NRA: The Old Nature

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 74-89

In 15 pages, Buck Williams is going to have a crisis of conscience.

He will be shocked by his own sinful lapse into unregenerate behavior and will think, with horror, “So, the old nature is still just under the surface.”

That image of “the old nature” comes from St. Paul. Those who are redeemed in Christ, Paul said, would be made anew, transformed into new creatures as part of a new creation. It’s kind of Paul’s earlier version of the “born again” image in John’s Gospel.

This image of a battle between our “old nature” and our reborn, sanctified selves is a favorite in sermons on evangelical piety, and thus this would be a familiar phrase for the born-and-raised evangelical readers Jerry Jenkins is addressing here.

As we’ve noted many times, though, such phrases should not be as familiar to Buck Williams, who was never a church-goer until his post-Rapture conversion. I suppose that here, after the “18 months later” time-skip at the end of the last book, Buck has had time to become more immersed in the culture and jargon of his new evangelical family. But before that time-skip it was always amusing to note how Buck’s recitation of the sinner’s prayer instantaneously imparted to him a comprehensive familiarity with every aspect of evangelical culture, a native-speaker’s flair for its idioms, and an encyclopedic knowledge of the bits of the Bible that the authors read.

Buck’s instant transformation into an evangeliclone isn’t just a silly continuity error or a bit of unrealistic writing. It’s also a missed opportunity — or a rejected opportunity — that reveals something about the authors’ agenda for these books. Showing Buck as someone new to the faith, as someone struggling to understand new ideas, would have been a good way to reach out to readers who were themselves new believers or not-yet believers. But the authors skipped all that, automatically zapping Buck into a fully formed, life-long evangelical Christian — someone just like the readers they have in mind.

This is something that separates the Left Behind series from the rest of the pop-prophecy genre, fiction and non-fiction alike. Read Hal Lindsey or watch the Thief in the Night movies of Donald W. Thompson and you’ll see a desperate effort to evangelize — to reach the unsaved before it’s too late. That effort was often awkwardly over-earnest or unintentionally offensive to the very people they were trying to save, but those writers were, undeniably, trying to save people. They were trying to save you, because they believed that Very Bad Things would happen to you if you did not get saved and they did not want to see Very Bad Things happen to you.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins do want to see Very Bad Things happen to you. They’re disturbingly eager and excited for it. The authors can’t wait until it’s too late for all the sinners. They long to see Jesus start punishing them with earthquakes, locusts and pestilence before ultimately coming back, killing them all, and then bringing them back from the dead just so they can be sent to eternal torture in Hell. This is what those sinners deserve, LaHaye and Jenkins say, because they didn’t listen to LaHaye and Jenkins like they should have.

These books were not written as a plea to the unsaved to get saved before it’s too late. They are written for the already saved readers as a reminder that they are better than those unsaved people. That’s why Buck and Rayford never act, talk or think like new believers. Their conversions in this story were not an attempt to show readers that you, too, can become saved, just like Buck and Rayford. Those conversions, rather, were to show readers that Buck and Rayford, too, could become saved just like us.

And but so, what prompts Buck’s crisis of conscience at the end of these 15 pages? What is it that he does that causes him to recoil at his own behavior, lamenting that “the old nature is still just under the surface”?

He says a swear word.

It’s not clear which one — L&J and Tyndale, of course, did not print the word he says. From the context, though, I’m guessing it was the D-word: Darn it!

Buck dialed the number in the Range Rover. How many dozens of times had he done this now? He knew the routine by heart. … He pressed the phone to his ear. “The mobile customer you have called –” Buck swore and gripped Verna’s phone so tightly he thought it might break. He took a step and pulled his arm back as if to fire the blasted machine into the side of a building. He followed through but hung onto the phone, realizing it would be the stupidest thing he had ever done. He shook his head at the word that had burst from his lips when that cursed recording had come one. So, the old nature is still just under the surface.

We’ve just skipped over 15 pages — some of which involves Rayford scenes that we’ll come back to later — so let’s go back and see how Buck wound up here, on the sidewalk, cursing at this betrayal by the very device he has always loved and served.

Buck is racing towards Chicago in a borrowed car, desperately searching for his wife who was trying to flee the city but crashed as the bombs began to fall.

