NRA: A whoopee cushion on Hitler’s chair

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 89-92

The main outlines of 20th-century “Bible prophecy” mythology were well-established before Tim LaHaye came along. That mythology is flexible enough to allow each successive storytelling entrepreneur a chance to put their own unique spin on it, but ultimately they need to stick with the established storyline.

LaHaye’s particular contribution was to cram as many Cold-War-era John Birch Society conspiracies as he could into the existing outline. Thus we get LaHaye’s version of the Antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia, who looks like “a young Robert Redford” and embodies the liberal youth culture that LaHaye has been railing against ever since Robert Redford looked like a young Robert Redford. When we first meet Nicolae, he’s all about peace, unity, harmony and all that Aquarian hippie stuff that’s always infuriated LaHaye.

Tribulation Force scientists have developed a new secret weapon in their battle against the villainy of the Antichrist.

But eventually, the prophecy mythology requires that even this supposed pacifist must “rise” to become the Antichrist the plot demands. The hippie-peacenik will have to be transformed into a mass-murdering tyrant and the cruelest, deadliest dictator the world has ever seen. This is a story about the end of the world and the culmination of history. So if the Antichrist is to be the ultimate evil chronologically, he also needs to be the ultimate evil in terms of degree. Otherwise history would seem kind of anticlimactic.

Plus there’s that title — Anti-Christ. Although LaHaye and most other “Bible prophecy scholars” don’t seem very interested in pursuing the idea, that name suggests that the Antichrist is to be a kind of evil mirror-opposite of Christ. So in a sense, if the Antichrist is anything less than the ultimate evil, it would suggest that Christ was something less than the ultimate good. To diminish the Antichrist’s evilness would seem to diminish Christ’s goodness, and they can’t have that.

But this superlative evil creates a challenge for Bible prophecy storytellers. It Godwins the thread. If the Antichrist is to be the greatest monster ever in the history of the world, then he’ll need to be obviously worse than any of the actual usual candidates for that title. It won’t work to have your Antichrist wind up seeming almost as bad as Mao, or nearly as bad as Stalin, or merely “kind of Hitler-y.” He needs to be clearly, emphatically worse than any other possible candidate.

Here in the third book is where LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins finally get around to Nicolae’s first steps toward joining that pantheon of monsters. After spending the first year and a half of the Great Tribulation seeming like not that bad a guy, Nicolae Carpathia has suddenly started nuking population centers and arbitrarily slaughtering millions of people. After claiming only a handful of murders in the first two books, our Antichrist is now starting to accumulate the kind of body count that makes his claim to be the ultimate evil a bit more credible. The authors are starting to build their case that Nicolae is worse than any of the deadly tyrants of history.

This presents two serious challenges for the authors — challenges they hardly seem aware of, let alone capable of facing.

The first problem is that all those actual tyrants whose crimes Nicolae will need to out-do were real people who really killed other real people. It’s a tricky thing to write a novel with an antagonist who appears worse than Hitler, Stalin or Mao without seeming to diminish the gravity and horror of what those actual figures did. It might be possible for a good writer to pull that off, acknowledging and honoring the full horror of the real history while at the same time exceeding it in a fictional setting, but L&J aren’t up to the task.

In their view, such a task is unnecessary, since they don’t regard their story as fiction. Theirs is an account of Bible prophecy — so it’s not a made-up story, just a true story that hasn’t happened yet. Since they believe their fictional story is a future matter of fact, it comes across as matter-of-fact — as glib where it ought to be grave.

They compound this problem. First they insist that Nicolae’s misdeeds are worse than the crimes of any real tyrant from history — which diminishes both those crimes and their real-world victims. And then they further diminish them by insisting that even Nicolae’s atrocities aren’t all that bad, since all the civilians he’s slaughtering are sinners who deserved their fate.

The second problem with making Nicolae out to be Worse Than Hitler is that both Buck Williams and Rayford Steele are working for  Nicolae. If Nicolae is more evil than Hitler, then how is serving as Nicolae’s personal pilot not worse than serving as Hitler’s chauffeur?

Jerry Jenkins seems to realize he’s painted himself into a corner. He sent his heroes off to work as close confidants of the Antichrist mainly as a narrative convenience, justifying their service to Nicolae as a kind of infiltration by the resistance. But if they are double-agents working for the resistance, then at some point Buck and Rayford will need to resist, and the fatalistic logic of prophecy means that resistance is futile — or maybe even forbidden.

The heroes’ complacency toward and their co-operation with the arch-villain has been a problem for Jenkins ever since Buck and Rayford accepted their new jobs, but that problem has gotten far more acute now that Nicolae has begun acting like the Antichrist and perpetrating deadly evil on a massive scale. Increasingly, our heroes just seem to be complicit in monstrous evil.

Jenkins acknowledged this problem for Buck in the passage we looked at last week, where Buck reassured himself, and readers, that he had tried really hard to use his position as publisher of Global Weekly for good, but:

As much as he tried … everything seemed to come out with the spin of the master deceiver. … Buck just hated the idea that he himself was being used to spread propaganda and lies.

Acknowledging the problem isn’t the same thing as fixing the problem, though. As much as Buck may dislike that he is “being used” to support Nicolae’s slaughter of millions of people, neither Buck nor the authors seems to consider withdrawing that support.

That sets us up for this next scene with Rayford Steele. He goes beyond Buck’s tepid reluctance to take bold action against the Antichrist.

Or, rather, to take what the authors think of as bold action against the Antichrist. Jenkins seems to think this addresses the problem of his heroes’ complicity. I think it makes it worse, but I’ll let you decide.

Having learned that Amanda has safely departed from San Francisco, Rayford is ready to take off, allowing Nicole to destroy the city as soon as they leave. As he taxies Nicole’s plane down the runway, a flight attendant ducks into the cockpit:

“Captain,” she said as he lifted the headphone from his right ear, “not everyone is seated and buckled in.”

“Well, I’m not going to stop,” he said. “Can’t you handle it?”

“The offending party, sir, is Mr. Carpathia himself.”

You can probably see where this is going.

“I don’t have jurisdiction over him,” Rayford said. “And neither do you.”

