TF: 788,400 moments so dear

Tribulation Force, pp. 398-399

Buck and Tsion Ben-Judah arrive at Tsion’s home where the former rabbi’s nameless wife wails, “Our lives are ruined!”

That’s technically true. Tsion’s broadcast will certainly entail some big changes in the Ben-Judah household. He worked for decades to establish a position as a distinguished scholar and a respected figure within Judaism and he just left all that behind him, burning his bridges with a very public rejection of both Judaism and scholarship.

But Mrs. Ben-Judah also seems to be overlooking the more urgent part of her husband’s message, i.e., the world is ending. The next seven years will be a nonstop stream of death and destruction, an evil madman will rule the whole earth with an iron hand, and then, precisely seven years from today, God will destroy everything in an orgy of wrath.

So yes, it marks a change in their life that her husband will no longer have a place of honor in the faculty dining room, but that faculty dining room — along with the faculty, the university, the city, the nation and everything else she has ever seen, everywhere else she has ever been or heard of or read about — will be gone in six years, 364 1/2 days anyway, with the intervening time marked by earthquakes, hail, demon locusts, famine and oceans of blood.

That kind of puts Tsion’s loss of tenure into perspective.

The phone rings. It’s Elijah. All those years they’ve been setting a place for him at the Seder and he never once showed up, but now he’s calling the house. I guess being on television really does change things.

Tsion answered the phone and motioned for Buck to pick up the extension in the other room.

Tsion Ben-Judah just became Buck Williams’ favorite person in the whole world. Share your telephone with Buck and you’ve got a friend for life.

“This is Eli. I spoke to you last night.”

“Of course! How did you get my number?”

Again, “How did you get my number?” is a legitimate question, but perhaps not the first thing most of us would ask when a biblical figure from the Iron Age calls. But then Tsion is probably nervous and a bit frightened. He was just on TV describing Daniel as “the greatest of all Hebrew prophets,” then his phone rings and he finds out that Elijah and Moses want to have a word with him. Oh, and they can breathe fire. I’d be scared too.

Elijah says he called the number Tsion gave out on the TV and the student who answered gave him Tsion’s home number. “Somehow I convinced her who I was.”

I can’t help but wonder what that means. Did he “somehow” convince her that he was, indeed, the prophet Elijah, returned in the flesh nearly 3,000 years after the sweet chariot swung low for to carry him home? Or did he simply convince her that he was one of the anonymous fire-breathing street preachers from the Western Wall? Either way, that was surely an interesting conversation and one I’m sorry we readers didn’t get to hear.

“I rejoice with you, Tsion my brother, in the fellowship of Jesus Christ. Many have received him under our preaching here in Jerusalem. …”

The authors have decided to try to make Elijah sound authentically “biblical” by having him talk like the King James translations of the formal introductory parts of Paul’s epistles. Elijah didn’t talk like that. Even Paul didn’t talk like that. Just because he wrote formal salutations in his letters doesn’t mean he went around shaking hands with people and introducing himself in person that way:

“Hi, I’m Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“I’m sorry, ‘Paul’ was it?”

“Yes, Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for …”

“Good to meet you, Paul, I’m Bob. From accounting.”

The character of Elijah in this story apparently watches TV and knows how to use a telephone. There’s really no need for him to sound like the NKJV.

I also don’t want to read too much into a single preposition, but you may be wondering why someone would say “under our preaching,” rather than the more normal-sounding “through our preaching.” I suspect that if you attended Tim LaHaye’s church then the peculiar choice of that word would make more sense. In some circles it’s a common idiomatic reminder of who is expected to “submit” to whom. I have many friends and acquaintances who speak this way, sometimes telling me of what they’ve learned “under” their pastor’s teaching and never quite recognizing that the biggest thing they’re learning might be who is “under” whom.

Elijah and Moses have apparently outgrown the venue of the Western Wall courtyard and they’re looking to begin their stadium tour.

“We have arranged for a meeting of new believers in Teddy Kollek Stadium. Would you come and address us?”

“Frankly, brother Eli, I fear for the safety of my family and myself.”

“Have no fear. Moishe and I will make clear that anyone who threatens harm to you will answer to us. And I think our record is plain on that account.”

Don’t worry, Tsion, Elijah is saying, you’re a made man — anybody threatens you and I’ll go all Mount Carmel on him.