Verna Zee’s car was a junky old import. It was rattly and drafty, a four-cylinder automatic. In short, it was a dog. Buck decided to test its limits and reimburse Verna later, if necessary.

Pride, St. Paul warned, is a mark of our old nature.

Much of the pages that follow give us another taste of Jenkins’ approach to writing an exciting car-chase scene, which is to portray it as just like commuting, except faster:

What he didn’t know was whether she would take Lake Shore Drive (which locals referred to as the LSD) or the Kennedy. This was more her bailiwick than his, but his question soon became moot. Chicago was in flames, and most of the drivers of cars that clogged the Kennedy in both directions stood on the pavement gaping at the holocaust.

If you’re wondering how there’s anything left to gape at, and anyone left to do the gaping, it’s because in these books nuclear bombs are apparently rather small and not radioactive (they seem a lot like conventional bombs, except, somehow, nuclear).

The next several pages give us scene after scene of Buck trying to make his way through disaster-area traffic. Throughout all of this, he is again portrayed as an aggressive driver, constantly on the lookout for ways to outsmart and outmaneuver anyone who gets in his way. The highway is a jungle, and Buck is determined to be king of the jungle:

When he whipped Verna’s little pile of junk onto the shoulder, he found he wasn’t alone. Traffic laws and civility went out the window at a time like this. …

The biggest jam-ups came at the bridge overpasses where the shoulders ended and those fighting to go around stalled traffic had to take turns picking their way through. Angry motorists rightfully tried to block their paths. Buck couldn’t blame them. He would have done the same in their places.

Buck left the expressway and picked his way though side streets for more than an hour until reaching Evanston. By the time he got to Sheridan Road along the lake, he found it barricaded but not guarded.

… He had bounced over a couple of curbs and couldn’t avoid smashing one traffic barrier where Sheridan Road jogged to meet Lakeshore Drive. All along the Drive he saw cars off the road, emergency vehicles with lights flashing, and disaster relief specialists trying to flag him down. He floored Verna Zee’s little car, and no one dared step in front of him. He had most of the lanes open all the way down the Drive, but he heard people shouting, “Stop! Road closed!”

Nowhere is Buck’s selfish, aggressive dickishness behind the wheel ever portrayed as anything other than a positive — as evidence that he’s a take-charge, can-do man’s man. Neither he nor the authors seems to realize that their concept of a manly man is almost indistinguishable from St. Paul’s portrait of the self-centered “old man” of our old nature. They view his aggression as justified here because he’s in an emergency — he’s trying to find his wife. It never registers for Buck or the authors that, with Chicago “in flames,” everyone else is in an emergency too. They don’t even seem to grasp that those “emergency vehicles with lights flashing” might be in an emergency, or that by interfering with “disaster relief specialists” Buck is probably interfering with disaster relief.

In post-disaster Chicago, Buck is basically like Billy Zane in Titanic, racing to shoulder his way into a lifeboat before somebody else claims the seat. But here the authors expect us to be cheering for Billy Zane.

The barricade that shut down Lake Shore Drive and the exit looked like something from the set of Les Miserables. Squad cars, ambulances, fire trucks, construction and traffic horses, caution lights, you name it, were stretched across the entire area, manned by a busy force of emergency workers. Buck came to a screeching halt, swerving and sliding about 50 feet before his right front tire blew.

The thing about coming to a “screeching halt” — apart from the cliché — is that once one arrives at a halt, one ought to be halted, and not sliding another 50 feet, blowing a tire, and spinning around into a crowd of “emergency workers.” But eventually, Buck comes to an actual halt and finds himself in trouble with a policewoman:

She thrust her weapon through the window and pressed it to his temple. “Both hands where I can see ‘em, scumbag!”

Are you picturing Angie Dickinson in the 1970s TV show Police Woman? Because even if you’re not, I’m pretty sure Jerry Jenkins was when he wrote that bit of dialogue.

We’re still several pages away from Buck’s self-flagellation for saying a naughty word. In the course of those pages (which we’ll get to in a future post) he continues to be self-centered, threatening, rude, short-tempered, impatient, unkind and spiteful toward several emergency personnel and to Verna and Loretta over the phone.

Buck does not chastise himself for any of that. Nor do the authors at any point or in any way suggest that any of that is less than exemplary Christian behavior. It’s simply Buck being a manly man, just like Jesus.