“Federal Aviation Administration rules require that –”

“In case you haven’t noticed, ‘federal anything’ means nothing anymore. Everything is global. And Carpathia is above global. If he doesn’t want to sit down, he can stand. I’ve made my announcement, and you have given your instructions, right?”

“Right.”

“Then you go get strapped in and let the potentate worry about himself.”

Rayford’s remark there that “Everything is global” is the most explicit statement so far that Nicolae’s one-world government really has superseded every other authority. That doesn’t explain why there still seem to be armed Chicago police officers, like the one who pulled a gun on Buck just 10 pages ago. But even if Jenkins is wildly inconsistent in portraying the monolithic global structure of the OWG, it’s helpful here to realize that this is what the context is supposed to be in our story.

Rayford could have begun gradually and slowly picked up enough speed to go airborne. But everybody enjoyed a powerful takeoff once in a while, right? He throttled up and took off down the runway with such speed and power that he and [copilot] McCullum were driven back into their seats.

“Yeehah!” McCullum cried. “Ride ’em cowboy!”

Rayford … couldn’t resist pressing that intercom button again and hearing what he might have done to Carpathia. In his mind’s eye he pictured the man somersaulting all the way to the back of the plane, and he only wished there was a back door he could open from the cockpit.

“Oh, my goodness!” he heard over the intercom. “Potentate, are you all right?”

Rayford heard movement, as if others were trying to unstrap themselves to help Carpathia, but with the plane still hurtling down the runway, those people would be pinned in their seats by centrifugal force.

“I am all right,” Carpathia insisted. “It is my own fault. I will be fine.”

If you’re writing a scene in which your hero is engaged in some woefully inadequate act of petty rebellion, it’s best not to undermine even that meager deed by having him daydream an exaggerated effect beforehand.

Nicolae, apparently, did not somersault all the way down the aisle.

He fell down.

And then he got back up. He’s fine.

That is the end result of the first and thus far only act of resistance undertaken by any member of the Tribulation Force.

In just the past several hours of this story, Nicolae Carpathia has killed millions of people in London, New York, Washington, Chicago and Dallas. Immediately following this scene, he will kill millions more in San Francisco and Oakland.

Rayford Steele has done nothing to interfere with this slaughter. He will do nothing to warn any of the people who just assisted him at the San Francisco airport. Rayford is a first-hand witness, a bystander, as Nicolae sends forth a wave of death meant to signify that he is worse than Hitler, Stalin or Mao.

And Rayford’s response — his only response — is to accelerate sharply, causing Nicolae to fall over in the aisle of the airplane.

Secretly, he hoped Carpathia had been leaning against one of the seats at the time of the initial thrust. That would have spun him around and nearly flipped him over. Probably my last chance to inflict any justice.

“Justice.”

The greatest monster in the history of the world, the epitome of evil, and this is Rayford’s idea of “justice.” He flies Nicolae to safety so that millions can be killed in Chicago, assists in the global broadcast of the Antichrist’s propaganda, then ferries him away from San Francisco so that everyone in that city, too, can be killed.

But he made Nicolae fall down, without injury. And that’s “justice.”

The more I read about Rayford Steele, the more I think that Nicolae Carpathia will, at most, only seem like the second-most loathesome monster in the history of the world.

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  • Tybult

    Secretly, he hoped Carpathia had been leaning against one of the seats
    at the time of the initial thrust. That would have spun him around and
    nearly flipped him over.

    This makes me envision “Three Stooges vs. the Antichrist,” which is not a thing that exists, and then I am sad:

    “Settle down, you knuckleheads. Boss wants us to deliver this nuclear bombs by the end of the day!”
    Bonk!
    Boioioioing!
    “Nyuck nyuck nyuck!”
    *Slide whistle*
    Slap!
    Crash!
    “Grrr!”
    Whoopwhoopwhoopwhoopwhoop!
    Bonk!
    Wobbitywobbitywobbity!

    That would have been so much better than this story.

  • Keromaru5

    I’d rather like to see a version where Ray does kill Nicolae, and Nicolae is resurrected anyway.  For one thing, it would mean something happened.  For another, it means a hero (using the term loosely, of course) gets killed, which is often a pretty big shock in a story like this, since it shows no one is safe.  It heightens the Antichrist’s menace by simultaneously suggesting to his followers that he actually could be the Messiah, and showing the Trib Force just how powerful he is, perhaps even sowing the seeds of doubt.  It might even shake Buck out of his self-absorbed complacency… but no, that’s probably too implausible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    Well, who’s to say that didn’t happen? Of course Nicolae Mountains Of The Moon would then get up, brush off his suit, tell all his aides “Okay, you didn’t see that. You Did Not See That,” (Mind Mojo optional, they know who signs the paychecks), then sit down and have a glass of, not RTC -approved John Birch worthy JAY-zuz made grape juice, but REAL wine, which is EE-vul, and then quietly resume his Antichrist business. Anyone familiar with James Thurber’s cartoon, “Touche!”, showing two fencers with the one man’s head in the air?

  • EllieMurasaki

    not RTC -approved John Birch worthy JAY-zuz made grape juice, but REAL wine, which is EE-vul

    MIRACLE AT FUCKING CANA HAVE THESE PEOPLE EVER ACTUALLY READ THE GOSPELS

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    The reams and reams of Fundy literature insisting that the water-turned-wine was actually grape juice would not be believed.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Grape juice was not a thing until 1869! http://www.welchs.com/about-welchs/history

  • esmerelda_ogg

     Well, you’re right. Left to its own devices, wine is what grape juice (and the yeast on grape skins) automatically turns into. The trouble is, fundies have absolutely no sense of history, other than a general vague idea that in Bible Times everybody walked around wearing long loose robes and talking in stilted old-timey English.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    MIRACLE AT FUCKING CANA HAVE THESE PEOPLE EVER ACTUALLY READ THE GOSPELS

    Possibly. In their own strange way. Back when I was a fundie teenager being taught to take every single word of the King James Bible literally, it was carefully explained to us that in this particular case, “wine” literally meant “grape juice, just like Welch’s”.

    The logic, it is not of this earth.

