TF: "I wish I could be of more help"

Tribulation Force, pp. 362-366

We should step back here and consider what Buck Williams is doing. Or rather, as usual, what he is not doing.

A couple of weeks ago we wound up with a lively discussion of what we might do if we were in Buck’s shoes — faced with an imminent series of mass-casualty calamities that we knew were coming. Much of that discussion was about how we would try to get the word out, to sound the alarm, to warn as many others as possible in order to save as many lives as possible.

Imagine you knew of just one of the many disasters about to occur in Tim LaHaye’s Great Tribulation — the largest earthquake of all time, say, or the scorching sun or the poisoned water or the killer meteor. You know it’s coming. You have been forewarned. How would you go about forewarning others? (I’m assuming here that you’re not a monstrous sociopath, which is to say that you would, indeed, feel compelled and duty-bound to warn as many others as possible instead of selfishly worrying only about your own personal safety while disregarding the fate of everyone else.)

If you were in such a situation — with tens of millions of lives depending on your ability to make yourself heard and believed as broadly as possible — you would be frustrated and horrified by your lack of a larger platform, your lack of access to those in power who might be able to act to protect more people, to prevent mass death. If only, you would be crying — If only you had some prominent media platform to reach the masses. If only you knew of someone, anyone, who could somehow get you access to the president. Yet despite lacking those things you would press on — you would take to the Internet, call radio stations, write letters to the editor, leaflet, hang posters on every telephone pole. How could you not? Tens of millions of lives would be at stake.

Anyway, getting back to this week’s passage, world-famous Global Weekly reporter Buck Williams is sitting and talking to the president of the United States.

Mostly so far, the president has just been venting about his frustration with the consequences of his hasty and flagrantly illegal decision to surrender American sovereignty to the president of Romania. President Gerald Fitzhugh is not noticeably upset about the forced religious conversion, and the former commander in chief is only mildly annoyed at the forced disarmament that has left him outgunned by criminal white supremacists, but he hadn’t foreseen that losing his shiny new airplane would be part of the deal.

After four pages of ranting about Air Force One, the president suddenly remembers another aspect of the new one world government that bugs him:

“And this media thing! We agreed with him that our conflict of interest laws were a little restrictive …”

… So we abolished the executive branch and decreed that our courts would have no jurisdiction over him as our new global sovereign, because that seemed like a reasonable way to loosen up some of those regulations …

“… We make a little loophole for him and now look what we’ve got. He’ll have bought up all the newspapers and magazines and radio and TV networks before we can change our minds!

“Where’s he getting the money, Williams? Can you tell me that?”

Up until now, Buck has skated through this conversation with noncommittal responses like “I can only imagine” or “I don’t know what to tell you,” but here he is asked a direct question.

Cameron had a crisis of conscience. He had implied to Carpathia that he would not tell about the inheritance from Stonagal. And yet were promises made to devils required to be kept? Wouldn’t that be on the same order as lying to an intruder when he asks where your loved ones are?

Wait — that’s OK now? Because earlier in the story, when Buck braved a direct confrontation with Nicolae in order to save Hattie, he seemed certain that lying to the Antichrist would be a sin, even if it was the only way he could save the lives of Chloe, Rayford and Bruce.

But then again, after flying to New York to rescue Hattie from Nicolae, Buck instead just insulted her and then left without lifting a finger to help her escape the Antichrist’s clutches. So why should we start expecting consistency now?

Buck decides that keeping his promise to Nicolae is more important than telling the president about the Antichrist’s evil plans.

“I couldn’t tell you,” Buck said. He felt no loyalty to Carpathia, but he couldn’t afford having it get back to Carpathia that he had broken a confidence as significant as this. He had to hold on to his own ability to function — for as long as he could.

We have been told all along that Cameron “Buck” Williams is the apotheosis of contemporary American journalism, and here we see that is true. Given the opportunity to tell the truth, to expose secretive financial dealings and the manipulative abuse of power for evil purposes, Buck chooses instead to keep silent because speaking up might put at risk the access to power he now enjoys. If he were to lose that access, he tells himself, he would be unable in the future to learn even more secrets, and thus would be unable to learn and suppress even more truths. For Buck, access to the powerful has become an end unto itself and he will never allow truth-telling to jeopardize that all-important access.

Fitzhugh decides to share his deepest fears and suspicions with Buck — fears that Nicolae’s plans may go beyond just having a really nice executive airplane.

“You know what our intelligence people are telling us?” Fitzhugh continued. “That the eventual plan is for the heads of countries represented by the 10 members of the Security Council to actually report as subordinates to their ambassadors. That would make those 10 ambassadors kings of the world under Carpathia’s rule.”

Buck scowled. “In other words, you and the Mexican president and the Canadian prime minister would report to the U.N. ambassador of North America?”

I’m confused. Buck responds to this news from Fitzhugh as though it were news to him — as though it was the first he was hearing of Nicolae’s 10 “kings of the world.” But this already happened in the last book and Buck was there — the only non-brainwashed eyewitness to the coronation of those very 10 kings. He is uniquely positioned to tell the president very important, vitally necessary information. But he withholds that information from poor Fitzhugh — withholds that information and far, far more that he ought to be telling him.

What could possibly be more cold-blooded and cold-hearted than sitting here, knowing what he knows, knowing that sharing his information with the president could save tens of millions of lives, yet refusing to share this desperately important news? How about sitting there, deliberately misleading the president, conspiring to keep him lethally in the dark, while saying this:

“Sir, is there something I can do to help?”

President Fitzhugh looked to the ceiling and wiped his sweaty face with his hand. “I don’t know. I just wanted to unload, I guess, and I thought maybe you had some insight. “

Insight? Buck has a detailed schedule of the next 84 months. He knows exactly what Nicolae plans to do next and exactly how he will go about it. And he knows exactly what God plans to do next — the massive earthquakes, meteors, hail and blood and poison and deadly heat. A word, a hint, a suggestion to the president could help to save untold lives. But Buck isn’t interested in doing that. Or even trying to do that.

And this isn’t me reading some monstrous intent into Buck’s mute inaction. That monstrous intent is spelled out explicitly by the authors in a passage that serves as a kind of manifesto for the Tribulation Force:

“I wish I could be of more help,” Buck said, suddenly realizing what an understatement that was. What he wouldn’t give to expose Nicolae Carpathia as a lying murderer, the hypnotic Antichrist! And though Buck would oppose him, anyone without Christ would never understand or agree. Besides, Scripture didn’t seem to indicate that even Christ’s followers would be able to do more than simply bear up against him. The Antichrist was on a course foretold centuries before, and the drama would be played out to the end.

Nicolae Carpathia was going to swallow up the president of the United States and everyone else in his path. He would gain ultimate power, and then the true battle would begin, the war between heaven and hell. The ultimate cold war would become a battle to the death. Buck took comfort in the assurance that the end had been known from the beginning.

The course has been foretold and what has been foretold cannot be altered. The end has been known from the beginning and nothing can be changed. The “battle to the death … between heaven and hell” will be fought without any human involvement or agency in the fight. That which is fated is what will be and none of us can change that any more than we can change ourselves.

Buck Williams takes comfort from this fatalistic despair. I find it so appalling that I need to beg for time to begin to unpack and to articulate some of what is so viciously wrong with those two terrifyingly bleak paragraphs.

We’ll do that next week. For now, let me just leave you with a far more trivial complaint. Before we complain about this false prophecy that strengthens the hands of evildoers, let me first complain about the false advertising that strengthens the coffers of lying authors. Here again is the back-cover blurb selling readers on this book:

Rayford Steele, Buck Williams, Bruce Barnes and Chloe Steele band together to form the Tribulation Force. Their task is clear, and their goal is nothing less than to stand and fight the enemies of God during the seven most chaotic years the planet will ever see.

“Stand and fight” turns into “simply bear up.” Seems like bait-and-switch marketing to me.

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  • Anonymous

    Official Bruce Barnes Death Countdown: 82 pages

    Unofficially Official Double Wedding Countdown: 59 pages

    Officially Unofficial Meet the Bride Countdown: 43 pages

  • http://twitter.com/maradydd Meredith L Patterson

    I’m trying but failing to understand how this version of predestination is supposed to make sense in an evangelical worldview. If some people are fated to become RTCs before the rapture, other people are fated to become RTCs after it, and most are apparently fated never to become RTCs at all, then what’s the point of having an organized religion in the first place? Why make an effort to spread the Good News if the elect will encounter it because God Said So and thereby be saved, and everyone else is just screwed? Is witnessing just some kind of cosmic ICMP ECHO so that RTCs will have other people to hang out with while they wait for the end?

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Why make an effort to spread the Good News if the elect will encounter it because God Said So and thereby be saved, and everyone else is just screwed?

    Beats me. I used to get very annoyed at the concept of “witness! because then people will convert, and they can go out and witness!” without any mention of what this good news was supposed to be.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Campus Crusade called that “Multiplying Ministry.” Sheep whose only purpose is to Save More Sheep, who in turn Save More Sheep. Without any clear idea what they were Saving them TO (as opposed to Saving them From — another example of “holiness being expressed in primarily Negative terms). It’s been called “Amway Without The Soap”, “Christ As Amway Upline”, and other Pyramid/Ponzi Scheme references.

  • Anonymous

    How else would they be able to feel superior if they aren’t out there rubbing it in everyones’ faces? (Disclaimer: This is in no way my opinion about everyone, just the people mentioned in Ms. Meredith’s comment.)

  • Anonymous

    If some people are fated to become RTCs before the rapture, other people are fated to become RTCs after it, and most are apparently fated never to become RTCs at all, then what’s the point of having an organized religion in the first place? Why make an effort to spread the Good News if the elect will encounter it because God Said So and thereby be saved, and everyone else is just screwed?

    L&J are not Calvinists, the theology that holds that only the elect will enter heaven. The authors believe that fate involving the End Times events destined to occur in the manner that they expect — that this fate does not pertain to the eternal destinies of individual persons. From their perspective, no specific person is destined for heaven or hell before birth; each individual has free will to decide whether to accept Jesus. (L&J do not say, however, whether a specific individual is destined to be the Antichrist. One would assume that if there is a specific person so destined, that he would not have the free will to accept Jesus.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581585394 Nicholas Kapur

    Is witnessing just some kind of cosmic ICMP ECHO so that RTCs will have other people to hang out with while they wait for the end?

    I know they add a bunch of characters broad stereotypes to the “team” later, and they do that stupid, stupid web site thing, but (A) do they actually actively reach out to other cells, (B) do they actually try to convert anyone, and (C) if so, when do they start?

    Because right now, they aren’t even doing the virus thing, where they spread the good news that you should spread the good news. They’re just reveling in the fact that God totally exists. In fact, the entirety of their religious experiences and actions seems to be:

    BUCK: PING
    GOD: ACK
    BUCK: PING
    GOD: ACK
    BUCK: PING
    GOD: ACK
    BUCK: PING
    GOD: ACK

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    You are Predestined to Fail to Understand…

    This is the reason Utter Predestination ends up as an Epic Fail. If Everything is Predestined, why bother to do anything? “In’shal’lah…”

  • Panda Rosa

    Second comment, Yeah! I’ll spread the word about that :)

  • Anonymous

    Official Bruce Barnes Death Countdown: 82 pages

    Unofficially Official Double Wedding Countdown: 59 pages

    Officially Unofficial Meet the Bride Countdown: 43 pages

    ———————————————————————–

    Seems the Disqus goblin ate my first attempt at posting this. In fact, it seemed that for awhile there the new TB post itself was flashing in and out of existence at random. Anyone else having this kind of trouble? (Of course, anyone who is might not be able to comment…)

  • Amaryllis

    “I don’t know. I just wanted to unload, I guess, and I thought maybe you had some insight. “
    i know this was mocked in great detail last week, but I still can’t get over the notion that, when the President, even this defanged and demoted President, wants to “unload,” he chooses a reporter to unload to. Where are his aides, his staff, his cabinet secretaries, his party allies? His wife, his pastor, his old college roommate…well, all right, maybe nobody like that was included on this little junket (what? not even the First Lady?), but there’s got to be somebody around who’s closer to “Fitz” than Our Buck could reasonably hope to be. They don’t let presidents out on their own, you know.