  • Matri

    In 15 pages, Buck Williams is going to have a crisis of conscience.

    So, in real time that’s, what? 37 seconds? 38?

  • Matri

    There is seriously no way anyone born after 1960 wrote that.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I think that there’s an argument to be made that Left Behind is the story of the Antichrist and Lucifer setting up a patsy fake Antichrist and Lucifer (Nicolae and Left Behind Lucifer) so that they (real Antichrist and Lucifer) can show up at the end posing as Jesus and God.

    That’s the reason it fits a Bible Prophecy scheme not found in the actual Bible, they’re playing to pop culture.

    The trouble is Left Behind lacks:
    a) The Christians who do the right thing.
    b) The reveal at the end that this was all a plot from the evil side when Jesus in a goofy hat (see Fred’s posts on Left Behind the movie) finally reveals himself.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I always figured Buck had said the “G-Darn Word”

    Gorram?  Buck said, “Gorrammit”?

    Well I guess that shows that even bad people can like good things.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    “This was more her bailiwick than his-” Everything stopped as Cameron Williams questioned the narration.

    “Her baliwick?” he asked.

    “Yes, Mr. Williams, my bailiwick,” Mrs. Fredrick said from the back seat of the car.

    Cameron looked to see her, he was sure the seat had been empty, “How did you…”

    “That’s not important.”  She handed him a folder.

    “What’s this?”

    “An invitation to endless wonder.”

    “Lady, I’ll take an invitation to endless shit shoveling if it’ll get me out of these goddamned books.”  This was true, but incomplete, so Cameron provided some context, “But I have to find my wife and make sure she’s safe first.”

    “That’s already being taken care of.”

    Arte showed up at the car window, “We think the artifact is probably Scofield’s personal bible.”

  • D9000

    The scene: a small house in North London, currently occupied by the judeo-atheist cell known as ‘the D9000 family’. 
    Mrs D: What are you doing?
    Me: i’m reading this blog. It’s very good.
    Mrs D: What’s it about?
    Me: It’s by this liberal Christian dude from America. Talks about American politics and Christianity a lot.
    Mrs D: Sounds very boring. And you are reading this why?
    Me: Um, well, I like this guy Fred Clark who writes it, he’s very funny, and there’s kind of a cool crowd who hang out there … um … look, he does these deconstructions of some awful series of fundamentalist novels all about the Apocalypse … (tails off weakly under spousal over-the-specs disbelieving look)
    [beat]
    Mrs D: (returning to reading Middlemarch) Boy, do you need a new hobby.

  • GeniusLemur

     And this is exactly the WRONG place (big surprise) to bring this up. It should be “she would take Lake Shore Drive” or “she would take the LSD.” But if Buck’s frantic, he’s never in a million years going to gratuitously add “which the locals called LSD”

  • GeniusLemur

     Well, they’re right-wingers in modern America. They think “meet me halfway” means “admit I’m completely right and you’re completely wrong.” Sort of like they think “compromise” means “Give me everything I want without getting anything in return.”

  • GeniusLemur

     And why is this kid worried about going to church? As we’ve seen again and again in LB, you say the magic words and don’t have sex. That’s it. LB’s God doesn’t give a rat’s behind about anything else. Praying and attending church are superfluous, just like giving a crap about your neighbor.

  • Mrs Grimble

     

    The first time I read this story, I thought it was quite remarkable that
    this had happened. The second time, I said, “Hmmm?” The eighth time, it
    occurred to me that this wasn’t a real story, it was a talking point
    with a plot that someone had distributed widely.

    That tale belongs to a breed of fiction known as Glurge.  Glurge stories are  always sappy-sweet, are always presented as a true story (which they never are) and usually involve some combination of Jesus, babies, kittens, puppies, cute kids, old ladies, sunbeams  and terminal illness.
     Snopes, where the term was invented, keeps a containment chamber of glurge here.

  • Amaryllis

    Reposted from the music thread, because this is really the more appropriate place for it:

    We interrupt this conversation to bring you the RaptureReady notion of seasonally appropriate desktop wallpaper:

     http://www.raptureready.com/wallpaper/vwp9b.jpg

    Or maybe it’s always appropriate.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    SEE?  seeseeseeseesee???   :D

    This is what I was talking about last night: this 12-year-old was no atheist.  He’s a Christian kid with parents who took him to church and an aunt who has the entire LB series prominently displayed on her shelves.  (And I can safely assume that the aunt is not someone like me, who collects Christian fiction in order to make fun of it.)  There is nothing for him to convert to or commit to–he was already there.