Even without the fire-breathing, that’s a pretty serious threat coming from Elijah. And if anything, Moses is even scarier. This is plagues-of-Egypt Moses, we’re talking about here. Red Sea Moses. Just ask Korah, Dathan and Abiram if Moses is someone you want to mess with. Oh, wait, you can’t ask Korah, Dathan and Abiram because “the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up … so they … went down alive into Sheol and the earth closed over them.” As Proposition Joe would say, that guy has more bodies on him than a Chinese cemetery.

So I buy that “Eli’s” threat is a credible one, but hearing him talk all gangster like that gives me this incongruous mental image of two bearded old men in sackcloth and aviator shades.

Thus we come to the end of Chapter 17 and the action seems to be picking up a little bit. Buck is set to accompany Tsion on his stadium evangelism tour, and Rayford is about to land in New Babylon to witness the construction of Nicolae Carpathia’s equivalent of the Death Star. It’s refreshing, after nearly 400 pages of aimless flights and phone calls, to turn to the next chapter with the sense that, finally, something may be about to happen.

And here, instead, is what one finds on the next page, page 399 of a 450-page book, the first words of Chapter 18:

Eighteen months later.

Didn’t see that coming.

On the positive side, this story had been mired down in a whole lot of nothing for hundreds of pages and it clearly needed something to jolt it back to life. Flashback can also be a powerful narrative device, and one could even argue that the episodic story that LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are trying to tell here is particularly suited to being told in that way.

It’s almost as though 90 percent of the way through typing this book Jenkins suddenly realized that and, after spending 400 pages slogging through every commute, meal and phone call, he decided that telling this story through the characters’ memories would be a way to focus mainly on what was actually memorable. But then, being the lazy novelist that he is, he didn’t go back and rewrite those 400 pages, he just abruptly lurched ahead 18 months to allow for a different narrative approach in the last 50 pages.

This spasm of a time-skip is incredibly jarring for the reader. We have just finished reading about the day of the big treaty signing — the event that starts the final countdown ticking. According to the rules of this story, the universe has exactly seven years remaining. And then, suddenly on the next page — “Eighteen months later” — the universe has exactly five and a half years remaining.

Here on page 399 we can’t yet know whether this jarring shift in Jenkins’ approach to telling this story will turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, the approach he’s taken up until this point has not worked at all, so we can figure that any change in that approach — even one executed as artlessly and clumsily as this one — is bound to be an improvement. But then on the other hand, that belief is based on the assumption that these books couldn’t possibly get any worse, and after more than 800 pages of this series we’ve come to realize that this is never a safe assumption.

As we’ll see in the pages ahead, this leap forward in time doesn’t lead to a series of vivid flashbacks, but mainly to a series of dull conversations in which characters tell us second-hand and past-tense about key scenes that we will never get to see for ourselves.

But on the positive side, again, at least we’re spared 18 months of cab rides, cookies and phone calls. For that much I’m grateful.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Z

    This is by far one of your funniest entries yet. I literally loled when I got to:

    Again, “How did you get my number?” is a legitimate question, but
    perhaps not the first thing most of us would ask when a biblical figure
    from the Iron Age calls. But then Tsion is probably nervous and a bit
    frightened. He was just on TV describing Daniel as “the greatest of all
    Hebrew prophets,” then his phone rings and he finds out that Elijah and
    Moses want to have a word with him. Oh, and they can breathe fire. I’d be scared too.

    More seriously, this actually really did seem like it was building up. You could have Tzion fleeing while Elijah sends forth streams of fire at UN helicopters. Or you could see them fleeing in a car where they have to jump a bridge that is being raised up, they jump, Moses waves his staff, the water forms a column to push them over to the other side, and then the water falls back, and smashes the pursuing bad guys. And then up ahead, they prepare for another miracle, and they see… Nicolai, standing confidently, his arms crossed in front of him, he raises his right hand…

    And then, 18 months later. This is like if in Lord of the Rings one had a time lapse from when Frodo and the others flee the Shire with the nazgul right behind them, all the way until when they set out down the river with Galadriel’s blessing.  This is like if the first Harry Potter had a time lapse from when the three of them go to get the Philosopher’s Stone before it can be stolen, until when Harry is recovering in the hospital wing. (I won’t compare it to anything in the last three Harry Potter books, because they could have actually used some time lapses.)

