TFTM: Leave the gun, take the salvation

Left Behind II: Tribulation Force, Part 3

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“When your fiancé comes, he can stay here too,” Cam-Cam tells flirty not-Alice as she settles in to his apartment, and hundreds of conservative youth pastors sigh in relief as the movie crosses back into mostly acceptable territory.

It’s clear now how the movie’s version of the book’s romantic-confusion subplot will unfold, with Chloe jumping to the wrong conclusion about Cam-Cam and not-Alice and bursting into silly girl-tears. It’s just so much more romantic when you make them cry.

The phone rings — this is a Left Behind movie, after all — and it’s Steve Plank, politely reminding Buck to schedule an appointment with Planetary Potentate Carpathia. The filmmakers try their hardest to make this seem spooky and menacing, since Buck never gave Steve his home number. In the first movie, we saw Nicolae divvy up the world among 10 princes, murder two people in cold blood, and then brainwash a room filled with witnesses, so I’m not sure that tracking down an unlisted phone number really adds much to our sense of him as a powerfully menacing evil presence.

(On the scale of Creepy Movie Phone Calls, I’d score calling an unlisted home number as about a 3, with “Because I want to know who I’m looking at” a 7, “It’s coming from inside the house!” an 8, and realizing the phone isn’t plugged in a 9. A 10, of course, would be any call from Sallie Mae.)

We cut back to Rayford standing in front of New Hope Village Church. It’s nighttime, but we don’t know if this is the same night or the next night. The church we see through the open door behind Rayford isn’t the same church we see once they get inside, which, in a way, is creepier than Steve’s phone call.

“Hey Chris,” Rayford says, greeting his co-pilot from the first movie. Movie-Rayford seems to have more friends than book-Rayford does.

Inside the church, the pews are neatly arranged and filled with curious visitors as Bruce Barnes stands up front ‘splaining to them all about Bible prophecy. Bruce says …

Wait a second. Rewind. Suddenly I’m remembering a scene from the segment we looked at last week. It was only about 30 seconds long and I failed to discuss it then. I think I had pushed it out of my brain because: A) it makes very little sense, and B) it seemed to be included only to reinforce to us that Chloe/women is/are utterly useless.

That scene seemed to take place in New Hope’s sanctuary, but the pews had been removed, replaced with cots and floor-lamps scattered about the room. Wounded people of indeterminate origin and identity lay in the cots, with Bruce and some other people puttering about reading Bibles and/or administering first aid.

It was the sort of scene one would expect to see in the chaotic immediate aftermath of a major earthquake or similar disaster, but what that disaster was here in this movie was never explained. We know it wasn’t the Rapture and the crashes and calamities that came with that, because that was more than a week ago in our story and we’ve seen dozens of scenes showing us that life is back to normal from that. (Completely back to normal, strangely, with the missing children now regarded as old news.)

So I guess this church-based little MASH unit is in response to the random violence and criminality that the movie erratically suggests characterizes the post-Rapture world. And seen from one angle, that’s a nice corrective to what we read in the book. It shows Bruce and the other new believers at New Hope putting their faith into action in a way that none of the believers in the book ever do. And it provides Bruce and Chloe with more of an active role than they have in the book, where they both spend months and months locked away studying Bible prophecy lore that any semi-literate person could master in a day or two.

But how are we to explain the way this emergency field hospital suddenly appears in the church at sundown before disappearing the next morning? Where are all those patients now? Did Bruce and those firefighters finally come to their senses and move this emergency overflow clinic to the newly available elementary school? Or have that poor burn victim and the others been stashed away in some quiet Sunday school room so that Bruce can use the sanctuary for his prophecy lecture the next night?

And at a more basic level, the existence of those firefighters contradicts the whole premise of the scene. The idea of all that post-Rapture criminality and violence is that once the salt and light of real, true Christians are removed from this world, everyone left behind will be irredeemably wicked. As it was in the days of Noah, everyone will do what is right in their own eyes, dogs and cats sleeping together, etc.