  • GeniusLemur

     That reminds me of the gun people and the absolutely amazing number of them who’ve been approached by obvious thugs who backed off when the gun guy revealed his weapon. It never, of course, gets to the point that the weapon is actually used and there’d be a police report to back up their story.

  • http://twitter.com/AbelUndercity Abel Undercity

    Are you picturing Angie Dickinson in the 1970s TV show Police Woman

    Judge Anderson, actually.

  • Ben English

     I think this accounts for a lot of it. For everyone who read the books as a ‘neener neener neener’ revenge fantasy, there were people like me as a teen, inundated with Evangelical idiom and thought from a young age. The idea of salvation as a sort of quasi-magical binary in which the criteria ‘not sure’ was, according to the preachers, ‘definitely not saved’… it led me terrified of the thought of the Rapture, and I read the books more or less as a desperate bid to convince myself that if I were left behind I’d at least still have a chance to become an RTC before, in all likelyhood, I was horribly killed by tumult or Antichrist.

    Needless to say that this state of affairs eventually led to general anxiety disorder.

  • quietglow

    Wow, you’re right. The part that rings false to me (besides that the aunt visited and borrowed the first of an entire set that had been sitting there for over a decade) is “I was bored, read this book, and  naturally, I was bitten by the churchgoing bug! I want to attend all the time and eat breakfast there!”

    Nothing so far has suggested there’s anything more valuable in church than the timeline, and the timeline is already exhaustively covered in the books. The connection just doesn’t follow.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    I did have a Baptist friend at Uni who was a convert from Sikhism. 

  • P J Evans

    Or how highway 101 drops its definite article somewhere between LA and San Jose.
     
    Probably that’s the entire section where it’s the only highway/freeway in the area. Which is most of that stretch.

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

    This is what I was talking about last night: this 12-year-old was no atheist. 

    If this is a real person, we’ll probably see them in the comments here in about ten years, saying “I thought these books were so great when I was 12…” :-D

  • Raj1point618

    He shook his head at the word that had burst from his lips

    Ohhhhhhhhh…FUUUUUUUUUUUDGGGE!

  • Lori

    WTH?

    I know that every subculture has things that appear odd to outsiders, but I still can’t get over the fact that someone looks at that and thinks it’s in any way a good idea. I can’t imagine what it would be like to like at that every time I used my computer.

    Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s intended for folks who feel the need to cut down on their computer time.

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

    Amaryllis: Just… oh my god. JUST NO.

    Not directed at you, at the people who thought creepy ghosts rising out of graves was a good idea for a wallpaper D-:

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    And in 1024×768 resolution, no less? (Or more accurately, no more.)  What century are they living in, anyway?

  • Worthless Beast

    To chris the cynic:  Sadly, this was before Firefly, though imagining Buck screaming curses in Mandrin punctuated with words like “ruttin’!” while being chased through bombed-out Chicago by Reavers may make reading these things more enjoyable
     
    To Ben English: I was actually thinking the other day upon what “reasons” I may have had for liking these books when I did.  I read them soon after high school. I remember liking Buck for some inexplicable reason, but I disliked Rayford from the start. I’d cringe reading his chapters because even when I was “reading for the explosions” he stood out as a turbo-jerk to me and I was reading past his parts quickly to get to the Nicholae parts because they were more interesting.  Eventual boredom with the plot holes, cardboard-women, jerkiness of the “heroes” and realizing I was only there for the boom-boom got me to stop checking them out from the library.  I’ve come to the thought that I was putting up with such “cold” protagonists (*especially Rayford*) for the sake of the excitement of mass-death and destruction because I was an outcast during my childhood and high school years.  Frankly, I’m still a social outcast, but for anyone who’s “different” or has some undiagnosed disorder while in school / high school, it’s kind of hell and I think it has a way of cultivating in even the most sensitive and empathetic people (perhaps *especially* sensitive folks) a … desire to watch the world burn.  At least in fiction. 

