TF: 400 childless pages

Tribulation Force, pp. 1-401

I neglected to mention one other rather important thing the authors neglected to mention following their 18-month leap forward in time.

After the unexplained, instantaneous disappearance of every child on earth the whole world would be desperate to know if it would ever again be possible for women to conceive and bear children. There was no word on this question before the time-skip, as only about six weeks or so had elapsed since the Event. But now, 18 months later, the world would have its answer.

Except the authors don’t mention that answer. Nor does it occur to them to have anyone in their story ask the question.

As far as Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are concerned, this is not a big deal. For them it’s not much of a mystery. The way they see it, the Event was obviously the Rapture, and there’s nothing in their Rapture folklore that would indicate that children could not be conceived and born during the Great Tribulation that follows.

And because they already know that, it doesn’t occur to the authors that this is something the inhabitants of the world of their story wouldn’t already know. Nor does it occur to them that this is something that the readers of their story might be curious about.

And I, for one, am curious about it. The logic of LaHaye’s take on the Rapture and the Great Tribulation would seem to support the idea that more children could be born into this world. If people can be “born again” after LaHaye’s Rapture, then it makes sense to assume that they could be born physically as well. The Rapture, in LaHaye’s mind, is God’s way of sparing the saints and the innocents from the coming wrath, but if Rayford Steele and Buck Williams and the other post-Rapture conversion “Tribulation saints” must then live through (or die in) this period of judgment, then I suppose it’s consistent to have the newly born “Tribulation innocents” have to live through it (or die in it) as well.

The problem is that this undoes LaHaye’s patched-together theodicy — his way of trying to answer the moral objection to his End Times scheme that arises from the idea of a supposedly just and benevolent God pouring out vindictive wrath on a bunch of infants and toddlers. By allowing innocents to be reintroduced to the world of his story, LaHaye reintroduces that objection.

That word “theodicy” is the one theologians use for the biggest question for which they haven’t got a credible answer: the problem of suffering and evil. Briefly, the universe is filled with pain, suffering, death and unrestrained evils. How can such a universe be reconciled with the idea of a Creator who is all-good, all-knowing and all-powerful? This fallen world would seem to suggest that at least one of those attributes is suspect. (No, I do not have a succinct and satisfying solution to this problem either. I think the closest thing we have to a good answer is also the oldest — the story of Job. It has something to do with ostriches.)

That problem is hard enough to wrestle with here in the real world, but it’s much more acute and much thornier in the world of Left Behind. Here in our world, the real world, gravity pulls, flame burns, viruses spread, predators prey and mortals die. That’s how our universe seems to operate and the Almighty has some explaining to do for creating such a place so fraught with pain and suffering. But here, in the reality of our world, our objection and accusation is still a step removed. We object that the universe works the way it does and we question why its Creator couldn’t have put that omniscience and omnipotence to work creating a universe less prone to grinding us in its gears. If the long arc of our universe bends toward justice, it bends too gradually and too slowly.

But in the fictional world of Left Behind, and particularly in this setting of the Great Tribulation, the grievance is much more direct and immediate. In this story, God deliberately and intentionally intervenes for the explicit purpose of causing human suffering. In this story, evil and suffering are miraculous — with LaHaye’s God violating the laws of the universe in order to inflict ever-more extreme forms of pain and death on humans and other creatures. The calamities and injustices that befall the innocents in this story all come directly, deliberately and gleefully from the hand of LaHaye’s God. The universe of Left Behind does not bend toward justice, it is simply bent — twisted, warped and cruel.

LaHaye’s initial attempt to address — or to disguise — that problem was to whisk all the children off to Heaven. Take away all the innocents and the relentless wrath of his petulant God at least seems a bit less indiscriminate. He can reassure his readers that this absence of children means that everyone left on Earth deserves the torment and pain about to be inflicted on them by the hand of God. The absence of children allows him to portray the coming litany of death as a kind of justice.

That never quite worked in the first place. For one thing, children are not the only unaccountable innocents in the world. Should we not be concerned as well with the many people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?

But here we are 18 months into the Great Tribulation. The authors have skipped past the calm before the storm because it is the storm itself that fascinates them. All Hell is about to break loose. Wait, no, scratch that. In this story, the source of all this pain and suffering is not Hell. In this story all Heaven is about to break loose, battering humanity and the rest of creation with earthquakes, hail, famine, pestilence, demon locusts, a supernaturally fiery sun and worse. (In this story, there’s nothing scary about “the valley of the shadow of death,” but “thou art with me” becomes terrifying.)