    Since when do politicians ask reporters for “insight”? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

    Why make an effort to spread the Good News if the elect will encounter it because God Said So and thereby be saved, and everyone else is just screwed?
    Beats me too.

    Because it’s a notch on your gun, a star in your crown, to be the person who is fated to preach the word to the person who’s fated to hear it?

    The course has been foretold and what has been foretold cannot be altered. The end has been known from the beginning and nothing can be changed. The “battle to the death … between heaven and hell” will be fought without any human involvement or agency in the fight. That which is fated is what will be and none of us can change that any more than we can change ourselves.
    The actual agents of the fight can’t change the outcome either, apparently. Neither hell nor heaven, not even God himself, can alter the outcome or choose not to fight. “I would prefer not to” is not an option.

    This isn’t a war, this is a play, a drama. And God’s just another actor who can’t rewrite his role. So who’s the audience? Who gets the benefit of all this blood-and-thunder?

    Or, is God the author and the lead actor and the audience? The ultimate Mary Sue, writing himself the story he’d like to star in? And what does that say about such a God?

    …my stomach hurts. This is dreadful.

  • http://style92.livejournal.com/ style 92

    I think it’s been discussed before, but as someone who grew up in evangelist subculture, I always got the feeling that God’s famous omnis, (Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, perfectly just, perfectly loving…) seemed to bind His hands rather than give Him options. It’s weird, because the idea seems to be God can’t just do anything. For example, that God had to send Jesus to die for sins is presented as God’s ONLY option. He’s perfectly Just, so he can’t just ignore sin, he has to send sinners to Hell, (not that I want to derail another thread into discussion of Hell!) But He’s all Loving, so He has to find a way to save people, but He has to do it in such a way as to not violate Free Will, so, sending Sonny Boy to die was just The Only Way.

    It just seems like in Evangelistic thinking God very quickly gets backed into a corner when having to deal with humans. That works it out in the end times as “That’s the way it’s gotta be.” Like, the only way to end the world that again satisfies conditions like Perfectly Just and all knowing and all Loving is to set up Satan to take power and then punish him and his followers for it, or something. Fred has said that this trait could be interesting if exploited to try to throw a monkey wrench into the prophetic timeline, but that doesn’t occur to the authors. If God has to do it this way, then so do His followers.

    As such, we get the attitude in the books and in real life end timers that the Christian duty is not to uphold good or oppose evil, but to railroad world events towards the prophetic time line. Hence Christians trying to get the Jewish temple rebuilt, despite the fact that those Christians believe that the end result of that is Jewish people being tormented and killed by the antichrist. Or gleefully ruining the environment in hopes that it will force God to save us from a dying earth. That sort of thing.

    And that approach to life, is ofcourse, monstrously evil.

  • Anonymous

    Or gleefully ruining the environment in hopes that it will force God to save us from a dying earth.

    Can you provide any specific examples of Evangelical Christian leaders supporting acts of pollution or opposing environmental regulations — and who cite as their reason in order to force God’s hand and/or hasten the Second Coming?

  • http://style92.livejournal.com/ style 92

    The basis of this comment comes from my impressions of Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins’ “Are we Living in the end times?” It was published as a companion to the Left Behind series. I’ve read it twice (in the late 90s, when it was first published and late last year.) I’ve read it from libraries so saddly I do not own the book, and can’t give you a specific quote. But the passage I’m referring to is a section where our authors put forth as proof that the end times are nigh certain quotes from “scientists and sociologists” that for a variety of reasons, both political and enviromental, these scientists believe that human civilization cannot endure in it’s current form for too much longer, (not past 2050 or so) before lack of resources causes civilization to collapse. With out going into the truth or falsity of these claims, Lahaye and Jenkins view such an impending environmental collapse as a positive sign for the end times, not as a call to action. The negative void of morality this implies is what generated my quote.

    In the name of due diligence however, I did try to find an equivalent idea expressed online but alas, could not. I thought for sure Rapture Ready’s FAQ would provide for me, but their take on enviromentalism was actually within the ball park of reasonable. Still, that FAQ is really horrible. Explore it to find many offensive ideas about gender and sexual issues. There’s even a silly entry that’s all wrong. A question on that topic goes “Why is Batman just Batman but Robin is the boy Wonder?” Which is patently absurd. Batman has many other titles and nicknames, most prominently “The Caped Crusader” and of course, “The Dark Knight.” (They even put out a Batman movie under that title that did not includ the name “Batman”) Furthermore, Batman and Robin Collectively form “The Dynamic Duo,” Batman and Superman collectively form “The World’s Finest,” and Batman pairs with a plethora of other heroes individually to form “The Brave and the Bold,” and Batman gathers with those heroes collectively in “The Justice League.” So clearly, Batman is not just Batman, and the whole of Rapture Ready’s FAQ section must be called into question.

  • http://style92.livejournal.com/ style 92

    And upon reflection, this Batman error very tellingly reveals their faulty outlook on the truth. The problem isn’t the answer provided, but the way the question is framed. The question assumes a world view where Batman is just Batman and Robin is also the Boy Wonder, then goes on to infer unfairness against Batman for having one moniker while Robin gets two. So while the answer does give true comic trivia, the question itself distorts the reader’s world view, creating a view of Batman and Robin that is incorrect and has no bearing in reality.

    In fact, the framing is faulty in other ways too. Rapture Ready treats Batman and Robin as static concepts: they are not. Does Rapture Ready have any idea how many Robins there have been? off the top of my head, there’s Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Carie Kelly, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown, and Damien Wayne. And there’s likely some I’ve forgotten. You can immediately see how the framing gets them in trouble. Were they all boy wonders? Were the girls (Carrie Kelly and Stephanie Brown) also “Boy Wonders?” Even if we are generous and grant that Rapture Ready was probably talking about Dick Grayson, are they aware that Dick Grayson has had other titles, including Nightwing, and most recently, Batman himself? Speaking of which, while less common, there have been other Batmans besides Bruce Wayne. Jean Paul Valley, Terry McGuiness, and Dick Grayson have also taken up the mantle. Terry, for his part, was sometimes known as the “Tomorrow Knight” given that he was from the future, thus adding yet another moniker to Batman’s arsenal.

    When Rapture Ready’s FAQ site can’t even answer a simple question about Batman and Robin with deeply misrepresenting and distorting the issues, God help us should they wade into deeper waters. They could not even begin to address the complexities of things like politics or current events or Biblical Scholarship.

  • neo

    Why I read Slacktivist in a nutshell: brilliant comic book geeks eviscerating the phony worldview of fundamentalist fascists.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000950306035 J Neo Marvin

    I am just about ready to fling Disqus into the lake of fire. Apologies for messing up the comments with redundant and sometimes semi-anonymous entries.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000950306035 J Neo Marvin

    Why I read Slacktivist in a nutshell: brilliant comic book geeks thoroughly eviscerating the worldview of fascist fundamentalists.

  • JD

    You just Rapture Ready voted to kill Jason Todd….

  • JD

    Ahem…meant to type:

    “You just know Rapture Ready voted to kill Jason Todd….

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Anyone else wondering if the only thing Rapture Ready knows about Batman is the Sixties TV show?

    “HOLY SOMETHING-OR-OTHER, BATMAN!”

    “SOCK! ZOWIE! ZAP!”

  • Lori

    With out going into the truth or falsity of these claims, Lahaye and Jenkins view such an impending environmental collapse as a positive sign for the end times, not as a call to action. The negative void of morality this implies is what generated my quote.

    This seems to be just another bit of proof that L&J both flunked history. There have been times when human civilization couldn’t endure in it’s (then) current form and Jesus didn’t come back. People suffered and died and civilization changed and adapted and humanity continued and the 2nd coming didn’t happen. Even if you absolutely believe that Jesus will eventually return there’s no reason to think that the end of civilization as we currently know it means that will happen soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.condrey Steve Condrey

    And some of those times occurred during the Christian era: the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Black Death, the Mongol invasions…

  • Anonymous

    I found the quote on Google Books:

    We will quote secular scientists and others who see no possibility for the continued existence of this world. With the avalanche of problems that already exist, some significant voices have declared their doubts that our troubled planet has a future beyond the next twenty-five to fifty years.
    We find it significant that today’s Bible prophecy scholars have come to almost the same point in time as their counterparts in the secular world. Comparing the conclusions of these two disparate groups leads us to surmise that these “times of the signs” indicate rather startlingly that “the end of the age” is upon us; the time for Christ to return to set up His kingdom appears to be drawing near. The reason should be obvious: He is the only one who can unsnarl the mess man has made of this world.
    “Are We Living in the End Times?” p 24

    That would seem to suggest that L&J view the return of Jesus as positive, The idea that L&J consider an impending environmental collapse to be a positive sign doesn’t make sense when we consider that the authors also believe that increases in crime, violence, abortion, and (what they consider to be) sexual perversions are also signs of the End Times. Yet L&J clearly do not consider these to be positive signs. Rather than hoping for an increase in moral decay, they rue what they see as the degradation of moral values.

    Moreover, L&J believe that only God knows the specific timing of the Second Coming, and that man is powerless to alter God’s timetable.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    But the passage I’m referring to is a section where our authors put forth as proof that the end times are nigh certain quotes from “scientists and sociologists” that for a variety of reasons, both political and enviromental, these scientists believe that human civilization cannot endure in it’s current form for too much longer, (not past 2050 or so) before lack of resources causes civilization to collapse.

    Slack, Everybody? You know what that is?

    THE ANTI-SINGULARITY.

    With out going into the truth or falsity of these claims, Lahaye and Jenkins view such an impending environmental collapse as a positive sign for the end times, not as a call to action.

    i.e. Grinning Apocalyptism — It’s All Gonna Burn.

    And with Secret Rapture, LH&J&RTCs get to watch it all from catered box seats in Heaven before anything bad can personally happen to THEM.

    (“It’s Prophesied, It’s Prophesied…”)

  • walden

    “or gleefully ruining the environment…”

    I don’t know that it was “gleefullly” ruining, but Ronald Reagan’s Interior Secretary James Watt was quoted as saying something along the lines that it was appropriate to exploit all the mineral resources because when Jesus comes back the earth would be destroyed and we’d get a new earth.

  • Anonymous

    The irony here being, what God would give their people a new world after they ran the old one into the ground, knowing that they were going to get a new one? Who’s to say they won’t treat the new one any better?

    (My half-snarky answer being, not a God I want to get particularly close to. What the heck happened to stewardship?)

    Another example: Drill Baby Drill — knowing full well it would wreck the Alaskan wildlife refuge.

  • Anonymous

    I also don’t know about the gleefully ruining, but I do remember a discussion a while back where people brought quotes from a forum like Rapture Ready or something. The posters there were very angry that people were considering things like saving the environment because Jesus was comming back. Trying to save this world implied, to these people, that you had insufficient faith that Jesus was comming back and would fix it.

    A quote thrown around was someone liking an RTC caring for this world’s future to a bride who, just before getting married and moving in with her husband cares about the state of her own house. Appart from the comments that were made then (“Very healthy woman”), and ignoring the kinda squicky undertones: If that old house was a gift from said husband, I wouldn’t want him to see I turned it into a squallid ruin when he comes to pick me up.

  • Thalia

    These people are not ignorant of God’s statement that they are the stewards of this world, they just seem to have translated that to mean… something not at all like that…. But Jesus even had room to forgive people who got ENTIRELY the wrong idea…

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    @annursa: James Watt springs to mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    Can you provide any specific examples of Evangelical Christian leaders supporting acts of pollution or opposing environmental regulations — and who cite as their reason in order to force God’s hand and/or hasten the Second Coming?

    I’ve never heard them say they can force the second coming but I have heard lots of them say that we don’t need to worry about the environment because God will come back before it gets really bad. Which amounts to the same thing, just implicitly.

  • Jenny Islander

    I went to school with a girl who said that her daddy said that it was okay for humans to kill all the deer because God would make more.