    It is almost like Left Behind goes out of its way to avoid actual action.

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

    So during Earth’s darkest days, two invincible prophets are walking
    around, not engaging in supernatural heroics, not healing the sick, not
    rescuing those in danger, but merely being smug dicks? That speaks
    volumes about the Left Behind God and those who worship him.

    Wow. Such superdickery!

  • Matri

    Really, the two preachers are the most unlikeable, arrogant, belligerent
    characters in the entire series. They talk like they have brooms up
    their asses and won’t let anyone else speak until they’re done insulting
    other people.

    And what’s more they have the power to kill or torment anyone they
    please, and no one can stop them. And they are invincible.

    … So in other words, the only successful Marty Stus they have written, are nothing more than bit players in a supporting role?

  • Anonymous

    “Have no fear. Moishe and I will make clear that anyone who threatens harm to you will answer to us.”

    “Moishe”? Why does he pronounce the other prophet’s name like a Yiddish speaker? And is it deliberate that this makes them sound even more like gangsters?

    “Don’ worry about it. Anyone messes wit’cha, me and Moish gonna straighten him out. Mayveen?” 

  • Anonymous

    “Have no fear. Moishe and I will make clear that anyone who threatens harm to you will answer to us.”

    “Moishe”? Why does he pronounce the other prophet’s name like a Yiddish speaker? And is it deliberate that this makes them sound even more like gangsters?

    “Don’ worry about it. Anyone messes wit’cha, me and Moish gonna straighten him out. Mayveen?” 

  • Anonymous

    If you’re thinking of the part where Elijah calls down fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice, I should mention that the sweet little old Orthodox rabbi who taught me that story pointed out that he thinks there’s something suspicious going on with the sloshing of ‘water’ over the offering–specifically, something odd going on in a region that is not without crude oil

  • Anonymous

    If you’re thinking of the part where Elijah calls down fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice, I should mention that the sweet little old Orthodox rabbi who taught me that story pointed out that he thinks there’s something suspicious going on with the sloshing of ‘water’ over the offering–specifically, something odd going on in a region that is not without crude oil

  • Matri

    It is almost like Left Behind goes out of its way to avoid actual action.

    Because it requires far more imagination than the average RTC can muster.

  • Albanaeon

    When I read the “18 months later,” I had this sudden, horrendous feeling of despair that these nitwits teach a writing seminar.  It hasn’t abated yet…

  • Anonymous

    I can’t believe they had Elijah call on the phone.

    He always was good at screwing with people’s heads.

  • Anonymous

    Now can someone explain to me why RTCs “believe on” Jesus, instead of “believe in” Jesus?

    I’m sure someone else knows better, but it sounds to me like some now-departed preacher’s old-fashioned Appalachian turn of phrase that kept going because it sounded more old-timey and mysterious to the next generation.

  • Anonymous

    Whenever Nicolae and the two preachers are together in a scene Nicolae will wring in his hands in impotent rage at his inability to do anything to them, while the preachers engage in the most meanspirited, childish humiliation of Nicolae in the history of literature. The only thing they don’t do is pants Nicolae.A sample…

    Carpathia appeared startled when Moishe suddenly spoke in a loud voice. “Woe unto the enemy of the Most High God!”Nicolae seemed to quickly collect himself. He smiled and spoke softly. “I am hardly the enemy of God,” he said. “Many say I am the Most High God.”Moishe moved for the first time, crossing his arms over his chest. Carpathia, his chin in his hand, cocked his head and studied Moishe. The ancient witness spoke softly, and Buck knew only he and Carpathia could hear him.“A sword shall pierce your head,” Moishe said in a haunting monotone. “And you shall surely die.”Buck shivered, but it was clear that Carpathia was unmoved. “Let me tell you and your companion something,” he said through clenched teeth. “You have persecuted Israel long enough with the drought and the water turned to blood. You will lift your hocus-pocus or live to regret it.”Eli rose and … spoke with such volume that the crowd dispersed and ran, and even Tsion and Chloe recoiled.“Until the due time, you have no authority over the lampstands of God Almighty!”…Carpathia’s smirk remained, but Buck was convinced he was seething. “We shall see,” he said, “who will win in the end.”Eli seemed to look through Carpathia. “Who will win in the end was determined before the beginning of time. Lo, the poison you inflict on the earth shall rot you from within for eternity.”Carpathia stepped back, still grinning. “I warn you to stay away from the charade of the so-called saints. I have guaranteed their safety, not yours.”Eli and Moishe spoke in unison. “He and she who have ears, let them hear. We arebound neither by time nor space, and those who shall benefit by our presence andtestimony stand within the sound of our proclamation.”Buck thrilled at the message and looked beyond the square to where Tsion stoodwith Chloe. The rabbi thrust his fists in the air as if he had gotten the message, andhe walked Chloe back toward, the car.From Book #5 Apollyon