And by the time all this divine brutality gets started, “18 months later,” the entire world is in the middle of the biggest baby boom of all time. The rapturing away of all the innocent children may as well never have happened, because the trials of LaHaye’s Tribulation are about to be poured out on a world filled with infants.

When it comes to massacring innocents, LaHaye’s God makes Pharaoh and Herod look like a couple of amateurs.

The ultimate status of these children in the universe of Left Behind is a bit strange. The authors have already established their rule of an “age of accountability,” which they’ve set roughly around puberty. Anyone below that age, the authors say, is not culpable for their sins. After the Rapture, there’s only roughly seven years left before the End of the World, so none of the children born post-Event will reach an age much beyond 6.

So the good news for these Tribulation innocents is that none of them will live long enough to eventually be condemned to an eternity in Hell. The bad news is that most of them will be killed in the various divine calamities to come, and the few that somehow survive throughout this poor, nasty, brutish and short span will then have to watch as their parents and most of the adults they know are cast into Hell before their very eyes.

These post-Rapture children are the focus of some of my favorite stories at Right Behind — the fiction site created and written by many of the fine folks who regularly comment here. That collection of stories — some hilarious, some haunting, some moving — arose as an inevitable consequence of the Left Behind books themselves, whose maddeningly incurious authors constantly create inadvertent conflicts and conundrums that they never explore or, as in the case of these post-Rapture children, never even acknowledge. Such situations are the raw material of stories but LaHaye and Jenkins couldn’t be bothered to tell them. They were too distracted by phone calls, status symbols and a prophecy check list that prevents either the authors or their readers from ever wondering what happens next.

Within the story of Left Behind, and here in the pages of Tribulation Force as we try to work our way through it, our unavoidable questions about these children, or about the billions of eerily not-grieving parents in the suddenly childless world after the Event, are a constant distraction that prevents us from getting anywhere in the book itself. The only way to make any progress through the book is to come to some kind of accommodation with the authors’ callous disregard for the massive, heartbreaking suffering ceaselessly unfolding at the periphery of their bland and uninteresting story.

We begin by shouting in protest during our supposed heroes’ first heedless stroll across a tarmac strewn with the dead and the dying. Rayford and Buck tiptoe through the burnt and bloody bodies of the wounded without a second glance and we recoil in horror at their self-centered, self-absorbed monstrosity.

Then we learn about the children and the horror of multiple plane crashes is supplanted by a deeper, pervasive horror that touches every corner of the world the authors have created. Every child is gone. Every boy and girl, every toddler, every infant and even every unborn fetus still in utero. The authors paused to acknowledge that last case, very briefly, but only to try to score points about the politics of abortion. Once they made that point, they lost all interest in the implications of that horror as well. The infants, toddlers and other children did not offer the pretext for such political point-scoring, so their disappearance scarcely registered at all for the authors or their protagonists.

Readers, however, are doubly shocked. Shocked first by the massive anguish that this suddenly childless world would entail. Then shocked again by the oblivious selfishness of the main characters and the authors. “For goodness’ sake,” readers shout. “What about the children?”

And we could go on shouting that after every chapter, every page and every paragraph of every book in this series. That protest never ceases to be necessary and appropriate. But we can’t keep it up if we ever want to get anywhere in the book. We don’t have to approve of the authors’/heroes’ careless disregard for everyone else, but we have to agree at least to stop shouting back at the page and to accept that this is who they are and this is the story they’re trying to tell.

The danger there, of course, is that if we stop shouting — even reluctantly, just to get on with the story — then we begin in a sense to emulate Rayford and Buck and the authors. We agree to ignore what they’re ignoring and, thus, we risk developing the habit of doing so.

This is the insidious moral lesson being taught to readers of Tribulation Force. It is a monstrous and horrifying lesson, and unless readers are very careful, they are in danger of learning it.

In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about people like Rayford and Buck, or like LaHaye and Jenkins:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. …

Fitzgerald, too, was teaching a lesson, but where he was condemning such “vast carelessness” and urging his readers to reject it, that same vast carelessness and destructive disregard for other people are held up as exemplary in the pages of Tribulation Force.