    The lack of Steller’s sea cows, quaggas, passenger pigeons, and doe-birds did not enter into her worldview.

    Her parents pulled her out of junior high to homeschool her to keep her away from unbelievers like me–she said something to that effect after I disagreed with her–and I have no idea what happened to her after that.

  • Jenny Islander

    Whoa. I just Googled her; she’s married, living in Indiana, and as of last October she had four kids with names that do not immediately indicate fringe religious beliefs. Also she is on Facebook.

    I was trying to convey to my seven-year-old how different life was before the Web. This . . . wow. It took me five minutes.

  • Jenny Islander

    Five minutes on Facebook yields favorable mention of Rush Limbaugh and membership in a church that would probably call Fred some nasty names. She has an unusual first name that stuck in my memory, but still–! From uncertainty to data in a quarter of an hour.

    The thing is, a lot of this connectivity was already there back when the LB books were written, just in plaintext and more often than not in green pixels on black screens. Where are the hackers? I know, I know: I’m expecting too much. After all, this series put a riverboat on the Jordan.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    As such, we get the attitude in the books and in real life end timers that the Christian duty is not to uphold good or oppose evil, but to railroad world events towards the prophetic time line. Hence Christians trying to get the Jewish temple rebuilt, despite the fact that those Christians believe that the end result of that is Jewish people being tormented and killed by the antichrist. Or gleefully ruining the environment in hopes that it will force God to save us from a dying earth. That sort of thing.

    I think I can top that with a blast from the past.

    From the age of The Gospel According To Hal Lindsay (predecessor of the current Left Behind Fever), in Four Words:

    Christians For Nuclear War.

    (“It’s Prophesied, It’s Prophesied…”)

  • Lori

    well, all right, maybe nobody like that was included on this little junket

    That’s what phones are for. In this wretched mess of a series the one thing you’d think you could count on is maximum phone usage. But no, the President decides that talking to Buck in person beats getting on the horn to his wife. The stupid, it burns.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Why make an effort to spread the Good News if the elect will encounter it because God Said So and thereby be saved, and everyone else is just screwed?

    Beats me too.

    Because it’s a notch on your gun, a star in your crown, to be the person who is fated to preach the word to the person who’s fated to hear it?

    “More Notches on your Bible” WAS the attitude I encountered during my time in-country in the mid-Seventies. The rationale of the time was that your Heavenly Rewards after being Saved (TM) were entirely based on How Many Souls You Saved (TM), i.e. how many others you got to Say The Magic Words. That THIS was the only thing God would reward you for; the more notches on your Bible, the more stars in your crown and The More Truly Christian You Were. Then “Can You Top This?” took hold, and things would get really desperate and crazy and ugly.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4B35JU4NRPV47L67HXDU4BWRB4 Christopher

    The Antichrist was on a course foretold centuries before, and the drama would be played out to the end.

    In other words… we plan on releasing several more books to sell you, and if you buy into this interpretation (as a good RTC), then we have you on the hook for all of them.

    Ka-ching!

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    When coin in Ellenjay’s coffer rings…

  • http://profiles.google.com/chris.borthwick Chris Borthwick

    Mind you, the Narnia books have the same problem: nothing that the Pevensey children do can alter the plot, which has all been laid down by Aslan and is going to happen whether they succeed or fail.
    Both Narnia and LB are fictional instantiations of the old theological riddle – why did god create the world? He was complete and perfect before, after all, and it’s not consistent with godhead to need company of any sort. However you look at it, humans just aren’t necessary to the plot. Theologians by the gross worked on the question, but the church was never able to cobble up a terribly convincing answer.
    A further problem for Buck and Wing is that the death rates are all prophesied by proportions – a third (or was it a quarter?) die in this tribulation, then the next tribulation and a third of the survivors, and so on. Even if they do spread the word and warn people about avoidable disaster it’s still a zero-sum game – if anybody hears and saves himself or herself, that just means that someone else has to die.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    and it’s not consistent with godhead to need company of any sort.

    That sort of depends on your definition of “godhead”.

  • Parisienne

    “Why did God create the world?”

    One of my preferred approaches to this question is offered by a theological position called voluntarism. This can be basically summed up “because he felt like it”.

    Why did God make the world? He felt like it.
    Why did God make people? Felt like it. And so on.

    Works for me. Others’ mileage may vary.

    It could obviously argued that this makes God’s actions a bit arbitrary, but whether that’s a problem depends on whether God is genuinely entirely good and benevolent. If He is, then He’s at least doing good and perfect arbitrary things, so I’m not too worried.

  • Lori

    “Why did God create the world?”

    One of my preferred approaches to this question is offered by a theological position called voluntarism. This can be basically summed up “because he felt like it”.

    Why did God make the world? He felt like it.
    Why did God make people? Felt like it. And so on.

    Works for me. Others’ mileage may vary.

    I didn’t think it’s really that big of a problem that this portrays God as arbitrary (virtually every version of the Christian God is fundamentally arbitrary).

    I think “because he felt like it” becomes a problem if it’s paired with the doctrine of hell. The idea that God set up a system in which the vast majority of humanity is going to end up in endless torment “because he felt like it” is so vastly, overwhelmingly shitty that I seriously do not understand how anyone could worship that God.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Cameron had a crisis of conscience.

    I love the stuff this guy’s conscience gets exercised about–and more importantly, what it doesn’t seem to wake up for. It’s very much stuck in the juvenile stage where morality is as simple as a few black and white rules. Unfortunately it seems to be such a slow learner that I bet the 7 years will be up before it starts to consider the principles underneath the laws.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Probably because most of the target audience’s consciences are in a similar state of arrested development. Thou Shalts, Thou Shalt Nots, Can You Top This?

    Scratch those itching ears!

  • http://profiles.google.com/chris.borthwick Chris Borthwick

    It’s also the case, surely, that Carpathia cannot be buying all the media on earth with his inheritance from Stonegal. In the real world, of course, the Rockefellers didn’t have enough money at the time the books were written to buy every media outlet in the world – if they had had, they probably would have, after all – but in any conceivable world even beginning that much buying would quickly drive the prices up exponentially.

    Some years later, of course, it doesn’t seem all that difficult to buy up all the newspapers. Even the TV stations would be within reach. It’d be Facebook and Google that cost the money.

    Oh, and I should mention at the outset that if Carpathia promised to bring back Firefly he’d certainly have my support in his buyout. For all we know he may do, I suppose – nowhere in the series, as I recollect, does anybody turn on the TV other than to catch the news, so we don’t have much insight into his programming policies.

  • Rikalous

    Nicky wouldn’t be able to bring back Firefly without establishing that Book is a shepherd of the new OWR, and, fans being fans, there’d be a greater backlash against the change than against not bringing it back at all.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Oh, and I should mention at the outset that if Carpathia promised to bring back Firefly he’d certainly have my support in his buyout.

    Gorram Shiny!

  • Lara

    A couple of weeks ago we wound up with a lively discussion of what we might do if we were in Buck’s shoes — faced with an imminent series of mass-casualty calamities that we knew were coming. Much of that discussion was about how we would try to get the word out, to sound the alarm, to warn as many others as possible in order to save as many lives as possible.

    I wish this was true, but I don’t know.

    The best available scientific evidence seems to indicate that global warming will cause an imminent series of mass-casualty calamities, if we don’t take immediate steps to halt it. The specific nature of many of these calamities has been predicted. I and most of the people I know believe that global warming is very real. But none of us are spending our days writing to our representatives, organizing for tighter regulation of carbon emissions, or even making plans to live in a dramatically changed world. I make donations to environmental groups and politicians, and try to be responsible in my personal life, but my actions in general don’t reflect the hair-raising fear I feel when I think about the future. It’s depressing to think that anything about L&J’s worldview could be accurate, but in this case the behavior of the Tribulation Force may not be too different from that of many other Americans.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    @Lara re climate change

    Agreed. Evidence suggests that the lead up to a likely crisis we’d bury our heads in the sand and/or loudly insist that someone else needs to take action first; and in the immediate aftermath we’d be complaining about the cost and looking for someone to blame.

  • Anonymous

    A belated reply to Lara: It’s an interesting point, and certainly food for thought. It’s easy to just criticise Bucky boy, but I must admit I haven’t really bothered to actively seek out global warming doubters to convince them.

    That said, there are (fortunately) still several ways in which Buck is worse than us. A big one I think is that Buck here has access to a super-duper computer that made the ultimate weather prediction for the next 7 years. No more problems with butterflies flapping their wings, no, this computer was so awesome it took it all into account and knows exactly what will happen. It has predicted the cloud movements of the past few weeks with perfect accuracy. And if people think that he just eddited his results after the fact: He also has a detailed prediction of how these clouds will move for the next months. And he knows when the next global-warming triggered disaster will occur. If I had such a global warming prediction that people didn’t know yet but could see with their own eyes as the truth, I would hope I WOULD do something more to spread it than I’m doing now.

    There was an article in today’s newspaper. Last year was relatively cold (especially the winter) in the Netherlands, although it was still a very warm year for the world as a whole. But experts are worried it’ll be even harder now to reach the sceptics, who will point to the temperature they felt and will conclude it’s not getting warmer. And with the most right wing, pro-buisness government in decades, with one party of extremists who like to declare all eviromental issues (and cultural issues and poverty issues and immigration issues) as ‘left-wing hobbies’ that the government should drop right now, that’s going to be a problem.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    The Daily Show had this one pegged a few years ago. They had a correspondent in the snowing winter of New York or somewhere saying “This cold weather clearly demonstrates that the earth is not getting warmer and in fact may be cooling.” Then they had another correspondent in the tropics or south America or something saying, “This extremely hot weather in December clearly shows that the earth is getting much warmer very fast and global warming is real.” Then they had a correspondent in Australia or somewhere where it was currently night-time and he said “Well, all the darkness I can see shows that clearly the sun has gone out and mankind must adapt to a future in which we have no natural sources of light.”

  • Anonymous

    A belated reply to Lara: It’s an interesting point, and certainly food for thought. It’s easy to just criticise Bucky boy, but I must admit I haven’t really bothered to actively seek out global warming doubters to convince them.

    One distinction is that global warming affects everyone collectively; so convincing one person at a time may have a negligible effect. By contrast, in LB each person’s destiny is determined on an individual basis; if you convince a single person, you will be partly responsible for saving their soul.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe this has come up in a previous thread, but if Jenkins thinks it’s admirable for the militia groups to be fighting back against Carpathia’s one-world rule, it’s a real problem for him to think it’s OK for Rayford and Buck *not* to find their own ways to meaningfully resist, regardless of the justifications he comes up with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000950306035 J Neo Marvin

    Can you provide any specific examples of Evangelical Christian leaders supporting acts of pollution or opposing environmental regulations — and who cite as their reason in order to force God’s hand and/or hasten the Second Coming?

    James Watt immediately comes to mind, Evangelical “leader” or no.

  • Anonymous

    Good, or not so good, God, I am never going to get used to what a horrible person Buck is. Funnily enough I’m doing a rewatch of the new Battlestar: Galactica and it starts with the literal end of the world for its human characters. And funnily enough they do not sit around and “simply bear up.” They try, they fight, they look for a new home. They try to keep the faith, and they try at the end to make peace. They’re flawed, fragile people who make mistakes but at the core of each of them is a need to be brave and look out for one another.

    And it makes for such a boring story. So Buck can’t change anything. He can still tell Fitz what’s going to happen. Even in a hack pulp adventure your hero will try to warn even if he’s not listened to. Even cliches would be better, Buck tells Fitz and *gasp* we find Fitz is in on it too and now Buck must flee. These are choose your own adventures for the modern RTC set. Only every choice is “Sit back and feel smug about how much better you are. Turn to page 14”, it’s how modern RTCs live their lives, just waiting around to be proved right, why should their fantasy lit be any different?

