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L.B.: Still not creepy enough

Left Behind, pp. 211-217 (take one)

It was a lump in the throat. It was an itching in the feet. It was a stirring in the blood at the sound of rain. It was a sickening of the heart at the sight of misery. It was a clamoring of ghosts. It was a name which, when I wrote it out in a dream, I knew was a name worth dying for even if I was not brave enough to do the dying myself and could not even name the name for sure. Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you a high and driving peace. I will condemn you to death.

– Frederick Buechner, in The Alphabet of Grace

Remember that American Cancer Society PSA with Yul Brynner? The King of Siam recorded the ad shortly before dying of lung cancer. He appeared gaunt and death-haunted, looking directly into the camera, ""Now that I'm gone I tell you: Don't smoke."

It may have been the creepiest public service announcement ever. And precisely because it was so creepy, it was very effective.

Part of the problem with the Rev. Vernon Billings' In Case of Rapture video is that, again, it's not creepy enough. This video is, after all, a kind of message from the great beyond, a voice from the other side. Yet it doesn't seem to occur to LaHaye and Jenkins that such a message ought to be a little bit creepy, a little bit eerie, maybe even a little bit numinous.

Instead, the ICR video is entirely didactic and expository. It's about as eerie and numinous as a PowerPoint slideshow or a corporate training video. Actually, for L&J, it is a corporate training video. It's a how-to instruction guide that will result, in a few short pages, in Rayford's conversion.

For L&J, this conversion does not seem to require or involve anything numinous. They'll use words like "spirit" and "supernatural," but these terms seem detached, clinical, powerless. Rayford encounters the infinite and it merely seems definite. His experience plays out as something therapeutic, not something transcendent. It comes across like one of those psychological breakthrough scenes that Mel Brooks parodied in High Anxiety — "It's not height I'm afraid of — it's parents!"

Rayford's conversion scene fizzles, in other words, for the same reason that Billings' video falls flat — because it's not creepy enough.

I probably shouldn't be using the words "creepy" and "numinous" interchangeably like this — the words have different meanings and different connotations. But at some point I'm sure you've sat alone in a room reading a better book than Left Behind and you've read something that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up, something that made you look up from the page and glance around the room because you were no longer quite so sure you were alone. Whether you were reading Stephen King or Julian of Norwich, the physical sensation is the same.

These pages of LB should probably be about two-parts Julian and one-part King. They ought to make your skin crawl, yet they don't. You can sit alone in a room and read this account of Rayford as he sits alone in a room and never be troubled by the sense that anyone or anything else is lurking nearby either one of you.

  • Axiomatic

    I was plenty TROUBLED, all right. But somehow I don’t think you meant you were supposed to find the fact that someone actually wrote this and managed to fins a publisher creepy.
    But yes, creepyness would be a definite sign that the writer is actually reaching the audience.
    Which LB naturally fails at, because the only audience it’ll ever be loved by has already been reached by it before the book was ever opened.

  • cminus

    When I began reading the quote, my first thought was Hey, this is pretty good! How did this wind up in “Left Behind”?

  • Axiomatic

    Heh, and I thought I was the only one.

  • keith

    They’ll use words like “spirit” and “supernatural,” but these terms seem detached, clinical, powerless. Rayford encounters the infinite and it merely seems definite. His experience plays out as something therapeutic, not something transcendent.
    Sounds like a criticism of Bultmann’s demythologizing project. This passage in LB is another example of how the supposedly “pre-modern” fundamentalists are actually quite modern! It’s not about “spirit” in the sense of the spirit blowing where s/he will. It’s all about the facts, the chronology, the schedule, the timetable, making it look reasonable and scientific.
    BTW, thanks for your blog, Fred.

  • Buhallin

    A friend of mine in college once said “Faith is the ability to believe that which the facts do not support.”
    I wonder if the inability to convey that sensation of oddity at the supernatural comes from an inability to understand it, and experience it. They can’t feel it themselves, despite their “faith”, and so their attempts to convery someone else’s belief comes off as flat as their own.
    “Faith is the ability to believe that which the facts do not support.” I wonder how many rapture-fanatics are eager to see the rapture arrive because it will provide the facts to shore up their faith? Believing is hard, and that chance to really SEE – and get a big old “Toldja so!” in to all the nonbelievers like me – has to be very appealing.
    It may be a bit of a psychoanalytical stretch, but how many of the faithful want to see the rapture just to shore up their failing faith?

