NRA: Unfulfilled prophecies

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, Chapter 3

Chapter 3 of Nicolae is terribly exciting, at least by the standards of these books. It’s quite eventful and almost even suspenseful in the authors’ trademark, solipsistic way of utterly disregarding the fate of everyone except for our heroes.

Rayford overhears Nicolae’s plan to obliterate dozens of cities with nuclear weapons, including Chicago — where his daughter and new son-in-law are. He races to warn Buck and Chloe to flee the city before its too late. All very thrilling, I suppose.

But I find I’m unable to engage any of that without first pausing a bit to point out that nothing in the next few chapters makes a lick of sense. Before we get bogged down in the details of Buck and Chloe’s escape from the Antichrist’s random, pointless campaign of destruction, I first need to step back to note that the Antichrist’s campaign of destruction is, in fact, random and pointless.

Utterly pointless. Inexplicably so.

Nicolae is fighting World War III against himself.

To account for this, let me step back even further — all the way back to 1970, the year Hal Lindsey published The Late Great Planet Earth.

Hal Lindsey was Tim LaHaye’s predecessor as the most popular exponent of End Times “Bible prophecy” pop-theology. TLGPE was one of the best-selling books of the 1970s, and he followed it up with other hugely popular and influential titles, such as There’s a New World Coming.

Lindsey re-popularized the premillennial dispensationalist prophecy scheme first popularized by the annotated Scofield Reference Bible. He studied that scheme at Dallas Theological Seminary, the Bible college that has long been the main institutional promoter of this Darby/Scofield mythology. Lindsey proved to have a knack for imagining strange applications and potential fulfillments of the “prophecies” he studied there, which gave his books a “ripped-from-the-headlines” sense of urgency.

But unlike Tim LaHaye, Lindsey was never also a member of the John Birch Society. He came to the PMD mythology without any other pre-existing mythology or ideology that he’d need to graft onto it. That meant, among other things, that Lindsey’s version of End Times mania caught on with hippies in a way that LaHaye’s Bircherized variation never could have.

Hal Lindsey begat Larry Norman. Tim LaHaye begat Kirk Cameron.

This also meant that Lindsey’s imagined Antichrist did not need to conform to the Bircher bogeymen of LaHaye’s political nightmares. Hal Lindsey was not obsessed with the United Nations. He feared a coming tyrannical one-world-government led by the Antichrist, but he assumed it would come about — based on his reading of Revelation 6 — as the work of a “conqueror bent on conquest” and as the result of the war represented by the apocalyptic rider on the red horse.

So Lindsey didn’t pay much attention to the powerless diplomatic peacemakers of the U.N. Instead, he cast a wary eye on what was then called the European Common Market — then a 10-nation entity that he feared would become the 10-horned Beast of Revelation.

Lindsey’s popularity faded in the 1980s, mainly because the world had stubbornly refused to end the way he insisted it should. But his later books, like The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon, also clashed with the changing zeitgeist of his target audience. They had moved on to celebrate Ronald Reagan’s “morning in America.” (Optimism and premillennialism don’t get along well.) And by the 1980s, Lindsey’s efforts to cling to the outlines of his 1970s prophecies had grown strained. Europe was moving closer to union, but that effort now involved too many countries to correspond to any of the numerological schemes Lindsey had claimed.*

The end of the Cold War threw a wrench into the pop-apocalypse publishing business. Not only did it bring about an unfriendly sense of optimism, but it embarrassingly exposed the failure of decades of “Bible prophecy” warnings about a Soviet Antichrist.

Within a few years, however, two factors suggested that End Times mania was poised for a big rebound: There was a Democrat in the White House, and the calendar showed that a new millennium was approaching.

LaHaye recognized what that meant, seized the opportunity, and cashed in.

LaHaye also brought something new to the equation: the dark political mythology of his John Birch Society roots. Lindsey’s repackaged Scofieldism lacked any coherent political vision. If you believed Lindsey’s books, there was nothing you had to do except grow out your hair, strum a guitar, and wait for Jesus. But Tim LaHaye didn’t just give you a list of prophecies, he also provided a list of enemies (including, ironically, the same long-haired hippy freaks who once embraced Lindsey’s books). LaHaye’s pop-theology comes with a political agenda.

