L.B.: Otherwise innocuous

Left Behind, pp. 397-399

The authors, yet again, subtly point out that Buck and Rayford have opposite impressions of how their recent “interview” went. And by “subtly” there, I’m thinking of the way that Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford subtly expressed her disapproval of wire coat hangers.

Here’s the last bit from Buck’s point of view:

It would be fun someday to tell Rayford Steele how much that otherwise innocuous interview had meant to him. But Buck assumed Steele had already figured that out. That was probably why Steele had seemed so passionate.

And then we switch back to Rayford and read that he “felt he was a failure” based on that same interview. For those keeping score at home, this is the eighth consecutive transition between protagonists to make this exact same point. And in between those transitions, the pilot and the reporter have spent most of the past 13 pages brooding on this same thing –

Rayford was privately frustrated. … Buck sat without interrupting. … Buck was desperate to maintain his composure. … Rayford was certain he was not getting through. … Buck did not trust himself to respond with coherence. … Chloe was crying. … Rayford was profoundly disappointed with Chloe’s [response]. … Rayford was convinced Williams was merely being polite. … “Your dad is a pretty impressive guy.” … Buck did not sleep well. … Buck assumed Steele had already figured that out. … So far Rayford felt he was a failure. …

Uncle! Please, make the bad men stop. Thirteen pages of this relentless pounding doesn’t just make an impression on readers, it makes a contusion.

One also wonders what Buck meant by “this otherwise innocuous interview.” It was a 90-minute, uninterrupted monologue informing him that: A) he is a sinner, damned to Hell; and B) the world is coming to an unspeakably violent end and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. How is any of that “otherwise innocuous”? It’s the End of the World — literally. Buck here seems to be supplying the answer to the old joke: But besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play? “It was otherwise innocuous.”

As Rayford continues his sanctified sulking, we learn that he, too, is a bit unclear on the concept of the apocalypse:

If this signaled the soon beginning of the tribulation period predicted in the Bible, and Rayford had no doubt that it did, he wondered if there would be any joy in it.

What part of “tribulation” does he not understand? I suppose Rayford’s just trying to accentuate the positive, to find the silver lining in “great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world.” He just prefers to look at the seven bowls of divine wrath as half-full. (Or I suppose, in this case, half-empty would be the more optimistic view.) The next seven years will be marked by unprecedented, convulsive, global calamities. The population of the earth will be enslaved to a tyrant and inexorably, painfully whittled down to a scant remnant which will itself be swept away in a final conflagration. One way or another — through famine, pestilence, war, fire, flood, earthquake or poison — every man, woman, beast, bird, fish and plant will die.

“He wondered if there would be any joy in it.” Short answer: No.

We get another full page of Rayford’s self-flagellation over “his performance during the interview with Cameron Williams,” during which we’re told that, “From the depths of his soul Rayford wanted to be more productive … to bring more people to Christ.” Take a moment to savor the ghastly use of the word “productive” there, and appreciate that all of the reasons why that’s so very much the wrong word are the same reasons the authors seem to have thought it was the right one.

The magazine interview had been an incredible opportunity, but in his gut he felt it had not come off well. … Rayford believed he had seen the last of Cameron Williams. He wouldn’t be calling Bruce Barnes, and Rayford’s quotes would never see the pages of Global Weekly.

Because the important thing isn’t to spread the gospel or to warn the world of its impending doom. The important thing is to get quoted and get your name in print.

Rayford mopes about for another full page. He had heard Chloe crying herself to sleep, but he’s convinced they were tears of embarrassment over her father the fanatic. (After spending this entire chapter totally misreading every signal from his daughter, it would have been nice to see Mr. Perceptive begin to question his utter confidence that he always knows exactly what women are thinking and what they would say to him if he allowed them to speak, but of course this doesn’t occur to him either.)

He prays for a sign, for “encouragement … I need to know I haven’t turned her off forever.” Two paragraphs later, Chloe “embraced him tight and long, pressing her cheek against his chest.”