  • Grumpy

    Allow me to return to a comment I made in the last FLB. I wondered if Billings’ video had been hastily recorded after the miraculous non-nuking of Israel. If only…. Such a video would see the preacher frantically trying to complete his final sermon before the trump sounds. It could also be leavened with Billings’ own anxiety about whether his tape will be necessary, i.e. he’ll be left behind himself.

  • Jacob Davies

    Off-topic, but I grew up living less than a mile from the Church of St Julian in Norwich, where she wrote. (Named after a different St Julian – some French guy, I believe.) I guess that constitutes a home-town shout-out, or something.
    This is the church – mostly destroyed by bombing, but rebuilt.
    This is Revelations of Divine Love in various formats.

  • Duane

    I’m betting “numinuous” was Word Of The Day in that annoying chain email..

  • Lucia

    The creepy and the numinous are both subsets of awe. L&J and their adoring fans don’t want awe, wonder, mystery — they want to read the last page now and kill all doubt. So, as the redoubtable Mr. King wrote, they slap three coats of quick-drying varnish on their worldview and call it good. And never think again.
    There is a difference between believing what is unprovable (God loves you) and believing what has been disproved (God created the world 6000 years ago, Saddam had WMDs, George W. Bush is the greatest thing since sliced bread). Interestingly, this crowd seems better at the latter than the former.

  • bowlesy

    This is probably the only part of LB of which it could be said it ‘isn’t creepy enough’. The rest of it is damn, damn creepy.

  • L

    It’d be creepy if I could buy into it, how these characters are just going about their business only minimally affected by the chaos and catastrophe around them. It’s like they live in bubbles somehow, untouched by the surrounding horror. Stepford Mary-Janes or something.
    But real creepiness in a story requires that the reader be drawn into it far enough for the willing suspension of disbelief to kick in. LB is unable to do that, precisely *because* of the above. The businesslike manner in which the ineffable is confronted doesn’t help, but even absent that the story never rises above the level of a children’s puppet show.

  • Chris

    When younger I came to the conclusion that love must be mechanism for overcoming dislike. If you liked each other, why would you need love? I did manage to raise myself to a love affair very briefly, but I’ve since relapsed to the original. It’s a close analogy to not having a sense of the numinous, which I’m still short of.
    The real question is why on god’s name one would want to have anything to do with it.

  • none

    Could it be said that King DID write a “Left Behind” book that was creepy and did therefor slide under the disbelief radar like a ghost stealthplane?
    I mean, The Stand.

  • dzd

    Of course, in The Stand you had people who reacted to 99% of the population disappearing in a week. They went crazy, looted, burned, committed suicide, went on benders, whatever. If anything that’s much less creepy than 2 billion people vanishing overnight without anyone seeming to notice or care.

  • Linkmeister

    I wonder if JJ Abrams read the scene about the video in LB and said “I can do better than that” when he created the Dharma film in “Lost.” That one had “creepy” ingrained in it.

  • Scott

    When younger I came to the conclusion that love must be mechanism for overcoming dislike.
    I love humanity – it’s people I can’t stand. :-)

  • WereBear

    It may be a bit of a psychoanalytical stretch, but how many of the faithful want to see the rapture just to shore up their failing faith?
    It’s my theory that they want the Rapture to come because then all their strenuous mental efforts will be over.
    It is a constant struggle to BELIEVE when what they are asked to believe has so many sharp pointy elements to it. Unbelievers they may care for doomed forever… their own moral decisions called into question… their personal ambitions quenched… the constant torment of being exhorted to LOVE on the one hand and HATE with all the others available. At first taste the concept of being enveloped in the truth and and everyone else getting shafted might appeal. But as time goes on, the rational side of the brain must keep bringing up questions, and having to be suppressed constantly.
    Which is why rational thinking is so difficult for people trapped in a simplistic world view like this one.

  • Beth

    What makes it clear that the opening excerpt could not possibly have come from LB (besides its quality) is the strong sense of rhythm throughout. You could practically play the entire paragraph on a drumset. It made me aware of how persistently arhythmic the LB style is. It’s not just that it’s prose and not poetry. Even the most pedestrian prose falls naturally into some rough rhythm occassionally, and most experienced writers make use of rhythm without even noticing, repeating a rhythm for emphasis or breaking it suddenly for contrast or surprise. From the excerpts Fred has posted over the series, it appears that LB has avoided that completely. It’s hard to believe it was written by someone with a heart that beats and breath that ebbs and flows.
    In response to the creepy or the numinous, the heart beats faster or seems to stop altogether, the breath comes in short, quick pants or slow and awe-filled sighs. These natural, human responses have no place in LB. They’ve taken the Puritan view of the body as something dangerously unclean to such an extreme, that they no longer feel it at all.