One consequence of that has been the “tea party movement” — a rebranded, 21st-century reincarnation of LaHaye’s beloved John Birch Society. LaHaye’s contribution to the tea party hasn’t been much noted, with most of the credit/blame focused on the funders and hands-on orchestrators of the astroturf “movement.” But no amount of astroturf and agitation can work for long unless it finds a receptive audience, and I think Tim LaHaye — as much as anyone except for perhaps Fox News — helped to prepare that audience.

Am I suggesting that LaHaye’s selling 60 million books of Bircher propaganda from 1995 to 2005 might have something to do with the resurgence of Bircher ideology in the following years? Well, I think that question pretty much answers itself.

LaHaye’s hybrid of Scofieldism and Bircherism also created another problem, because the two mythologies don’t always fit together neatly. This is a problem that poor Jerry Jenkins isn’t able to fix. And it means that the hybrid story LaHaye wants to tell in these books sometimes just doesn’t work.

Here, in Chapter 3 of Nicolae, the seams are showing. We can see the gap between the Bircher ideology of a diabolical conspiracy of U.N. peaceniks and the pre-existing PMD narrative of a warrior Antichrist. Jenkins is unable to bridge that gap.

The two strained strains of LaHaye’s hybrid story have come together here to bring us two things:

1. An authoritarian one-world government that enjoys universal support and acclaim.

2. World War III.

Those two things simply cannot exist at the same time. Jenkins does his best to dismiss or diminish the contradiction, or at least to distract us from it, but there it is. If all the world is now a single, unified entity, with a single government retaining an exclusive monopoly on force and weaponry, then there’s just no way to also have World War III.

There’s no one else to have a war with or to war against.**

Thus we have this odd “war” described here in Nicolae — a one-sided conflict that consists of Global Community forces bombing random cities for no apparent reason.

That’s not a war, just militarized murder. And it’s not a “world” war, either, since the bombing turns out to be confined to North America, Britain and Egypt. I’m guessing the first two are targets due to this book being written in English for an English-speaking audience (but what about Australia?). And Egypt, I guess, was probably added due to some “Bible prophecy” reference I don’t quite follow. (I know it’s not anything from Revelation or Daniel, but passages declaring judgment against Egypt aren’t hard to find throughout the Bible.)

This arbitrary bombing will be excused and explained as retaliation against the short-lived insurrection in those countries — the one involving the former U.S. president and the “East Coast militias.” As far as I can tell, though, that rebellion has already been extinguished before Nicolae starts his massive bombing campaign in earnest.

Jenkins explicitly describes the insurrection as Nicolae’s pretext — his false pretext — for this campaign, but he never indicates what the Antichrist’s real motive is. Nicolae does not benefit from this mass-slaughter. He doesn’t use it as a means toward some end, some goal or objective he wants to achieve. Jenkins just shows him, rather, as killing millions of people and destroying dozens of cities because he can, and because he enjoys it.

In one sense I suppose that’s fair enough. The Antichrist is supposed to be the embodiment of ultimate evil, but up to now he’s been fairly harmless, so perhaps a bit of capricious, cackling mass-murder would help to establish his super-evil credibility. But it’s still just random and absurd.

In creating their Antichrist character, the authors don’t seem to have given much thought to the meaning of evil or to the meaning of that word, Anti-Christ. Random, senseless killing surely qualifies as some kind of evil, of course, but it’s quite rare. The perpetrators of apparently random and senseless violence are almost always acting according to their own twisted logic. They want something, and they somehow imagine that this violence will let them get it.

That’s how most evil works. It has some goal, some desire. It wants something — maybe even a good thing — and it won’t stop at anything in order to get it.

That suggests two possible directions for an Anti-Christ character. He could be portrayed as someone who wants the opposite of what Christ wants. Or he could be portrayed as wanting the same thing as Christ, but seeking to attain it through opposite means.

Either way, one could not write such a character without first trying to understand what Christ wants and how Christ seeks to attain it. Thus, again, the authors have given us a shallow and arbitrary picture of the Antichrist because he’s the mirror-image of their shallow and arbitrary picture of Christ.

Nicolae’s one-sided pretend “war” of random bombings targeting his own cities also makes me want to file some kind of legal appeal in the courts of prophecy. There are supposed to be rules about such things. Prophecies must be fulfilled. But we’re now two seals into the judgments allegedly prophesied in Revelation, and by my count the authors are 0-for-2.