Such little quotidian signs of the presence of a responsive God become a regular part of the rest of these books. This is a staple of Christian Brand fiction, but the authors don’t seem to have considered how strange it is in the context of this story. “Please, God, give me some small sign,” makes sense in some Jeanette Oke or Grace Livingston Hill story, but here, after God has directly incinerated the Russo-Ethiopian air fleet and then whisked away some 2 billion people in the twinkling of an eye, it seems a bit odd that the believers in Left Behind would find these smaller gestures so much more compelling as evidence of divine intervention.*

This comes up again in the following section, after Chloe receives her own equally ambiguous and unimpressive answer to prayer. “I just told God I needed a little more,” she says. More, that is, than just her father’s earnest pleading. Chloe also acknowledges that the Trip and Die guys might be a hint of some divine activity. “There’s no other explanation** for those two guys in Jerusalem, is there, except that they have to be the two witnesses talked about in the Bible?” she says. It doesn’t occur to her, or to the authors, that The Event or what Buck called “the Israel miracle” might also be regarded as signs from God. Like her father, she doesn’t find such flashy phenomenon as persuasive as she does the “little more” gestures, the supposedly miraculous answers to prayer, such as a hug from a family member or a stalker’s reminding you that you’re never alone.

The impression such scenes give is something like if Moses had interrupted God’s engraving of the stone tablets on Mt. Sinai and said, “I’m thinking of a number between one and ten …”

That’s symptomatic of a larger problem pervading the rest of this series, following the conversion of our various protagonists. The authors follow the conventions of much Christian Brand fiction, presenting their heroes as models of Christian living their readers ought to emulate. Except that none of their readers is living in this same wholly disconnected context. This tribulation period is, according to the authors themselves, a unique, parenthetical span of history — a distinct and separate “dispensation.” It is wholly unprecedented and nothing about it is to serve as a precedent for anything else (just like Bush v. Gore). The authors vacillate between emphasizing that differentness and forgetting about it entirely. It’s the apocalypse, but it’s otherwise innocuous.

Better writers can still find a way, even in such an alien context, to allow readers to relate to characters in such a story.*** But in the hands of LaHaye and Jenkins, this becomes a story of people who are not like us in a world that is not like ours, overseen by a god that is not like God.

While receiving the answer-to-prayer hug from his daughter, Rayford wonders if this would be the right time to press her again about converting to the Church of The Antichrist and All. But then:

… he felt deeply impressed of God, as if the Lord were speaking directly to his spirit, Patience. Let her be. Let her be.

“Though she may be parted,” the Lord might have added, “there is still a chance that she may see.”

What’s interesting here is that after 15 pages of Rayford being wholly misled by what he felt “in his gut,” we see him now getting a feeling in his gut that he interprets as “the Lord … speaking directly to his spirit.” How can he be sure this is, indeed, the voice of the Holy Spirit and not, rather, “an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato”? Rayford’s visceral approach to spiritual discernment seems prone to misinterpretation.

Here’s the Christian Brand novel I’d like to see. Start with this very scene — the apparent voice of the Lord reassuring the anxious parent to “Let her be, let her be.” Then have the daughter walk out the door and get hit by the Hypothetical Bus. And then what happens?

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* This reminds me a bit of the story of Gideon, who played endless games with fleece while remaining unimpressed by repeated face-to-face conversations with the angel of the Lord. But unlike our heroes in LB, Gideon was supposed to seem timid and obtuse. (The tone for the story is set when the angel, finding Gideon cowering in a winepress, calls him “mighty warrior.” You have to like any story that includes angelic sarcasm.)

** Chloe, Buck and the authors all seem to think the answer to this question is No, but of course there are dozens of other possible explanations for “those two guys in Jerusalem.” They might, in fact, be acting like the two witnesses from the Bible because they’d read that passage in the Bible. That actually happens a lot. The two witnesses in our story might be Moses and Elijah returned to this mortal coil, but they might also be the reincarnations of John Reeve and Lodowick Muggleton. We can’t discount any alternative theories until they actually start belching fire.