So explain those firefighters. They weren’t raptured, so we have to count them among the wicked. Yet they don’t seem wicked. They seem like, well, like firefighters — doing exhausting, back-breaking, dangerous work for paychecks that barely keep them in the middle class. That would seem to indicate the possibility of altruistic and virtuous behavior among the unregenerate unsaved — and if that’s the case, then what’s with all the sirens and chaos and Escape From New York streetscenes?

Anyway, back to the present. Bruce Barnes is speaking:

Every person in this room has lost someone. A mother, brother, wife, friend. Ask yourselves this question: Did all of these people have anything in common? Yes. Two things. Either they had decided to follow Christ. Or they were too young to have made that decision in their lives already.

So I’ve got good news for you tonight. We lost our loved ones because of the Rapture. The Bible told us it was coming, but anyone who believed in Jesus Christ is in heaven right now with God. What’s left for us is a second chance.

And that concludes the comforting-the-bereaved portion of Bruce’s lecture and Bruce’s ministry. Your kids are in Heaven, let’s move on. We’ve got a prophecy check list to study and we don’t really have time for any more bother about our missing children, ‘kay?

Bruce starts to talk about the Tribulation and the Antichrist, projecting a map of Israel onto a large screen in the front of the sanctuary. This map clearly shows the actual nation of Israel as it currently exists — not the Greater Israel of the novels that Tim LaHaye insists must come to be in fulfillment of his prophecies, a vast area including most of what is now Lebanon and Jordan as well as parts of Egypt, Syria and Iraq. (The map also does not include Asia Minor, which is strange considering that Bruce intends to talk about the book of Revelation — a book expressly addressed to the churches in seven cities not on his map.)

Bruce explains that the Antichrist is on the rise — the first horseman of the Apocalypse. And because the Bible says he will ride forth “conquering and to conquer,” Bruce explains, we know that he will be a diplomat using diplomacy.

Chris sits impatiently, growing increasingly agitated before he finally gets up and walks out. Rayford and Buck follow him. Happily, so does the camera, meaning we’re not going to be stuck hearing the rest of Bruce’s lecture.

The scene that follows will be familiar to anyone acquainted with Christian-brand movies. It’s the evangelism fantasy sequence.

Cam-Cam confronts Chris with his version of the process of salvation. If you’re expecting something similar to the gospel of the Gospels, or to the gospel laid out in Paul’s epistles, then the Gospel According to Cam-Cam may seem strange. Basically he presents an argument for the theory of substitutionary atonement. If he can convince Chris to concede and assent to this argument intellectually, then Chris will saved. If Chris does not intellectually assent to this theory of atonement, then he will be damned to Hell for an eternity of conscious torment.

Cam-Cam’s goal in this conversation, in other words, is to get Chris to admit that he’s an awful person who rightfully deserves to be despised by God.

The fantasy element here is in Chris’ lines. His response to every prompt from Cam-Cam is, implausibly, precisely the response that Cam-Cam’s scripted conversion formula anticipates and requires. Chris seems powerless to say anything other than what Cam-Cam wants and expects him to say. He is trapped by the inexorable logic of the script.

Pure fantasy. No human being has ever given the responses required by the script and the formula that Cam-Cam employs here. No real human has ever recited the lines Chris recites here, allowing the evangelist to finish the recitation and to follow every step of the script’s neat presentation of the good news of bloody ransom.

That’s what makes the evangelism fantasy scene frustrating and cruel for its intended audience. Many of them will do just what it encourages them to do — they will go out into the world and attempt to replay this scene and this conversation with real people who, being real people rather than the ventriloquist’s dummies of the fantasy, won’t follow the strange logic of the script. And when those attempts to replicate the fantasy go horribly awry, these would-be evangelists will feel it is their fault — that they did something wrong, that they garbled the words, or left something out, or didn’t pray hard enough beforehand. And they will wind up feeling guilty and ashamed that real life isn’t like the fantasy.