    (Edit – sorry, Ann Unemori – I was writing this while you were posting your comment above.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    I repeat: Welch’s was not a thing till 1869. Grape juice was not a thing till Welch’s.

    Or has that gone down the memory hole?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Are… you implying that the early members of the Christian Church did not drink grape juice? (as opposed to wine)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Implying, hell, I’m saying in so many words.

  • Madhabmatics

     Some people think that Christians always abstained from alcohol. All of recorded history, however…

  • Mrs Grimble

    Hell yes – in those days, the only way you’d get to drink non-alcoholic grape juice would be to lie under a grape press with your mouth open.

  • Efleminge

    They did manage to do it somehow, though – for example, the Talmud permits the use of grape juice instead of wine for sacramental purposes.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Grape juice was not a thing till Welch’s.

    Or has that gone down the memory hole?

     
    In fundie world, yes, it absolutely has. (I’m not disagreeing at all that grape juice is recent. You’re right. Unfortunately, they don’t realize it.)

    Oh, and just in case there’s any confusion – many Christians are not fundies and do accept that, in the case of Cana, “wine” literally means “wine”. And we routinely drink a bit every week at church, as directed at the Last Supper.

  • P J Evans

     It certainly wouldn’t have been Concord grape juice before 1600. But grape juice has been around since people discovered wine. (You can’t make me believe that no one tasted grape juice before Welch’s. Muscat grape juice is something else!)

  • esmerelda_ogg

     

    You can’t make me believe that no one tasted grape juice before Welch’s.

    If they drank it right after crushing the grapes, yes, that was what we would consider juice. Let it sit a day or two? It starts to ferment, and pretty soon it’s wine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    Fellow I knew at college (attended a Southern Baptist university) explained the logic this way: 

    1) Jesus was without sin.
    2) Alcohol is sinful.

    Ergo, the wine at Cana must have been non-alcoholic.  Whether every other drop of wine in the Bible was similarly free of corrupting fermentation, and what miracle would have made that possible in Christ’s absence, was not a topic given consideration.

  • Lori

     

    2) Alcohol is sinful.   

    Because?

    This is a discussion that I have periodically with my tea-totaller Church of Christ family. Not long after I arrived here the then-minister (since retired) at their church preached a sermon on the evils of alcohol. He quoted with great vigor the verse requiring that those in leadership positions must not be “given to much wine” and then basically said that clearly meant that we are forbidden to drink. I seem to have been the only one who noticed that his conclusion did not in any way follow from his premise.

    If the Jesus of the New Testament exists he does not give a crap if you drink. If he was here today he’d hook you up with the good stuff. Paul didn’t want problem drinkers in charge of the church, but that may have been a practical issue more than a moral one.

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

    When it comes to alcoholism, the practical and the moral are entwined. Actually, alcoholics are more likely to be able to do well at work than to be good parents, spouses, and members of the community generally. 

    Jesus absolutely would have a problem with people drinking too much, because he wanted people to treat each other well. Alcoholics can not treat the people they care most about well, and they treat themselves the worst of all. 

  • Lori

     

    Jesus absolutely would have a problem with people drinking too much,
    because he wanted people to treat each other well. Alcoholics can not
    treat the people they care most about well, and they treat themselves
    the worst of all.  

    This is a logical assumption, but Jesus never said so. Paul didn’t specify why those who are “given to much wine” couldn’t lead the church, he just said that they couldn’t. None of which can logically be read as a requirement for everyone to be tea totallers, which was my point.

  • Tapetum

     The explanation I was given for grape juice instead of wine was “Back then they didn’t distinguish between the two, except as different kinds of wine. There was ‘new wine’ which was grape juice, and all the other kinds. What Jesus created at Cana and served at the Last Supper was new wine.” No explanation for how they magically knew this was given, it was taken as self-evident.

    The fact that the people at my Grandmother’s church felt they needed to justify this to a twelve-year-old who hadn’t asked and didn’t really care (I only ever went to church while visiting my grandparents.) seems to me to show that they really didn’t believe their own explanation.

  • Lori

     

    There was ‘new wine’ which was grape juice, and all the other kinds.
    What Jesus created at Cana and served at the Last Supper was new wine.” 

    This is pretty much what I was taught too. And I was the kid who got the glare of death for asking in why anyone would ever say, “Normally at a party they bring out the good grape juice first and then as the party goes on they give you the cheap stuff, but not this time. This time they saved the very best grape juice for last.”

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

    At the (nonfundie) Christian high school I attended, they taught that it wasn’t wine, but drunkenness that was forbidden to Christians. 

    However, they expected our student body to be teetotalers anyhow.  The argument is that we now use artificial methods to increase the amount of alcohol produced in the winemaking process.  The wine at Cana was wine, but it was a much less intoxicating wine than the wine you buy nowadays.  The argument was that if wine had only 3% or whatever alcohol, it would be acceptable, but at 12% or whatever it is too easy to become drunk, which, again, is forbidden.  Therefore, it is best to just stay away from the stuff entirely.

    Interestingly, the principal retired a few years later.  IIRC, he was an alcoholic.

  • http://kivikettu.blogspot.fi/ Rakka

     ” The wine at Cana was wine, but it was a much less intoxicating wine than the wine you buy nowadays. ”

    Bullshit.  Even bread yeast can go merrily along up until 18% alcohol volume or so. (I had mead do just that.) My meads, whether using bread yeast or wine yeast, end up at 12-15% alcohol volume. Wild yeasts, no idea, haven’t tried, but I’m sure they already had specialized yeast cultures bred for making alcohol. Humans have been at that since they discovered that honey ferments. As long as there alcoholic content is not too hight and there’s plenty of sugar and nutrition for the yeast, 12% is the norm, not exception. 3% would be ridiculously under-strenght and continue to ferment in the cup,  unless – hah – artificial methods were used to kill the yeast at 3%. Or if it were severely watered down.

  • EllieMurasaki

    They might have been thinking of liquor? Liquor’s more concentrated than beer or wine and also requires manufacturing processes of relatively recent date. Or so I recall from reading A History of the World in Six Glasses the other year. (Beer, wine, liquor, tea, coffee, soda, though not in that order, and how each has influenced [Western] society. It’s fascinating stuff.)