*** One obvious way to go about that would be to explore how the inescapable suffering and death of the apocalypse is really just a concentrated version of the unknown-but-very-limited amount of time that each of us has before also encountering inescapable death. After all, every man, woman, beast, bird, fish and plant on earth is going to die, just probably not during the same seven-year span. That’s not something our premillennial dispensationalist authors are interested in exploring, though, since the whole point of believing the PMD nonsense is to be able to reassure yourself that you’re never going to die — that you will escape death by being “raptured.” (How that experience is any different, for the rapturee, from meeting your maker in the twinkling of an eye courtesy of a gunshot or railway accident is unclear, but this is something PMDs have trained themselves not to think about.)

In any case, The Meaning of Life in the Face of Death might be fertile thematic ground for a real novel, but it won’t do for a Christian Brand novel, which must always be about How to Live Like a Good Christian.**** For a character living during the exceptional Great Tribulation, the matter of How to Live Like a Good Christian is likely to be incomparably different from what it means for a reader who is not. That makes the theme of these books, almost by definition, irrelevant to the lives of the people reading them.

**** The fact that these are perceived to be unrelated themes tells you everything you need to know about Christian Brand novels.

  • Dash

    Oh, dang you to perdition, Burgundy! Now I’m going to be pending half of tomorrow thinking, “um, Link Hogthrob as Achilles? No, Oscar the Grouch as Achilles. No, Oscar in drag as Hera the Grouch. Snuffleupagus as Priam? No, wait, um. . . .”
    And I can’t get the image of Bert and Ernie as Diomedes and Glaucus out of my head:
    “Gee, Bert, I don’t know. This is pretty nice armor I have here–paid a hundred oxen for it–and yours is just worth, let’s see, it says here, nine oxen. You know, Bert, you really should take the price tag off the armor before you wear it into battle.”
    “Forget about the price, Ernie! We’re trading armor as a guest-gift, showing that we have a friendship connection going back generations. We’re not supposed to be comparing price tags.”
    “Easy for you to say, Bert. You know, my mom gave me this shield. I really don’t think I should. . . .”
    “Gimme that, Ernie!”
    “Oh, now look–you broke one of the golden studs, Bert. Say, can’t we just make each other friendship bracelets?”

  • Karen

    Sam the Eagle is definitely Agamemnon. Miss Piggy will insist on being Helen, so that bit of casting is easy. That means that Kermit has to be Menelaus, with Link Hogthrob as Paris.

  • burgundy

    Oh, dang you to perdition, Burgundy!
    Hee! My work here is done.
    My mother, who started the whole thing, figured on Kermit as Achilles, because Kermit always plays the lead, but it’s not a good character fit at all. I actually thought that Animal would be more temperamentally suited. And I liked the idea of Gonzo as Paris, so Helen could be played by Camilla. But I have a feeling that your knowledge of both Homer and Muppets are greater than mine.
    I’ve become a fan of several sites around the Net that show pictures of things made out of Legos.
    Like Cthulego Rising?

  • kay.c.

    The Illiad in Spa-a-a-a-ace!
    My brain hurts.

  • Tehanu

    fancying oneself persecuted is quite different than actually suffering persecution.
    Posted by: Angelika | Feb 02, 2008 at 09:28 AM
    Angelika: You summed up L&J, and indeed the entire crazy religious right in the US, in one sentence. Thanks!

  • Karen

    Oh, burgundy, thank you!! I hadn’t seen that one before, and I thought I was pretty well up on Lego sites. (9 year old son has covered our house in small plastic bricks.)

  • animus

    Gonzo as Nicky is inspired: “Tonight, I Nicolai the Great, will come up with a plan for world peace and an end to religious differences while explaining the disappearance of every child on Earth—and I shall do it while swimming through a vat of peanut butter and jelly filled with hammerhead sharks!”

    The other possibility is The Count: “Two hundred and one member states! Two hundred and two member states! Two hundred and three . . .

  • animus

    Miss Piggy will insist on being Helen, so that bit of casting is easy. That means that Kermit has to be Menelaus, with Link Hogthrob as Paris.

    I would suggest swapping Kermit and Link, so that Kermit spends the whole ten years trying to send her back.

  • Spalanzani

    animus: “The other possibility is The Count”
    Considering Nicky’s connection to Transylvania, that might be the most appropriate choice.