    Buck thrilled at the message and looked beyond the square to where Tsion stoodwith Chloe. The rabbi thrust his fists in the air as if he had gotten the message, andhe walked Chloe back toward, the car.From Book #5 Apollyon

  • Matri

    It’s like Nicky is trying to stand up for poor, bullied Israel, and these two bullies don’t like being told to stop acting like jerks. And the fans are rooting for the bullies.

  • Anonymous

    I imagine that in heaven right now CS Lewis is calling tolkien, saint Paul, mozes, elijah, gabriel etc while shouting : dude check out Fred’s last post.
     
    While Jesus is smiling and says: now that’s a true believer.

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

    The “lampstands” of God Almighty?

  • Anonymous

    Now I am talking about Lewis I remember what he said about writing Screwtape that it was easy to get in character but it was tiring for him to write such a petty person with no virtues.

    But Fred EIGHT fucking years of deconstructing this shit, and you NEVER dropped the ball in this game.

    I said it billion times before; you should write a book because sir you ARE a great writer especially after reading this article, and all those others before.
    It is a shame that they fired you because sir you are a genius.

  • hagsrus

    Hey, don’t leave out Sam Clemens and Isaac Asimov!

  • Peter

    Personally, I’ve always imagined Lewis and Tolkien reading The World’s Worst Books, saying “Okay, that’s nice, you’ve said your part now stop helping us… Tell you what, why don’t you try playing for the other side for a while?”

  • Anonymous

    Did he “somehow” convince her that he was, indeed, the prophet Elijah,
    returned in the flesh nearly 3,000 years after the sweet chariot swung
    low for to carry him home?

    Fred, this is why I love you.

  • Anonymous

    Off topic caveat

    I haven’t visited the old Slacktivist site … until now.  And it’s a good thing that I haven’t.  Out of silly curiosity (and perhaps ego) I checked to see whether my name was mentioned since my departure … and discovered shocking information about myself that a commenter reported.  I had inadvertently derailed (guilty as charged) a Tribulation Force thread into what became a heated debate about Happy Meal prohibitions and the Affordable Care Act …

    Re: Aunursa…He was insulting to the point of wishing death upon people for the crime of being the afflicted, ignored everyone’s rebuttals while taking even the slightest concession as being complete agreement with him, and if you criticize him directly he accuses you of Nazi-name-calling in his “elevated” discourse.

    Alas, the poster failed to note that I bragged about the number of puppies that I have personally tortured and drowned and the elderly ladies that I pushed into oncoming traffic.

  • Anonymous

    The “lampstands” of God Almighty?

    Probably refers to Revelation 11:4

  • https://profiles.google.com/ravanan101 Ravanan

    Fred, you’ve outdone yourself on this one. You owe me three new keyboards. No sooner had I had replaced the last after spraying it than you gave me reason to get another.

    Also, did the prophets really say there that they were not bound by space-time? And yet…they have entered into space-time? THE ANSWER IS OBVIOUS! Eli and “Moishe” are avatars of Yog-Sothoth, greatest of the great gods, mightier than the Daemon Sultan Azathoth, wiser than the all-seeing Yibb-Tstll.

    Given that they are avatars are the Great One, why did they not just appear in Tsion’s home? To be waiting inside a character’s home without being let in, even the wife who was in occupance the entire time only just noticing you? I’d be scared shitless of them.

  • Anonymous

    Another thought, it’s a rookie mistake to think that Biblical or Historical figures have to talk in stilted Ye Olde King Jamesian. Maybe you don’t want talking slang (unless it’s a comic piece) but it’s actually more effective to have them talking in the venacular of the day. It impresses how the walls between the supernatural and the real have fallen. Instead of hearing some potted Biblical language having a voice on the telephone say “I am Elijah, God’s choosen.You and your family are in terrible danger. You must flee now. Moses and I will protect you, hurry and may God be with you. :click:”

    Of course there’s a Right Behind story that posits Moshie and Eli as mysterious clocks that show up at the Western Wall that’s fantastic and in a few short paragraphs give a much bigger sense of coming apocalyptic doom than this series.