  • JD

    Yeah, my sentiments exactly. What kind of people write that as the ostensible hero of a mass-entertainment thriller? What kind of audience accepts him? Those sentiments are just…they’re awful. They’re beyond awful. That’s how the VILLAIN thinks…

    And as Jess points out, beyond the questions of morality, it’s plain lousy storytelling. Your average bad writer knows they can get some suspense and drama out of characters pleading with everyone to listen to the truth, believe their warnings, and being ignored. Or the alternate, as cited, when the one guy you know you can trust is revealed to be a villain too. (Which isn’t always a cliche: i.e.: “Saruman! You’re down with Morder?!?”)
    Of course, drama and suspense–who needs ’em when you’ve got prophecy, I guess….

  • Anonymous

    Those sentiments are just…they’re awful. They’re beyond awful. That’s how the VILLAIN thinks…

    Buck’s plotline actually makes for a pretty effective “start of darkness” scenario, tracking the moral downfall of a man. Initially a flawed but decent person, circumstances and his own weak rationalizations corrupt his decisions, until he’s so far off the path that he can’t even discern right from wrong anymore. When self-awareness finally comes, it’s only to realize that he’s fallen so deeply into evil that the only course is to surrender and consciously embrace the villain he has become.

    There’s a real tragedy being written in these books — if only LaHaye and Jenkins knew they were writing it.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    And it makes for such a boring story. So Buck can’t change anything.

    Because in Christian Apocalyptic, the only function of characters is to provide Roving POVs to Witness(TM) all the Apocalyptic Events on the Checklist go down, then break the fourth wall and lecture the reader how “What I just saw Fulfills Such-and-such Prophecy.”

    This goes for even the Speshul Author Self-Inserts (who are the ONLY POVs allowed in all sixteen volumes, even if they Witness the Events through over-the-phone idiot conversations).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IFGY6LN2M6BMU26TTAX3KFDIFE Andrew

    This unstoppable prophecy is an interesting concept. More powerful than God or Satan, in fact able to turn them to its bidding – no wonder L & J worship it. It makes a lot more sense if you understand them as Johnists or Revelationists rather than anything resembling Christians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000950306035 J Neo Marvin

    It’s closer to Greek mythology than anything I know of as Christian, i.e. “Even the great Zeus is powerless to change Fate”. But Zeus, for all his faults, is infinitely more likable than the L&J God.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    My writing partner (the burned-out preacher-man) calls this “Socratic Atheism”, and claims a LOT of Hyper-Calvinists/Truly Reformed he runs into subscribe to it.

    Basically, if God is also a puppet of Utter Predestination and can will only what He is Predestined to will, then God is not God. Utter Predestination is.

  • reallyaimai

    One Jewish philosophical concept is that originally g-d filled everything and there was no space for anything that was “not g-d.” In order to create the space for the world, people, the universe g-d had to withdraw into itself, to shrink down, to leave space for us/things. There are many ways that can be interpreted, of course–the world/us could be devoid of the g-dhead or it could be a space in which g-d can only be dimly perceived and understood. I prefer to think that we are a space where space/time/morality are given free play and g-d learns from us, rather than the other way around.

    aimai

  • Anonymous

    Oh, Buck is doing more than wasting million’s of people’s lives. He’s ensuring their ultimate damnation too with his attitude. Maybe the Bible in this story fortells how many people will die from each disaster, but it’s not giving hard numbers of how many of them are going to eternal torment. He doesn’t even have to ‘betray’ any promises to Nicky. He just needs to evangilize. Right here, right now. Start with giving the exact plan that Bruce told him, and match it with what Nicky will do. Then go and tell what Nicky will do (There’s a distinct lack of Jesus in that story, but that hasn’t stopped anyone so far from using it to evanglize). This is almost exactly what Rayford used on Buck, and it worked then. His job now should be to convince Fitz. Even if we accept Buck’s incredibly lazy and pessimistic view, that would still help. Go ahead, convince Fitz that stopping Nicky isn’t possible, just let him use every resource at his disposal to spread the checklist far and wide. If you don’t give a damn about mortal lives, at least put some effort into saving immortal souls damnit!

    It’s not like Rayford is showing any signs of concern about spreading the gospel right under Nicky’s nose. To the point where Nicky’s only reponse was “Well, don’t do it under my dime, ok?” and Rayford’s response boiled down to “Oh, ok, only because you asked.” It’s not like they’re really bothering to keep it a secret from him. So why do they insist on doing only annoying small scale conversations? The obvious answer is because that’s how L&J do it. And God forbid they have to spend any time thinking on how things might be different here and now. God forbid they have to make Buck, who missed the message of Christ untill it was too late and even then needed Rayford pointing it out, perhaps show some understanding for “anyone without Christ”. He is, himself, living proof that someone without Christ can be convinced. And he hadn’t just seen Nicky give a few speeches, he had actively sought Nicky out and let him save his misserable life.

    But no, Buck IS Jekins, and it already took far too much effort writing a half-assed excuse as to why Buck wasn’t saved before the Rapture. Seconds after being saved he’s just as condensending to anyone who isn’t an RTC as the writers are. It was such a gigantic error to write this story out of the perspective of two inconsequential dimwits that have nothing to do with the story. But I suppose all the far-fetched excuses to put those nimrods near the action pad out the story just as well as writing your own thoughts as Buck’s and Rayford’s but now in a world where reality finally matches your insipit ideas.

  • JD

    Yeah, that “anyone without Christ” comment is VERY strange. Aren’t these guys supposed to be out there trying to BRING as many people to Christ as possible now? Isn’t that their whole goal? They know they can’t stop the world from ending and prevent all the horrible trials and tribulations (literally), but they can still save millions of souls, right?

    Again, right on that a well-written version of this story would either set Buck off on a sub-plot to convert Fitz; or at the very least give us a gripping, Dosteyevskian, Conradian scene where Buck debates Fitz the unbeliever and finally, using all the conviction of his devout faith, wins him over. Buck would go from a shallow, non-believing, godless atheist to a passionate Christian who manages to convert THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. That’d be a pretty impressive character arc. Although, for that to happen Buck would have to be an actual character, or at least not the one in the book, who’s actual arc is just to seemingly get worse and worse….

  • Anonymous

    When I was first reading the LB series (I borrowed them from a couple I was babysitting for), it was around this point that I gave up expecting anything to make sense, and was completely disgusted with the characters. With hindsight, I should have seen that coming a lot earlier!

    @Chris Borthwick:

    Mind you, the Narnia books have the same problem: nothing that the Pevensey children do can alter the plot, which has all been laid down by Aslan and is going to happen whether they succeed or fail.

    You get the same sort of problem whenever an author uses prophecy to drive events. I think Lewis does a fairly good job of suggesting that the plot would go differently if the characters made different choices, though, and where things are explicitly fated (e.g. where Shasta is fated to save Archenland) he never makes the critical mistake of letting the characters hear the prophecy before they have fulfilled it.

    Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence makes heavy use of prophecy and mostly gets round the issue by having characters forget the important bits, or misunderstand them until just the right moment.

    J.K. Rowling turns it round and uses prophecies to explore the implications of fate and free will in a far more complex way – her prophecies are by their nature self-fulfilling, and are descriptive rather than proscriptive of events.

    Then there’s the David Eddings approach: recognising that the plot is driven by the prophecy, he turns the prophecy itself into a character attempting to bend history to its will.

    Prophecy (in the sense of accurate future foretelling) is pretty hard to pull off and still have characters who act like real people. In some fundamental way, perhaps we need the uncertainty to make choices? I don’t know. In my own writing I’ve been avoiding it because I think it’s often an easy way to drive the plot when you don’t know your characters well enough to come up with a believable reason for what you want them to do. I’m not good enough yet to use it well.

    Quare: Does this scene make more sense if you picture the Prophecy of the LB-world like an insubstantial but effective clamp on Fitzhugh and Buck’s minds and tongues, preventing them from thinking or saying anything that might jeopardise the plot?

    Fitzhugh desparately wants to talk about the astonishingly silent and efficient coup that is removing him from power, but the only complaint he is allowed to make is about his plane. So he hams it up: furiously complaining in expletive-laden monologues about what a jolly shame it is that those cads and bounders should steal his favourite jet. And eventually, it works: he still can’t talk freely, but he can now mention some of the other horrors! But even as his words fall over themselves in his effort to make Buck understand the danger, he realises to his horror that the Prophecy has taken a different tack to counter him: Buck is already under Its control, and can only muster the strength to say that he can’t say anything he knows.

  • Anonymous

    Can’t forget the Pratchet and Gaiman’s Good Omen approach. The prophecies are all correct, but based on what an uneducated 17th century witch could understand about them. She’d have no idea what a car is, but she’d see it and try to describe it anyway. Her decendants made it their lives’ work to try and understand them in time. It has to be mentioned because the story is also about the Anti-Christ, Armageddon and the final fight between Good and Evil. I finally got my hands on a copy recently and it’s an excellent antidote after reading Left Behind.

    One question: After this completely nihilistic behavior of our sad excuse of a protagonist while there’s something they could do, how do L&J justify things like that whole assasination attempt in a later book? Sloppy writing, like they just forget that they already decided it won’t work? Petty vengance, like it’s just after someone Rayford knows (i.e. someone who matters) gets killed by Nicky? Or some other sad excuse?

  • Kish

    To be perfectly honest, from the excerpts people have quoted, I got the impression it was pure bloodlust, that Rayford spends the entire book knowing that Nicolae will be killed and resurrected worse than ever, but the main concept he takes away from it is, “Someone will get the pleasure of killing him! Please, God, let it be me!”

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    The prophecies are all correct, but based on what an uneducated 17th century witch could understand about them. She’d have no idea what a car is, but she’d see it and try to describe it anyway. Her decendants made it their lives’ work to try and understand them in time.

    In Late Great Planet Earth, Hal Lindsay took that idea about Revelation and ran with it. Did he ever run with it!

    Next thing you know, Demon Locusts are Helicopter Gunships armed with Chemical Weapons and flown by Long-Haired Beared Hippies, all the scrolls/trumpets/plagues of Revelation are nuclear weapons effects and aftereffects, and before you know it you’ve started a cult — Christians For Nuclear War.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000950306035 J Neo Marvin

    Asimov’s Foundation also comes to mind: the psychohistorians have everything all mapped out, but of course nothing is ever perfectly predictable. Left Behind is like Foundation without the Mule. No wonder everyone is so mind-numbingly, inhumanly passive.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    So he hams it up: furiously complaining in expletive-laden monologues…

    All carefully bowdlerized and sanitized so as not to offend Kathy the Christian Soccer Mom or any other Church Lady.

    (“Cussing in Christian Fiction” is one of those explosive mixtures, right up there with Evolution. Every Christian Writers’ list I’ve been on periodically blows up into a flamefest on that very subject. And nothing ever gets resolved.)

  • Anonymous

    I’m trying but failing to understand how this version of predestination is supposed to make sense in an evangelical worldview. If some people are fated to become RTCs before the rapture, other people are fated to become RTCs after it, and most are apparently fated never to become RTCs at all, then what’s the point of having an organized religion in the first place?

    aunursa has already answered this: the belief is that history is destined to go a particular way, but within that context, individuals have free will. (Jesus was going to be crucified, but both Judas and Pilate could have made the decision not to be the cause.)

    The thing is, though, that since RTCs are responsible for individual evangelism, it’s unconscionable for Jenkins not to have Buck, given an opening for evangelism, at least think about why he is choosing not to tell Fitz the “good news.”

    Also, @Chris Borthwick: “Buck and Wing.” Keyboard, meet coffee.

  • Mackrimin

    The course has been foretold and what has been foretold cannot be altered.

    But this is exactly what happens in the Book of Jonah: Nineveh was prophesized to be destroyed, yet escaped its fate when people changed their ways. So from the biblical literalist point of view it makes no sense to not even try.

    In fact, now that I think of it, there’s quite a bit of similarity between the premises and protagonists of Jonah and Left Behind, which then lead to completely different conclusions, mainly due to _very_ different portrayals of God in the stories. And this, then, leads me to conclude that it can’t really be the _same_ God featured in both. So the question rises: what God _does_ Left Behind feature?