David Macniven has an impossible task in this scene in the role of Chris. Not only does he have to supply all the unnatural responses to Cam-Cam’s evangelistic spiel, but he has to show that Chris finds the logic of that spiel undeniable and compelling. And then — while showing us that he agrees with every word Cam-Cam says — he has to show us that he still chooses to reject it just because.

In our survey of the books, we’ve noted many scenes like this. The authors often assume that anyone who has heard the soterian gospel without immediately converting must be deliberately choosing to reject it despite, deep down, knowing it to be the truth. Here poor Macniven has to find some way of portraying that perverse rebellion, he has to embody it and try to make it appear like something a human might actually choose to do.

He fails. “I can’t accept that,” he says, reciting the line from the script and walking away as it instructs, for no apparent reason other than that these lines and stage directions were written in the script. It seems unnatural and inhuman, but I don’t blame Macniven. No actor could make that scene work.

Back in the church we see Bruce conduct an altar call. This one has a bit of a twist in keeping with the wheat-from-the-chaff theme of this story — most of the people in the church come forward to be saved, but the rest don’t stay seated in the pews, they get up and leave.

CCM artist Regie Hamm starts singing something mournfully earnest and we see Rayford walking the mean streets of post-Rapture suburban Chicago. Roving mobs of the godless, unregenerate, left-behind evildoers are …

Well, actually, they’re mostly holding candles, weeping, praying and comforting one another as they gather around makeshift shrines commemorating their lost loved ones. These are the people that Cam-Cam’s God finds unworthy, unholy and deserving of destruction unless they assent to the proper propositions and pray the magic words. I’m sure this scene wasn’t intended only to undermine everything Cam-Cam just said in his scripted argument with Chris, but that’s what it does here.

Rayford’s reverie is interrupted by a woman in white who asks him, “You lost someone too?” But then his cell phone rings with a literal call for help from Chris and we get a lingering close up on this woman as he rushes off. She’s listed in the credits as “angelic woman.” I have no idea what to make of that.

A note about content: The remainder of this scene involves discussion of suicide.

The only hint we have of what’s going on in the next scene is in the initial shot, where we see Chris’ left hand with his wedding ring. He’s spinning a handgun on the coffee table in front of him.

Yeah, it’s that scene. Distraught man with gun contemplates ending his own life. Our hero arrives to try to talk him out of it.

But apart from that hint of the wedding ring, the filmmakers haven’t suggested why Chris is threatening to kill himself. The last time we saw him he wasn’t distraught, just fed-up. We haven’t been given any reason to guess at what Chris is going through. In his conversation with Cam-Cam he was begrudgingly willing to stipulate his technical guilt in Calvinist terms, but Chris is clearly not a man wracked with guilt, shame or remorse. He’s not suffering from a medical infliction that would lead him to this, or suffering through an existential crisis of meaning.

So that just leaves us with that wedding ring and the guess that he must be suffering from grief over the loss of his family. That seemed to be the cause of this character’s parenthetical suicide in the first Left Behind novel — an act that book-Rayford could barely be bothered to notice. Book-Chris’ wife was killed in a post-Rapture car-crash. Viewers of this film have no reason to suspect that’s also true of movie-Chris, but if it is, then his grief here is understandable, as both Bruce and Cam-Cam just carefully explained to him that his wife is even now burning in the fires of Hell.

But if this is what Chris is supposed to be thinking here, then what was the point of having Cam-Cam and Rayford focus exclusively on Chris’ sinful unworthiness when trying to talk to him of salvationism? If someone has just lost his wife and kids, then it might make sense to try to convince him that God is still a good and loving God despite the apparently arbitrary injustice and cruelty of this world. But it doesn’t make any sense at all to think that the No. 1 thing you need to do is convince him that he has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That’s cruel and bewilderingly beside the point.