    I remember reading “The Stand” around the same time…

    I seem to remember it not mattering to me as much as it “should” have that most people in the world of these books (and their theology) were going to burn and the heroes really only cared about themselves and their own – the world was literally going to Hell around them, and that was the “way things were supposed to be.”  For someone who’s been excluded, insulted, emotionally abused, targeted, made the designated target of all bullies and jerks from about kindergarten on for being naturally sensitive, easy to tears and a bit eccentric/a victim of then-unknown brain-disorder … yeah, one can  develop a “The world can go to Hell and I want to watch it happen” attitude even at a time when one has just “dedicated themselves to Christ.”  And if you’re coming *right* out of that kind of “the world targets you for it’s amusement at torturing you or is indifferent” environment, things like Left Behind might be right up your alley as far as revenge fantasy against the world goes. 

    Even though I’ve realized how bad this particular book series is, I still have a touch of this darkness.  I love watching speculative documentaries like “Life After People” and History and Travel Channel tours of ruined, post-apocalyptic places.  Yes, I’m just the kind of person who’d love to visit Pripyat in the Ukraine. 
     

  • http://profiles.google.com/vlowe7294 Vaughn Lowe

    -Verna’s car that she was kind enough to lend and he spends the entire scene bitching how awful it is. What. An. Asshole.

    That was my reaction exactly.  It almost as if L&J are Trying to make us dislike him.  “Ugh, such an awful thing that I have to ride around in this Inferior vehicle.  Lucky Chloe gets to tool around in my Range Rover.  Never going to let her drive again.” 

    That’s the sort of thing we’d read in the mind of a villain, or at least a jerk character in any other book.  A normal person wouldn’t care what they were riding around, they’d be grateful that they had a way to find out if their wife was still alive.

  • quietglow

     Yikes. They don’t even happy to be rising from the grave. They’re smiling if I lean in real close and squint, but at first I thought the one with the mustache was wailing, and the woman’s face looks all mouth.

    Even the arm coming in with the lantern, the usual point for normal, is a little wrong.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    It’s a northern/southern California shibboleth: in LA they drive on The 101 etc, up here in the Bay Area it’s just 101. 

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Time for a nice Plants vs Zombies mallet and gravestone-eater.

  • Antigone10
  • P J Evans

     Possibly. Although around here, it’s mostly because there are so many of the things. Some of them get called by name and number, because on will change but not the other. Although I remember even in the 60s and 70s, it was the 101, the 280, the 680, the Nimitz, the Bayshore, the Macarthur….

  • Newbiedoobiedoo

    Oog, I watched “Left Behind: World at War” on Bounce TV recently. It ends where Book 2 ends. I’ve heard that the book-writers weren’t too pleased with the film-writing and would reboot the series if they could. Some obvious changes:

    *FilmAmanda looks wholesomely blonde. We don’t actually know what Amanda looks like except that FilmAmanda doesn’t quite look like a person who would wears furs and the fine jewelry BookRayford brought from Paris. (I was picturing Joan Collins playing SavedAmanda, fwiw.)

    *Also, FilmAmanda doesn’t look fifty-plus, except in Hollywood. She’s supposed to be about 10 years older than Rayford, maybe a little less.

    *FilmHattie threatens the FilmSteeles repeatedly.

    *FilmAmanda figures out that this is because FilmHattie is scared. FilmNick doesn’t know that FilmHattie is pregnant, and she figures he’s going to be not amused.

    *FilmAmanda invites FilmHattie to flee with them to safety right from the start. FIlmHattie tears up and says she can’t leave him.

    *FilmWidow is a major player. FilmWidow is Eric Miller’s widow. (Remember him? AllVersionsCam pointed AllVersionsNick in his direction, and Nick killed him. FilmWidow, whose name is Carolyn, goes Trib Force on FilmNick, gets a job as his aide, and works with FilmPOTUS, Mr. Britain, and Mr. Egypt to take down FilmNick.

    *FilmPOTUS tries to kill FilmNick.

    *Twice.

    *The first time with a porcelain gun (think the stuff you use to fix your teeth). The bullets sail through FilmNick as if he isn’t there, killing one of his lackeys.

    *FilmNick doesn’t like this, so he tosses FilmPOTUS out of a skyscraper window.

    *FilmJesus (we presume) saves FilmPOTUS’s life before FilmPOTUS is officially Saved. After FilmPOTUS does his “Die Hard” impression by landing on a car, he shakes his head and runs away from the car he landed on. FilmNick snarls that that’s not possible.