    Having just reread the part of Jesus killing people in slasher-movie detail in Glorious Appearing, and the distaste writers of these books seem to have for peacemakers and pacifism, I’d say Khorne of Warhammer: “Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!”

    Any other suggestions?

  • http://riotingmind.blogspot.com/ BeamStalk

    Having just reread the part of Jesus killing people in slasher-movie detail in Glorious Appearing, and the distaste writers of these books seem to have for peacemakers and pacifism, I’d say Khorne of Warhammer: “Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!”

    I have noticed the similarities between Khorne and the RTC Yahweh when dealing with Fundagelicals in the past.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad you brought up Jonah – Andrew’s comment a few hours ago brought him to mind when I read it just now. Glad someone beat me to it!

    In the Old Testament, at least, prophecy is supposed to drive a response from those who hear it. People are supposed to repent, change their ways, cease their oppression of the poor and helpless, seek justice, and so forth.

    It strikes me as a complete perversion of Scripture for prophecy to NOT call for a response – for it to strictly be “here’s what’s going to happen, it’s going to be really, really bad, and there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it, so no need to bother.” Why should God even bother delivering such a final message to His creation? What good is it supposed to do them? It really does seem to amount to nothing more, in Jenkins’ and LaHaye’s view, than a chance for believers to gloat in anticipation of the agonies that the unsaved will endure even before their eternal torment in the fires of Hell.

    I’ve known the Lord for more than four decades now. The God I know is nothing like that.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Mackrimin: So the question rises: what God _does_ Left Behind feature?

    Having just reread the part of Jesus killing people in slasher-movie detail in Glorious Appearing, and the distaste writers of these books seem to have for peacemakers and pacifism, I’d say Khorne of Warhammer: “Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!”

    I’d suggest Thor or Ares as appropriate gods for the RTCs, but they could never accept a god that anyone or anything else ever gets the better of.

  • http://www.aqualgidus.org/ Michael Chui

    I’d disagree; Ares, sure. But Thor is generally understood to be a friend of mankind. Loki would be better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    Hastur, I would think. The King in Yellow combines the absolute inhumanity of the other Elder Gods with an overt spiteful malice directed towards us as a species that Azathoth and the rest seem to lack.

  • Will Wildman

    Hastur, I would think. The King in Yellow combines the absolute inhumanity of the other Elder Gods with an overt spiteful malice directed towards us as a species that Azathoth and the rest seem to lack.

    I’m enjoying the original King in Yellow right now, before Hastur and other sothothic gods were added to the mythos, and the King seems to view himself as either the real Jesus or the Unjesus, with a reference to what a ‘fearful thing it is’ to fall into ‘the hands of the Living God’.

    Maybe I’m just weird, but in reading so far, I don’t really get the sense that the King particularly wants to end the world. He might want to rule it, but on a fundamental level he seems to want to relate to humans. I start seeing him as a tragic figure, almost, trying to reach out to humanity in a completely alien way, and perhaps accidentally making us frothingly delusional. Sort of like what might happen if humans learned how to communicate with chipmunks and then started filling their brains with quantum mechanics and history and atrocity and art – how hard would it be to keep on chittering properly with MLK and Hawking and Murasaki and Achebe in your head?

    (In short: yes, I have a bizarre sympathy for the King in Yellow. But not Hastur. Hastur’s just a twazzock.)

  • Madhabmatics

    The Repairer of Reputations is awesome.

  • Anonymous

    Thor? Nah. The collection of myths I’ve got paint him as a pretty decent guy. A fierce temper, not too bright, and very stubborn; but also dependable, moderately kind, honourable, and friendly. I probably wouldn’t make a good friend of his, but I can certainly think of worse traits.

    Odin might be closer to the RTC god, though even that’s not a great match. He’s cruel, cunning, enjoys strife, and loves testing people.

    But he’s also a master poet, gave up his eye for knowledge, and is perfectly willing to defend to the death those that depend on him, none of which are traits RTC-god seems to have.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Mackrimin: So the question rises: what God _does_ Left Behind feature?

    Having just reread the part of Jesus killing people in slasher-movie detail in Glorious Appearing, and the distaste writers of these books seem to have for peacemakers and pacifism, I’d say Khorne of Warhammer: “Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!”

    I’d suggest Thor or Ares as appropriate gods for the RTCs, but they could never accept a god that anyone or anything else ever gets the better of.

  • Anonymous

    In the bible said that jezus was in agony at Gethsemane because he would be crucified without God.

    That is how the whole salvation thing works in the bible Jezus came down here to bear our sins and he wasn’t following orders he did it because he WANTED to take every of sins of every human in the world away.

    It was his own free will that he decided to become human to share our fears and uncertainies.

    It wasn’t because he followed a prophecy set in stone: he made the prophecy happen BECAUSE he loved the world and its people.

    I think that Buck does exactly the same thing as Peter when he betrayed Jezus, The only difference is that Peter had remorse about his sins while Buck doesn’t

  • LL

    Is this Buck person supposed to be one of the heroes of the book? Because he seems like a gutless weasel to me. I already know the answer to my question, I just wanted to ask it.

    But seriously, do the authors actually believe that hero = guy who helps the evil people so that he can preserve his own ass? Do the people who read these books actually believe that Buck is a hero? Are they really that dumb? Another question I probably already know the answer to.

  • Anonymous

    well as a certain series of essays writen about them seems to indicate: YES they ARE a bunch of dumb, gutless weasels.

    The Arnold rimmers of Christianity they are.

  • Anonymous

    evil prevails if good men do nothing

  • Guest-again

    I see someone else mentioned Secretary of the Interior Watt, so let me flesh the subject out (possibly a bit too much) –

    How about James Watt, admittedly neither a religious leader nor a man who believed that cutting down trees was a way to hasten the Second Coming?

    ‘One recalls the recent occasion on which Secretary of the Interior James Watt dismissed the idea that it might be important to conserve resources for future generations — because there may not be many generations before the Second Coming of Christ.’
    ….
    This article appeared in the Christian Century, October 14, 1981, pp. 1018-1022.’
    http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=1693

    Do note that this fits well with my memory of James Watt, and his belief that the U.S. was in a ‘use it or lose it’ situation in terms of making sure that we didn’t inappropriately conserve resources for a long term future that was unlikely, in the then Secretary of the Interior’s view, to actually come to pass.

    Unfortunately, there seems to have been some sort of silly misreporting a few years ago (for which Grist and Moyers apologized) of something that James Watt never said, making it well nigh impossible to actually discover any 30 year old quotes without being completely swamped by the inaccurate reporting and the various reactions to it.

    And of course, considering how Watt handed out the contracts for private companies to exploit public land, one could make the argument that Watt’s religious beliefs were either a smoke screen or a tool for massive plundering of what had been till then considered the shared property of all Americans, both present and future. Such as numerous endangered species and habitats, which concerned Watts not at all, for whatever reason.

    Like this –
    ‘Watt resisted accepting donations of private land to be used for conservation purposes. He suggested that all 80 million acres (320,000 km2) of undeveloped land in the United States be opened for drilling and mining in the year 2000. The area leased to coal mining companies quintupled during his term as Secretary of the Interior. Watt proudly boasted that he leased “a billion acres” (4 million km2) of U.S. coastal waters, even though only a small portion of that area would ever be drilled. Watt once stated, “We will mine more, drill more, cut more timber.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_G._Watt

    That was the Secretary of the Interior under the President who counted on the votes of Rapture believing citizens to ensure victory.

    Old history, except for that coal burning part – the future is now becoming the present, and will for a time frame longer than the man in part responsible for creating it seems to have been able to comprehend.

    Of course, to get a true flavor of just how wacky Watts really was, this little controversy should help –
    ‘From 1980 through 1982, The Beach Boys and The Grass Roots performed Independence Day concerts on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., attracting large crowds. However, in April 1983, Watt, while serving as Secretary of the Interior, banned Independence Day concerts on the Mall by such groups. Watt said that “rock bands” that had performed on the Mall on Independence Day in 1981 and 1982 had encouraged drug use and alcoholism and had attracted “the wrong element”, who would mug people and families attending any similar events in the future. Watt then announced that Las Vegas crooner Wayne Newton, a friend and supporter of President Reagan and a contributor to Republican Party political campaigns, would perform at the Mall’s 1983 Independence Day celebration. During the ensuing uproar, Rob Grill, lead singer of The Grass Roots, stated that he felt “highly insulted” by Watt’s remarks, which he called “nothing but un-American”. The Beach Boys stated that the Soviet Union, which had invited them to perform in Leningrad in 1978, “obviously …. did not feel that the group attracted the wrong element”. Vice President George H. W. Bush said of The Beach Boys, “They’re my friends and I like their music”. Watt apologized to The Beach Boys after learning that President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan were fans of the group. Nancy Reagan apologized for Watt.’

    James Watt – keeping America safe from the Beach Boys, until he decided that toadying to his boss was the smart choice. Just wait until you read about his sense of humor (resignation included) – the man was a true all-rounder. And beloved by the sort of Moral Majority voters that were instrumental in making Reagan president, who felt him to be one of their own. Which makes sense – the only people not laughing at anyone stupid enough to consider the Baech Boys rockers were those out of touch from the broad cultural mainstream. Seriously – when Nancy ‘just say no’ Reagan apologizes on your behalf to musicians, you know that square doesn’t even begin to describe what you are.

    But at least square could have described Watt’s future living space – ‘In 1995, Watt was indicted on 25 counts of felony perjury and obstruction of justice by a federal grand jury. The indictments were due to false statements made to a grand jury investigating influence peddling at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which he had lobbied in the mid to late 1980s.’ But as often seems to happen when a certain class of citizen breaks the law, this was the result – ‘On January 2, 1996, as part of a plea bargain, Watt pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of withholding documents from a federal grand jury. On March 12, 1996 he was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and perform 500 hours of community service.’

  • Anonymous

    That was the Secretary of the Interior under the President who counted on the votes of Rapture believing citizens to ensure victory.

    That’s quite a tenuous connection.

  • Anonymous

    Buck and rayford are a insult for every christian that has made sacrificies for his/her faith.

    People who got fired, tortured, humiliated, raped, wounded, left alone, riddiculed or made the ultimate sacrifice when they got killed because of their faith.

    Buck and rayford are a travesty towards these people because they got the easy jobs while doing NOTHING.

    they are bunch of greedy, petty, cowardy,disloyal, stupid, freeloading, misognic, apathic, narrowminded, imature, douchy, uncaring unbelievers.

    ps could someone help me to give more descriptions for the undynamic duo?

  • Anonymous

    Cameron had a crisis of conscience. He had implied to Carpathia that he would not tell about the inheritance from Stonagal.

    So once upon a time, there was this brilliant doctor, one might say the Greatest Neurosurgeon of All Time, who journeyed to Nepal to receive wisdom from an ancient mystic. There he discovered that one of the mystic’s own students was plotting to murder him and become the new master. When the doctor learned of this, he tried to warn the mystic, but the student cursed him with an enchantment that prevented him from speaking about what he knew. And so the doctor found another solution. As he could not warn the master directly, he instead offered to study under him, as a new disciple, in the hope that he too could learn the mystic arts and one day defeat the evil student himself.

    ——-

    Let’s pretend that it really would be sinful for Buck to break his promise to the Antichrist. I don’t buy it, but let’s just assume. Even so, Buck has options in this moment to do the right thing, options beyond spilling the beans or keeping quiet.

    He can witness to President Fitzhugh.

    Here’s the President of the United States, undergoing a deep moral and personal crisis, a man desperately looking for comfort and guidance in a world gone off the rails. Here’s Buck, a newly minted Christian. And here’s the two of them in Fitz’s hotel suite, brought together in Jerusalem by what almost seems like sheer chance. The stars have aligned for a literal come-to-Jesus moment for Fitzhugh. This is the moment for Buck to speak earnestly about Christ, to tell the good news, to have Fitz recite the Sinner’s Prayer right then and there and pledge himself to God. He doesn’t need to break any promises, or even mention Carpathia at all. He just needs to do what Christians are supposed to do at times like this — lead the lost to Christ — saving not only a fellow human soul, but also spiritually awakening the leader of the free world and keeping him safe from the Antichrist’s power forever. This is Buck’s moment.