“I know what it’s like,” Rayford says, “I lost my wife and my son, everything, just like you.”

Ah, OK, so grief it is, then.

Rayford starts out well, by acknowledging the substance, gravity and enormity of Chris’ grief, but then things go a bit sideways. He picks up where Cam-Cam left off, not with counseling or comfort, but with apologetics — with an attempt to create a logical argument for the existence of God from which Chris might further extrapolate that life is meaningful.

I don’t think this is a wise or helpful approach. If I’m ever distraught and out on the ledge, please do not send Josh McDowell out to talk me down.

Rayford’s whole case for Earth is based on Heaven. I think that’s backwards. He tells movie-Chris that his wife is in Heaven — unlike book-Chris’ wife, she was apparently raptured. He convinces Chris of this by asking him if he can prove otherwise.

“If they’re not, then where are they? You tell me, where are they?” Rayford shouts. Then he segues into a weird variation of something like Pascal’s wager before, finally, getting Chris to give up the gun and accept Jesus. Or something.

I heard Angela Lansbury interviewed once, talking about the intimidating task of playing Gypsy Rose Lee after the role had been defined by the inimitable Ethel Merman. “If you can’t sing the song,” Lansbury said, “sing the scene.”

That’s what Brad Johnson does here as Rayford. His lines here don’t make any sense, but he speaks them with a passion that conveys the sense of what he ought to be saying. The scene would actually make more sense if Johnson were speaking in some language I don’t understand. I could then watch the scene and follow the emotional trajectory of the two actors and feel as though I understood everything I was seeing. It would make more sense that way than the way it seems here, in English, where I can understand the appallingly inept words Rayford is actually speaking.

It’s a terrible song, but Johnson does a good job of singing the scene.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    So… Cam and his wife were the only believers on the set?

    Remember, too, that if you aren’t an RTC, you aren’t a C at all.  So, even though probably 75% of the cast and crew were somewhere on the nominal -> mainline -> progressive -> non-RTC evangelical on the end of the spectrum of Christianity, the two of them were all alone in a sea of heathens.

  • Anonymous

    They’ve also got armor-piercing incendiary .50-cal rifles with a four-mile range. And they didn’t need to build them.  Apparently various superguns were already secretly mass-manufactured and stockpiled by the US before the Event, and soldiers resisting the global disarmament order managed to hold on to a bunch of them.

    Presumably this means that the GC has a bunch of them too but never uses them.  But the GC also mounts all its soldiers on horses just for kicks, so that’s not really surprising.

  • Anonymous

    I gather you don’t live in the US. IRL it’s a whole lot less Christian than you would think based on our media and politics. I think the vast majority of Americans say they are Christians and most go to church … a couple times a year (depending on who is getting married or who dies). Maybe for Christmas or Easter.

    I think the fact that so many Christians are actually pretty secular in their outlook and habits has allowed the hyper-Christians to represent Christianity as a whole because of their “passionate intensity”. Other Christians haven’t really thought that much about their (putative) faith, so when someone makes a claim about what Christians ought to believe, they may accept it–because they don’t know any better.

    That might be why atheists are known to have more Bible knowledge than most Christians. Many atheists come to their belief (or lack thereof) after investigating the majority religion rather than just accepting it as part of their cultural norms.

  • Anonymous

    The only way I can figure it is that our minds start out with an anti-God firewall, so he had to send down Jesus as a Trojan.

    Maybe angels are akin to the hourglass or the little spinning rainbow dealie on the Mac?
    “Ding! Installation complete. Thank you for choosing…Xtianity. Goodbye!”

  • Anonymous

    Hey! Are you using a picture of Romney?

  • Anonymous

    The guy who offs Nicky (I think it’s Chaim the Science Guy) spends a lot of time making a fancy high-tech sword with a monomolecular blade so he can do deed.

    That actually sounds awesome. I’m sure they fucked it up somehow.