    *FilmNick convinces Mr. Britain and Mr. Egypt that FilmPOTUS has betrayed them. For this betrayal, FilmWidow considers shooting him.

    *FilmNick has done this by nuking the three American cities of the novels. FilmNick also has 97 (count ‘em, ninety-seven) other nukes standing by, but apparently he needs Mr. China and Mr. Russia to launch them.

    *FilmPOTUS, having had a very bad day, decides that FilmCam is not his friend. He abducts FilmCam, bonds and bag over head and all that.

    *FilmPOTUS tells FilmCam that if FilmCam doesn’t “deny Jesus Christ” right now, FilmPOTUS is going to shoot him dead right now. FilmPOTUS even makes the little clicking noise you make when you’re aiming the gun.

    *FilmCam refuses to deny Jesus Christ. FilmCam uses the words, “No, I will not deny Christ. I am a Christian.” Repeat: FilmCam uses the word No and Christian.

    *FilmPOTUS lets him go. FilmCam witnesses to FilmPOTUS.

    *Twice.

    *It takes the second time. FilmPOTUS is saved.

    *FilmPOTUS is in the burning Oval Office when he gets saved. FilmCam got a feeling that he should go there and deliver his second witnessing.

    *FilmWorld is getting sick with an inexplicable plague. FilmCam shows FilmPOTUS a verse in the Bible predicting pestilence.

    *Unfortunately it’s the Christians getting sick, not the FilmNickFollowers. Turns out that FilmNick has anthraxed all the Bibles.

    *This only applies to new Bibles in the Bible-printing factories or stores or whatever. Since FilmCam is carrying a used Bible (either FilmIrene or FilmBruce’s), FilmCam doesn’t get sick.

    *The dying FilmBruce tells everyone to have Holy Communion, particularly the dying FilmChloe. FilmBruce doesn’t partake (too sick?). Also, I don’t remember seeing the Body (the bread of the field), only the Blood (the fruit of the vine).

    *FilmChloe feels herself recovering only seconds after partaking of the Blood. “It’s the red wine! That’s the antidote!”

    *Since the mysterious illness is killing mostly FilmChristians, they presumably aren’t taking Communion.

    *Since none of the book characters take Communion, they presumably would have died. If they had gotten sick, if the Bibles had been anthraxed, which they weren’t.

    *FilmPOTUS decides to try to kill FilmNick a second time. He does a “Captain Sheridan at Zha’ha’dum” and has missiles lock on his telephone. The building blows up real good, killing the saved FilmPOTUS.

    *FilmNick walks out through the flames, looking annoyed and pleased at the same time. End of film.

    And things that were not in the books but are consistent with them:

    *In her wedding vows, FilmAmanda calls her husband “Captain Rayford Steele” in the I-name-do-take-thee-Name-to-be-my-wedded-etc. sentence.

    *FilmCam wants to go do something reckless; the Steeles calm him down by holding his hands and praying with him. When they pray their first sentence to God to guide FilmCam, his phone rings.

    Ch-ch-changes …

  • veejayem

    I’m glad you’re both OK. And I’m sure you’re absolutely right about those “inspirational” stories. The person(s) posting them presumably thinks that it’s all in a Good Cause but such raising of false hopes seems a terribly cruel thing to do.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    The vibe of “I can’t be bothered” both series give off.

    This, SO much. I’ve read terrible books before, but never until reading Twilight and seeing Fred’s analysis of the Left Behind series have I seen novels which the authors did not give the least little possible damn about. Novels written too quickly, not edited enough, novels with silly characters and sillier plot devices and wonky styles, yes. But never novels which the authors so blatantly didn’t care about in the very least, and couldn’t be bothered to keep up continuity for even two sentences. 

    It’s very strange to read stuff like this. It’s deeply insulting to readers, for one thing. And I have to wonder if this particular kind of hackery, this not caring even the slightest possible bit, is related to the right-wing U.S. racist-misogynist-homophobic-classist religion Jenkins and Meyer both share. One’s an Evangelical Christian and one’s a Mormon, but that’s just a label. They are so very much alike.

  • AndrewSshi

     The first time I read this story, I thought it was quite remarkable that
    this had happened. The second time, I said, “Hmmm?” The eighth time, it
    occurred to me that this wasn’t a real story, it was a talking point
    with a plot that someone had distributed widely.