    And Buck is COMPLETELY BLOWING IT.

  • Anonymous

    He can witness to President Fitzhugh. Here’s the President of the United States, undergoing a deep moral and personal crisis, a man desperately looking for comfort and guidance in a world gone off the rails. … The stars have aligned for a literal come-to-Jesus moment for Fitzhugh. This is the moment for Buck to speak earnestly about Christ, to tell the good news, to have Fitz recite the Sinner’s Prayer…

    IIRC, this does happen in the Left Behind III film. Buck (Kirk Cameron) witnesses to President Fitzhugh (Louis Gossett Jr), who becomes a Christian.

  • JD

    See? There you go. Even barely competent direct-to-video filmmakers have a better grasp of storytelling then the so-called authors.

    I am amazed by J&L’s continual incompetence in creating these books. Over and over again they just keep doing the wrong thing and missing the obvious choice. It’s like watching someone repeatedly walk into walls.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    IIRC, this does happen in the Left Behind III film. Buck (Kirk Cameron) witnesses to President Fitzhugh (Louis Gossett Jr), who becomes a Christian.

    In this scene? They managed to split Tribulation Force into TWO FILMS?!? O_o

  • Anonymous

    LB III includes elements of the end of Tribulation Force, but also the plot wanders away from the book. For example, the GC minions seek to kill the Christians by planting anthrax in bibles … and Fitz twice attempts to assasinate Nicky.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    President Fitzhugh looked to the ceiling and wiped his sweaty face with his hand. “I don’t know. I just wanted to unload, I guess, and I thought maybe you had some insight. “
    “I wish I could be of more help,” Buck said, suddenly realizing what an understatement that was.

    I’m reminded of the story of Lyndon Johnson asking Bill Moyers to open a meeting with a prayer. As Moyers began to pray, the President said, “Speak up, Bill, I can’t hear you.”

    “I wasn’t speaking to you, Mr. President” Moyers responded.

    This scene, with the president looking to the ceiling and saying he just needed someone to listen, was hoping for some insight, seems to fall into this category. In my version of the scene, the president would snap his gaze down at Buck and said “I wasn’t talking to you, son.”

    I remember one of the Callahan’s Saloon stories involving a person who saw the future but was unable to change it. (“Fivesight”, if anyone cares) The “rules” of his precognition were simple: he saw horrible things before they happened. If he tried to stop them from happening entirely, something worse would occur instead. So instead, he simply made sure he was prepared to mitigate harm after the fact. He couldn’t tell someone not to go down to the basement, he couldn’t fix the wobbly stair, but he’d have cold ice packs and a sling ready and within arm’s reach at the bottom of the stairs. That seems to be the most likely kind of agency folks in the LBvese could have. And talking to the president seems like a great opportunity to argue for more disaster relief funding and preparation.

  • http://profiles.google.com/chrislaning Chris Laning

    You could conceivably argue that Buck is trying to be “nice” here — “nice” in the paternalistic way that I personally find totally exasperating. He KNOWS that horrible things will be happening. He KNOWS that nothing he nor anyone else can do will prevent them. Isn’t it kinder (according to this viewpoint) that people not know ahead of time that this is coming? If you and everyone you know is going to die horribly next Tuesday, wouldn’t you be happier not knowing?

    My answer is an emphatic NO. I *would* want to know. I believe that this kind of “protecting” other people “for their own sake” is vile. First, it implies you believe that the people you are “protecting” are incapable of acting like mature adults or accepting and dealing with reality. Second, you are denying them the ability to do anything at all toward preparing themselves to face whatever it is, and even if it’s inevitable and bad, people want to meet reality with whatever dignity and grace they can muster. Third, if you tell them now, they have at least a chance to act on whatever is in their “I want to accomplish this before I die” list — tell their loved ones how much they love them, forgive their enemies, create a work of art (which just might survive the apocalypse), hug their children one more time, or whatever. And fourth, if *they* don’t know what’s coming, they can’t pass the word on to anyone else and thereby help *those* people prepare.

    I probably feel especially strongly about this because it has real personal relevance to me. Alzheimer’s runs in my family. If it’s going to happen to me, I only have a certain number of years when I can do some things I want to do. And that number is getting smaller. And yet, I saw a specialist whose attitude was “if it’s going to happen to me I don’t want to know.” I won’t be seeing *him* again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000950306035 J Neo Marvin

    Yes, the Beach Boys embarrassment. Watt also did not take into account that Reagan’s daughter and Dennis Wilson were an item for a while.

    I never thought Watt was particularly sincere in his End Times beliefs. It was more a convenient smokescreen to fool the rubes while the Reagan administration enriched their cronies. Not the first or last time the relationship between Republicans and Fundamentalists played out this way, either.

  • hf

    Andrew wrote: It makes a lot more sense if you understand them as Johnists or Revelationists rather than anything resembling Christians.

    They really do worship the Spirit of Dark from those Eddings books, don’t they? And Lori probably hit on the reason, insofar as they have a reason. Hell only makes sense if you imagine something ‘more powerful’ constraining God. Since logic and morality can’t fill this role, we’d have to imagine an external force like a sentient prophecy, or say that God wrote himself into a corner pre-incarnation by making a metaphorical rock so big he can’t lift it. L&J’s God turned over control of the Universe to the voice of prophecy (not Alan Rickman).

    The true explanation seems similar. These people don’t form beliefs (or decisions) primarily based on rational arguments. They follow what they consider authority, because like any high-RWA person they’d prefer not to think. This also speaks to aunursa’s point: those Christians or Revelationists who oppose environmentalism probably do it because it serves as a distinguishing mark or cheer for (what they see as) an opposing team, and repeating another team’s cheer seems like an insult to their own team/authorities.

  • Anonymous

    In fact, now that I think of it, there’s quite a bit of similarity between the premises and protagonists of Jonah and Left Behind, which then lead to completely different conclusions, mainly due to _very_ different portrayals of God in the stories.

    I really *really* want to read that crossover fic. I think it deserves serious treatment by a religious Christian or Jew (dead serious here).

    re: Global Warming — I agree that there are serious parallels, but the ultimate difference here is the feeling of futility that laypeople have about global warming. There’s no way to prevent it, because not enough people will listen to you, and you can’t change society so dramatically as to stop it from happening.

    This is different — Buck has a very clear solution to the problem (as other have pointed out): witness to people, particularly the President. And publish his articles. The inertia of Buck et al is comparable not to someone who is faced with a prophecy written by an allegedly benevolent deity but to a time traveler in a rigorously predetermined universe (e.g. Willis). (Heck, even Willis’ characters — in the books of hers that I’ve read — are more willing to take action than Buck is. For example, in the _Doomsday Book_, Xvieva jnf cercnerq hfr jung fur xarj bs gur Oynpx Qrngu gb erfphr Ebpur naq Ebfnzhaq — abg gb zragvba gur bgure ivyyntref — rira gubhtu fur’q nyernql ernyvmrq gung gurve ivyyntr jnf jvcrq bhg (ROT13ed for major spoilers).) As much as Buck knows that the majority of humanity will die, he could at least make sure that they’ve found God ahead of time.

  • Guest-again

    ‘That was the Secretary of the Interior under the President who counted on the votes of Rapture believing citizens to ensure victory.

    That’s quite a tenuous connection.’

    Well, it is a historical one, richly documented – though as J Neo Marvin has pointed out, money was very much in play also.

    But it seems like a potentially good source for more information than my recollection living through that time is not available online – ‘God, James Watt, and the Public Land.’ Wolf, Ron. 1981. Audubon 83(3):65 And do notice that both of the sources referring to Watt’s religion both come from 1981 – it wasn’t tenuouse back then, to anyone.

    But this link from 2005 –
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/20/AR2005052001333.html
    recommends itself, since it is Watt himself (at least the op-ed is published under his name) speaking. I will quote a few passages, but only to provide a flavor, since the entire text concerns what could be fairly called a slanderous mistake concerning Watt and his words and action, this op-ed being his response. In other words, this is not, in any sense, an attempt to misconstrue Watt by selective quotation.

    ‘The religious left’s political operatives have mounted a shrill attack on a significant portion of the Christian community. Four out of five evangelical Christians supported President Bush in 2004 — a third of all ballots cast for him, according to the Pew Research Center. Factor in Catholics and members of other conservative religious communities and it’s clear that the religious right is the largest voting bloc in today’s Republican Party.

    The religious left took note. Political opportunists in its ranks sought a wedge issue to weaken the GOP’s coalition of Jews, Catholics and evangelicals and shatter its electoral majority. They passed over obvious headliners and landed on a curious but cunning choice: the environment. Those leading the charge are effective advocates: LBJ alumnus Bill Moyers of PBS fame, members of the National Council of Churches USA and liberal theologians who claim a moral superiority to other people of faith.

    Their tactics are familiar. I encountered them more than 20 years ago as President Reagan’s secretary of the interior, when I clashed with extreme environmental groups adept at taking out of context — or in some cases creating — statements that, once twisted, were attributed to me as if they were my religious views.’

    Sounds very familiar, very Moral Majority like with the ‘… liberal theologians who claim a moral superiority to other people of faith.’

    After these three opening paragraphs, he goes on to note in the fourth paragraph –
    ‘Now political activists of the religious left are refreshing those two-decades-old lies and applying them with a broad brush to whole segments of the Christian community: “people who believe the Bible,” members of Congress and “Rapture proponents.” If these merging groups — the extreme environmentalists and the religious left — are successful in their campaign, the Christian community will be marginalized, its conservative values maligned and its electoral clout diminished.’

    Does he sound like he isn’t a member of that ‘Christian community’ being attacked by the ‘religious left?’

    And here is the end –
    ‘If such a body of belief exists, I would totally reject it, as would all of my friends. When asked who believed such error, where adherents to this “false gospel” might be found, the NCC turned to its theological sources, Moyers and a magazine called Grist, which had also apologized to me. I then contacted the chairman of the NCC task force and asked him about the “some people” who believe this false gospel and the “proud preachers” advancing this false gospel. He could not name such persons.

    Be alert. I learned this lesson two decades ago — the hard way. Never underestimate the political impact of the twisted charges by extreme environmentalists now advanced by the religious left to divide the people of faith.’

    Possibly, some of the dog whistling is pitched above my ears, but ‘ twisted charges… now advanced by the religious left to divide the people of faith.’ sounds like he knows which team he is a member of. The Right one, of course.

    And yet, as I noted, Watt might not believe such in religious terms, but let’s not forget this –
    ‘Watt resisted accepting donations of private land to be used for conservation purposes. He suggested that all 80 million acres (320,000 km2) of undeveloped land in the United States be opened for drilling and mining in the year 2000.’

    Or this –
    ‘Watt once stated, “We will mine more, drill more, cut more timber.”

    His motivation may not have been religious – he might have just been it for the money, like his lobbying. But Watt, apparently a Pentecostal, has never seemed to be a man who feels religion, at least true religion as espoused by the Moral Majority of that era (remember, he tried to keep DC safe from rock’n’roll), is ever inappropriate to use in public policy. That is, as long at it isn’t tainted by ‘environmentalism’ or ‘religious leftists.’

  • Anonymous

    Alas, my comment was unclear. My reference to a “tenuous connection” was not between Watt’s environmental policies and his religious views, but between Watt’s environmental policies and the Rapture-ready anticipations of Reagan’s Evangelical voters. I don’t believe that Evangelicals supported Reagan in whole or in part because they anticipated that he would appoint a Secretary of the Interior who would seek to destroy the environment. Rather, other considerations motivated them to vote for the Republican nominee.

    At any rate, in the op-ed that you cite, Watt explicitly rejects the idea that his environmental policy was motivated by his belief in the End Times. For example, he wrote:

    Last December [Bill] Moyers … said: “James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, ‘After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.’ Beltway elites snickered….”