Horseman No. 1, the first seal, is supposed to ride forth as a conqueror bent on conquest. But Nicolae Carpathia never rode forth or conquered anything. He became global dictator by unanimous acclaim without firing a shot. (Well, he fired one shot, through Stonagal and into his buddy, but that wasn’t part of his conquest. If anything, that shooting interfered with it — causing the delay and muddling of his big OWG announcement.)

Nicolae may be the perfect incarnation of the U.N. peacenik Antichrist imagined by the John Birch Society, but such a figure cannot claim to fulfill the “Bible prophecy” of Revelation 6.

And no, this new bombing campaign can’t count as his “conquest.” He’s bombing people who had already submitted to him and embraced his reign. Every bomb he drops is on a loyal city that’s already flying the flag of the Global Community. That’s sadistic, but it’s not “conquest.”

And neither is it “war.” A one-sided nuclear killing spree isn’t war, just mass-murder by military means. The rider on the red horse is an impostor, and thus a second “prophecy” is going unfulfilled.

I’m not sure what the rules are for failures to fulfill required prophecies. How many mulligans does this apocalypse get before some sort of reset or restart has to kick in?

The guy I feel sorry for here is Famine. There he is with his scales, sitting on his black horse, all ready to go. But then the first two riders muff his entry cue.

And now everything backstage in Heaven is all mixed up. Famine’s all, like, “Should I just go?” And the living creature is like, “No, you don’t ride until I say, ‘Come!'” And Famine goes, “Well then say it already.” And the living creature is all, “Not until the Lamb opens the seal.” And the Lamb is like, “Hold your horses, you two. I’m waiting to see some conquest and war before I open any more of these.” But then there’s still no conquest and war, just a lot of random bombing for no reason. …

It’s just a heavenly mess.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* I think Lindsey would have been wise to have learned from his old mentor, John Walvoord, who sold 1.5 million copies of his 1973 book Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis, then later sold millions more of the same book in 1991, after a search-and-replace update now identifying Saddam Hussein as the Antichrist.

The “Bible prophecy” Rapture Ready website has an unintentionally amusing description of this in its tribute page for Walvoord:

It is interesting to note that the revision of the book, Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis was mainly due to the rapidly changing global landscape. The first edition quickly became outdated as the prophetic timeline continued to advance. Some of the topical additions made in the revision include: Changing Alignment of Europe and the End of the Cold War, Revival of Roman Empire, Camp David Accords, Invasion of Lebanon, New Islamic Republic of Iran, Saddam Hussein Seizes Power in Iraq, Iraq’s move to absorb Kuwait, and so much more. I am sure that, were Walvoord still alive, he would be ready to revise once again!

I am sure he would be. If there’s one thing “Bible prophecy scholars” know how to do, it’s revise their claims “due to the rapidly changing global landscape.”

** Well, there’s Israel, I suppose — the one nation that has inexplicably retained its sovereignty, left out of Nicolae’s almost-one-world government. But Israel was only excluded from that global federation because LaHaye’s variant of the PMD check list requires Israel to sign a peace treaty with the Antichrist.

Unfortunately for LaHaye and Jenkins, that peace treaty is “prophesied” to be honored for three and a half years, and the Red Horseman has to bring World War III before that, so Israel cannot be the opponent in the Antichrist’s lonely world war.

Suppose they prophesied a war and no one came?

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  • Ymfon

    Actually, while rereading Fred’s older posts recently, I realized that there’s a way to make perfect sense of this story: Buck and Rayford died in a plane crash at the
    start of the first book, and the rest of the series takes place in Hell.
    Specifically, the kind you create yourself by refusing to let go of your sins: if you overcome your selfishness and cowardice and try to help others, you get a chance to save the world; if you dig a big hole in the ground and sit there whining about
    how everything is predestined you get “the greatest suffering the Earth has ever seen”. This would explain quite a lot:

    – Everybody’s inhuman lack of concern for the missing children? They’re not human, they’re the metaphysical equivalent of non-player characters in a videogame; basically props.

    – Chloe’s personality transplant in the first book? She’s not the real Chloe either, but a construct originally created from Rayford’s still-fresh memories of his daughter, and later heavily influenced by Buck’s ideas of what an ideal girlfriend ought to be like.

    – Nicolae’s inexplicable successes and apparent lack of a goal? He’s not
    the Antichrist, he’s the Devil, and he’s got everyone right where he
    wants them.

