment.
    …And then there’s the rest of the post, which doesn’t need commenting on.
    I don’t know how you got the impression that he was, but Fred Clark isn’t trying to impress anyone. He’s trying to *inform* people.
    The only person with something to prove here is YOU.

  • george

    Man I was just googling to find how many pages are in these books to write on a reading report form, and had a nice read. This stuff is hilarious, I must admit it was a fun time. What amazes me though is that people are still posting on a subject line that was started three years ago, agg. Get a life. LOL. Oops I just did it too. :-)

  • Lisa Ruby

    This article reinforces my firm conviction that the Left Behind Series is filled with anti-Christian subliminals. I have also noticed some anti-Christian sex subliminals in the Left Behind Series and have shared them in the Podcast: Sex and the Left Behind Series.
    http://www.libertytothecaptivespodcast.net/sex_left_behind1.html
    It is interesting to note that Tim LaHaye and his wife, Beverly co-authored The Act of Marriage–a sex manual for Christians.
    Lisa Ruby

  • The God Emperor

    Anthony said: Even if it’s doubtful you’ll ever read this, “Doctor Joshua,” I feel compelled to say *something* in response to that spiteful, overwrought attack on Fred Clark’s character.
    No doubt true, but others may read the post and think that the good doctor made some telling points. Let us dispel this now, shall we?
    Anthony already dealt with much of the post. I will only address the parts he didn’t comment on, lest a lack of any refutation imply they were correct.
    Doctor Joshua said: Prove it. Write just one volume. Even half a volume!
    Even though Mr Clark’s remark here was clearly a jest, please note that Mr Clark said Mr Cleaver could write these volumes, not that he himself could. You can ask Mr Cleaver to prove it if you like, but he isn’t likely to answer since he died in 1998.
    Doctor Joshua said: First of all, I find it odd that you could conclude such a thing before reading the book.
    Though Anthony already dealt with this, I feel compelled to point out that Mr Clark explicitly stated that he had read this book before and was going through it a second time to address specific concerns. Even if Mr Clark had not spelled this out when he began this project, the sentence in question, ‘But little in the rest of the book supports such a view’, carries the very clear implication that he has in fact read the rest of the book.
    Doctor Joshua said: This kind of line-by-line “critique” may work for a fucking Usenet flame war, but it’s not a critical reading of a book.
    Now this part I find vastly confusing. What exactly do you consider to be ‘a critical reading’, Dr Joshua? Is it merely a summary of a book with a few general comments referencing nothing in particular?
    My fiance has an MA from King’s College, University of London in Shakespearean Studies and a PhD in Theater Criticism . I proofread her thesis for the MA (which earned a mark of ‘merit’, for those of you familiar with London’s grading system), and it included numerous quotes of lines which were then discussed, exactly as Mr Clark is doing here. Any reasonable definition of non-academic literary criticism quite well describes what is occurring on this web site, e.g., quoting specific lines of text and then commenting on those lines and how they relate to the rest of the work; what we an learn from them about the author’s backgrounds, their other works, the society and time period they came from, etc..
    Doctor Joshua said: Do you want to know why Hattie and Irene were described in the way they were? Because the POV character is a man. That’s it. There is no need to read anything more into it.
    This is the only comment you made, Dr Joshua, that I find genuinely disturbing. The portrait of Rayford Steele the critical reader gains from his descriptions of Hattie and Irene (among others) is of a narcissist who is interested in trading his wife in for a younger model. For you to describe these attributes as those of ‘a man’ comes as quite a shock. Do you, Dr Joshua, consider all men to share these qualities? That is what your statement implies. Not only would I argue that this is untrue in reality (I myself, for example, do not immediately judge the attractiveness of every womyn I come across, as the authors of Left Behind do in this book, nor am I the least interested in swapping my 36-year-old fiance for the latest version), but I would also argue there are countless examples of fiction in which a man’s POV is portrayed believably without the narcissism or younger, more attractive womyn-craving and without immediately describing the physical attractiveness of all female characters he encounters. These characteristics (among others that Steele displays) are not inherent to his being a man. Your statement also implies that there is nothing unique about Steele’s characterisation, since his thoughts about Hattie and Irene arise simply from his being ‘a man’.