  • Lucia

    The Stand is one of my favorite books (it’s the source of the quick-drying varnish quote), but I thought the moral division was too cut and dried. As best I can recall nearly all of the characters are destined for one side or the other from the word go. The one exception I can recall simply goes over to the dark side with no explanation except the implication that he’s a techie and “techies like rules.” Harold and Nadine switch sides only after their damage is (mostly) done (we never find out exactly what role Nadine’s child is supposed to fulfill).
    IRL we all act from a mixture of motives, and we don’t know for sure which side we’re on. All the ambiguity is tough to live with.

  • Axiomatic

    Lucia, on the “child” bit…I would assume it was an attempt at making a Mordred.

  • belledame222

    >I wonder if the inability to convey that sensation of oddity at the supernatural comes from an inability to understand it, and experience it. They can’t feel it themselves, despite their “faith”, and so their attempts to convery someone else’s belief comes off as flat as their own.The creepy and the numinous are both subsets of awe. L&J and their adoring fans don’t want awe, wonder, mystery — they want to read the last page now and kill all doubt. So, as the redoubtable Mr. King wrote, they slap three coats of quick-drying varnish on their worldview and call it good. And never think again.
    There is a difference between believing what is unprovable (God loves you) and believing what has been disproved (God created the world 6000 years ago, Saddam had WMDs, George W. Bush is the greatest thing since sliced bread). Interestingly, this crowd seems better at the latter than the former.<
    Excellent points.
    It also goes with what to me is the rather odd focus these people have on, for example, Terry Schiavo. I mean: if you really believe that there is a just and merciful God, who provides a Better Place for us when we die, then why is it that you seem even more upset about the idea of shuffling off this mortal coil than the rest of our death-denying culture?

  • Erick Oppeen

    I think that part of the problem with the conversions in _Left Behind_ is the fact that the authors are, themselves, so steeped in the “born-again, pre-millenial dispensationalist” thing that they honestly can’t imagine how it would feel to come to it from a secular POV. Or, for that matter, the POV of a “Sunday-only, not terribly pious, not going to a ‘Bible-believing evangelical’ church” POV.
    They just don’t _get_ the secular worldview. They’re as culturally isolated, in their own way, as the “Old Believers” who were found in the Russian forests in (IIRC) the 1970s—they were so far out of it that they hadn’t heard of the Russian Revolution.

  • J

    I said it before and I’ll say it again: Making a video for your parishioners to watch after you’ve been raptured is a 100% sure sign that you will NOT be raptured.
    think that part of the problem with the conversions in _Left Behind_ is the fact that the authors are, themselves, so steeped in the “born-again, pre-millenial dispensationalist” thing that they honestly can’t imagine how it would feel to come to it from a secular POV. Or, for that matter, the POV of a “Sunday-only, not terribly pious, not going to a ‘Bible-believing evangelical’ church” POV.They just don’t _get_ the secular worldview.
    Yes and no. They don’t “get” secularism, that’s true, but then again they also don’t get the idea that there are more and subtler categories that merely “Christian” or “secular.” Modern Christians are exceedingly secular, not in the sense that they don’t do enough god-talk but that they constantly posit straw men rather than real men like, well, me.
    On previous threads I’ve uttered my own conviction that Christians are a great deal MORE “in tune” with popular culture than a lot of “secular” people. Some evangelical people from something called “Maranatha Church” have been camped out in front of the Wisconsin State Historical Society for a week now, thus requiring I pass them on my way to work. (They picked this spot ’cause they think its unholy–there’s a plaza out front where UW students have historically come to protest things. This is the marking-trees mentality Fred mentioned a few weeks back.) One of them tried to buttonhole me while I was eating lunch outside, “Hey, friend, did you see that new episode of the TV show Providence?”
    “No,” I truthfull answered, chewing on tuna fish, staring into the middle distance.
    I thought I saw a look of panic crossed behind the man’s eyes and he was silent for a moment. Maybe I’m imagining things but I swore I could hear the gears in his brain working furiously, What does he mean he didn’t see it? It’s TV! He’s a dirty secular! How could henot have seen it? What do I do now? He resumed, “Well, what happens is this: The main character–”
    I cut him off, “Listen friend I don’t really care what happened on TV last night. I don’t watch TV. I don’t care.” I rolled up my wax paper and walked away.
    Yes, I know I’m gloating here, but how pathetic is it–how much of a total piece of conversational jiu-jitsu was it–that a Christian waddles up expecting to use “pop culture” as the basis of my conversion, only to find out he seems to know and care more about it than I do.
    I know its popular to say there is no more counter-culture in America today. Or to say that Christians are the counter-culture. But they aren’t. To feel uncomfortable because of mild, juvenile sexual content in media does not make you a wild iconoclast. I’m sorry, it’s just harder than that. To pledge “sexual purity” probably means little or nothing to God. Given that there are children being mutiliated and burned alive in Africa right now, there are simply other things He has to take care of than your personal distaste for rock music. I’m sorry but your Puritanism is just not all that impressive.