  • Dahne

    Funny enough, I’ve just been reading the Illiad and casting it as Phoenix Wright.
    (I have a bad habit of doing this with games and books. Some of the similarities between Chrono Trigger and The Stranger are EERIE.)
    Agammemnon = The Judge. Not all that bright, easily influenced by whatever idea happens to get into his head, but everybody has to listen to him anyway.
    Paris = Ron DeLite. He’s a lover, not a fighter.
    Helen = Desiree DeLite. Good person at heart, but a whole lot of trouble gets caused over her.
    Achilles = Edgeworth. Generally badass, but runs out and spends a lot of time offstage.
    Odysseus = Phoenix. Doesn’t look like much, but ends up being the smart one.
    (Conversely, Phoenix and Edgeworth could be Achilles and Patroclus…)
    Franzciska von Karma’s gotta be Athena, and Gant is Zeus all over. I can’t think of anyone offhand who’s quite badass enough to be Godot.

  • Spalanzani

    Hector?

  • Spalanzani

    (And darn you for reminding me that I need to play the rest of those games. I’m already spending too much on video games as it is…)

  • Jesurgislac

    It depends whether Miss Piggy sees Helen, Athene, or Aphrodite as the leading lady. Or possibly Hera. If she decides to play any of the last three, you know Kermit’s going to be Zeus.

  • bad Jim

    Tenon cat. Unsplintered pussy. Magnificent, cjmr!

  • cjmr

    (9 year old son has covered our house in small plastic bricks.)
    So has ours. Unfortunately, he is aided and abetted in this pursuit by younger sister and both parents, so the chances of them ever getting all put away is nil.

  • Wesley Parish

    Hey, what about “Meet The Feebles” instead of the Muppets, to play the roles of the Left Behind people.
    I vote for Heidi to play the role of Hattie! Heidi for Hatti!!! Hurrah!!!!
    Which would make Bletch Rayford Steele – which would be appropriate.
    But, who would be Wobert? And Lucille?
    Madam Bovine? The Masked Masochist? Dennis?

  • Lila
  • Ursula L

    Regarding legos/small plastic bricks around the house:
    When I was small and interested in Legos, my mother made a bag that was a very large circle of fabric, with a drawstring around the edge that was long enough so it could be opened flat. When playing with legos, the bag was opened flat, to be a work/play area, and most of the legos stayed on the open bag. To clean up, any legos that had strayed merely needed to be tossed onto the open bag, and the drawstring pulled shut.
    An elegant solution to the otherwise troublesome matter of trying to pick up legos one by one.

  • cjmr

    We would require a circular bag approximately 3 meters diameter to even begin to hold all the LEGO in our house. The little 1 meter circular bag that was husband’s holds about 1/4 of son’s LEGO collection. And husband and I have been collecting LEGO for about 30 years, you can imagine how many we have. Daughter’s LEGO (well, DUPLO) fills two dresser drawers, and is the easiest to put away. Also the least painful to step on.

  • McJulie

    every man, woman, beast, bird, fish and plant on earth is going to die, just probably not during the same seven-year span. That’s not something our premillennial dispensationalist authors are interested in exploring, though
    That was the first crack in PMD-ism, for me, as a teenager stuck at a church where everybody was obsessed with it. They really, really seemed to think it was important that people “get right with god” because the world was going to end. I couldn’t figure out why they thought this was so much more motivating than the much more empirically observable fact of human mortality.
    I came to the conclusion then that it was mammoth egotism: none of them could bear the thought of the world going on, pretty much as usual, without them in it.
    However, I think Fred’s plain old fear of death thesis has a lot of merit.
    I imagine it goes something like this: they think about death, and it makes them anxious, because deep down they know death is real and inescapable. But as Christians they aren’t supposed to fear death. They’re supposed to have blessed assurance and all that. So they are anxious about their anxiety — does it mean they aren’t really as sure of their salvation as they think they ought to be? PMD obsession becomes an out because it carries *almost* the same message as “get right with god because you’re going to die,” yet it allows them to avoid thinking about death.
    But, as Left Behind has made abundantly clear, their version of the end times involves a ton of death and destruction. And yet, also evidenced by LB, this death and destruction is somehow not supposed to be as upsetting as real death and destruction.
    So… I think I get it now. PMD-ers embrace the rapture/tribulation/end of the world message so enthusiastically precisely because they don’t believe in it the way they believe in death.