  • Anonymous


    Jerry Jenkins Responds to Readers’ Questions

    Carol: I am very disturbed by what I read when reading Glorious Appearing. I was to the part of the book when Jesus returned. I know the difference between fact and fiction, and I understand that this book is fiction based on fact … but even in fiction, the facts must be presented correctly.

    Jerry Jenkins: I couldn’t agree with you more. That’s why I would never dare have something come from Jesus’ mouth about Himself and His character that was not straight from Scripture.

    LB: Some readers commented that Jesus’ words sounded too stilted at times, primarily because of the use of the formal language of the New King James translation instead of using a more contemporary translation, such as the New Living Translation or a paraphrase like the Living Bible or the Message. As Jerry Jenkins said, he and Dr. LaHaye chose not to put words in Jesus’ mouth, so they quoted extensively from Scripture. Those familiar with Dr. LaHaye’s writing and speaking know of his preference for the King James version.

  • Anonymous


    Jerry Jenkins Responds to Readers’ Questions

    Carol: I am very disturbed by what I read when reading Glorious Appearing. I was to the part of the book when Jesus returned. I know the difference between fact and fiction, and I understand that this book is fiction based on fact … but even in fiction, the facts must be presented correctly.

    Jerry Jenkins: I couldn’t agree with you more. That’s why I would never dare have something come from Jesus’ mouth about Himself and His character that was not straight from Scripture.

    LB: Some readers commented that Jesus’ words sounded too stilted at times, primarily because of the use of the formal language of the New King James translation instead of using a more contemporary translation, such as the New Living Translation or a paraphrase like the Living Bible or the Message. As Jerry Jenkins said, he and Dr. LaHaye chose not to put words in Jesus’ mouth, so they quoted extensively from Scripture. Those familiar with Dr. LaHaye’s writing and speaking know of his preference for the King James version.

  • Mau de Katt

    “Tsion answered the phone and motioned for Buck to pick up the extension in the other room.”

    Tsion Ben-Judah just became Buck Williams’ favorite person in the whole world. Share your telephone with Buck and you’ve got a friend for life.

    Given the near-erotic dimensions that telephones have aquired in this series, does this mean that Buck just had a three-way with Jewy McJewerstein and The Great Prophet Zarquan Elijah?
     

  • Tom S

    Have you ever seen the Last Temptation of Christ? It has all of the characters speak in their normal voices- which, in Harvey Keitel’s case, means a strong New Yawk accent- and the effect is to remind you that classwise, these were ordinary people, fishermen and carpenters and things, not kings and (again, classwise) Great Men. It’s one of the many aspects of the movie that shocks you out of “I’m watching a Biblical Epic” boredom and helps you to think of it as an actual, meaningful story.

    Which, obviously, would be the last thing Left Behind would want. Stilted Elizabethan English all the way!

  • MaybeKay

    This doesn’t relate really to the post here, but I’ve been reading this site for a while, and started out as a jackass atheist and became much less of a jackass thanks to this site, although I’m still an atheist. I still have huge issues with religion, but I’ve really become a lot more open-minded towards people of faith.  I realized this today when I encountered a guy who could have been me (an ass) until not-so-long ago, and realized if it weren’t for slacktivist/verse I would be that obnoxious guy. Thank you, Fred, for helping me learn to be nicer to people, and how to really listen to people who I disagree, because they may be really cool people. 

    Yeah, I realize this is off-topic. I just thought it was important to say thanks for changing me for the better. Not just Fred, but all of you awesome comm-enters, too. Thank you! 

  • https://profiles.google.com/ravanan101 Ravanan

    That would be me, yes. I exaggerated slightly, obviously, probably from lack of spoons (though having just re-read some of the thread in question, TF: Trust Busting, with a cooler head, I wouldn’t entirely redact that last point). As that was quite some time ago, the second TF post on Patheos, and we’ve been rather cordial since, perhaps forgive and forget might be best?