  • grenadine

    i’m probably just repeating others’ assertions here, but as we delve ever deeper into LB (and a sincere thanks for this, Fred), i am struck by how little spirit the authors incorporate into the books. i’m pretty much an atheist, but there have been times when a sense of spirit (for lack of a better word) really overwhelms me and leaves a feeling of connectedness (to god, or the universe, or insert your term here). that feeling is pretty intense, and i’m sure i’m not unique in experiencing it.
    so how is it that these two guys, who claim to be so tapped into Christ’s love et al., can be so tone-deaf when it comes to describing a moment of transcedence – and what else is conversion but a moment of transcendence?
    i propose that it’s NOT because LaHaye and Jenkins haven’t experienced it. i think it’s that they’re afraid to share such an emotional experience with millions of readers. because describing such an event would require some soul-baring, some revelation of previous doubt, some opening of yourself for others to see — and that’s not something the Steeles and Bucks of LB do, not convincingly anyway.
    FWIW, that’s my theory.

  • J

    Ah, here they are:
    http://www.statestreetsociety.blogspot.com/
    Check this out:
    “For years the library mall area in Madison has been used to protest wars, promote homosexuality, host rock and roll festivals and promote godless agendas. April 21-22 we now have an opportunity to lift high the name of Jesus Christ. The glory of God in the gospel shines so bright against the tainted backdrop of rebellion and pride.”
    If you’re opposed to homosexuality or godless agendas, fine. Rock’n’roll, fine too. But, um, I’m confused about your counterposition of “the name of Jesus Christ” as being fundamentally incompatible as “protest[ing] wars.”
    Of course none of it really matters to me: If Christ is opposed to homosexuality, rock’n’roll and war protesters then FUCK HIM.

  • A Texan in Bavaria

    J: I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon among the folks back home (good Southern Baptists, for the most part) and the active duty/retired-career Army people I work with. I am a freak both because I’m a left-of-(American)-center Christian and because I don’t have AFN (Armed Forces Network – American TV) and don’t care. I’ve never been much in tune with pop culture, and when I do catch a bit of it, I realize that I’m not really missing much.
    And I want to smack someone at my parents’ church back in Texas for using the flipping overhead projector and singing those banal “praise choruses” during the Christmas Eve candlelight service, instead of enjoying some of the best imagery and music of our religious heritage. I think aesthetics drove me towards becoming an Episcopalian, sometimes ;)
    I don’t WANT a high-tech audio-visual experience at church – I go to church to get away from the racket and hurry of the world.
    And on the subject of media-usage, yeah, making a video for those “left behind” is a dangerously presumptive thing to do.

  • cjmr’s husband

    High-tech audio-visual can be used to good effect, particularly if racket and hurry is avoided. At the Easter Vigil this weekend, they used a pair of projectors to show images of astronomy, nature, animals, and generic diverse people during the reading from Genesis. Very nice.
    Although I missed the point of including the very famous photo of an Afghan woman that was on the cover of National Geographic fifteen years ago. Probably didn’t even pay for royalties.
    And is was quite jarring when the slideshow ended and it flipped back to the Powerpoint main screen. And then we got to see the “power off?” prompt on the projector, and the “no signal” message. Probably not what they wanted.
    In general, if you’re going to use these sorts of things, make sure you can use them professionally and transparently. It’s like when you suddenly get microphone feedback. No one cares that you’re using a mike until then.

  • J

    High-tech audio-visual can be used to good effect, particularly if racket and hurry is avoided. At the Easter Vigil this weekend, they used a pair of projectors to show images of astronomy, nature, animals, and generic diverse people during the reading from Genesis. Very nice.
    I guess. Seems like a sop to people whose imaginations’ have been fatally enfeebled by television and Bible study.