  • Mau de Katt

     > > Why don’t they just shoot Nicolae?  He’s obviously out in public a
    fair amount, and the one security guard aside, doesn’t seem to have much
    security.  Surely they can find at least one former military sniper who
    could be convinced of the necessity (at least when he is being more
    obviously evil).  Then, during one of those implausibly engaging long
    speeches, Boom Headshot. 

    > Impossible, Michael. That would make sense, and nothing in these books is allowed to make sense.

    Well, in the third movie (ROT13′d, just in case), arjyl-pbairegrq HF Cerfvqrag Svgmuhtu (cynlrq ol Ybhvf Tbffrgg, We.), gevrf gb qb whfg gung.  Ur jnyxf vagb Cbgragngr Prageny gb pbasebag Avpbynr, naq pneevrf n gnetrgvat qrivpr va uvf cbpxrg.  N fgevxr zvffvyr (be frireny?) unf nyernql orra ynhapurq, naq ubzrf va ba gur gnetrgvat qrivpr, oybjvat hc Cerfvqrag Serrzna naq Rivy Nagvpuevfg UD va gur cebprff.

    Naq gur fprar raqf jvgu Avpbynr jnyxvat va fyb-zb bhg bs gur synzrf, pbzcyrgryl haunezrq.

    Not LaJenkins canon, but much more entertaining.

  • Mau de Katt

    Oh.  Someone already posted about the “walking out of the exploded-missile-flames” scene already.

  • Mau de Katt

    My guess is that that scene was part of Louis Gossett Jr’s contract, in order to get him to play the part of Prez Fitzhugh.  Want a “Name” actor for a dreck movie?  Rewrite the script to give him a Big Heroic Ending for his character.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    In lieu of an internet, please have these awesome sunglasses.  Use their power wisely. Your last words are truly worthy of Kamina himself. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    WE MUST PIERCE THE HEAVENS WITH YOUR DRILL, SIMON. X-D

    (Why yes, I liled Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann)

  • Bificommander

    I case you were wondering, Jenkins himself uses that “Religion is man’s attempt to reach God but Christianity is God’s attempt to reach man.” line in one of his other books, Soon to be exact. RubyTea is ripping that book a new one over at http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/

  • Rat2

    The term is “abominable fancy,” and you can see it in medieval paintings where the saints at the foot of the throne of God are discreetly eyeing the tortures in Hell happening down below. The suffering of the damned is heaven’s floor show — every night and day for eternity!  Woohoo! /snark

  • JenL

    Chris probably went to the meeting for the same reason that everyone
    else did – to find out what really happened to his loved ones.*

    *Assuming that they were raptured as in the movie, rather than killed in a car wreck as in the book.

    Even if my particular family died in a wreck, I can see going to the “what happened to all the Disappeared?” meeting, if only to find out *why* my family died that way…  

    And then to hear “it’s okay, the Disappeared are with Chthulthu in Valhalla” proclaimed as A Good Thing would twist the knife – so, all those Disappeared did something right and are in a better place.  But *my* family didn’t make the cut, and died because Chthulthu couldn’t give a rat’s rear about them – according to this wackjob preacher, who has no evidence for this. 

    Oh, and this preacher thinks that if I don’t convert to Chthulthuism now, when I die I’ll wind up wandering as lost, tormented souls in Hades – which means he thinks that’s where my family is now?  Where was the good news in all of this again? 

    It reminds me of my grandmother’s sister, Mabel – my grandfather had gone back and forth between being a member of Mabel’s church and a member of my grandmother’s church.  He died a member of my grandmother’s church.  A while later, Mabel was trying to convert my grandmother (who’d never converted even when her husband did) – her argument?  “If you don’t join my church, you won’t make it to heaven!”  According to my mom, my grandmother responded that if she had to be in hell to be with her husband, that’s where she’d go…

  • JenL

    I gather you don’t live in the US. IRL it’s a whole lot less Christian
    than you would think based on our media and politics. I think the vast
    majority of Americans say they are Christians and most go to
    church … a couple times a year (depending on who is getting married or
    who dies). Maybe for Christmas or Easter.