    In a way, this makes me think of something similar that happens in discussion fora when the issue of whether the sex industry is exploitative comes up.  All of a sudden, you’ll get someone posting that “No, I’m not exploited, I’m a prostitute because I just really, really love fucking.” Not really related to your point, but it’s a sort of example of Patterns that Occur on Discussion Boards.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Um, having spoken to actual sex workers and read a lot of Greta Christina…some sex workers are absolutely not being exploited. Some absolutely are and that needs to be dealt with, and the less legal it is to be a sex worker the less safe it is to be a sex worker (and people who wish to make sex work illegal always seem to focus on the supply, not the demand), but some sex workers are not being exploited, and that is a key point that must be kept in mind during any discussion of exploitation in the sex industry.

  • AndrewSshi

     My point was more just that it’s mighty suspicious that the Sex Loving Prostitute always seems to come up and post on these discussions. The first, second, or fifth time, sure, I’d be willing to believe that. But eventually, I begin to suspect that whoever’s posting, it’s not a sex loving prostitute.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Okay, that’s fair.

  • Makabit

    I know some women in sex work who are independent gals who run their own business and seem to like their work well enough. But I agree with Andrew that that is rather different from the “I love sex work because I just love having sex so muuuch, and I can get money for it! I’d do it for free! Giggle giggle!”

    I’ve never heard that out of a real person’s mouth. It’s something fantasy prostitutes say.

  • Tricksterson

    Yes, while I was reading thoseparts i wanted to shout at the screen, “If you don’t like it, then walk!”

  • GDwarf

     

    We interrupt this conversation to bring you the RaptureReady notion of seasonally appropriate desktop wallpaper:

     http://www.raptureready.com/wa…

    Or maybe it’s always appropriate.

    So, lessee here… We’ve got a heavily-compressed JPEG as a desktop background. That’s strike the first.

    Then we’ve got the fonts: I was unaware that it was still 1990, ’cause I think that was the last time anyone seriously used such typefaces. The Biblical citation is also…poorly done. Why is it so large? Why is it done entirely by outline? Why is it a white outline against a light-grey church? I also note that they’ve failed at centring the Rapture Ready logo.

    The ghosts are all of people who died of having nothing below their torsos and arms that would break off in a stiff breeze. The closest one either has pigtails or horns, it’s hard to tell. I think the man to her right is smiling, but he might just have an impressive moustache. The woman in the centre appears to have been raptured in the middle of doing the YMCA. Also, why do all of them have fairly well-defined faces, but undefined torsos? It makes ‘em look creepy as all get out. I’m also confused as to why the ground is exploding where they passed through it. I mean, they’re spirits, how are they interacting with it? And why only where it stops existing? I also like that some people apparently started to rapture before others.

    Now for the piece-de-resistance. The crowning glory. The hand. Some maniac has taken a picture of a hand holding a hurricane lantern and done a quick cut ‘n paste in Photoshop. Not a good one, though, since you can still see artifacts around it, and the top of the hand appears to have left to appear in a less-silly image. I’ll ignore the somewhat-odd angle it enters the frame at, and just note that this image-manipulating fiend has then simply placed a perfectly spherical yellow circle behind the lantern, resulting in a pattern of illumination found nowhere in nature. Apparently the frame of the lantern doesn’t cast a shadow, and the light it emits is a solid, physical, thing that obscures everything else.

    I note with some sadness that the lantern-holder’s-watch is tilted away from us. I would’ve been interested to know the time of the rapture, though it’s apparently at dawn/dusk on a day with literally purple clouds. Wait, we can see the sun in the image, so what’s with the lantern? How is it brighter than the sun itself?

    One thing I will give them is that the image seems decently balanced. The bottom half needs a bit more, but the mistake of having something right at the centre focal point of the image has been avoided.

    Look: My image manipulation skills are limited to Paint. Even I could probably throw together something like this in half an hour, tops, and I bet it wouldn’t look half as goofy. Why would you put this on your website? Why?

  • fraser

     The same point has been made about scientists who reject evolution for creationism–a lot of them come to that conclusion based on faith, not on science leading them to Genesis.

  • fraser

     ”I just became Christian. I used to be Catholic.” I’ve heard that a lot.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     It kinda looks like something out of a video game. A terrible, terrible low-budget video game.