  • Chuck

    The impression such scenes give is something like if Moses had interrupted God’s engraving of the stone tablets on Mt. Sinai and said, “I’m thinking of a number between one and ten …”
    Perfect.

  • Dash

    Lila: The Iliad in LOLcat, from Making Light:
    http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009050.html#191008

    O thx Lila!
    Now it iz in my br0wzr
    1ntrf3rn wth my pr0ductvty

  • Jeff

    Definition of pillock: Urban Dictionary
    I know the slang meaning of the word. To understand my comment, you have to read it in context.
    I think you may be thinking of a bollard.
    Way to ruin a perfectly good pun, Praline! [grump]
    ===============================
    I’ve worked for places that did this kind of crap simply because a consultant sold something to management and they needed to use it.
    A consultant came to one project I was on with a system for rapid development of software. They told us, over and over, that the key was communication. Even had us role-play. But then they broke out the magnetic symbols, and that’s ALL management saw. We wasted soooooooo much time, because management was all about the symbols and didn’t talk to the users AT ALL. I was sooooooo happy to get off that project.
    ===================================
    My mother read the Illiad for the first time a couple of years ago, and we spent some time trying to Muppet-cast it. I think LB is a much better fit.
    Not what you meant but: Ulysses == Nicky; Achilles == Buck; Helen == Hattie; Paris == Ray
    Not really a good fit either.
    =================================
    I’ve become a fan of several sites around the Net that show pictures of things made out of Legos.
    Like Cthulego Rising?

    This page has close-ups and a “splash page” that will enlighten or confuse.
    ===============================
    The Illiad in Spa-a-a-a-ace!
    Well, they did “The Odyssey”, they just called it “Star Trek: Voyager” (although I would have preferred if most of the cast were killed before the end of the show).

  • hapax

    After Eucharist this morning, my daughter noted that the entire service could have been rendered as:
    i cn haz godcookie?
    kthxbai!

  • http://jesurgislac.greatestjournal.com Jesurgislac

    i cn haz godcookie?
    kthxbai!

    I like your daughter lots.

  • Karen

    hapax, my older son’s best friend is Catholic, and described his first Communion as “the magic cookie day.” No one could really disagree with him.
    I also like your daughter lots.

  • hapax

    Yah, I like her too.

  • Lila

    hapax, I assume your daughter has encountered teh LOLcat translation of teh Bible:
    w00t to teh Ceiling Cat!

  • Fraser

    OK, I have to sound a dissenting note: It’s true that practically speaking, being Raptured puts you in Heaven just as if you’d died, but it’s also completely guaranteed to be a painless death. No lingering illness, no agonizing crashing, no drowning, no Alzheimer’s eating your mind away, no gut wrenching realization that Doom is Nigh, no time in the hospital on lifesupport—-it does make sense to me that RTCs would prefer that thought to the crapshoot of normal death.

  • Dash

    As I recall, it was presented to us as a case of rising gently through the air, so, if you’re a kid, you get the added benefit of flying(!!!). The relevant verses are I Thessalonians 4:16-17:
    “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (KJV).
    So it seemed that it would feel a lot different from dying.
    And there was nothing said about our clothing being Left Behind.

  • Tonio

    And there was nothing said about our clothing being Left Behind.
    Depends on whether it was cotton or polyester.

  • damnedyankee

    And nobody wants to hear “you want to be Raptured in THAT?!”

  • Ryan

    I wonder if you could feel your atoms being ripped apart into nothingness.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    Sorry I ruined your pun, Jeff. I didn’t realise you were joking. It was one of those can’t-tell-the-tone-from-the-type mistakes.

  • inge

    Dash: Can you say something about what he found comforting about it [Revelations]?
    Guessing here, but maybe what Fred said better than I could ever have, on apocalypses in general: To the line from “1984″ “If you want to see the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face forver” they reply with “not forever”.
    You see(hear) it in Peter Tosh’s “Downpresser Man”, and in the B5 Episode “And the Rock Cried out No Hiding Place”, where a song using apocalyptic imagery is the voiceover for a villain getting what was coming to him.
    I was raised in a religion that views the LaHaye/Jenkins take on Revelation as pretty much spot-on. So it was always presented as something of a revenge fantasy.
    I feel what makes the whole LB an evil specimen of the genre (apart from the bad writing and the bad theology) is that it’s takes some chutzpah to construct straight white middle-class Christians as an oppressed group in the US.