    I’m confused.  Are you citing this as evidence that the U.S. isn’t all that Christian?  Because the fact that so many people do go to (a Christian) church at least a couple times a year – your tone/implication seems to be they don’t really count as Christian, but I’d argue the opposite.  Especially when so few people seem to blink when public high school graduations include prayers, and so many people support having the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, and so many politicians are saying our economy would fix itself if we’d only live by (their interpretation of) the Bible’s rules…

  • Parisienne

    I assumed that Chris was there because Rayford invited him.

    And as is unfortunately wont to happen when a sensible Christian invites their friend to come to church – they meet the resident CamCam equivalent over coffee and go home Very Offended Indeed. Which is why many sincere Christians hesitate before inviting their friends to church, even if they believe in all the truth claims of Christianity and think they would be beneficial for their friends.

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

    Not to be crass, but the whole “the us is less Christian than you would think” sounds an awful lot like unexamined privelledge.

    OK, let’s ingore our media and politics. How about our commerce? (I’m not even going to take a swipe at “In God We Trust” on the currency) For large swathes of the country, liquor stores are closed on Sundays, restaraunts have fish specials on Friday, and pornography and “marital aids” are heavily regulated if not explicitly outlawed. Should we talk about dry counties, dry campuses, and the entire state of Utah’s relationship to alcohol?

    How about laws? There are the blue laws against homosexual activity, (only recentl overturned) the attempts to get minatets banned (to prevent building mosques) and the widespread, pervasive efforts of small communities to ignore that pesky First Amendment with “voluntary” prayers just before school and at major school events.  And should we not to mention the entire “Intelligent Design” movement intended to force public schools to engage in Creationist indoctrination in science classes. Is this a bad place to bring up the Pledge of Allegence that many public schools require students to recite? You know, the one that references a monotheistic diety?

    OK, but let’s ignore media, politics, commerce, and legal issues. Outside of that, what has the Roman empire done for us the U.S. isn’t very Christian. I mean, it’s not like you see people setting up creches in their yards once a year in almost every neighborhood, right?

  • Anonymous

    Man, this bears repeating every time I hear about Johnathan Edwards; fuck him. Seriously. Fred has been far more kind to the ‘scare ‘em straight’ terrorists than I would ever be inclined to in past posts. If the goal is to force me to change the fundamentals of who I am through fear and intimidation, then ‘screw off’ is the only response they get.

  • hapax

    There are the blue laws against homosexual activity

    While I agree pretty much with your comment, I have to say this made me blink.  What, there are states in which homosexual activity is permitted except on Sunday?

    (yes, I know what you meant.  And again, I agree with it.)

  • Anonymous

    Chris … “unexamined privilege”? You do know I’m an atheist, right? And, I grew up Orthodox … and most Americans don’t even know what that means.

    My point (which apparently you missed entirely) is that if you look at the great mass of Americans, they are culturally “Christian” and therefore they easily go along with whatever “Christian” message is being pushed by the extremes–especially if it reinforces their own prejudices. They don’t really have a basis or interest in the precepts that might allow them to consider that the statements of a Gingerich or a Romney are not very consistent with what Christ supposedly said.

  • Trynn

    [quote]Not to be crass, but the whole “the us is less Christian than you would think” sounds an awful lot like unexamined privelledge.

    OK,
    let’s ingore our media and politics. How about our commerce? (I’m not
    even going to take a swipe at “In God We Trust” on the currency) For
    large swathes of the country, liquor stores are closed on Sundays,
    restaraunts have fish specials on Friday, and pornography and “marital
    aids” are heavily regulated if not explicitly outlawed. Should we talk
    about dry counties, dry campuses, and the entire state of Utah’s
    relationship to alcohol?