  • esmerelda_ogg

     You may be on to something here. Distilled liquor seems to have become readily available between 1700 and 1750, and there’s a famous 18th century pair of drawings by Hogarth called “Beer Street” and “Gin Lane” – on prosperous Beer Street, everybody seems to have a big tankard of beer in one hand while they go about their work with the other. Gin Lane reminds me of crack epidemic stories of the eighties – a nightmarish place of collapsing buildings, and front and center a half-dressed woman guzzling gin while her baby falls to his death.

    Then, in the nineteenth century, there was a perceived – and very possibly real – problem of men who spent all their time and money on Demon Rum to the destruction of their families. So by the time the Fundamentalists got going in the early twentieth century, it makes sense that they would be terrified of distilled liquor. And wine and beer might have been classed as “gateway drugs.”

  • veejayem

    If you lived in a town or city during the 19th century you had a pretty good chance of dying of cholera, or at least catching some very nasty tummy bugs. The civic water supply, such as it was, was vulnerable to contamination from cracked drains and leaking cess-pits. Alcohol can kill germs so alcohol was safer. As Dickens has the labourer say to the do-gooding busybodies in “Bleak House”,  “Look at the water. Smell it! That’s wot we drink. How do you like it, and what do you think of gin, instead?”

    Drunkenness and the violence that often accompanied were real problems. But of course it was easier to lecture “the poor” about their “intemperance” than to lobby for decent sanitation for all.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     My recollection (and this is hazy and some of the sources I am thinking of may turn out to be fictional) is that in lots of places and times, the beer that most people drank most of the time they drank beer was heavily watered down to make it stretch farther,  as it would be too expensive for most people to drink the good stuff on a regular basis (In many of these places and times, you wouldn’t drink straight water, as it wasn’t entirely safe; you’d always drink something with at least a *small* alcohol content as a disinfectant). Was the same not true of wine?

  • esmerelda_ogg

     Well, even rich Greeks and Romans considered it degenerate to drink wine that wasn’t mixed with some water – so probably you’re right.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Greeks or Romans, or possibly both, I forget, diluted their wine considerably. I don’t know whether the undiluted stuff was too strong for them or too sweet or what. I don’t think it was an expense issue, either, I recall this being a thing that happened at the tables of the wealthy.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Yeah. The processes to make wine and beer are ancient, but they’ve had substantial refinements over the centuries. Like, there’s a step in vinification that involves lowering the temperature of the wine to near-freezing which I can’t imagine the ancients in the Mediterranean could do properly.  I would imagine that ancient wine, much like ancient beer, was incredibly tannic unless you cut it with something.

  • Ken

    See the Wikipedia article on “Krater”.  At Greek parties, one person was tasked with overseeing the watering the wine.  The desired mix produced free conversation, without drunkenness.  Unwatered wine, or even a 1:1 mix, was strong enough to intoxicate.

    That our modern word “symposium” comes from Greek wine parties tickles me.

  • christopher_y

    I don’t know whether the undiluted stuff was too strong for them or too sweet or what.

    In Plato’s Symposium the guy giving the party orders the wine to be very dilute so that they can have a rational conversation rather than just getting shitfaced. It’s as explicit as that.

  • arcseconds

    Socrates is there, so they decide that they don’t want to waste the opportunity.  Apparently it doesn’t matter much to Socrates, as he can’t get drunk.

    But they end up getting shitfaced anyway, maybe because Alcibiades turns up drunk and bawls at Socrates, thus destroying any possibility of rational conversation.  Or maybe the shitfacedness was inevitable to start with.

    leastways, that’s how i remember it…

  • http://kivikettu.blogspot.fi/ Rakka

    I haven’t read that exactly myself, but wine most likely was watered down for everyday consumption. However if it’s a feast… I don’t know about the Mediterranian area, but in the North wealth was for showing it and feasts for sharing the best you had.

    However that’s not really my point – drinks were watered down but there’s no reason to assume they were fermented significantly weaker than what modern methods give, which was the acclaimed reason for the school in question to ban alcohol for the teachers.

  • GeniusLemur

    A lot of them haven’t. They’re far too busy thumping their Bibles to actually open them.

    They also haven’t opened a history book, or they’d know that during that era in that region, and in many other regions long before and long after, basically every drink had some amount of alcohol. It was simply a lot safer to drink alcohol than water, and wine, unlike juice, could be stored.

  • Carstonio

    While I’ve read that before, it’s still mind-blowing. It suggests to me that everyone was at least a little tipsy most of the time. Maybe many wars were started or fueled by angry drunk. Imagine if cars had become practical before municipal water treatment.

  • Makabit

    While I’ve read that before, it’s still mind-blowing. It suggests to me that everyone was at least a little tipsy most of the time.

    I recall that in one of my college classes, people asked about that. The teacher pointed out that nearly all of us were altered on caffeine–the preferred drug of the Industrial Revolution.

  • Carstonio

    What does it say about me that I never drink coffee, consume one cup of tea a week, and go for months without having any alcohol? And then only one drink?

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

     That you could be me. Though I drink less tea. I do drink quite a few soft drinks, however.

  • http://www.seven-sigma.com/ Jeff Dickey

    The way I remember hearing a fundie preacher talk about that once was “JEEEEEE-zus performed the miracle to show those heathen wine-drinkers what power came from Gawwwwwd, not to encourage them in their eeeeeeeeeeevul ways!” (sounds of jowls fluttering every which-way)

    Which made as much sense as anything else he said; when I described it later to a (mainline Episcopalian) friend, he said something on the close order of “where did he study for the ministry, Fawlty Towers?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    Oh boy. Just the sound of this stuff brings back memories of Friday chapel. I never get tired of these ministers who pronounce “JEE-zuz” with at least four syllables. I can still find one of this wingnuts on the radio at times; is there a special place they go in order to talk like this?

  • http://twitter.com/WayofCats WayofCats

    I believe they all learn from each other, because that is “what preachin’ sounds like.”

  • http://www.seven-sigma.com/ Jeff Dickey

    A self-glorifying echo chamber, in other words. Carefully tuned to eliminate any possibility of nonconformist thought. And I thought the (insert marginal-splinter-group punch-line here) were bad.