In the following pages, the authors fill us in on all the exciting evangelistic developments that occurred during the 18-month time skip. Tsion, Moses and Elijah have been packing stadiums all over the world. The authors tell us that their message is enthusiastically received, bringing them huge numbers of new converts.

Here we see another way that the authors’ and heroes’ utter lack of curiosity and lack of concern for others influences the story, because the authors don’t ever really tell us what that message is. The prophecy check list says that the witnesses will preach and thousands will convert, so that is what happens in the story. Yet the authors cannot imagine what message these preachers might preach that would strike so many thousands as compelling. Trying to imagine that would involve trying to imagine what other people are thinking, trying to think of them as real people, as human beings worthy of attention and care. And that’s not really something that interests these authors.

So they present us with a scenario in which Tsion is somehow drawing standing-room-only stadium crowds with a warmed-over version of the same “research findings” he presented on his TV show. Not possible.

This is where even one minute of thought about all those missing children could have helped the authors out of a bind. Announce that former rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah will be summarizing his research of ancient texts and you couldn’t realistically expect to sell out the local fire hall. But announce instead that for the first time the public will be told the truth about what really happened to their children and the stadiums would be filled to overflowing.

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  • Anonymous

    And with that the clouds rolled back and the heavens opened, and orange and yellow and red-hot mountains of white-hot, rolling flames burst forth.

    That is fucking terrible. I mean, that sentence is so bad it makes me feel like I got punched in the gut. 

    Also, that second paragraph? Why does the tense change right in the middle of it? 

  • Lori

     Also, that second paragraph? Why does the tense change right in the middle of it?   

    Because no one edits these books. I have tense change problems in my rough drafts all the time, especially when I’m working really quickly, and I know plenty of other people who do the same thing. The difference between me and Jenkins is that I don’t show those first drafts, let alone sell them as finished product. 

  • Finerthings

    “But I mean, what is Satan doing now, in Ellanjay’s view?”

    From what I know, the evangelical view is that Satan is the lord of the earth at the moment.  He’s been given power to rule and do all his wickednesses and possessings and whathaveyou.  That’s why God has to conquer him at the end…to get earth back.

  • Anonymous

    He’s been given power to rule and do all his wickednesses and possessings and whathaveyou.

    So the story is basically:
    Satan rebels against God, God casts him and his buddies out, and God is all like, “all right, get out of here you jerks, go torment my stupid, ugly, sinful abomi… er, BELOVED CHILDREN, yes that’s what I meant, for a few thousand years. I have to play some online poker or something.”

  • chris the cynic

    I always thought of it as more like:

    *throws Satan out the window*
    And Stay Out!

    *kerplunk*

    Crap.  What did he hit?
    *Looks out window*
    Damn.  I’ll have to do something about that.
    *looks at schedule*
    But not right now.  I’m too busy right now.

    Though from what little I know of Milton’s version, yeah, you’ve pretty much got it.

  • chris the cynic

    I always thought of it as more like:

    *throws Satan out the window*
    And Stay Out!

    *kerplunk*

    Crap.  What did he hit?
    *Looks out window*
    Damn.  I’ll have to do something about that.
    *looks at schedule*
    But not right now.  I’m too busy right now.

    Though from what little I know of Milton’s version, yeah, you’ve pretty much got it.

  • JenL

    So the story is basically:
    Satan rebels against God, God casts him and his buddies out, and God is all like, “all right, get out of here you jerks, go torment my stupid, ugly, sinful abomi… er, BELOVED CHILDREN, yes that’s what I meant, for a few thousand years. I have to play some online poker or something.”

    Except that you’re leaving out the first few steps:

    God looks around at the empty vastness, ponders possible actions (examining the consequences of each action fully – He is omnipotent, after all), and decides on a course of action.

    He creates a bunch of angels, and sets the pot to simmering.  He waits.  When the time is right, He creates his pitiful little pawns.. er, BELOVED CHILDREN.  Soon after, as planned, Lucifer rebels.  

    From there, you’ve got it.

  • Anonymous

    It also happened in vandread on Tarak and Mejale 

    I copied here their description from tv tropes.