    I never said it. Never believed it. Never even thought it. I know no Christian who believes or preaches such error. The Bible commands conservation — that we as Christians be careful stewards of the land and resources entrusted to us by the Creator.

    That said, my primary point is not regarding James Watt’s motives, but those of Evangelical Christians in general, and Evangelical leaders in particular.

  • PJ Evans

    Watt seems to be pretty typical for that group.

  • Anonymous

    But this is exactly what happens in the Book of Jonah: Nineveh was prophesized to be destroyed, yet escaped its fate when people changed their ways. So from the biblical literalist point of view it makes no sense to not even try.

    Which is why most RTCs utterly ignore Jonah, as Fred has pointed out previously.

  • Anonymous

    And to show how this repulsiveness never goes away, here’s a National Day of Prayer promo video from the very, very dangerous 7 Mountains Dominionist Movement, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl7TBjRI9LE&feature=player_embedded

    It’s pure LB reveling in God smiting the Other porn. And potential GOP Presidential canidates like Huckabee or Palin are hip deep in it. This has to be addressed.

    And as said Buck might not be able to save them from dying in an earthquake, but he can save their eternal souls. That he does not makes him no better than Nicolae.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Jessica_R: And to show how this repulsiveness never goes away, here’s a National Day of Prayer promo video from the very, very dangerous 7 Mountains Dominionist Movement,

    “PRAY. Or the scary cloud will get you.”

    Nice music, though.

  • http://twitter.com/maradydd Meredith L Patterson

    It’s pure LB reveling in God smiting the Other porn.

    I was expecting a little more in the way of Smitey Disaster, but yeah, the ominous flickering clouds rolling in over San Francisco was hard to miss. Poor SF, always having to play the stand-in for Babylon or Sodom in today’s PMD revenge fantasies.

    Other things that were hard to miss: naturally, almost all the dutiful repentant folks on their knees are suitably Aryan in appearance. (I missed the darker-skinned kid joining them on the floor the first time watching it.) Looks like Congress is in for a smiting too.

  • JD

    Okay, let’s look at this from the perspective of another fantastic-fiction cosmology. What if people here in New England were to discover, via a close reading of the copies of the Necronomicon kept under lock and key in Harvard and Brown and Miskatonic’s libraries, that a newly elected governor of Massachusetts–say, Sean Whately–was actually the herald of Yog-Sothoth? And would soon perform rituals to bring about the return of The Shapeless One? And the Deep Ones would arise from the sea and attack the coastal cities, and the ghouls would soon emerge from their subterranean tunnels (first attacking the Beacon Street subway station)? And R’elyeh would rise from the depths, and Chthulhu would emerge and arrive in Boston Harbor, and join with Whateley and Yog-Sothoth at a great rally of the Chthulhu cult on Boston Common, and erect a mystical energy barrier cutting off NE from the rest of the country, and then unleash the Deep Ones, ghouls, Shoggoths and Cultists to pillage and massacre all the non-beleivers? And that eventually, a warning beacon in the Mountains Of Madness in Antarctica would send a signal into deep space, maybe somewhere near Pluto, and after seven years the Old Ones would come flying down through the ether and shatter the energy barrier and purge the world of the minions of the Elder Gods, and destroy Whateley, and banish Yog-Sothoth and Chthulhu from the earthly plane?

    If all that had been prophesied and were about to come to pass, would you expect the humans who discovered it too try to fight the forces of evil, or go over to Beacon Hill and apply at the State House for jobs in the Governor’s office?

  • hf

    [Watt denying he wants to destroy the Earth, talk of attacks on “the Christian community”]

    Like I said, the Revelationists who oppose environmentalism do not do so because of a logical argument from some set of assumptions. They don’t think, ‘Christ will return in May, therefore I don’t have to worry about this.’ Instead they view it as a tribal dispute and automatically take the side of their chosen authorities. The truth or falsity of environmentalist claims does not seem to concern them. Google ‘environmentalism religion christ’ if you want to see people approaching the question from this perspective.

  • Ursula L

    Well, if it is the job of the Tribbles to fight God’s enemies, then wouldn’t they properly be fighting anyone trying to stop the various tribulations God is going to send, and fight anyone trying to lessen the effect of God’s tribulations?

    If anything, they should be planning massive outdoor rallies on the day the sun is supposed to go deadly, to maximise the impact of God’s plan, give warning of deadly sunshine to keep people indoors and under crumbling buildings during the massive earthquakes, etc.

    It might actually be interesting, in a horror-story way, to follow true believers who thought they had to maximise the upcoming destruction, because the upcoming destruction was God’s will. But the Tribbies don’t even have the courage to back their belief that this is all God’s will.

  • Anonymous

    then wouldn’t they properly be fighting anyone trying to stop the various tribulations God is going to send, and fight anyone trying to lessen the effect of God’s tribulations? If anything, they should be planning massive outdoor rallies on the day the sun is supposed to go deadly, to maximise the impact of God’s plan, give warning of deadly sunshine to keep people indoors and under crumbling buildings during the massive earthquakes, etc.

    No, because the goal of the tribulations is not to kill people, but to get their attention, to let them know that God is in control and that they must pledge their lives to Jesus. The fact that millions of people suffer and die is an unfortunate side-effect.

    That being said, why God chooses to use calamities and other plagues to get the attention of the unsaved, rather than, say, via a booming voice from heaven, perhaps accompanied by dramatic miracles that support the message — which would (1) be more effective in ensuring that the unsaved actually understand the Almighty’s message, and (2) allow all of the unsaved to consider the choice, rather than only the calamity survivors — is not explained by L&J.

    “You may wonder why this has happened…. Strange as this may sound to
    you, this is God’s final effort to get the attention of every person who has ignored or rejected him. He is allowing now a vast period of trial and tribulation to come to you who remain. He has removed his church from a corrupt world that seeks its own way, its own pleasures, its own ends. I believe God’s purpose in this is to allow those who remain to take stock of themselves and leave their frantic search for pleasure and self-fulfillment, and turn to the Bible for truth and to Christ for salvation.
    Left Behind, p 212

  • JD

    Yeah, it struck me later that it’s not the job of the Real True Christians like Buck and Rayford to convert people and save souls. That’s what the cataclysms of the tribulation are for; to whip and torment the population of the world until they collapse, bleeding, broken, and begging for mercy. “We convert! We convert! Just call off the four horsemen, please!” As Fred qouted in one of the earlier posts about that guy’s book challenging the doctrine of damnation: A god that reminds people of their abusive father.

    By the way, the RTC trib’s main job, if any, seems to be to just lounge around and smugly enjoy their saved status while hanging out with their archenemies and the embodiment of evil.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    Yeah, it struck me later that it’s not the job of the Real True Christians like Buck and Rayford to convert people and save souls. That’s what the cataclysms of the tribulation are for; to whip and torment the population of the world until they collapse, bleeding, broken, and begging for mercy. “We convert! We convert! Just call off the four horsemen, please!” As Fred qouted in one of the earlier posts about that guy’s book challenging the doctrine of damnation: A god that reminds people of their abusive father.

    This would work better (or at all) if there was, you know, any indication to those who are suffering as to why they were suffering.

  • chris the cynic

    I wrote up my take on this in October of 2009. I put it in the mouth of the Antichrist because that seemed like the natural place for the hero of the story to be given the nature of Left Behind God.

    “His supporters disagree, of course. They say that the carnage was necessary to shock us. To that I say, ‘Bullshit.’ He could have shocked us by turning the sky green. Of course that wouldn’t have convinced us it was God’s doing. But he’s God. He could have sent a thousand angels to travel the world turning water into wine. Actually, the miracles would be unnecessary. They could have simply flown around on fluffy wings landing every so often to say, ‘By the way, Jesus is the Lord.’

    “It would have worked. In fact it is easy to think of any number of better ways to go about knocking people out of their complacency and converting them. If God had descended on his magic carpet, healed the sick and cured the hungry I would have converted without hesitation. He didn’t do that. He caused worldwide devastation instead.

    Full text here. (Second comment on that page.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    No, because the goal of the tribulations is not to kill people, but to get their attention, to let them know that God is in control and that they must pledge their lives to Jesus. The fact that millions of people suffer and die is an unfortunate side-effect.

    The first line of panels in this comic is relevant.

    Hey God, maybe you just suck at sending messages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    No, because the goal of the tribulations is not to kill people, but to get their attention, to let them know that God is in control and that they must pledge their lives to Jesus. The fact that millions of people suffer and die is an unfortunate side-effect.

    The first line of panels in this comic is relevant.

    Hey God, maybe you just suck at sending messages.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Oh, here’s their website, I think:

    http://www.reclaim7mountains.com/

  • PJ Evans

    why God chooses to use calamities and other plagues to get the attention of the unsaved

    As opposed to everyday calamities and other plagues?
    Because it says right in the Bible, for those who are literalists, that only God knows when the second coming will be, and no one else does. So I take the whole lot of end-times-signs-and-prophecies as actually meaning ‘you aren’t going to know in advance’.

  • Amaryllis

    style92: I think it’s been discussed before, but as someone who grew up in evangelist subculture, I always got the feeling that God’s famous omnis, (Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, perfectly just, perfectly loving…) seemed to bind His hands rather than give Him options.

    I was just saying today how Christ posed himself the whole problem and died for it. How can we be just in a world that needs mercy and merciful in a world that needs justice. We study and study the four biographies of him and are left still somewhat puzzled in our daily lives.

    -Robert Frost, from a letter written to a friend shortly before his death.

    And where Robert Frost was puzzled, I’m certainly puzzled too. But I’d rather deal with puzzlement and mystery than settle for the kind of answers Ellenjay are trying to pawn off on us.

  • Guest-again

    ‘I don’t believe that Evangelicals supported Reagan in whole or in part because they anticipated that he would appoint a Secretary of the Interior who would seek to destroy the environment. Rather, other considerations motivated them to vote for the Republican nominee.’
    Fair enough – though in the early 1980s, many Christians (well, the ‘religious left’ as Watt calls them now) were baffled at Watt and his motivation, since they didn’t see him as a merely hypocritically corrupt man – but many Moral Majority members understood the logic of ‘use it or lose it.’ At a time when many of the beliefs of that group of voters were still very far outside of mainstream thinking. Take evolution – in 1981, evolution’s role in school science education was essentially the same in the U.S. and Europe – that is most certainly no longer true a generation later.

    As for the Watt quote about his beliefs – well, he is careful to state that a false quote does not describe his beliefs, which is an especially effective way to deflect attention away from what follows – ‘I never said it. Never believed it. Never even thought it. I know no Christian who believes or preaches such error. The Bible commands conservation — that we as Christians be careful stewards of the land and resources entrusted to us by the Creator.’ As a ‘Christian,’ Watt provably failed in being a careful steward, and yet, he has no problem with having attempted to sell off all public land in the U.S.

    I wonder how one could reconcile such an idea of stewardship and Christianity while saying the 1980s version of ‘drill baby drill.’ Give me a minute while I return to the early 1980s – hmm, now in a state of rapture, the answer is clear.

  • Anonymous

    ?@Andrew Glasgow:

    Hey God, maybe you just suck at sending messages.

    He might be powerful, but LB-God has all the subtlety of a toddler in a temper tantrum. Apart from vague ‘sense of peace’ type messages to individuals, we see that he has:
    a) coded a message into the Bible so awkwardly that the vast majority of readers miss it entirely;
    b) ‘saved’ Israel from attack by deploying a blunt magic shield and then just deleting all the extra radiation, yet somehow had such bad PR that this was ignored;
    c) caused massive disruption all over the planet by vanishing his pet humans without taking care of those who didn’t yet qualify – thereby losing forever the thousands who died without a chance of redemption;
    d) gone on to ‘get people’s attention’ with such delicate and graceful miracles as EARTHQUAKE SMASH YOU and MY SPIKY LOCUSTSOLDIERS GONNA MAKE YOU HURT;
    e) when getting on to the final showdown, could think of no better way of demonstrating awesomeness than by SHOOTING LAZERS OUT MY EYES TO KILL YOU DEAD;
    f) when creating new worlds could only manage one bad place for the toys he no longer wanted, and one rather bland remodelling of the old place for those that he might still have some fun with;
    g) could apparently override the wills of people to ‘harden their hearts’ and get rid of them, but not to switch them the other way and save them from the nasties.