  • Dash1

    As I recall, the PMD reading of Daniel 7 (beast with 10 horns) and Revelation 17 (10 kings) assumed for a long time that there would be some kind of alliance of 10 nations. After WWII, they were thinking for some reason it would be Europe, and as soon as the European Union was announced, I remember everyone getting very excited about it and preachers constantly predicting that it would ultimately have 10 members.  As you pointed out, there were six nations, with four more giving it serious thought. But even if the numbers hadn’t worked that neatly, it’s not hard to think of ways that just four more nations would enter.

    Once the EU had overshot the 10 nation mark, prophecy enthusiasts began trying to figure out which ones would drop out or unite to get the number back to ten.

  • I’ll be dipped. That would make so much sense. :O

    (It’s a pity Jenkins didn’t hit on that literary device as a way to show how human depravities lead to an unsatisfying and ultimately pointless existence of utter self-centeredness even as one claims to be obeying the dictates of Christianity; kind of how a ‘false religion’ if you will, can lead to excusing all kinds of bad behavior)

  • Tricksterson

    Which is why I wish the Group of 8 would add China and India.

  • Tricksterson

    That would take insight, of which he has none and talent of which he has less.  I could see say Lewis pulling it off or, at the other end of the ideological spectrum, Dick but Jenkins and LaHaye? Pfft.

  • Lori


    “Hippy” is a DEFCON 2 fashion adjective.  


  • Lori


    *I’d be extremely surprised if the Republican Party doesn’t either split
    or go the way of the Whigs if Romney loses this election. It’s been
    living on borrowed time since Dubya’s second term began. Good riddance I

    From you lips to Flying Spaghetti Monster’s ears. (Or whatever FSM monster uses to hear the prayers of faithful Pastafarians.) I’m not holding my breath though because the GOP has been on the verge of splitting for a long time now. Racial animus and misogyny are proving to be a depressingly strong glue.

  • Kiba

     On the authorship of Good Omens:

    Neil Gaiman has said:

    We were both living in England when we wrote it. At an educated
    guess, although neither of us ever counted, Terry probably wrote around
    60,000 “raw” and I wrote 45,000 “raw” words of Good Omens, with,
    on the whole, Terry taking more of the plot with Adam and the Them in,
    and me doing more of the stuff that was slightly more tangential to the
    story, except that broke down pretty quickly and when we got towards the
    end we swapped characters so that we’d both written everyone by the
    time it was done, but then we also rewrote and footnoted each others
    bits as we went along, and rolled up our sleeves to take the first draft
    to the second (quite a lot of words), and, by the end of it, neither of
    us was entirely certain who had written what. It was indeed plotted in
    long daily phone calls, and we would post floppy disks (and this was back in 1988 when floppy disks really were pretty darn floppy) back and forth.

    while Terry Pratchett has said:

    I think this is an honest account of the process of writing Good Omens.
    It was fairly easy to keep track of because of the way we sent discs to
    one another, and because I was Keeper of the Official Master Copy I can
    say that I wrote a bit over two thirds of Good Omens. However,
    we were on the phone to each other every day, at least once. If you have
    an idea during a brainstorming session with another guy, whose idea is
    it? One guy goes and writes 2,000 words after thirty minutes on the
    phone, what exactly is the process that’s happening? I did most of the
    physical writing because:
    I had to. Neil had to keep Sandman going – I could take time off from the DW;One person has to be overall editor, and do all the stitching and
    filling and slicing and, as I’ve said before, it was me by agreement –
    if it had been a graphic novel, it would have been Neil taking the chair for exactly the same reasons it was me for a novel;I’m a selfish bastard and tried to write ahead to get to the good bits before Neil.

    Initially, I did most of Adam and the Them and Neil did most of the
    Four Horsemen, and everything else kind of got done by whoever – by the
    end, large sections were being done by a composite creature called
    Terryandneil, whoever was actually hitting the keys. By agreement, I am
    allowed to say that Agnes Nutter, her life and death, was completely and
    utterly mine. And Neil proudly claims responsibility for the maggots.
    Neil’s had a major influence on the opening scenes, me on the ending. In
    the end, it was this book done by two guys, who shared the money
    equally and did it for fun and wouldn’t do it again for a big clock.”