  • Lindenharp

    That particular phrasing is used in several places in the New Testament, at least in the KJV.  The are also verses where the phrase “believe in” is used.  You’d have to ask someone who knows the Greek why it’s translated that way in each case.

  • Anonymous

    Last Temptation is one of my favorite religious films and I never thought of that aspect of it but you’re right. The casting might seem odd at first, but having the characters talk to each other like they would talk to each other, as friends, parents, and ex lovers takes the startch out that stiffens up and sands down most Biblical movies  and portrayals of Jesus. Because had you been there you most likely would not be going “Truly this man is the son of God!” but rather “This dude seems to have lost his mind!”

  • Bificommand

    “But then Tsion is probably nervous and a bit frightened. He was just on
    TV describing Daniel as “the greatest of all Hebrew prophets,” then his
    phone rings and he finds out that Elijah and Moses want to have a word
    with him. Oh, and they can breathe fire. I’d be scared too.”

    Hilarious Fred. I needed that one.

    Yeah, the protection racket of the two witnesses is freaky. But actually, is it credible? The Bible says ‘literally’ that anyone who attacks the witnesses will be engulfed in flames. Now they’re allowed to use that power for offensive purposes, destroying people who don’t lay a hand on them, but bother their friends? Or has Tsion been recruited into the 144000 strong army of singing Jewish non-virgins? I don’t think so, because I don’t think he’s going to die along with them. Either way, Tsion is now under the explicit and outspoken protection, throug threats of lethal violence, of the two witnesses… who he now knows (like the good RTC he is) will die through horrible violence by the Anti-Christ’s supporters soon. And then his Godfathers will be dead, their enemies will be out for blood, and Tsion will be marked as their best buddy. Yeah, he has nothing to worry about.

    Also, when the hell did the witnesses watch TV? They were just preaching and preaching, and occasionally resting. I don’t get the impression they were keeping an eye on the Jerusalem TV guide to check for interesting shows.

  • Matri

    Also, when the hell did the witnesses watch TV?

    Isn’t it obvious? The aliens that abducted them installed a transceiver so they could assume manual control whenever they want, and that’s the one that picked up the TV signal.

  • Bificommander

    Okay, so from that snippet two questions occur to me. First of, I would like to give L&J’s some props for giving a somewhat convincing presentation of the AC where he sounds like he’s making decent points for the good of the people, responding to the problems caused by the Tribulation and presenting himself as the leader who is best suited to fix them. But now I wonder if they actually realized it. Did they realize Nicky was making a fair point here? Or are they fully operating under the reasoning of if it’s prophecised that God will do it, it is by definition good?

    And secondly, is ‘the appointed time’ really the only factor? Nicky can’t kill them now, but he can kill them after one arbitrary moment has passed, even though it has no relevance? He doesn’t perform a desecration first that makes them lose their powers, or has the Jews denounce God or something? Come to think of it, doesn’t it get established later that the AC knows the Bible, and is doing exactly what (L&J claim) it says because he wants to have a fight with Jesus? Then he should know he can’t touch the witnesses yet, and know he can’t talk them down. Why is he even trying to talk with them?

    This all leads to a point that I think better describes why L&J suck compared with Dan Brown. Dan Brown also pushes his own weird religious interpetations through his books, but at least coats the events in a narrative. Something must happen according to his interpetation, so he writes events around that fact to make it happen. L&J don’t care. Every event happens in turn from the timetable. It doesn’t flow. There’s no sense that one logically leads to the other. Nicky could rise up as a trustee of the Jews when he ‘saves’ their land from the drought by showing them how to kill the witnesses. But no, that’s not the order in which it happens. The Jews decide to trust him for no reason, while at the same time being more receptive than ever to Christians converting them to distrust the same person.

  • Parisienne

    “Believe on” is King Jamesese. I think the difference between “believe in” and “believe on” is that the former = assent to a truth proposition, and the latter = put your trust in. Thus the bit about the “devil believes that – and trembles”. But these days I think they mostly do it to make a point about having the “right” Bible version.

  • Amaryllis

    Thank you, Parisienne & Lindenharp.

    That makes sense, sort of, in both ways…but it still sounds odd to me. Does anyone know if the respective “ins” and “ons” are different in the originals?

  • Anonymous

    I really should know better than to read these posts in the library. All quiet, the occasional takita-takita of typing, and then suddenly *not-very-well-stifled SPORFLE* and all is quiet again.