    Tarak is the Orwellian, industrial, militarized planet of men. All food is synthetic, flavorless pills. All public gatherings are related to sports, marching, and being manly. Everyone wears a uniform. Babies are made by merging your genes with those of your buddies in a factory, and they are raised by dedicated orphanages/schools

    Mejale is the beautiful but impractical planet of women. All things are polished and shiny. All military uniforms are excessively flattering. Appearances are all important. The citizenry form couples, of the lesbian top/bottom variety, called the “Oma” and “Fama” in the native vernacular (probably derived from homme and femme), and make babies by merging two eggs and implanting them in the Fama. They eat real food and celebrate real holidays, like Christmas.

    Naturally, the two worlds hate each other.

  • Anonymous

    It also happened in vandread on Tarak and Mejale 

    I copied here their description from tv tropes.

    Tarak is the Orwellian, industrial, militarized planet of men. All food is synthetic, flavorless pills. All public gatherings are related to sports, marching, and being manly. Everyone wears a uniform. Babies are made by merging your genes with those of your buddies in a factory, and they are raised by dedicated orphanages/schools

    Mejale is the beautiful but impractical planet of women. All things are polished and shiny. All military uniforms are excessively flattering. Appearances are all important. The citizenry form couples, of the lesbian top/bottom variety, called the “Oma” and “Fama” in the native vernacular (probably derived from homme and femme), and make babies by merging two eggs and implanting them in the Fama. They eat real food and celebrate real holidays, like Christmas.

    Naturally, the two worlds hate each other.

  • Feinne

    The Hell from The Sandman/Lucifer does a great job of being sensible. Humans end up in Hell when they die because they believe they should and are tortured by the residents because they believe they deserve to be. Lucifer knows full well that the whole thing was a set up from the beginning and decides to shut down Hell because he’s sick of running the place.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Y’know what’ll really blow your mind about The Time Ships? Baxter originally pitched it as a Doctor Who novel with the First Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara.

    I like the bit where the Morlock explains Freud to the time traveler, and he finally understands that his issues about how he can’t get over hating and being disgusted by the morlocks have more to do with his own body issues than with them. 

    —-Max Headroom also had a vat-grown-babies episode (They were called “Baby GroBags”, because it was set in a future where everything had a stupid name). Because it was Max Headroom, the horror aspect was of course “The skeevy corporations that already run your entire life are also going to run this,” but I got a definite vibe that there was an element of “How dare you want to dodge all the pain and physical inconvenience of pregnancy and childbirth and go on drinking and having fun while you’re pregnant!” in there too. 

    Given what I remember of the cultural context when it was made, I’g guessing that part was a specific reaction to some public outcry about celebrity moms who were having staff raise their children. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    “…orange and yellow and red mountains of white-hot, rolling flames”

    If they’re white-hot, how can they be orange and yellow and red??  I don’t see how this idiot passed freshman English.

  • Ricky St. Claire

    I discovered this blog through your Left Behind critiques, and, though I disagree with you on several points, I enjoy reading your posts and learning about perspectives that differ from mine.

    One thing I keep thinking, though… You keep criticizing the depiction of God as being vindictive , wrathful, and violent. I would like to know how you view the Old Testament, where God miraculously wiped out the entire populations of Sodom and Gomorrah and the firstborn of the Egyptians (after nine other deadly plagues)? I’m just kinda curious, because your writings seem to indicate, to me anyway, that you might just dismiss those depictions as inaccurate.

  • Shallot

    I’m not much more than a lurker here, but welcome, Ricky–please don’t kill us with sheep.  (traditional Slacktivist greeting) 

    I figured I’d let you know that while Fred does read the comments, he doesn’t reply here.  Usually, if there’s something he wants to say about their/our conversation, he writes a followup post.

    Speaking purely for myself, though, I don’t consider all the depictions of the Old Testament God as having the same weight.  I justify some of it with the New Testament; for example, any themes that Jesus also mentioned get bumped up a couple notches.  (This tends to de-emphasize the vindictive God parts.)  I also think that “(a) God did it” was a common shorthand for things that people of the time didn’t understand.  It shows up all the time in mythology.  I know comparing the Bible to mythology makes fundamentalists twitch, but for me, it’s easier to reconcile a non-literal version of Exodus.  God chooses a poor and oppressed people, and together, they win against the greatest superpower of the time.  The literal version?  God wants the Israelites to leave Egypt, but he *also* makes Pharoah refuse to let them go… so that God’s justified in torturing the innocent civilians of Egypt?  That God’s a *jerk.*  I feel like I should flesh this out more, but it’s late here.