    And I truly loved the Sandman graphic novels. Death was always my favorite of the Endless (I liked Dream too). I’ll also add a plug for The Graveyard Book since I don’t think anyone has mentioned it yet.

  • Twig

    American Gods, while good, treaded back over a lot of Sandman territory, which is pretty easy to do when you do a massive comic book epic that pretty much spans all of time and space and thought and reality and history and everything ever.

    I think of all his work, the short stories are great and Sandman, if you have the time and the money, is not to be missed.  I would love to read book four again as if I’d never seen it before.

  • KarenJo12

    One of many, many things I detest about these books is the complete inability to provide the bad guys with an explanation for their behavior beyond “I read the cover blurb that describes me as a bad guy.”  I think it’s because in Christian publishing the worst thing a writer can ever do is allow the read to really empathize with the bad guy, because understanding anything about the Bad Guy might make the readers fell less smug.  It never occurs to anyone that a good writer can show the wrongness of an action by showing the effects of the wrongness on the bad guy even when the bad guy acts in a logical manner, or at least logical given Bad Guy’s perspective.  Bad Things only happen because Bad People do them; nothing that a Good Person does can ever be Bad, no matter what the actual consequences of the Good Person’s actions are.  This is not helpful and it’s not Christian, either.  

  •  Meh. The Republican Party actually split several election cycles ago. It’s just that one of the parties resulting from the schism decided it would be in their best interests to manipulate the other party as shadowy puppetmasters rather than publically acknolwedge the split.

  • That Tea Party shit confused the hell out of me for a while, especially when it wasn’t clear if Tea Party people were publicly running as a third party or as a faction of the Republican Party.

  • I think it’s because in Christian publishing the worst thing a writer can ever do is allow the read to really empathize with the bad guy, because understanding anything about the Bad Guy might make the readers fell less smug.

    I think you are close, but I would be a little more generous than that.  

    Yes, they want to avoid getting too close to the Bad Guy because the readers might better understand the Bad Guy.  The reason they want to avoid that is not necessarily smugness, but temptation.  A big part of their idea of sinfulness is that certain actions are Bad, and that those actions are so dangerous because they are tempting.  Sexual desire, for example, is considered dangerously tempting, and they have a great fear of giving into that desire outside certain strictly defined social compacts.  

    This is part of why they fear villains who claim to come in peace, why they are so inclined to think that anyone not in their tribe must be out to get them, no matter how friendly they seem.  If you are told someone is Bad, then understanding them is a form of temptation.  Understanding grants nuance and empathy, and that path undermines conviction, tempts you into thinking that this Bad Thing might not be so Bad after all.

    And bam!, that is when they get their hooks into you and you can never go back to the righteous path.  

    Or at least that is how they see it.  I think that is part of why they can continue to assert things which are blatantly untrue generalizations about homosexuals and non-monogamous women; trying to understand their respective situations would undermine the message that they are Bad, and people would turn their back’s on the church.  Indeed, many churches have seen this first hand, as members become disillusioned and leave, due to have been contaminated with understanding for the “enemy.”  

    Things are so much easier to demonize (literally in LB’s case) when you do not understand them.  

  • That Tea Party shit confused the hell out of me for a while, especially when it wasn’t clear if Tea Party people were publicly running as a third party or as a faction of the Republican Party.

    What had me confused about the Tea Party at first was that they began their protests pretty much the moment Barack Obama took the office.  I mean, I can understand if a group wants to protest an unpopular policy.  Citizens can and should use their voices in that case, that is what representative democracy is supposed to be about.  But in this case they started protesting before any policy had even been drafted.  I asked myself, “What are they protesting against?”  

    It feels like they were just angry and looking to justify that anger afterward.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    What had me confused about the Tea Party at first was that they began
    their protests pretty much the moment Barack Obama took the office.

    My ex signed a Facebook petition to impeach Obama in 2008.

    To be fair, I’m not sure whether my ex is actually Tea Party. Uberconservative heterosexist fundie-Christian, definitely (I was really stupid when I was eighteen, say I from the wise old age of twenty-three), but I don’t know for sure about Tea Party. It is possible that he’s been on the pointy end of the racism stick often enough, and/or that he and his family have gotten enough government assistance and been glad of it, that the Tea Party doesn’t want him.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    ‘”The United States of Great Britain had to be taught,” came the accented voice again.”Indeed they did, Carpathia said. “And in North America alone, Montreal, Toronto, Mexico City, Dallas, Washington, D.C. New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles will become object lessons to those who would oppose us.”‘

    Sorry, nope. Carpathia would have listed the cities in alphabetical order.