    Awesome post, Fred.

  • Oneiric

    “Really, the two preachers are the most unlikeable, arrogant, belligerent
    characters in the entire series. They talk like they have brooms up
    their asses and won’t let anyone else speak until they’re done insulting
    other people.

    And what’s more they have the power to kill or
    torment anyone they please, and no one can stop them. And they are
    invincible.”
    That really sounds like L&J’s god right there…

    He’s the immensely powerful superhuman bully you have to worship… or else.

  • Pat Griffin

    “this incongruous mental image of two bearded old men in sackcloth and aviator shades”

    ZZ Top?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know.  I get the impression that the writers and their audience are terrified of accidentally deviating from (what they believe is in) the bible.  If they get too creative with how events unfold, it’s like they are committing blasphemy against the word of God.  What if the anti-Christ was able to bring harm to Eli and Moses?  What if he killed them before they were supposed to die according to Revelations?  That would screw up the prophecy!  God’s unchangeable plan falls apart!  They can’t have that, so they can’t have all that much drama outside of the events that Revelations explicitly details.  So what’s left?  Endless details of the minutia of the meaningless mortals’ lives.  Travel plans, meals, petty internal dialog.  Bland crap.

    As someone who was never part of the Christian community, this was always something that bothered me about the Abrahamic narrative.  There is never really anything at stake for God.  The devil already lost one battle against God, and it sounds like it wasn’t even close.  A fallen and battered angel is not a credible threat against a god.  Defiant and evil mortals are even more of a joke as enemies of a deity.  God/Jesus can’t lose and God has no rivals.  The Olympians had their Titans; the Norse gods had Loki and the giants to contend with.  Not God.  He’s all alone on a throne with a host of angels telling Him that He is the greatest.  After the events of Revelations, I guess He’ll also have a host of Bucks and Tsions telling Him that He’s great.  Forever.  ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

  • Tonio

    Yes, that comment about you was way out of line. My memory of your posts at the old Slacktivist site is that whenever anyone would criticize a specific self-identified conservative (an important caveat) or criticize some aspect of conservatism, your response would allege that the critic was being hypocritical for not saying the same things about liberals or liberalism. Instead of offering rebuttals for the criticisms themselves, you were apparently treating the criticisms as matters of honor versus defamation.

  • Anonymous

    Gosh, I didn’t connect your screenname and realize that you were posting on both sites.  At any rate, my reaction to your assessment was not anger but amusement.  I’m glad that you have had the chance to read more of my thoughts and adjust your opinion about my contributions.  To quote from the acclaimed philosopher Keisuke Miyagi: “Oh Sato, nothing to forgive.”

  • Anonymous

    Tonio: The comment I quoted was posted on the old site in response to a discussion on this new site. And now to quote another philosopher: “And that’s all I’ve got to say ’bout that.”

  • Anonymous

    [D]oesn’t it get established later that the AC knows the Bible, and is doing exactly what (L&J claim) it says because he wants to have a fight with Jesus?

    It’s established that Satan knows the Bible.  Satan does not take over Nicky’s body until the end of Book #7, The Indwelling

    “The old man plans to send the son to set up the kingdom he predicted more than three hundred times in his book, and he even tells where the son will land! Ladies and gentlemen, we will have a surprise waiting for him…  If we, the rulers of the earth, combine all our resources and attack the Jews, the son has to come to their defense, That is when we turn our sights on him and eliminate him. That will give us total control of the earth, and we will be ready to take on the father for mastery of the universe.”
    Nicolae had made two rounds of the table and returned to his chair, looking spent. “It is in their Bible,” he said. “And they claim never to lie. We know right where he will be.”

    From Book #11: Armageddon

  • Tonio

    Comic writers have talked about a similar problem in writing for Superman, since he’s far and away more powerful than 99 percent of the beings he would ever encounter. John Byrne’s reinterpretation of Lex Luthor was one good solution, giving our hero a villain who couldn’t be defeated with physical powers and abilities. And Jeph Loeb has said that Superman’s real weakness is his heart, he cares too much.

    Dumb rhetorical question – why should there be something at stake for the Christian god. The lack of such a stake would be a major weakness if we were talking about storytelling on its own merits. But I know of no one who argues that the veracity of theology hinges on whether the stories in scripture qualify as good or bad storytelling. Arguably, the reasons that the Greek myths have endured is because of their storytelling and artistic merits.