  • Technomad

    Muppet Left Behind? Cool idea…but could the “adult-rated” Muppets from the first season of Saturday Night Live (ca. 1975) have roles, too? The Mighty Fahvaag could be Nicolae.
    As far as religious fiction’s age goes, there was a huge glut of such novels back around the 1850s or thenabouts. The Heir of Redclyffe is probably the best-known example today. (It got namechecked in Little Women, IIRC…at one point Jo was reading it.)
    For an overview, try Search Your Soul, Eustace…I disremember the author’s name offhand, but it’s a hilarious look at this genre.

  • Tonio

    it’s takes some chutzpah to construct straight white middle-class Christians as an oppressed group in the US.
    That is a common claim in the rhetoric of the religious right. I’ve tried to parse the logic of that view. From what I can tell, the complaint is really about religious diversity and secularism. They apparently find it oppressive that Christianity is not or perhaps no longer considered the “default” religion, or that America is not or allegedly no longer a “Christian nation.” If so, this seems to be related to their mistaken belief that government is part of “public life” or that there is no distinction between the two.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    Yes, that’s certainly the impression I get from the other side of the Atlantic: hardline evangelical right-wingers can’t seem to tell the difference between being oppressed and being prevented from dominating everyone else. Either they really believe it, or they’ve noticed that ‘You’re oppressing me!’, legitimately said by many out-groups throughout the twentieth century, is a good way of whipping up emotions in your followers and putting your attackers on the defensive. So either they’re hysterical, or they’re cynical; I’m not sure which. They’re definitely wrong, though.
    Great set of points, McJulie. You say ‘They’re supposed to have blessed assurance and all that. So they are anxious about their anxiety — does it mean they aren’t really as sure of their salvation as they think they ought to be?’… I suspect that in many cases, this is actually a terrible problem. These sects seem to believe that justification by faith is the only way, and that can lead to a horrible trap: Am I sure I’ll be saved? Eek! Now I’ve asked the question, that proves I don’t have complete faith! So no, I won’t be saved! Eek! By thinking that, I’ve damned myself even more! Eek squared! And now I think I’m damning myself by my thoughts, which is even worse, Eek cubed!… You wind up with Eek to the power of Eek, and a very upset person.
    Anything that cuts through that Gordian knot has to be tremendously appealing.

  • http://jesurgislac.greatestjournal.com Jesurgislac
  • http://jesurgislac.greatestjournal.com Jesurgislac

    As far as religious fiction’s age goes, there was a huge glut of such novels back around the 1850s or thenabouts.
    *nods* The Daisy Chain is readily available online and – if you look a bit – in cheapish hardbacks. By Charlotte Mary Yonge, it’s ostensibly about a family project – motherless sisters, as I recall – raising money to build a church for a local village. In England at the time, the only way to get a free school for a small village would be for it to be attached to the church: the theme of the novel for a modern reader (for me, at least) was the state of education at the time.

  • Tonio

    Either they really believe it, or they’ve noticed that ‘You’re oppressing me!’,
    I’m not oppressing you, Stan. You haven’t got a womb. Where’s the fetus (sorry, ‘foetus’) going to gestate? You going to keep it in a box?!

  • Stan

    From now on, I want you all to call me ‘Loretta’.