  • Tom S

    Well, Fred has made the point that (in his view at least) there’s disagreement amongst the writers of the Old Testament- Jonah, as he has pointed out, is a satire on the callous vision of God that a lot of the other books seem to put across. 

    It’s absolutely vital to remember that it’s an anthology of dozens of books written by different writers in different eras, and that the image of God we get is therefore scattered and refracted by dozens of viewpoints- and, even where the stories are meant to be taken literally, they were generally handed down through generations of oral storytellers, all of whom probably emphasized different things in their versions until the stories are more about them then they are about God.

    That’s kind of a cop-out, of course, but it’s also inherent to any piece of literature, holy or not- different storytellers always means contradictions, and you have to find your own path through the story to find what means something to you.

  • Kish

    I may have communicated badly. I was asking about your concluding statement, “At the moment, I think it is simply best to seek to become better machines.”

    From your perspective, which casts humans as machines, what does it mean for them* to seek to become better machines?

    *Setting aside, for the moment, the vanishingly small number of humans who are likely to not choke on considering themselves machines.

  • Dan W

    Long time reader, first time poster. I must say, I only ever read the first two books of the Left Behind series, and while I tended to sympathize with the designated villains of the story, I didn’t figure out why until I started reading your posts about this. These books really are terribly written. That’s the problem with a lot of books, movies, music, etc. marketed specifically towards Christians- they focus too much on the message and not enough on making a good book, movie, or whatever.

  • hf

    At the moment, I think it is simply best to seek to become better machines.

    This seems like a meaningless tautology. People will rightly think you’re trying to sneak your conclusion in through unrelated connotations of these words, although if the people in question don’t know you they’ll have the wrong connotations in mind.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    This seems like a meaningless tautology. People will rightly think you’re trying to sneak your conclusion in through unrelated connotations of these words, although if the people in question don’t know you they’ll have the wrong connotations in mind.

    You might be right, and I am using those words to produce connotations to suggest different perspectives.  I just do not see why those connotations should be necessarily negative.  I could call humans bipedal hominids, and that would still be true.  I could call humans carbon-based lifeforms, and that would still be true.  I could call humans walking bags-of-mostly-water, and that would be true too.

    Part of the deal is that I do not believe that humans should be necessarily assigning different values to machines than they do to themselves, parts of themselves, or other creatures.  There are a lot of things that machines can do that are superior to humans.  And with things like animated, thought-motivated prosthetic limbs or prosthetic eyes and ears, the gap seperating human and machine becomes smaller every year.  Medical technology can already enhance a human body beyond its natural ability to cope (such as recovering from injuries it would never naturally heal from) and brains can be altered in thought process with chemical treatments, or more subtly with less invasive techniques such as education and experience. 

    At some point, there will cease to be a difference.  Why should people try to cling to it?

  • Kish

    At some point, there will cease to be a difference [between humans and machines].  Why should people try to cling to it?

    Because that claim is extremely questionable, from every perspective but one that presumes that humans exist to serve a super-organism called a “society.”

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Because that claim is extremely questionable, from every perspective but one that presumes that humans exist to serve a super-organism called a “society.”

    Which is, of course, ridiculous.  These days, everyone knows that us organic headcount-units exist to serve the super-organisms known as “corporations”.

    :(

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Because that claim is extremely questionable, from every perspective but one that presumes that humans exist to serve a super-organism called a “society.”

    I do not see why such a presumption is dubious.  Heinlein once said that moral behavior was survival behavior at a level beyond that of the individual.  Helping your family, for example, is considered a moral virtue, and neglecting them is considered a vice.  Beyond that, you start helping your neighborhood, your town, your country, your planet, etc.  It is all to establish morality at increasingly broad levels of abstraction. 

    Serving the interests of an amorphous “society” is the logical result of that. 

  • Kish

    The presumption that humans exist to serve society isn’t dubious, FearlessSon–it’s flat-out vile. When you get from “we humans created a society to improve our quality of life” to, “humans who don’t serve society well should be brainwashed, or killed if they’re intractably defective,” you’ve allowed the means to replace the ends.