  • Dogfacedboy

    I discovered this blog about three months ago by Googling “Jerry Jenkins shitty writer”.  Woo-hoo, this place feels like coming home.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I discovered this blog about three months ago by Googling “Jerry Jenkins shitty writer”. Woo-hoo, this place feels like coming home.

    LOL, and welcome.

    I’d love to see the data on what queries and links bring people to this blog.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I first discovered Fred in…05 or 06, while Googling Left Behind to see if they’d dragged the series out past Glorious Appearing. 

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

    I’d love to see the data on what queries and links bring people to this blog.

    Some of the best searches that have brought people to my blog:

    “stupid Christmas”

    “disappointed Jesus”

    “i stand amazed at the sight of Jesus”

    “arrogant catsuit”

    “big bang theory babes”

    Also, there are many searches for “fremont street” because I once used ONE photo of the Fremont Street Experience.

    On that note, I will shamelessly plug other LaJenkins deconstruction blogs for Dogfacedboy:

    http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/

    http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/

    http://mousehole-mouse.blogspot.com/

    /shameless plug

  • Dogfacedboy

    Bookmarked these.  Thanks!  Am eager to learn how the arrogant catsuit fits in with the end times.

  • Lori

     

    “arrogant catsuit”   

    I would pay cash money to know what in the world that was about.

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

    “arrogant catsuit”   
    I would pay cash money to know what in the world that was about.

    Must have been someone making sure that band name wasn’t already taken. 

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

    “I am all right,” Carpathia insisted. “It is my own fault. I will be fine.”

    I know he slaughtered millions, but this is a compelling evil overlord.  Not, “Find me the imbecile responsible for this so that I can watch him beg for his life before I have him killed in a slow and agonizing fashion,” but, “I fucked up.  My bad.”

    Taking responsibility for his own mistakes (not sitting during takeoff), something Rayford and Buck would never do.  Carpathia is the most sympathetic character in the scene.  Rayford just comes off as a bully.

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

    Oh yes, and in the same book in which Rayford pulls off that silly-assed sophomoric voices prank on Carpathia? The Tribbes use the jet wash from an airplane to knock over Carpathia and send him hurtling down the runway.

    (HURHUR IT IS SO FUNNEY!!!!!111oneonone)

  • phoenix_feather

    Antichrist is to be a kind of evil mirror-opposite of Christ. So in a
    sense, if the Antichrist is anything less than the ultimate evil, it
    would suggest that Christ was something less than the ultimate good.

    The thing is, L&J don’t even need to make the Antichrist the evilest man ever if that doesn’t suit their plot.  There are lots of ways to make Carpathia the opposite of Christ without turning him into Hitler II. 

    For example, there’s an Antichrist in the story I’m attempting to write.  But my Antichrist isn’t the opposite of Christ because he’s OMGSOEVIL–he’s anti-christ because he was born with the same potential capabilities as Christ.  The difference  (in this version) is that Jesus used his abilities to selflessly spread love and acceptance, while Antichrist uses those same abilities to promote his own selfish ends.  He’s not so much the embodiment of evil as the embodiment of selfishness.

    L&J could have easily done something like that.  They could have picked any of Christ’s good qualities–selflessness, love, acceptance, patience, compassion–and given us an Antichrist whose utter lack of compassion (for example) destroys the world and eventually leads to his downfall.  Given that Nicolae’s been a basically good guy until now, it wouldn’t be a stretch at all to make him a decent human being with a major character flaw that grows until it tarnishes all of his actions.

    I know why L&J didn’t do this, of course.  I know they wanted too badly to set up Carpathia as a cautionary liberal stereotype and pacificist-who-secretly-wants-to-bomb-everyone-because-isn’t-that-what-all-pacifists-are-like.  And I know that to focus on a particular Christlike quality might draw attention to the fact that maybe our protagonists aren’t actually that Christlike.  I just can’t help but imagine the cool narrative possibilities if L&J had stopped trying to preach at us long enough to consider exactly what ‘being the opposite of Jesus’ would mean for a person.

    Wow, that was longer than I intended.  Tangent over now. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    That’s a very good point though. I also think that the flaw in their antiChrist may point towards a possible flaw (or at least discrepancy with the mainstream) with their conception of Christ. The politics espoused in the series as righteous explicitly rejects selflessness, compassion, patience, and acceptance. The main characters are pretty cold and unloving towards anyone who isn’t within their inner circle. 

    Other Real True Christians in the New Hope Church who aren’t in the circle are kept out of the shelters and bunkers, essentially left to fend for themselves without the benefit of the prophesies that Bruce has compiled. And non-Christians are treated even worse; Rayford barely even tries to tell anyone he works with about the bombings and plagues about to come, and Buck — who has an entire worldwide media apparatus under his control — doesn’t even consider trying at all.

    These actions aren’t portrayed as selfish or cowardly at all; they are portrayed as righteous. And if that’s the standard set forth by Christ, it would be hard to devise a conception of the antiChrist that be as bad. 

  • Ima Pseudonym

     

    That’s a very good point though. I also think that the flaw in their
    antiChrist may point towards a possible flaw (or at least discrepancy
    with the mainstream) with their conception of Christ. /blockquote>

    I don’t think it’s an oversight or a discrepancy.  I think that the only trait that stands out to them with regards to Christ is his raw power.  That’s it. 

    Not compassion.  Not selflessness, or mercy, or charity, or wisdom.  Not any sort of moral and ethical teachings.  Those things are of a very distant secondary importance compared to Christ’s raw power, practically meaningless from their standpoint.  In the later books, they seem to spend a lot of time showing him exercising his power to instantly kill hordes of other people, alter the world in ways that suit him, control the weather, bring people back from the dead and then send them off to suffer forever.  

    I don’t think they really care much about anything he actually might have taught or any example he might have been trying to set, unless doing so shows off his might and the power to do anything he wants.  They’re looking to bend knee to the biggest alpha male in the pack, and the alpha male who created the entire universe and everything in it must be the biggest alpha of all. 

  • Ima Pseudonym

     Fuck you and everyone who looks like you, Disqus.  