    All of which is, I think, pretty good evidence that this is not the same deity(ies?) that created the universe in the first place. A creating entity would need the imagination that produced the duck billed platypus, the joie de vivre to create giraffes, the sheer sense of fun and mischief to come up with a system like evolution that is constantly throwing up new beauties and wonders as time goes on. And that’s just living things: can you seriously picture LB-God messing around with quantum dynamics? Spinning stars into space to flower for uncounted millenia across the cosmos?

    LB-God is clearly an interloper, and a pretty clumsy one at that.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, the Discworld approach :) But seriously, I have to say that the reasoning of God in LB does make some kind of sense. Granted, the logic followed is not so much of the Father as of the Godfather (Nice family/planet/life/soul you have there. Be a shame if something happened to it), but it’s still a logic I can follow. And L&J seem to think this makes perfect sense for God to do. Of course, I agree with all your points on how such a God could serve his cause much simpler, better and nicer. But even if we try to see from L&J’s point of view (ARGH, MY EYES!) their whole justification of the Rapture as God’s ultimate cry for attention falls flat when they show the whole world not noticing them. Perhaps this is connect to their insistence that the world is filled with evidence for their warped views, so any other evidence like the hand of God comming down from the sky is going to be ignored by the heathens just as their awesome seremons are. But then what’s God’s point with doing these lethal miracles, if it’s not going to make a difference (and an omnicient God would know that).

    Probably, the only thing L&J wants to justify is their schadenfreude. Look, see the heretics ignore the clear miracles. They deserve to be smitten.

  • Anonymous

    @ bificommander: Yeah, I agree that LB-God is sort of logical, but it’s the logic of a frustrated child. It doesn’t fit with the sort of person that L&J claim he is – i.e. the creator of the universe.

    The whole set up only makes sense in the LB-world because the human population are as strange and unbelievable as the LB-God. It’s hard to pick out how much of that is the result of the underlying RTC outlook, and how much is simply a creative failure by the writers. If there’s one thing Slacktivist has taught me, it’s that L&J couldn’t write believable or charismatic pond scum if they tried with both hands for an entire year.

    It’s not easy to write a phenomenally powerful and creative deity if you can’t appreciate the world that your deity has created. Take, for example, pond scum: amazing stuff! Sort of green and slimy, but full of billions of weirdly shaped little critters with funny tentacles acting out a whole tiny ecosystem.

    On the whole I’d guess that the reality gap – the whole set of weird and unbelievable characteristics of the LB-world – owes more to the need to maintain cognitive dissonance than it does to schadenfreude. In order to keep the RTC level of tension and ‘faith’, L&J have had to keep up this pretence that their God has already been revealed in blatently obvious ways here in our world. That means pretending that everyone else is either in wilfull denial, in petulant, aggressive denial or opposition, or is reacting in a completely inhuman way. The schadenfreude is definitely there as well, though, and is extremely ugly.

    —–

    @ aunursa: Hah! Good one, small child. I can think of answers to that along the lines of ‘because then the antelopes would have to share, and there wouldn’t be enough food to go round’, but I’m not sure how satisfactory they’d be. Did God come up with a reply?

  • Anonymous

    Did God come up with a reply?

    Yes, He said something like, “Touché.”

  • Anonymous

    A creating entity would need the imagination that produced the duck billed platypus, the joie de vivre to create giraffes,

    I happened to watch “Oh God, Book II” yesterday. It turns out that the reason that giraffes were created with long necks was so that they could eat the leaves from the treetops. Whereupon the little girl asked Him why He didn’t just make the trees smaller.

  • Parisienne

    But the thing displeased Cameron exceedingly, and he was very angry.

    And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto New York that I might make a pact of kindness with thine enemy, for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness. And truly, it offended me that thou should not execute thy righteous judgments upon the wicked, for if thou judgest them not, what hope shall I have then in all my uprightness? In all the years of my youth I have kept me from wine, and from the immoral woman, and shall it now profit me not in the day of your anger turned to mercy? Why should I have served thee, if not to see thy holy judgments on them which have not known thee?

    Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. And he was in great bitterness of soul and much ashamed by the revelation of the LORD’s great lovingkindness towards the undeserving of that city.

    Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?

    So Cameron went out of New Babylon, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

    And the LORD God prepared a telephone, and made it to come up over Cameron, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Cameron was exceeding glad of the telephone, for he perceived that the LORD favoured him yet more than those wicked which had lately repented.

    But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the telephone that it withered.

    And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Cameron, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

    And God said to Cameron, Doest thou well to be angry for the telephone? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

    Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the telephone, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:

    And should not I spare the nations of the Earth, wherein are more than six million times a million persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.condrey Steve Condrey

    Apparently Woodward and Berenstein never existed in the Left Behind universe, or Buck would have known *exactly* how he could help. Not that he is ever seen actually doing his notional job, much less taking it to the next level.

    I just can’t get over how weak and pathetic Fitzhugh is–just about the weakest American President we’ve seen in fiction, ever. Where is his staff–and particularly his vice-president–to call bullshit? For that matter, where’s Congress, or the Supreme Court, or the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or any of a number of groups with the power to tell the President he’s not only wrong, but being played for a fool? Why isn’t this guy on the phone with (at minimum) Russia and China (both of whom I doubt are taking *any* of this lying down) to coordinate some kind of action against Nicolae? I can see if there’s some sort of Antichrist mind-mojo working to keep the world’s leaders from taking any individual or collective action against the new regime, but we don’t see it working consistently.

    The truly sad part is that many fans of this sort of thing consider the Left Behind series as a vast *improvement* over other End Times fiction. And, having read other books (including the ones L&J allegedly ripped off) they’re right.

    (sorry if this posts twice–I tried to post earlier but it never showed up)

  • Anonymous

    Where is his staff–and particularly his vice-president–to call bullshit? For that matter, where’s Congress, or the Supreme Court, or the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or any of a number of groups with the power to tell the President he’s not only wrong, but being played for a fool? Why isn’t this guy on the phone with (at minimum) Russia and China (both of whom I doubt are taking *any* of this lying down) to coordinate some kind of action against Nicolae?

    To get the answers, you would have to read the political spinoff series, “End of State“, written by author Neesa Hart.

    “Why didn’t we know this was coming, Ed?” President Gerald Fitzhugh said. “Just what has the CIA been doing for the past ten years that we didn’t know this was coming?”
    Leyton cleared his throat. “We don’t know if we’ve been attacked yet, Mr. President,” he said. “I think we should reserve judgment.”
    “Of course we’ve been attacked,” the president barked. “We’re missing millions of people. The phone lines are down, airplanes are falling out of the sky, we can’t determine who’s minding the shop at 90 percent of our nucular nuclear power facilities, and we can’t get a definitive answer on who’s watching our missile sites. Not to mention the collateral damage to civilians. Did you look out the window on your way here? It’s a nightmare out there. If we haven’t been attacked, what in the blazes do you think has happened?”

    Airline pilot Rayford Steele [White House chief of staff] Brad [Benton], however, had another theory, a theory that had him literally shivering as he waited, agonized, for some kind of word from his [devout, loving, God-fearing] wife [Irene Christine]… His head throbbed, and he was gripping his pen so hard his fingertips were numb.
    Had the disappearances been limited to the U.S., the terrorism theory might have been believable… As it became apparent that the disappearances were worldwide, Brad began to suspect that he know what had really happened… In his mind, he could hear the echoes of Sunday mornings spent in his mother’s church in his South Carolina hometown…
    End of State, pp 4-7

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.condrey Steve Condrey

    To get the answers, you would have to read the political spinoff series, “End of State”, written by author Neesa Hart.

    So, in order for the plot to make sense, I have to read yet another series by another author. This is the literary equivalent of dealing heroin…or worse yet, multilevel marketing.

  • Anonymous

    So, in order for the plot to make sense, I have to read yet another series by another author.

    Did I say that the plot would make sense?

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.condrey Steve Condrey

    Did I say that the plot would make sense?

    That, you didn’t. But then again, it already makes as much sense as dealing heroin does: a guaranteed market and a guaranteed profit, for just about the only product with less socially redeeming value (at least people are reading when they read these books! Excluding, of course, the people who just want to wait for the movies.)

  • Anonymous

    @alfgifu This, “All of which is, I think, pretty good evidence that this is not the same deity(ies?) that created the universe in the first place. A creating entity would need the imagination that produced the duck billed platypus, the joie de vivre to create giraffes, the sheer sense of fun and mischief to come up with a system like evolution that is constantly throwing up new beauties and wonders as time goes on. And that’s just living things: can you seriously picture LB-God messing around with quantum dynamics? Spinning stars into space to flower for uncounted millenia across the cosmos?”

    …is just lovely I’m not religious. But for the times I wish I could feel some connection to something divine it’s for a God like this. Who is an artist who delights in creation. The LB only delights in destruction. In petty tantrums and lethal snit fits and if you just didn’t make me so angry I wouldn’t have to hit you nastiness. I don’t see this Good watching in wonder and delight as early humans sketch outlines and shapes of buffalo and horses on the walls of the Lascaux caves, or sighing in happinesses as Caravaggio mixes his colors.

    One of my favorite things Fred ever wrote is “to create is too love”, and it’s true. As an athiest/agnostic I believe in the power of stories and the art we make. And that if you are a believer you owner what or whomever you believe in by your work. “The Taking of Christ” does, these books do not. And that is their biggest sin. For a rabidly Christian work they despise creation and the act of creation in writing well and effectively.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.condrey Steve Condrey

    As a believer and a scientist (yes, my fundie friends–they are NOT mutually exclusive!) my response is that my God is much to big to fit in the mind of a fundamentalist. ;-) My God is infinite, as displayed by the magnitude and grandeur of the cosmos, and eternal, as displayed by the age of the universe. He also has a long-term plan for the physical world, as exemplified by stellar and biological evolution. Are there dead ends and ‘flaws’ in the plan? Perhaps, but any process is going to be subject to common cause variation. My God is flexible enough to see these as opportunities. God said, ‘Let there be light!’ and there was light–and it’s still shining today in the form of cosmic background radiation.

    The problem I see with most end-time eschatology is that human beings are trying to fit the intentions of a vastly superior being into their own agendas. I’m reminded of a conversation I once had with a hardcore dispensationalist, who tried to convince me that the European Union heralded the coming of the antichrist by connecting the number of stars on the European flag with the ten crowns described in Revelation. When I pointed out that there were many more nations in the EU than stars on their flag, he promptly said, “Well, some are going to drop out then!” In laboratory work, we call that cooking the data.

    My God does take delight in our achievements: I imagine He was giving humanity a big ‘thumbs up’ as we took our first steps on the Moon, and that He can appreciate the ways in which our art tries to connect with Him–be it the Michaelangelo’s glorification of both God and man with the Sistine Chapel ceiling or Andy Warhol’s commentary on our own commercialism with a painting of a soup can.

    While I would never disown any of my fellow believers, I do take issue with the way L&J are presenting Scripture. They seem to have put more care and thought into writing the putative Antichrist than into any of their protagonists, which says more about them (and much of way end-time prophecy is handled by fundamentalists) than it really should. A pastor of mine years ago commented on the whole thing thus: “Why are you always looking for the Antichrist when you should be looking for Jesus Christ!?”

    Jesus said that not everyone who calls him ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter Heaven. I’ve got a feeling a lot of people are going to be sadly surprised when the end does come.

  • eyelessgame

    Am I the only one who is amused by “Fitzhugh”? After “Stonegal” as obvious cognate for “Rockefeller”, the American president named “Hugh Bastard” seems kind of deliberate and on-the-nose.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, so late to the party, but…

    Buck scowled. “In other words, you and the Mexican president and the
    Canadian prime minister would report to the U.N. ambassador of North
    America?”

    I’m mildly impresed that L&J know that any country besides the USA exists on this here continent of ours.