  • Dash

    Praline: hardline evangelical right-wingers can’t seem to tell the difference between being oppressed and being prevented from dominating everyone else. Either they really believe it, or they’ve noticed that ‘You’re oppressing me!’, legitimately said by many out-groups throughout the twentieth century, is a good way of whipping up emotions in your followers and putting your attackers on the defensive. So either they’re hysterical, or they’re cynical; I’m not sure which.
    Well, I put nothing past the big leaders in terms of cynicism, but for the rank and file and for members of smaller churches, there’s an element you haven’t mentioned: these folks believe very strongly that there is a way things ought to be (Y halo thar, Rush!), including a right religion. And anybody who wants to do things in some strange (read: wrong) way is upsetting the applecart. Diversity and tolerance for other viewpoints isn’t a value.
    They find support for this in the Old Testament in particular. (Making a conscious decision here not to call it the Hebrew Bible, since I’m referring very much to the conservative Christian translations and reading thereof.) None of this, “Hey, new neighborino! I see you got a Ba’al in your front yard! Cool! I worship our own brought-us-out-of-Egypt Hebrew Deity myself, but maybe sometime we can get together and chat. We’re gonna live together in the land, and I’d love to learn more about how you folks celebrate your holidays. Kids have been buggin’ me for a Ba’al, so I’d like to know exactly what it’s all about.”

  • Tonio

    This post was written by a friend of mine named Scottbot. He told me he had written the perfect Slacktivist Left Behind post. I told him that it wasn’t, because it didn’t say anything about slash fiction, or atheism, or Monty Python, or libertarianism, or gettin’ drunk. So he wrote another post, and when I read it I realized Scottbot had written the perfect Slacktivist Left Behind post. And it goes something like this…

  • Tonio

    these folks believe very strongly that there is a way things ought to be (Y halo thar, Rush!), including a right religion. And anybody who wants to do things in some strange (read: wrong) way is upsetting the applecart. Diversity and tolerance for other viewpoints isn’t a value.
    That’s the point I was trying to make last week when I talked about spectra of belief. An extremist belief in “a way things ought to be” necessarily includes every aspect of human life. The belief may not include explicit statements favoring theocracy or opposing science or restricting human freedom. But that is the effect of the belief. Certainly there are many secular varieties of this type of extremism. But those “hardline evangelical right-wingers” that Praline mentioned seem to genuinely believe that “the way things ought to be” is how God wants things to be.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/lightningbug/ lightning

    And there was nothing said about our clothing being Left Behind.
    Depends on whether it was cotton or polyester.

    If it’s both, you don’t have to worry about being Raptured.

  • jamoche

    I can’t remember which group it is (Puritans? Pilgrims? Pillocks? :) ), but the “lies to children” version of the history of one of the first groups to come to America was that they were oppressed in their home country. Digging deeper, it turns out that their idea of “oppression” was “not being allowed to tell everyone else what to do”.
    So it’s not a new thing, it’s one of the oldest traditions in the country :(

  • Tonio

    So it’s not a new thing, it’s one of the oldest traditions in the country :(
    James Loewen’s books are good references for the debunking of the Pilgrim myth, although I haven’t read his original sources. In short, the Pilgrims already had religious freedom after fleeing England for Holland, and they came to America because they didn’t want to assimilate into Dutch society. Can you provide more details?
    I don’t know if the Pilgrims told the myth to their direct descendants, but I do know that the myth entered the national consciousness more than two centuries later.

  • Dash

    And there was nothing said about our clothing being Left Behind.
    Tonio: Depends on whether it was cotton or polyester.
    Lightning: If it’s both, you don’t have to worry about being Raptured.
    Hmm. We were always warned that it would be a terrible thing if Jesus returned when we were in a movie theater. (The adults were completely unreceptive to the argument that we’d be embarrassed if Jesus returned and we got raptured while we were in the bath. They simply said stuff like, “So, best you hurry up, get clean, and get dressed, then, don’t you think?”)
    So all this time, what we should have been worried about is Jesus returning while we were at a church supper frantically swallowing the last bite of one of Mrs. McKenzie’s bacon-stuffed prawns preparatory to rising politely from our chair (which had previously been sat in by Mrs. Kellering who was–not that we’d know it–having her period and was thus unclean) and gracefully shaking hands with new church attendee Mr. Battenburg, who–not that we’d know it–had a bald spot that hadn’t been inspected by a certified Levite (and was thus unclean). Ah, the bullets we dodged. . . .

  • jamoche

    I didn’t really pay that much attention to it, it was just an amusing story that stuck in my head without a lot of attached details. I do remember that Holland was involved, but not the details of why the Pilgrims thought they were being oppressed – though they could, like today’s fundamentalists, see being asked to assimilate as being oppressive, if “assimilation” included “being tolerant to other people the way we’re tolerant of you”.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X