  • arcseconds

    I commented in the Sarah Hammond post about L&J’s obsession with superficial status trappings for their heroes, and (despite the fact that resisting an evil tyrant might well require such a thing) the apparent lack of any real (or even perceived! unless you count the occasional piece of rudeness from Carpathia) humiliation or degradation.

    Seeing as I’ve got this in my head now, I’m wondering whether in their eyes, Carpathia actually has has been dealt a blow.   The most powerful man in the world, due to his own hubris and the heroism of Rayford, takes a pratfall!  How the mighty have fallen!

    (I’m not sure how seriously I take this myself.  But consider this: it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll ever see our heroes be the butt of a prank like this, and it does make sense of a scene which otherwise just paints Rayford as pathetic and ineffectual)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    (I’m not sure how seriously I take this myself.  But consider this: it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll ever see our heroes be the butt of a prank like this, and it does make sense of a scene which otherwise just paints Rayford as pathetic and ineffectual)

    Like many bad writers, Jenkins is uncomfortable putting his heroes at a disadvantage to anyone, in any situation. It’s the same impulse that allows Buck to effortlessly and doubtlessly dominate Verna. It never occurs to him, or to the writers, that Stanton Bailey’s belief that Buck is an incompetent screw-up who repeatedly and flagrantly lied to him should put him in a disadvantage during his power struggle with Verna. In fact, Bailey’s anger at Buck has no actual negative consequences for Buck; it doesn’t diminish his standing one iota and doesn’t prevent him from using his inexplicably cozy relationship with the man to outmanuever his rivals. 

  • quietglow

     There isn’t much other explanation, though. Rayford is prevented by Carpathia’s prestige and power from taking a swing at him, so he jerks the surface under him to cause him to fall and gets as much satisfaction as he would out of actual violence.

    Despite being impotent against every force around him, Rayford has managed to actually knock him off his feet. Sure, he got right back up. Sure, nothing has actually happened. But since the prophecies did not foretell “and the pilot will black the eye of the dragon” or something, he’s now done all that’s humanly possible and the story can continue.

  • Seraph4377

     I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you’ve hit on it.  L&J are authoritarians; they have definite ideas as to how proper Authority Figures should behave.  Just look at Buck and Ray’s behavior toward those they have any power over: even the slightest perceived subordination is ruthlessly bullied into submission.  I’ve no doubt that B&R – not to mention L&J – would respond to someone who pulled such a prank on them by punishing that person to the fullest extent of their power.

    Maybe that’s why they have Carpathia simply admit his fault and sit back down: to them, that makes him look like a weak sissy who doesn’t deserve his power.  Maybe to them, him responding to Ray with threats or punishment wouldn’t make him look like a tyrant, it would make him look like a badass, because to them there’s no difference.

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

    would respond to someone who pulled such a prank on them by punishing that person to the fullest extent of their power.

    Rayford gets all puffed up like a bullfrog when he finds out Hattie tee-heed her wee little prank at him.

  • banancat

    I’d like Nicky’s evilness to be portrayed in a way that he could plausibly deny.  I imagine him talking to Rayford in a faux-concerned voice, asking if there could possibly be a mechanical problem with the plane.  Because surely his most loyal employee would never intentionally disregard him.  And then he’d tell Rayford to make sure he gets the plane checked out, followed by a just tragic story about a friend of a friend who had caused a similar “accident” and then just disappeared one day or mysteriously committed suicide or something like that, and he would just hate to see Rayford come to the same fate. 

    That would just fit with my idea of a charismatic sociopath.

  • Jessica_R

    One of my favorite cliches is the dying guy/girl who stays behind with the bomb to set it off when the bad guys show up, double points if the person is a former thug making good. It’s a satisfying cliche for a reason, it speaks to sacrifice, redemption, others living to fight another day, looking out for each other, the whole enchilada. 

    And it’s so baffling and telling that we will never have a scene like that in these books. Rayford will never, ever call Carpathia into the cockpit and calmly say “I just wanted to see the look on your face when I did this.” And with out another word crash the plane. We’ll never see a bleeding out Buck shakily take his wedding ring off and hand it to a trying not to cry fellow resistance member, “See that my wife gets this, now go!”  

    Cliches become cliches for a reason, and honestly at this point I think Rayford is a much worse person than Carpathia. Carpathia isn’t a person at all just a plot device, but Rayford could stop this, at any time, but he doesn’t want to give up the cushy catered lunches. He is Become Death Destroyer of Worlds, and he doesn’t even care. 

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

    OH GOD INSTANT FRIDGE HORROR.

    You could carry the “potential human beings” argument regarding fetuses to a disturbing, frightening conclusion:

    What if a woman’s eggs were all Raptured up, too?

    D-X

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

    “Every sperm is sacred” :D

  • lofgren

    Does anybody else suspect that Buck’s idea of “keeping objective” is to occasionally add a line to his assigned stories that says something like, “However, some opponents of the measure contend that Potentate Carpathia may be the antichrist.”

  • Jessica_R

    “Aurelio Sequoia Figueroa”

    I’m in awe of this one, I’ve been spending the last twenty minutes trying to figure out what the hell offensive name this is even supposed to be from. Swiss-Cherokee? Italian-Spanish? Marx  Brothers character?

  • Madhabmatics

     a tree

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

    I’m in awe of this one, I’ve been spending the last twenty minutes trying to figure out what the hell offensive name this is even supposed to be from. Swiss-Cherokee? Italian-Spanish? Marx Brothers character?

    The guy is Mexican/Native American, IIRC.  Also, his middle name is the subject of an actual plot point: the guy makes a bet with Chang Wong that he (Chang) need not be questioned by security about being the mole at GC headquarters…if he can guess Figueroa’s middle name.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christina-Archer/628092790 Christina Archer

    Well, we all know that Buck and Ray won’t do a damned thing to help anyone anyways, even AFTER they have become Real True Christians:  quasi-believers and especially quasi-do-gooders.  They don’wanna DO anything for Christ- that may stop them from feeling good, and ACTUALLY think!  Christ said that it is not up to us to analyze signs and signals, but have trust  in the Father and live!  Help others, do as well as we can.  Tim and Jerry have demonstrated total lack of trust in God b;y this whole, frigging STUPID series, and probably in their own lives too.  Icky poo!