  • Axiomatic

    Ye gods, projectors in church?
    I get visions of powerpoint presentations displaying how Your Salvation Could Rise By 34.4% In The Next Five Years Through Spiritual Refinancial Investment!
    Benefits:
    .
    .
    .
    You get the picture.

  • Kate

    the thing I hate most about powerpoint projections at church is that it has killed the music… and not in the “we only sing praise choruses” kind of way, no, more insidious than that. By having the words up without the music there is no longer anyone singing harmony to the hymns.
    No men with their rich baritone counter harmony, and worse, all women trying to sing soprano!
    That’s truly my biggest complaint with the whole thing. They are robbing us of the richness of hymns that have been sung for centuries by the members of the church…

  • bulbul

    And I thought guitars and “Christian rock” was the worst thing I had ever seen in a church. Powerpoint in church. Talk about the signs of the End of times…

  • TK’s my hero

    At the risk of being insufferably self-promoting, I dare say my congregation does the projector/power point thing rather well. We mostly use the screen as another banner- a place for (usually) stunning, evocative art that compliments the day’s theme and, thankfully, involves NO flannel. Or we use it to display announcements or a slideshow of pictures from a mission trip or VBS or… like that. And we never use it to display the words to songs. (Well, ok, there was one time we did that – but only because the administrative assist. forgot to produce the insert it was supposed to be on :)
    Then again, we aren’t very tempted to put songs on the screen as our services are a blended style that includes very few happy-clappy-crappy praise songs. ‘Cause most of them are soulless individualistic garbage, IM(not so)HO. I mean really, its stuff only L&J could love.
    Or we occasionally show a movie or TV clip as a sermon illustration (and yes, we do pay for a license to do so).
    However, the screen (thus far at least) plays no role in our weekly Taize service; not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • J

    At the risk of being insufferably self-promoting, I dare say my congregation does the projector/power point thing rather well . . .
    No, you don’t. I’m sure you think you do, but you don’t.

  • cjmr’s husband

    In defense of my wife’s church, there was no actual screen, and this was obviously a one-off projection experience.

  • TK’s my hero

    I dare say my congregation does the projector/power point thing rather well . . .
    J: No, you don’t. I’m sure you think you do, but you don’t.
    Um, ok.
    I thought I made a decent case for a non-obnoxious use of a projector in worship…granted, I tend to be verbose so maybe you didn’t read my rationale…
    So I am curious, J, to know more. What makes you so certain about us? Are projectors simply inappropriate no matter how they’re used? Or is it…
    Wait a minute, I’ve got it! Have you been to our church and had a bad experience? Do I know you? Oh crap, were you that guy from a few weeks ago that I didn’t talk to ‘cause I couldn’t get away from Old Man Barnes soon enough?

  • pharoute

    I’m sure Zwingli would love a power point presentation…

  • Marty Kay

    Oh my…
    http://www.partiallyclips.com/index.php?id=1349&b=1
    I’ve been reading the Left Behind commentary and in another window going through PartiallyClips… and run into the above.

  • J

    The whole purpose of PowerPoint to reduce complicated things into fragmentary phrases and images to be presented at great speed.
    Doesn’t anyone else see that as potentially problematic when dealing with spiritual matters?

  • J

    Hmm, now that I think about it, I’m just as comfortable with this sentence as the one above:
    “The whole purpose of religion is to reduce complicated things into fragmentary phrases and images to be presented at great speed.”
    So hell with it: Use PowerPoint. It’s not just acceptable, it’s totally appropriate.

  • pharoute

    J: that would “Opiate of the masses”/LB brand religion… “Say the magic phrase and win a place in heaven.”

  • J

    Actually it seems totally apropo for the I-have-an-anxiety-disorder-but-I-think-it’s-fabulous mentality of Anne Lammott or the surely-we-can-find-middle-ground-even-though-we-have-nothing-at-all
    -in-common-ism of Sojourners. Or the true-Islam-has-never-had-any-problems-with-women-or-science-ism crowd.

  • Jeff

    J:
    1) Any medium can be appropriate — it totally depends on how it’s used. The Power-Point can augment a service, or it can make it trite and meaningless. I’m willing to believe TK — from his description, it sounds like it’s done right.
    2a) surely-we-can-find-middle-ground-even-though-we-have-nothing-at-all-in-common-ism
    Are we not all human? Do we not all laugh, cry, argue? We all do have plenty in common — we just have to be willing to see it.
    2b) true-Islam-has-never-had-any-problems-with-science-ism
    I won’t speak to the “problems with women” (traditional Islam has about as much problem with women as any other male-oriented group), but Islam per se has less problem with science than Christianity, as algebra, astronomy, etc well prove.