    How about laws? There are the blue laws
    against homosexual activity, (only recentl overturned) the attempts to
    get minatets banned (to prevent building mosques) and the widespread,
    pervasive efforts of small communities to ignore that pesky First
    Amendment with “voluntary” prayers just before school and at major
    school events.  And should we not to mention the entire “Intelligent
    Design” movement intended to force public schools to engage in
    Creationist indoctrination in science classes. Is this a bad place to
    bring up the Pledge of Allegence that many public schools require
    students to recite? You know, the one that references a monotheistic
    diety?

    OK, but let’s ignore media, politics, commerce, and legal issues. Outside of that, what has the Roman empire done for us
    the U.S. isn’t very Christian. I mean, it’s not like you see people
    setting up creches in their yards once a year in almost every
    neighborhood, right?[/quote]

    But from what I understand, a lot of that is from a (very loud) minority of Americans.

    And no, I don’t consider going to church a few times a year indicating that one is a Christian. I visited a Hindu* temple a few times with my dad and his friend. That doesn’t make me a Hindu.

    At least, I think it was a Hindu temple…but I was pretty young and could be wrong.

  • JenL

    My point (which apparently you missed entirely) is that if you look at
    the great mass of Americans, they are culturally “Christian” and
    therefore they easily go along with whatever “Christian” message is
    being pushed by the extremes–especially if it reinforces their own
    prejudices. They don’t really have a basis or interest in the precepts
    that might allow them to consider that the statements of a Gingerich or a
    Romney are not very consistent with what Christ supposedly said.

    As a person who has to put up with the prayers before city council meetings (and at public high school graduations), I *don’t care* that they are “culturally Christians” rather than die-hard believers.  If they’re voting against my ability to buy birth control, I *don’t care* that it’s just because they’re going along to get along.

    When I see the quotes from Presidential candidates, and then I read a statement that the U.S. isn’t all that Christian a nation, it makes me blink… and then it makes me think that one of us isn’t paying attention.

  • JenL

    And no, I don’t consider going to church a few times a year indicating
    that one is a Christian. I visited a Hindu* temple a few times with my
    dad and his friend. That doesn’t make me a Hindu.

    If you were raised Hindu, and you continue attending church a couple times a year – the big worship days, whatever they are, plus maybe once or twice when you visit home, plus whenever a friend gets married or buried…  Yeah, that could very well mean you’re (still) a Hindu, even if a fairly passive one.

    Just like the person who was raised Christian, still attends a couple of times a year, still calls him or herself Christian, sends the kids off to Sunday school, attends a couple times a year …  Yeah, they probably consider themselves Christians, whether other (more aggressive) Christians agree or not.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Hell, in the cosmopolitan area of the Greater Vancouver Regional District of British Columbia?

    McDonald’s runs Filet-O-Fish specials during lent.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’ve heard worse.  Johnathan Edwards wrote that people in Heaven would rejoice
    to see the suffering of the Damned, even their own loved ones, since it
    would be such an awesome display of God’s justice and majesty, and
    their own blessed state.

    It is *just slightly* less bad than it sounds. My understanding is that Edwards took the “utter” side of the “total depravity”/”utter depravity” debate. The idea, for him, was that the unsaved _really were_ complete monsters so utterly vile and monsterous that it was not *possible* to feel empathy for them. And we just didn’t *notice* this on earth because of our flawed human perception.

    Actually, it’s a lot like people in that Cloud Ten Apocalypse series — anyone who takes the mark, no matter how sympathetic they were before, instantly does a total face-heel-turn and becomes (literally) shoot-the-dog evil, because the writers were not comfortable with the idea of the audience having any sympathy for the damned.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isabel-DePaul/1789516349 Isabel DePaul

    You assume the RTCs actually want to fight him as opposed to just saying they are. A team of people who figured out that the world is ending and want to stop it at any cost? Yes, but Lahaye and Jenkins can’t imagine anyone actually wanting to help people if they won’t get an eternal reward. Now I’m picturing the Tribulation Force guarding the Anti-Christ from the aforementioned team of people. 