  • Damanoid

    I’m starting to think that the real purpose of these books is to lull the Antichrist into a false sense of security.

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

    Dwayne & Trudy Tuttle
     
    Weren’t they characters on “Hee Haw”?
     
    I *so* want to meet them. :-D
     

  • aunursa

    Dwayne & Trudy Tuttle 

    Weren’t they characters on “Hee Haw”? I *so* want to meet them.

    Alas, the Tuttles don’t appear until Book #6.  And their time on stage is limited to a few chapters.

  • KevinC

    One of the things that boggles my mind about these books is that so many of the worst problems with these books would have been almost trivially easy to solve.

    –Begin Writing Clinic for Ellenjay–

    OK you two, listen up.  I’m going to show you how to fix your books.  I can’t do much for your crap theology, ’cause I’m an atheist.  *cough*  But with a few simple tweaks, I’ll improve your books by orders of magnitude.  Anyway, let’s get started. 

    Problem #1: Real, True Christian Heroes Who Are Minions of the Antichrist

    That this is a Bad Idea should be obvious even to you.  But since it isnt…  This is a Bad Idea.  A Really Bad Idea.  Sherlock Holmes did not work for Professor Moriarty.

    Solution:

    Easy: the omniscient point of view.

    You want to tell the whole story from over the shoulders of your viewpoint characters?  OK, fine.  Make one of your viewpoint characters a slimy minion of the Antichrist–but not one of your main heroes.  You know–another villain, like Grima to to the Antichrist’s Saruman. 

    *sigh*  No, they’re not the Prime Minister of India and the current Secretary General of the U.N.  They’re characters in The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. 

    “Trilogy” means “three books.”  Okaaaay, Saruman is an evil wizard.  And Grima is a slimy evil minion–just like Rayford as you’ve written him here, except he’s not supposed to be one of the good guys, OK?

    Yeah, OK, writing the story from the POV of Christians literally in the belly of the Beast could be awesome.  Except it also raises the challenge rating of the project by a notch, and I’m not forgetting who I’m talking to.  But OK. 

    Solution #2 – Buck:

    This is a story about the Apocalypse, so your heroes have to lose.  Because, this being the Apocalypse, the whole point is that only Jesus can save the day.  So, your ordinary human heroes, no matter how daring or capable or awesome they might be, have to lose in the end, because your whole prophecy scheme is one big setup for the ultimate, no-shit Deus ex machina. 

    That means…it means God saves the day, OK?  Trust me, it makes sense.  So.  Buck can’t be the GIRAT who Roots Out the Conspiracy Scandal and Lets The Truth Be Known.  Because in that story, the good guys win, and they can’t do that here.  Your model for Buck isn’t Erin Brockovich, it’s Winston Smith. 

    No, that’s not a brand of cigarettes, it’s the protagonist of 1984  A book you guys should read, by the way.  It’d help you immensely with this story.   Our boy Buck gets promoted to be the Antichrist’s Propaganda Minister.  This should happen before he becomes a Christian.  That way, when he does get Saved(tm), we can have a nice scene of horror when he realizes that his employer, whom he thought was the most awesome guy ever, is destined to become the very worst person to walk the Earth.  But now he’s in up to his neck, and he can’t just quit and walk away.  Cameras watch his every move at work.  When he’s out and about, every now and then he sees a Suspicious Car parked across the street, or Someone Following him if he’s on foot.  His phones are tapped, his house is bugged.  Watch a spy movie.  Any spy movie.  Buck should know he’s being watched, always, so he can’t just publish a big expose’.  Every story he publishes, every email he sends, gets read by a Political Officer working for the Antichrist.  Read some Solzhenitsyn.  And 1984.  That one’s an absolute must.  Get that soul-crushing, creeping paranoia.  That’s Buck’s life, and it should get worse as the story goes on. 

    Buck’s hands are all but tied, but he does what he can.  He makes contact with somebody from the Trib Force, and he shakes hands, passing them a slip of paper containing a code.  He’ll write propaganda for the Antichrist and say what the Antichrist wants said, because he has to.  But the numbers in each story are a code.  First two digits say which book; next three, the chapter, last two, the verse, of the Bible.  Whatever information or warning he has to give, pick a verse that fits, and have Buck fit the numbers into his story, somehow.  If the Antichrist’s troops are coming and they need to bug out fast, make it Matthew 24:18.

    Up next: Solution #2: Rayford

  • Leum

     Well,
    even rich Greeks and Romans considered it degenerate to drink wine that
    wasn’t mixed with some water – so probably you’re right.

    According to my NT prof Roman-era wine was too thick to drink unwatered.

  • KevinC

    –Writing Clinic for Ellenjay, Pt. 2–

    Solution #2: Rayford:Rayford
    can’t be the Antichrist’s pilot, because then he’d have power
    over the Antichrist.  He could crash the plane.  The
    Antichrist is supposed to be the ultimate Big
    Bad.  So in your story, no one should have
    power over him.  Ever.  Right up until the climax, when
    Jesus shows up.  Ray-Gun can be just about anything else. 
    His press secretary, his attache, his concierge, his food taster. 

    It doesn’t matter if the Antichrist has a pilot, as long as it’s not a protagonist, or anybody we really see.  Because he or she–

    –stop interrupting me, yes, there are female pilots, have been about as long as there have been airplanes.  As I was saying, because she or he can crash the plane, the pilot either has to be a really loyal minion of the Antichrist, or a zombie.  Somebody who won’t see what the Antichrist is doing and put a stop to it.  You know, it might be a pretty good idea to skip the Antichrist’s travel logistics entirely.  He needs to be somewhere, and he’s just there, like he steps out of a crowd or from behind a pillar.    

    No, you wouldn’t show him teleporting, or anything like that at all.  Just give him a mystique, so your readers are wondering if he’s teleporting, creating energy-based multiples of himself or getting around in some more normal way.  We’ll talk about your Antichrist in a bit.  Back to Ray-Gun.  You want him around the Antichrist all the time, so let’s just make him a valet, secretary, personal assistant, gay lov–

    Okay, okaaaaay, calm down!  How ’bout Fully Loaded Sidekick? 