    Serving the interests of an amorphous “society” is the logical result of ever caring about other people (paraphrasing what you seemed to be saying there, not to give Heinlein an authority he shouldn’t have)? Only if freezing into a block of ice is the logical result of wanting to be two degrees colder, or gorging until you burst is the logical result of thinking “hm, I’m hungry, I should eat something.” I don’t know whether you’re having trouble with the concept that it’s possible for anything that isn’t an extreme to be desirable and the extreme to not be desirable, or whether the idea that abstractions matter and people don’t just feels right to you on an emotional level.

  • hf

    Also, the best explanation I’ve gotten for the “Problem of Suffering” is that God is actually part of Starfleet and is forced to abide by the prime directive.

    Pretty much. But I don’t know what kind of deity that implies.

  • P_dragon500

    Wasn’t there a post back in the first book titled “Care Less” where Fred basically said the ‘moral’ of the series was “don’t care”?

    I really wonder what it must be like to be around people like L&J.

    Anyone got stories?

  • eyelessgame

    I suspect I believe many of the same things FearlessSon does … but I wouldn’t use the words he’s using, because the words he chooses carry very different connotations to most people.  He is using “Machine” to denote a working physical system, and is apparently not conscious of the negative connotations to that same word that everyone else here (including me) understands.

    When everyone else sees things in your words that you don’t see and didn’t intend, you have not communicated successfully. :)

  • Tom S

    I mean, it’s not the failure to make a sacrifice part that bothers me, it’s the dying part- if someone dies because they can’t get a kidney transplant, that’s tragic and deeply upsetting, even if it isn’t anyone’s fault in particular. I’m not sure the case that you’re trying to make, that the pro-life aspect only operates when it’s someone you aren’t related to, is particularly relevant.

  • WingedBeast

    It seems to me that there’s a certain mindset that you can legislate people into being “good.”  It’s the same mindset that leads to people saying “America is a Christian Nation” so that prayer should be lead by public schools or that Freedom of Speech was never intended for non-Christians.

    So, every time people aren’t as good as you think they should be, there’s a fantasy thought, “there oughtta be a law.”  Hell, I work customer service and I think there ougtta be a law restricting your right to call up about your bill if you haven’t looked at it yet.  “They, they’re not like they should be!  We should make them be right!”

    That’s for things like making people have children and suffer slut-shaming (which is just one part of a great method for making more abortions happen), restricting people’s religious freedom so that they’re all forced to be more Christian (in whatever way possible), for making gay people suffer (the defenses of bullying are astounding).  But, it doesn’t apply to things like, say, giving to charity or organ donation.

  • WingedBeast

    It seems to me that there’s a certain mindset that you can legislate people into being “good.”  It’s the same mindset that leads to people saying “America is a Christian Nation” so that prayer should be lead by public schools or that Freedom of Speech was never intended for non-Christians.

    So, every time people aren’t as good as you think they should be, there’s a fantasy thought, “there oughtta be a law.”  Hell, I work customer service and I think there ougtta be a law restricting your right to call up about your bill if you haven’t looked at it yet.  “They, they’re not like they should be!  We should make them be right!”

    That’s for things like making people have children and suffer slut-shaming (which is just one part of a great method for making more abortions happen), restricting people’s religious freedom so that they’re all forced to be more Christian (in whatever way possible), for making gay people suffer (the defenses of bullying are astounding).  But, it doesn’t apply to things like, say, giving to charity or organ donation.

  • Anonymous

    “When it comes to massacring innocents, LaHaye’s God makes Pharaoh and Herod look like a couple of amateurs.”

    Now, wait a minute.  The Biblical God already made the Pharaoh look like an amateur when it came to massacring innocents, didn’t he?  That’s sort of what the final plague was all about.

    It just seems like a weird example to use, is all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cactuswren Susan Cactuswren

    Try BookSleuth, at ABEbooks.com.

    http://forums.abebooks.com/abesleuthcom

    They WILL kill you, with or without sheep, if you post with a subject line anything like, “Looking for a book” or “Help me find a book”.

  • vaiyt

    It’s not that their god isn’t good or just. More like, their god DETERMINES what’s good or just. Whatever God does, no matter how callous, inconsiderate, violent or unjust, is by definition good because God did it.

  • Anonymous

    Then the concept of ‘good’ has no meaning.