  • thatotherjean

     I’m pretty sure that the reason the raptured are rendered with defined faces and disappearing torsos is because they’ve been raptured NAKED.  Remember all those neatly folded clothes in the seats on the plane in Book I of the World’s Worst Books?  Fudging the torsos means the “artists” don’t have to deal with everybody’s personal bits.

  • GDwarf

     That does raise the question of just what is being raptured here. I mean, bodies decay. Do our spiritual bodies have genitalia? If so, why don’t they have legs? Theologically that picture is actually rather fascinating.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

      And this is exactly the WRONG place (big surprise) to bring this up. It
    should be “she would take Lake Shore Drive” or “she would take the
    LSD.” But if Buck’s frantic, he’s never in a million years going to
    gratuitously add “which the locals called LSD”

    What baffles me about the entire line of thought is the question, “Where the fuck was she going that the Kennedy and Lake Shore Drive were equally valid options?”  I’m completely and totally without an answer to that.

    The Kennedy is a stretch between the west side downtown and O’Hare.  Lake Shore Drive goes from the middle of the North Side down to Hyde Park along, well, along the lake.  There’s literally only one place where the two roads could possibly lead to the same place and that’s in the Loop, which is where the Drake is, which is where Chloe would have started from.

    Also, too, THE KENNEDY GOES TO O’HARE FROM THE LOOP.  O’HARE WAS JUST DESTROYED.  So if all Chloe wants to do is get out of the city, she shouldn’t be anywhere close to the Kennedy.  If she’s on Lake Shore Drive she should be headed south.  If she’s on an expressway she should be on I-55 headed southwest and trying to hit I-80 or I-88.  At the very worst she should be on the Eisenhower headed directly west from the city.

    I mean, again, the Kennedy goes to O’Hare.  And Lake Shore Drive just kind of…ends in the middle of the North Side, which isn’t really where you want to be if you’re in a hurry to get anywhere.  The only option going northbound is to head up the Kennedy to the Edens, which splits off and heads for Milwaukee before O’Hare, but, again…O’HARE WAS JUST DESTROYED.  I cannot stress that enough.

    I mean, it’s almost forgivable that Jerry Jenkins doesn’t understand what the streets of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem actually look like, since he’s probably not spent a lot of time in either place.  But he’s supposedly got some sort of Chicago roots.  Obviously he’s one of those people who never actually drove anywhere near the city.

  • hidden_urchin

    You’re not the only one, Worthless Beast.  My library of books on historical disasters is quite extensive and I think “Life After People” is one of the best things History Channel has done recently.  The best part of the show is when they go to an abandoned location.  I still love pictures of decaying places and think they have their own dark beauty.

  • Daughter

    Buck’s lack of recognition of his general assholery as sin, but feeling convicted about swearing, reminds  me of the book, My Life Without God, the autobiography/conversion story of William Murry, Madelyn Murray O’Hair’s son, who is now an evangelical minister. I came to a different conclusion about the author than I think he intended: what I read was a story of multi-generational abuse and rebellion against abusive parents that played itself out in switching from theism to atheism and back.

    Madelyn Murray O’Hair’s religious father was extremely abusive, and she became an atheist dedicated to stripping religion from pubic life in reaction to him. She in turn was abusive to her son William, who became a Christian as an adult, declaring, “There has to be a God, because I’ve already lived through hell.”

    However, after his conversion, he seems only to regret having lived his early life without faith, having been the plaintiff in the Supreme Court decision outlawing official school prayer, and to some extent, his alcoholism. Yet never once in the book does he express remorse for abusing his own wife (who later divorces him) and children, nor does he do anything to make amends for it. In fact, he continues to be a jerk toward them, and even describes slapping his teenage daughter in the face post-conversion.

    Not surprisingly, that teenage daughter declared herself an atheist and went to work for Grandma’s organization (she was the young woman who was later kidnapped and killed with her grandmother).

  • hidden_urchin

    They look like they’re being launched like rockets.  To my mind, this makes the Rapture much more interesting.

  • hidden_urchin

    Just last year I had a prof ask me if I was the primary writer on a paper for a group report and, when I said that I was, told me, “This is incredible.  Engineers don’t write like this.”

    I appreciatd the compliment but didn’t really need the reminder as to how out of place I am in my program.


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