    Doctor Joshua said: So you see there was a good reason for the focus on Hattie’s physical appearance. Rayford Steele is a flawed hero. And now you look like a jackass.
    You focus solely on the portrayal of Hattie (what about Irene?), which Mr Clark does not, because it suits the argument you are making. You did not include the line ‘The first thing L&J tell us about any female character is whether or not she is attractive’ because it undercuts your point. The immediate notice of a womyn’s physical attractiveness is not limited merely to your ‘flawed hero’ but is common to every male POV in the novel (which means just about every POV since the book has no substantive female POV). Of course, it may be that the authors intentionally portrayed every man in the story in this way. If they did so, there is little evidence that they see anything wrong with their male characters’ reactions to wymyn.
    Mr Clark has noted several times that Steele is portrayed in a ‘negative’ way before his conversion and in a ‘positive’ way thereafter. However, as Mr Clark has pointed out, Steele’s attitude towards wymyn changes very little if at all after his conversion, and there is nothing negative in the author’s portrayal of that attitude. He remains a narcissist and has no qualms about replacing his wife post-haste, and there is nothing in the book indicating the authors believe this is a flawed attitude. On the contrary, their sympathies clearly lie with Steele, especially after his conversion, to the point that what we consider flaws in his character are not perceived as flaws in their eyes.
    Doctor Joshua said: Just why did Christopher have to “rouse” and “straighten his headphones”? It doesn’t say anything about him being asleep. Why did Rayford “squeeze his shoulder”? And why did Christopher “lick his lips”? Obviously, the first officer was performing oral sex on the captain, Rayford squeezed his shoulder as a signal for him to stop so he can go finish inside Hattie Durham, and Christopher licked what little pre-cum he could gobble off his puckered lips.
    This is difficult for me to say, given that I am generally flabbergasted by the ridiculous twists some literary critics go through to read homoeroticism into any work of fiction. The problem is that your satire is based on the work Mr Clark has done here, which makes that satire so grossly over-the-top that it is rendered totally ineffective. I have read all Mr Clark’s Left Behind posts on this web site, and though I have not always agreed with his interpretations, I have never found him to engage in the kind of reaching you are satirising here. To be effective, a satire must take reality and ‘tweak’ it just into unreality. ‘Brazil’ takes real bureaucratic inefficiency and exaggerates it enough to make it unrealistic but not enough to render it unrecognisable. Your satire of understanding subtext can certainly work with some literary criticism I’ve unfortunately had to endure, but it is so far from that of Mr Clark that it ceases to be a real satire at all. Mr Clark is dealing with the *motivations* of the characters and what those motivations may reveal about the authors (amongst other things he discusses, such as PMD theology vs orthodox Christian theology and the way scepticism is handled). He is not explaining actual events in subtext that are not explicitly described in the text. A more apt satire would deal with Steele *feeling* homosexual desires, not actually engaging in homosexual acts.
    Oh, and it’s also logically nonsensical. The primary meaning of the term ‘rouse’ according to the American Heritage Dictionary is ‘To arouse from slumber, apathy, or depression’, i.e., causing one to move from a state of inactivity to a state of activity. There is no need to establish beforehand that the co-pilot is asleep. Steele’s having to ‘rouse’ him already includes the idea that he was asleep, or at least not doing anything active. If I write ‘The film made me leap to my feet and applaud’, is there a need to decode the meaning of ‘leap to my feet’ because I did not previously mention that I was sitting down? Further, what possible meaning would ‘rouse’ have in connection with oral sex? How would someone ‘rouse’ a person performing fellatio? A person who is in the midst of performing a conscious, purposeful activity cannot be ‘roused’.
    Finally, Dr Joshua, in the future would you be so good as to dispense with the ad hominem attacks? Neither Anthony nor I stooped to such measures in responding to your post. Kindly do us the same courtesy.