  • WingedBeast

    Congratulations, you’ve just put your finger on my main moral objection to Christianity in general.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    In my experience, ‘pro-life’, with few exceptions, never means ‘anti-abortion’ at all. Someone truly opposed to abortion would support comprehensive sex ed and improving access to contraception (both of which mean fewer unwanted pregnancies, which means fewer abortions), better prenatal health care (which means fewer pregnancies going awry, which means fewer abortions), and more support for mothers, especially single mothers (which means fewer women who feel themselves unable to support a child, which means fewer abortions). I can name precisely one person who identifies as pro-life and who supports any of the above. (Hi hapax!)

    I know quite a lot of people who identify as pro-life, including to the extent of believing that abortion should be illiegal or heavily restricted, who are also ardently anti-death penalty and who actively support all the things you mentioned. I also know a bunch of people who rant about abortion but support the death penalty, and/or oppose contraception, sex ed, financial support for single parents etc.

    I say this not to contradict your experience, but remind everyone that the worst of the Republican party is not representative of any of the things it claims to be.

    Also, FWIW, I identify as pro-life and strongly, actively support everything you mentioned. I *massively* oppose the death penalty (to the extent that I find it odd to even have to mention that). I consider myself a proponent of the consistent life ethic, although some people who share this position claim that one must oppose legal abortion to ‘qualify’, which I don’t. But anyway, now you know two.

  • Parasum

    “When it comes to massacring innocents, LaHaye’s God makes Pharaoh and Herod look like a couple of amateurs.”

    Unfortunately, the plot of the books LaHaye is relying on do not allow for any other kind of God. The problem with the structire of “LB” is that it stretches  relatively small amount of Biblical text over thousands of pages of modern novel – the result is, that a bit of Divine anger here and there is hugely magnified, and produces a Divine monster; Jesus, Destroyer of Worlds. The specifically Christian content evaporates in the process; Divine wrath is common enough in ancient near Eastern religions. The result ? A repulsive God.

    An apocalyptic vision of judgement is a very poor basis for a very long series of modern novels, of less than outstanding literary quality. A lot of the priblem lies in LaHaye’s lack of literary talent; it’s a shame he dod not try something less demanding; or write something far shorter. That would have overstretched his source-matter far less, and damaged his presentation of Divine figures far less.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    I neglected to mention one other rather important thing the authors
    neglected to mention following their 18-month leap forward in time.

    After
    the unexplained, instantaneous disappearance of every child on earth
    the whole world would be desperate to know if it would ever again be
    possible for women to conceive and bear children. There was no word on
    this question before the time-skip, as only about six weeks or so had
    elapsed since the Event. But now, 18 months later, the world would have
    its answer.

    Except the authors don’t mention that answer. Nor does it occur to them to have anyone in their story ask the question.

    O Ye of Little FAITH FAITH FAITH —

    THEY HAVE AN END-TIME PROPHECY CHECKLIST TO CHECK OFF! 

    PROPHESIED EVENT BY PROPHESEID EVENT!

    CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK…

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    I neglected to mention one other rather important thing the authors
    neglected to mention following their 18-month leap forward in time.

    After
    the unexplained, instantaneous disappearance of every child on earth
    the whole world would be desperate to know if it would ever again be
    possible for women to conceive and bear children. There was no word on
    this question before the time-skip, as only about six weeks or so had
    elapsed since the Event. But now, 18 months later, the world would have
    its answer.

    Except the authors don’t mention that answer. Nor does it occur to them to have anyone in their story ask the question.

    O Ye of Little FAITH FAITH FAITH —

    THEY HAVE AN END-TIME PROPHECY CHECKLIST TO CHECK OFF! 

    PROPHESIED EVENT BY PROPHESEID EVENT!

    CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK…

  • Juniper

    I couldn’t find the link, and you didn’t say whether you
    thought that the anti-abortion movement was PRO class struggle or ANTI class
    struggle.  As a former pro-lifer, my experience
    is that anti-abortion as pro-class-struggle is a very common point of view
    amongst the kind of pro-lifers who actually get off their butts and go protest/”counsel”/etc.,
    as opposed to the kind that just sits at home and complains. 

    This kind of pro-lifer is typically very anti-oppression,
    and sees abortion as the worst kind of oppression of the most vulnerable
    members of our society. 