  • The Tea Party’s initial platform was very simple: Obama Bad!

    They’ve never put much thought into reasons to give people for it. One only need to look at a timeline of the Tea Party and the Obama administration, as well as their behavior before they started getting some message control, to see that the Tea Party’s “official” complaints are merely justifications for Obama Bad!

  • KarenJo12

    Don’t get your hopes up.  Too much money wants the R’s to win, and they will slaughter the Crazy People to keep the Feudalist $$ Wing happy.  Enough cash will flow to Akin in the last couple of weeks to allow him to eek out a .0000001 win, after which he will suddenly need to “spend time with his family” and allow the governor to appoint someone less open about his opinion of women.

  • KarenJo12

    With Good Omens he had Terry Pratchett to restrain the tendency to keep adding useless characters who float in an out to no particular end, and Coraline was, like you said, short and for early readers.  

  • Ken

    Having just finished Foucault’s Pendulum, I can say with confidence that it doesn’t matter how many members the EEC had, has, or will have; the people who want to believe it’s the ten-horned beast of Revelation will find a way to do so.

  • Ken

    My favorite Gaiman short  is “Other People.” I almost hope the afterlife does work like that.

  • Dash1

    Which is why I wish the Group of 8 would add China and India.

    Aw, now that’s no fun! What you  want is for the G-8 to add Brazil (which would be valid–it’s got a huge economy). Then the prophecy mavens will be turning themselves inside out to explain how the now G-9 could add just one of China and India, or else which country would be eliminated. (“Wait! The EU, barring the UK, becomes one country. So that reduces France-Germany-Italy to one, leaving seven with Brazil; add China and India–that’s nine. Er. . .”)

    Remember that most of these folks are pretty U.S.-Centric, so their list of countries they even think of is pretty limited. (“Sweden! They’re socialists!”)

    That is the moment when those of us with a (former) foot in the PMD community start calling each other before big family gatherings: “Hey, Uncle Harry is going to be there, and Cousin Wilberforce is bringing that preacher who does the prophecy maps. You wanna bring the popcorn, or shall I?”

  • aunursa

    And Todd Akin slew pretty much any chance of … Mitt becoming King

    Unlikely.  Missouri voters continue to favor Romney, according to a new Mason-Dixon poll.  Akin will only take himself down.

    McCaskill 50, Akin 41
    Romney 50, Obama 43

  • Pacal

    Nicolae just doesn’t make any sense has a villian. He is suppossed to be the embodiment of evil and to know that he is the instrument of Lucifer / Satan on Earth. He is self consciously “evil” and allied to to wickedness. Of course he knows the Bible prophecies in depth and that he is the AntiChrist. Yet Nicolae quite deliberately decides to do all the things the AntiChrist is suppossidly prophesized to do!! In otherwords he seems to take the book of Revelations as his game plan!

    Just why the hell, (pardon the pun), would he do so. given that he is the embodiment of evil and fully aware of it and his conection to Lucifer just why would he decide to fullfill, so exactly the plan that ends in his destruction  and being cast into a lake of fire!!!

    Just why is he bound to fullfill a prophecy that ends in his destruction, that he knows full well about? Why is he doing it! It doesn’t make sense.

    Now it can be argued that he expects to at the last minute compile enough force to defeat Jesus and thus upend the prophecy. If so it is puzzling how he would think fullfilling the prophecy exactly all the way down the line up to tat moment would not help to fullfill his own prophsized undoing. Oh and just how are armies of millions of men, with vast arrays of arms and nuclear weapons going to be a match for the returning Jesus given what the exactly fullfilled prophecy up to the moment of return says about what Jesus will do with a thought and a wave of his hand. This is esspecially true given the myriad examples of mass destruction caused by God’s wrath up to the moment of the last battle. Things like rivers turned to blod and slaying 1/3 the sun.

    No credible reason is given for Nicolae thinking he could win given his character.