  • Judicator

    I agree with slacktivist. A very strange beginning to an increasingly strange series of books. The sad thing is, they’ve sold millions of copies worldwide and been heralded as masterpieces.
    Of course, they couldn’t stop there. A good first run needs prequels and sequels to siphon any remaining profit that can be had (courtesy of the sort of people who will spend copious amounts of time reading this drivel).

  • Jderser

    [so be it]

  • Richard

    Lydia Cornell made this comment: “Christ, the Great Peacemaker, the Prince of Peace came to teach us that we are all ONE: we are all God’s children.”
    To whoich i must point out Christ’s statement in Matthew 10: “Do not think that I come to bring the peace upon earth: I came not to send peace but the sword. For I come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and the man’s enemies shall be they of his own household. He, who loves father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me; and he, who loves son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And he, who does not take up his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me” (34-38)

  • Richard

    “To whoich i must point out” To whoich? There’s never an edit function when I need one ;)

  • Anonymous

    Revelation is a wonderful book – considered as the first-century Jewish Christian expression of faith in the Kingship of Christ & in His total victory over all evil that it is. It is *not* “Lord of the Rings”-for-Dispensationalist-Fundamentalists. Though, Dispensationalism is itself a mythology, & the people who are flustered because the Tolkien canon gives two different dates for the birth of Aragorn, are the  same sort of people as worry about who killed Goliath or how Judas Iscariot died. Mainstream Biblical scholarship is built on noticing inconsistencies, & evaluating them. And all three texts are – broadly speaking – narratives. LB is just one more. The Dispy myth feeds into the myth of “America the Beautiful”, the “Almost Chosen People”.

    The real damage done by Dispensationalism is theological. Its Christ is not the Christ of the Gospels – or of Revelation. The nasty details about the Battle of Armageddon are decontextualised & extracted from some passages in the Prophets. The Christ of LB is more like the “Christ” of Jack Chick tracts: who is a Dispensationalist Christ.

    Unfortunately a vast horde of Christians cannot read – they may be literate, but their understanding of literature as literature is woefully bad. They not only read  Revelation in a crassly literalistic way (sort of); they drag in Ezekiel 38-9 & Daniel, as though these were part of Revelation. Ezekiel being the source for the Russky invasion of Israel. The result – inanity like “Left Behind”.

    “Yeah sure the bad guys have cool stuff, but the good guys really *deserve* cool stuff. Or something.”

    ## That sounds alarmingly like the idea that the non-elect have no rights, and the elect alone have rights, and may therefore, with impunity & without fault, help themselves to the property of the non-elect: may even have a duty to do so, if the non-elect is not using what he has in a manner that the elect judges to be right & godly.

    So – LB has no gay or bi heroes ? Whodathunk ?

  • Ibis3

     Sounds more like page three to me.

  • James M

    The Balizet URL is now:

    http://bookread.tanaya.net/cgi-bin/BookRead.cgi?tsly10

    The other URL is unchanged

  • James M

    It’s Harry Potter/Superman/sci-fi for Dispensationalists, but legit for them because it’s inspired.

  • James M

    LB is objectionable for a lot of reasons – it makes God into a devil-like figure, in a way that the Book of Revelation does not. It is not Christian, but deeply anti-Christian, because its Christ is not the NT Christ.

    IMO, Harry Potter is much more Christian than the LB books – its values are far better. And the story is very much better – Rowling knows how to tell a story.

  • James M

    Apparently, that “Catholicism is bad” – a well-known Evangelical trope. The idea seems to be that only atheists or Catholics molest or are molested – unfortunately, this is not likely to be true.

  • James M

    HP = quite possibly a classic. And not at all satanic.


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