  • ako

    I’m not actually sure if that is less bad or not.  I know that if I was walking around in a group of people who thought that atheists, for instance, were utterly vile people, and the best and most just way to treat me was to have me tortured and gloat at my pain, I’d be worrying about what they might try to put in practice.

  • Anonymous

    I know it’s bizarre of me, perhaps, but I’m actually quite enjoying this film.  I think it’s a mix of A) the relief of just how much better than the book it is B) still managing to be amusingly bad and C) insightful commentary provided by Fred :)

  • Heather

    “That’s what makes the evangelism fantasy scene frustrating and cruel for its intended audience.”

    Oh, man, I know.

    CamCam: So if someone who’s committed a murderer is a murderer, if you’ve lied, what does that make you, Chris?
    Chris: A guy who’s about to punch your lights out.

  • http://www.iki.fi/wwwwolf/ Urpo Lankinen

    I’ve never facepalm’d this hard at a film scene before.

    “You don’t have to do anything religious.” ["OK. I'm going now." "Wait! Come with us to the church to do something religious!" *scenes of people doing Religious Stuff*]

  • http://www.iki.fi/wwwwolf/ Urpo Lankinen

    Oh yeah, one thing:

    This map clearly shows the actual nation of Israel as it currently
    exists — not the Greater Israel of the novels that Tim LaHaye insists
    must come to be in fulfillment of his prophecies, a vast area including
    most of what is now Lebanon and Jordan as well as parts of Egypt, Syria
    and Iraq.

    There was a random logical plot point that was not explored in the manga/anime series Death Note. A short summary: the eponymous plot device is a notebook where you can write a person’s name, and they die. Stuff obviously has to be pretty specific for that to work. However, the series never quite satisfactorily answered the immediate question that sprang into my mind: What actually is a name? The series had mysterious and religious and magical component, but it never delved into the utmost and most inpenetrable of mysteries there is: the bureaucracy of legal name changes. And dealing with the post office.

    In similar vein: What is Israel? If LaHaye can, with some random handwaving and “biblical” explanation, tell that Israel’s borders just aren’t where they are now (or during any period of history that is familiar to us), why stop where he stopped? On the one hand, we have a supposedly inerrant Biblical Prophecy®. On the other, we have humans, politics, and the Middle East, not particularly known for its stable political climate, if you catch my meaning.

    Hence, the big question: Is it possible that humans and their political decisions could thwart LaHaye’s inerrant Biblical Prophecy®?

    “We have studied this supposed inerrant Biblical Prophecy®”, would some new Israeli politician say, “and everyone in the UN has agreed that in the unlikely event the Rapture happens, we will officially designate the entire world as Israel’s territory. To give the Antichrist a fair chance, the plot for my aunt’s summer cottage is not included. Damn that woman.”

    Death Note writers just naively assumed that everyone has a name. LaHaye naively expects that there’s a country called Israel and it is somewhere. One of these things is a piece of fiction and sometimes big plot holes are unavoidable and exploring them to the fullest might be difficult. The other is, well…

  • Anonymous

    My guess is that that scene was part of Louis Gossett Jr’s
    contract, in order to get him to play the part of Prez Fitzhugh.

    It’s pretty consistent with the rest of the film, though.  I think the director was just so excited at having

    a) Gossett
    b) a budget that allowed for squibs and multiple full-sized vehicles
    c) a camera that could finally film night scenes and shoot outdoors, and
    d) a dolly

    that he just forgot about Left Behind entirely and decided to shoot a D-grade action flick about President Badass.  Later he felt guilty/remembered his own contract and shoehorned in some cameos with the Trib Force, but they’re obviously not the focus of the thing anymore.

    Also, the director clearly intended to drive Kirk Cameron insane by having his wife spend ten minutes draped over Rayford begging him to kiss her.  And Chelsea Noble liked that plan.


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