    What is remarkable is that Nicolae could easily screw up the entire prophetic count down and but a stop to ther arrival of Judgement day and the return of paradise to Earth by simply not fullfilling his prophetic role, which LeHaye indicates Nocolae is well aware of. Given the Nicolae is the embodiment of pure evil why woudn’t he do this? Would it not be pure evil to prevent Judgement day from coming? To delay the arrival of the Earthly paradise?

    In order to for Nicolae to make sense as a villian, has the AntiChrist, I would think Nicolae would have to be NOT aware that he is the AntiChrist and to disbelieve in ther prophetic aspects of the book of Revelations. Instead he is aware and believes in the prophecy of the book of Revelations??!!

  • PJ Evans

     You do realize that Missouri is only one state, and not a large one?

  • PJ Evans

     In fact, have some polls.

  • Tricksterson

    Noooo!  That way lies madness!

  • The question of free agency rears its head and that’s what really hobbles L&J here. Because of the religious faith they come from, the doctrine they believe in requires that these things occur in the order that they claim prophecy shows them.

    But for this to be presented in the book series, either:

    1. The characters cannot know the exact details of the prophecies,
    2. If they do, they must believe that the prophecies can be averted.

    If neither of these applies, you have characters who can’t influence events. They nust perforce be passive observers, showing us, the audience, what will happen through those seven years of trial and tribulation.

    And so we have telephone calls, super-secret microphoned airplanes, and computer geniuses hearing super-secret microphones in Evil HQ.

    But to the extent that they take any action it is purely to save themselves or save a select few.

    In the hands of a better author (as I keep seeming to say) the mounting sense of catastrophe amid impotence to change events could be a fascinating look into the head of a person who knows the future and can’t change it.

    But here, it relegates the books to a series of travelogues and spy reports masquerading as science fiction action-adventure.

  • Donalbain

     As goes Missouri, so goes the nation?

    Isn’t that the saying?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Oh God, are the bloody polling links leaking into Left Behind threads now too?

  • In the hands of a better author (as I keep seeming to say) the mounting sense of catastrophe amid impotence to change events could be a fascinating look into the head of a person who knows the future and can’t change it.

    I believe Frank Herbert set out to explore that with the Dune franchise.  Heck, he even had an analysis of how religious belief gets woven into things like that, regardless of the faithfulness or lack thereof of the one making the prophecies.  

    In the end, such prescience is a trap, and one might find oneself making the choice to do horrible things because the knowledge that not doing them will lead to even worse results.  One can know the future, but be locked into one destiny, or one can not know the future and have more choice.  

    Ultimately Leto II’s effort was to create a future that was unknowable, even for those who could see into it.  

  • I could see all of this going down as a sort of Reichstag fire writ large–the excuse Nicolae needs to clamp down on those unruly post-Rapture Christians he’s pretty much ignored until now.  By playing the conspiracy as being bigger than it really is, and pinning the blame on a convenient scapegoat, he can bully the population into accepting more stringent restrictions and create the persecution Revelation says will take place in the end times.  This part of the book actually works. Unfortunately our ‘heroes’ (and I use that term very loosely) once again fail to do anything heroic, or even merely productive, with their information and access.  Buck delivering his testimony live (yes, he’s a print reporter, but showing his GC credentials to a television news affiliate would get him on the air)  just as Chicago disappears in radioactive hellfire would shake Nicolae’s regime to its core.  He doesn’t have to worry about retaliation, after all.

  • No, Alan Thicke has fifty times more talent and a hundred times more class.

  • Tricksterson

    Nuke ’em from orbit.  It’s the only way to be sure.

  • aunursa

    You do realize that Missouri is only one state, and not a large one?

    Thanks for pointing that out.  Todd Akin’s effect on Mitt Romney will be nil outside of Missouri.  The voters who haven’t yet made up their minds are not going to be swayed by the Democrats’ desperate attempts to link Akin to R&R.

    If Todd Akin is going to affect Mitt Romney, it’s going to be in Missouri alone.  Conservative voters who are furious with Akin might stay home, thus depriving Romney of their vote as well.  (And it’s possible that some of the many independent voters who would have otherwise voted for the Republican slate but who switch to McCaskill might pull the lever for for Obama as well, but that’s unlikely.)

  • aunursa

    PJ Evans @ 7:16 PM: Thanks for the polls.  So what you’re telling me is that despite all of Obama’s attack pieces on Romney, the race is neck and neck.  And Romney hasn’t even unleashed the firepower of his fully armed and operational financial advantage yet.  (He’ll be able to do so tomorrow after he is officially nominated.)  Looking good so far. 