    Good point about the Bucks and Tsions. Dreadful toadying and barefaced flattery. Almost like their god is one of those entertainers with retinues of yes-people and opportunistic hangers-on. I’ve read some gossip about the alleged protocol that Diana Ross’s staffers had to follow in her presence.

  • Anonymous

    Why am I somehow hearing Eli and Moishe talk with jon stewarts new Jersey accent.

  • Tonio

    Hey, wait a minute – are there any Jews who find it particularly infuriating that Ellanjay are hijacking Moses and Elijah to push an agenda and a viewpoint that treat Jews as proto-Christians in denial? Is this the fictional equivalent of Mormons posthumously baptizing Holocaust victims, or does that comparison go too far?

  • chris the cynic

    The devil already lost one battle against God, and it sounds like it wasn’t even close.

    The devil was outnumbered 2 to 1 according to the most common narrative I’ve heard.  Defeat makes sense even when you ignored the fact that the winning side included an omnipotent enemy.

    Anyway, this is where the devil in any narrative I’d make about this points out that:
    a) They’ve been breeding an army in the intervening years while God hasn’t made a new angel since creation.  Now Hell out numbers Heaven.
    b) Back then the world wasn’t fallen yet, and that fact was what gave God the upper hand.  Now that the world is fallen the balance of power has shifted.
    c) All of the souls now damned to Hell have been tapped as an energy source that will be used to tip the balance of power in favor of Hell
    d) Many of the loyalist angels have had second thoughts since then, having seen what God did to their rebel friends, Hell has allies inside of Heaven who will, at the opportune moment, attack.
    e) A lot of the angels who stayed loyal did so not because they liked God, but because they liked humans, now that God is exterminating the humans they have no reason to remain on Heaven’s side, meanwhile the devil can say (honestly or not, depending on the story) that he’s reconsidered his stance and really doesn’t wish humanity harm.
    f) Christopher Walken The Archangel Gabriel has started a second war in Heaven, meaning that the army of Heaven has been killing itself off for a while, now is an ideal time to strike.
    g) Back then they didn’t have [insert Hell's only hope here].
    h) Fight?  Why the Hell would we fight?  We’re trying to escape.  (If evil: We’re going to blow up the Earth as a distraction and then sneak away in the kerfuffle.)
    or
    i) Anything that would make this not a foregone conclusion.

    There is never really anything at stake for God.

    Something I have heard, which requires that God have no control over Hell or who goes there and thus doesn’t seem to fit with an omnipotent God, is that God loves humanity and doesn’t want them to suffer.  Since the devil realized that he had no chance against God he decided to hurt him indirectly by attacking humanity.  (Which is, directly or indirectly, where the blame for earthly suffering lies and also why the devil wants to damn people’s souls.)  What God has at stake is that if he doesn’t play his cards right people he loves will spend eternity suffering.

    If you imagine someone you really care about suffering for all eternity because you screwed up, you’ll probably consider that pretty high stakes.

    Obviously that doesn’t apply to LB-God.

  • Lori

    Another thought, it’s a rookie mistake to think that Biblical or
    Historical figures have to talk in stilted Ye Olde King Jamesian. Maybe
    you don’t want talking slang (unless it’s a comic piece) but it’s
    actually more effective to have them talking in the venacular of the
    day.

    This is obviously true, but it’s also true that this requires giving some thought to what the vernacular of the day would sound like. Research might even be required. Jenkins obvious doesn’t do that. Ever.

  • Anonymous

    The Jews decide to trust him for no reason, while at the same time being more receptive than ever to Christians converting them to distrust the same person.To demonstrate your point in a single sentence:

    “I will give you that privilege one day, my friend,” Rosenzweig said. “But not the night before one of the biggest days of your life.  And I must tell you, I  would sooner believe Jesus was the Messiah than that Nicolae is his enemy.  That is simply not the man I know.”From Book #5: Apollyon

    To demonstrate your point in a single sentence:

    “I will give you that privilege one day, my friend,” Rosenzweig said. “But not the night before one of the biggest days of your life.  And I must tell you, I  would sooner believe Jesus was the Messiah than that Nicolae is his enemy.  That is simply not the man I know.”From Book #5: Apollyon


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