  • TK’s my hero

    “reduce complicated things into fragmentary phrases and images to be presented at great speed”
    Yes, that is a problem. And too often, what passes for Christianity is guilty of this – as Fred and others here have pointed out so frequently and so eloquently. So at this point I second pharoute’s comment.
    But I think perhaps “reducing complicated things” is not the best criterion for judging, well, much of anything. Because, really, what can’t you say that about? In addition to power point and religion, couldn’t you just as easily plug in, say, philosophy, accounting, newspapers, fables, physics or Tim McCarver? (Wait. Sorry. Scratch that last one – he takes simple things and tries to make them complicated. Horrendously. Makes me want to claw my eyes out. [shudder])
    Perhaps “reducing into fragmentary phrases” is the only way we can begin to approach God’s inexhaustible grace.
    However, again, if the presentation of the gospel is “look, this God thing is easy- just say this prayer and presto chango! You’re saved! That sort of willful blindness to the mysterious and unknowable, to say nothing of ignoring poverty, racism, ecology, health care et. al., is just wrong because IMHO it flat out ignores most everything Jesus said or did.
    Oh, and I agree with Jeff: “Are we not all human? Do we not all laugh, cry, argue? We all do have plenty in common — we just have to be willing to see it.”
    Well said.

  • Robert

    Haven’t read any of the comments, but while I can see your point… you can do better than this.
    Yes it is lame and sad, but I don’t check out Left Behind Friday’s for “lame and sad.”
    Take a deep breath slacky and make another run at this abomination. I know you have it in you.

  • J

    Are we not all human? Do we not all laugh, cry, argue? We all do have plenty in common — we just have to be willing to see it.
    Haven’t we just learned that we have absolutely cannot agree on PowerPoint appropriateness? To mean, the term is an oxymoron. To you, it isn’t.

  • Orion, Master of pedantry

    I don’t mean to be an insufferable pedant, really I don’t, but this is a pet peeve of mine, and hopefully informative and/or interesting.
    J, “appropriate power point” wouldn’t be an oxymoron, it would be a contradiction in terms. “oxymoron” is a word used very loosely nowadays, but it refers to a device of rhetoric in which a SEEMING contradiction is employed to attract attention adn render a vivid image.
    As a writer who LOVES oxymorons, I felt obligted to defend them. among my favorite creations: “outstandingly average” (a sarcastic character’s description of anything boring” “meticulously disheveled” (for those who take pride in thier bad looks) and “gregarious recluses” (my friends, with whom I used ot hide in side rooms during large parties)
    You may well know this already, in which case I apologize. but, maybe not everyone here does. In any case, I was just thinking about the sloppy use of the word as I was browsing, and your comment seemed like an omen.

  • TK’s my hero

    Ok, it’s kinda odd commenting on a post this old but, hello!, several Friday’s have come and gone without a new LB, (Fred, oooh Fred, are you ok? we’re getting worried!) this seems the best place to mention this:
    I have no idea if Richard Roeper is a slacktivist reader (tho, based on previous columns, his understanding of Christianity fits well here), but his column in today’s Sun-Times made me think of Fred and all the fun we have with LB here. Writing about the movie “A Day Without a Mexican”,
    “The movie is shot in docudrama style and it’s primarily a social comedy, so the situation is played mostly for laughs, with the actors behaving as if they’re in a sitcom a la “Arrested Development” rather than playing it realistically. (In a more “authentic” depiction, if 14 million people disappeared overnight, there’d be, you know, mass hysteria.)”
    He just forgot to add, “unless you’re a hack like L&J, for whom such a loss would be shrugged off 2 pages later and never mentioned again.”
    http://www.suntimes.com/output/roeper/cst-nws-roep03.html

  • Maureen

    You know, there’s a ghost of an effective scene in what you’ve described. If the presentation had been boring and dopey, the theology iffy, and the predictions hadn’t come true for the most part, but the guy found Christ speaking through them anyway…. That really could have worked.

  • Nenya

    (An aside: As a hearing-impaired person raised in a church which had neither hymnbooks, bulletins, or overhead projectors frequently in use, I was hugely relieved the first time I saw words to songs projected overhead. So, such things do have their uses. I do grant their easy fall into the trite, however. And good point about hymnbooks having *music* as well!)


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