    And the CNN poll with Obama leading 49%-47% doesn’t indicate the D/R/I breakdown.
    And the Gallup poll with Obama and Romney tied at 46%-46% is of registered voters.  By contrast, likely voters are generally more conservative than registered voters.

  • Newbiedoobiedoo

    If Ruby Tea is still taking suggestions:Countdown to Amanda and Hattie sitting on a plane, plane go bye-bye and who does Rayford worry about?Countdown to Buck’s dad being either annoyed or thrilled (no adjective! you can’t tell which one!) that the family homestead’s not important enough to bomb so they’re safe, son.I dunno about the Countdown to Verna. 1) we already know Verna ; 2) we already know Buck ; 3) after that we never see her again but that doesn’t mean she died. Buck just doesn’t hang out there much anymore. Of course it’s Ruby Tea’s call, not mine, and maybe the teeth-clenched factor outweighs the surprise factor.But yeah, the Williams men are OK. Lucky Buck. Countdown to Ruby finding a new clever Countdown now that Bruce Barnes is dead: ???????Ideas?  Countdown to the arrival of one of my most despised characters, David Hassid/Hayseed?  Countdown to Ken dying? 

  • Newbiedoobiedoo

    Aww, copy & paste whoops. My bad.

  • SirThinkALot

    “The perpetrators of apparently random and senseless violence are almost always acting according to their own twisted logic. They want something, and they somehow imagine that this violence will let them get it.”
    I dont know about any real world exceptions, but the Joker is perhaps an exception to this.  But then again the Joker is pretty much the polar oppiset of Lahay’s anti-christ:  he makes no pretenses or excuses, nor any attempts to hide the fact that he is a psychopath who kills people just because he can.  

    The anti-christ on the other hand is supposed to be evil, yet at the same time somehow decieve everybody(except for real true Christians), into thinking he is a really good guy who just wants peace and happiness for everybody. 

     Then again he’s also supposed to commit genocide(for lack of a better word) against said real true Christians.  I’m not sure how this cannot contradict his ‘peace and happiness’ vibe, maybe some form of the mind-mojo he’s shown the ability to use could explain that, but it seems like we’re expected to believe he tricks everybody by just being a suave and charming guy….

  • SirThinkALot

    “Anyone know a typical Neil Gaiman novel I could start with?”
    Sandman.  Easily the best thing Gaiman ever wrote.  In fact its easily one of the best things anybody has ever written.  

  • PJ Evans

     Unfortunately, Akin’s views are exactly the same as the GOP party platform. And they’re exactly the same as Ryan’s views.
    So they’re already thoroughly linked in the minds of two-thirds of the voters in the US.

  • PJ Evans

     They’re running polls every night there. They’re honest about them, too: they don’t pick just the ones they like.
    However, the election is decided by electoral votes, and the big states are not likely to vote for the liars.

  • erikagillian

    I’m another who can’t quite get what others see in Gaiman.  I like most of the non-fiction I’ve  read by him, including a book about Douglas Adams and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, called Don’t Panic and I adore Good Omens. 

    They talk about this kind of stuff all through the book, about prophesy and how and why it happens and why they can’t predict things.  Why both sides want to fight etc.  A lot of it comes down to God’s plan being Ineffable.   Both sides are pretty interchangeable too.  That’s something Pratchett talks about in his books.  Now if Pratchett and Gaiman were to take this PMD stuff, they would do amazing things.

    Gaiman won the Dramatic Short Form Hugo tonight, for the Doctor’s Wife episode of Doctor Who.  And he deserves it, that was a great episode.

    Oh, and one other thing they say about the writing of Good Omens, Gaiman was responsible for the Maggots but Pratchett made him let the telemarketers survive.

  • SirThinkALot

    The only thing by Gaiman I can really say I’v enjoyed was Sandman.  

    Good Omens was mostly good because of Pratchetts humor.  It also had a pretty weak ending, which is typical of Gaiman.  American Gods was boring.  I suppose Stardust was okay, but even that I was a huge fan of.  I think overall Gaiman’s writing ‘style’ doesnt translate well from visual arts to pure text.  

    But seriously Sandman was flippen brilliant.  That alone puts Gaiman in the rank of great authors as far as I’m concerned.