    Furthermore, the majority of the get-off-their-butt
    pro-lifers with whom I have experience (which is not to say that this is
    representative of the pro-life movement as a whole) are female college students
    who are not in the least bit interested in being subservient to a man, and want
    to be pro-woman. 

    The story in the pro-life movement in my (very white, very
    conservative) college town went like this: 
    we want women to be able to make choices, but women, who are good and
    pure and nurturing (with rare, psychopathic exceptions), don’t WANT
    abortions.  However, they’re so young,
    and vulnerable and scared, and they’re surrounded by more powerful people who
    don’t have their best interests at heart—the mean parents, the inflexible
    professor, the non-family-friendly employers, the churches and social
    institutions that didn’t help her enough (self-flagellation is good for the
    soul!), and (always, always) the mean, nasty, abusive boyfriend who just wants
    his unfettered male privilege to continue without regard for her or her baby’s
    needs.  Furthermore, the older, richer abortion
    doctors want their paycheck, and they want it now. 

    In my minority-majority home city, the story went like this:
    we want women to be able to make choices, but women don’t WANT abortions.  However, they’re poor and of color and
    possibly immigrants or don’t speak English, and they’re surrounded by powerful
    people who don’t have their best interests at heart—employers, boyfriends,
    etc.  In this story, the abortion doctor
    is THE MAN.  He’s male, older, white,
    wealthy, educated, English-speaking and privileged in pretty much every way you
    can imagine.  Furthermore, he’s a
    disciple of Margaret Sanger and, as such, is racist, classist, anti-immigrant,
    anti-non-English-speaker, and a eugenicist. 

    So, really, pro-lifers of this stripe don’t see themselves as
    depriving women of a true choice, but of a false “choice” that is used by
    others to abuse her.

    Of course, I was uncomfortably aware that SOME non-psychopathic
    woman SOMEwhere had surely chosen abortion of her own free will, and that this story
    had at least a touch of hypocrisy to it. 
    Furthermore, the idea that so many women are so subject to outside
    influence isn’t very pro-woman. 

  • Juner

    “Maybe, but my sister and her bosses and the rest of the
    staff are out of work now until people start getting pregnant again.”
    “I get it. It’s a money thing.”
    “They have to work. They have expenses and families.”
    “And aside from abortion counseling and abortions, they have nothing to do?”
    “Nothing. Isn’t that awful? I mean, whatever happened put my sister and a lot
    of people like her out of business, and nobody really knows yet whether anyone
    will be able to get pregnant again.”

    Left Behind, p 267

    Wow, aunursa, wow, wow, wow. 

    In another life (so to speak), I was deeply pro-life.  At a pro-life fundraiser in Houston in the
    late 1990s, I watched the leader of a pro-life organization describe how
    members of his organization would follow the children of abortion doctors to
    their schools and tell the children’s classmates that their parents were
    baby-killers in the hopes that the children would be ostracized.  To be fair, most of the people in the room
    were horrified, but it could only take one person to ruin your child’s life.  Or, you know, to shoot you. 

    People who perform abortions take their lives in their hands
    to perform an emotionally-fraught procedure. 
    They are doctors and nurses and cousellors and technicians and
    receptionists, and most of their income comes from providing non-abortion-related
    medical procedures.

    I love how Hattie, that pro-choice scum, isn’t at all
    concerned about the millions and millions of missing planned and wanted
    children.  Ironic, isn’t it, that L&J
    are the exact same way? 

  • Daniel

    I assume one of the characteristics of none-rtcs is that they are sceptics. Presumably the reason they don’t accept Christ is because they do not accept the “evidence” that was apparent to the disappeared. These people who so willfully reject the word of God are perfectly willing to just swallow the story that “electromagnetism” has made their children vanish? Buck Williams is apparently the greatest investigative reporter of all time because he is the only investigative reporter in his lifetime. We live in a society where even conspiracies about 9/11 and school shootings are investigated and reported by some people, ideas so bizarre and paranoid as to have no basis in reality- and yet when all the children everywhere disappear EVERYONE is willing to accept that MAGNETS did it? Why is nobody else actually trying to find out what happened? It was a pretty big event, surely somewhere in some obscure cranny of the internet there’s some tin foil hatted, obsessively mumbling loner who’s sure that magnetism doesn’t work like that, and is determined to prove this? Or, you know, scientists or people who have fridges or something…


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