    That works for you guys?  Good.  OK, so Ray-Ray is the Antichrist’s FLS.  Now, Rayford can’t be some Two-Fisted Action Hero like James Bond or
    Dirk Pitt with all ten ranks in the Privileged White Male perk and a
    Charisma stat of 21, feared by men, desired by women and all that jazz.  Because those guys actually do stuff, often involving their two fists, or guns and explosives.  And you want Ray-Gun to follow the Antichrist around as his walking video camera for, what was it now, twelve books?  Hmmm.  You know what?  Rayford is actually really
    terrific exactly the way you’ve got him written here–as a villain. 
    Let’s just keep him that way, so you guys don’t have to rewrite all your
    manuscripts.

    Yeah,
    I know you really, really like him and think he’s
    awesome.  He is.  Good villains are like that.  Like
    Darth Vader.  You think Darth Vader is awesome, don’t you?  You think
    George Lucas liked Darth Vader?  Of course he did!  Ray here is an
    epic villain.  All that fiendish stuff he does to
    people!  Totally wrecking the lives of everyone around him–except the Antichrist of course–without
    even breaking the law!  Awesome!  He’s better than your Antichrist.  So let’s not change a thing.  Speaking of your Antichrist…

    Up next: Problem #2: The Little Antichrist Who Couldn’t

  • KevinC

    Argh, bad Patheos!  Bad!  Bad!

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

    Hell, even watching Enemy of the State would’ve been a good start for L&J :P

  • GDwarf

    The talk of historical watering down alcohol of confuses me.

    See, it’s not the alcohol content in beer/wine/etc. that kills off bacteria; It’s much too dilute. It’s the fermentation process, where the yeast consume all the oxygen and sugars thus starving other nasties. So if alcohol was drunk because water made you ill, then watering down the alcohol wouldn’t change anything: You’re still introducing potentially-contaminated water to your alcoholic drink, and the now-even-more-dilute alcohol would have almost no effect on the things in the water.

    It’d be no different from taking two pots of water, boiling one, then mixing them together and drinking them.

    So…was I misinformed when told that the reason everyone drank alcohol all the time was because the water was unsafe?

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

     That rather backs up my point: At the <20% concentration found in most alcoholic drinks, it's not much of an antibacterial. I really, really, hope that people weren't routinely drinking alcohol "watered down" to 140-proof.

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

    I imagine the reason alcohol was considered “safe” is because yeast would crowd out any more unfriendly bacteria and the resulting water-alcohol-flavorings mixture thus relatively safe to drink.

  • GDwarf

     

    I imagine the reason alcohol was considered “safe” is because yeast
    would crowd out any more unfriendly bacteria and the resulting
    water-alcohol-flavorings mixture thus relatively safe to drink.

    But adding water defeats the entire purpose of that, alas.

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

    Still, beer has had a looooooong history in civilization. I believe Sumerians were making wheat beer, for example.

  • arcseconds

    I imagine the reason alcohol was considered “safe” is because yeast
    would crowd out any more unfriendly bacteria and the resulting
    water-alcohol-flavorings mixture thus relatively safe to drink.

    Yeast is fungi, not bacteria.  Whole different domain (being eukaryotes and all).

  • Persia

    Also, there was no germ theory back then so they probably figured that the alcohol would make the water safer. Even though it wouldn’t.

    EDIT: I see Lliira beat me to this!

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I imagine the general sense of it was that if you killed the taste of whatever was befouling your water, that was close enough for them to consider it safe to drink.

  • Persia

     That could be it!

  • Dan Audy

    Wine actually has antibacterial properties primarily as a result of its malic and tartaric acids, though the low pH and alcohol content also contribute.  Mark Daeschel of the Oregan State University has done a bunch of research on the subject and is now actually developing ‘wine-based cleaning products’ for the crowd that dislikes chemical cleaning products as a consequence of his research.

    I couldn’t track down his papers off hand but was able to find a news article from the Society for Microbiologists that referenced it.

  • GDwarf

    Edit: The research found no such effect with beer or unfermented grape
    juice, so the watering of beer may have had some other cause or been a
    ineffective imitation of the wine effect.

    Perhaps, I kinda wonder if most people just liked feeling mildly-drunk all the time, or something.

    Still, my liver aches in sympathy.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     With Beer, it might have been a matter of physical necessity. Sumerian beer, from what I’ve read, was about the consistency of porridge. Undiluted it would not technically fall in the “beverage” family.

  • Turcano

    Partially at least, yes.  In Greek culture, wine was considered too strong to drink undiluted, and it was usually diluted at a 1:2 ratio with water.  And apparently most people could only have three servings of (mixed) wine before they started acting like asses, that means that this was some pretty powerful stuff.

  • KevinC

    Problem
    #2: The Little Antichrist Who Couldn’t

    This, uh,
    Nicolae Ceauses–er, Carpathia seriously needs some work.  First
    things first: No Romanian is gonna have ‘Carpathia’ as a surname. 
    How ’bout we call him Declan Xavier? 

    Because DCLXVI is 666 in
    Roman numbers, and it sounds cooler than “Nicolae Carpathia,”
    don’t you agree?  Moving on.   The Antichrist just
    can’t be some mundane politician in a suit. 
    He just can’t.  He’s supposed to be the
    Mirror Universe evil version of Jesus, not the
    Mirror Universe Tony Blair.  Politicians in suits are
    boring, we see them all the time.  One guy in
    a suit looks just like every other guy in a suit.  The Antichrist
    is supposed to stand out.  So, he should be
    more like an exotic and mysterious ‘spiritual teacher’ or a wizard, in robes.  There’s
    lots of models you can use.  Aleister
    Crowley or Rasputin if you want him creepy.  Or Sathya Sai Baba, Sun Myung Moon or just about any cult leader, but with real magic powers.

    Oh right, of course you don’t know who those guys are.  How about Gandhi or the Dalai Lama or Obi-Wan Kenobi while he’s playing the good
    guy, then the Dark Lord of just about any fantasy novel once he shows
    his true colors? 
    No, forget the 1950’s
    John Bircher propaganda.  Remember Benjamin Creme, and his
    ‘World Teacher Maitreya?’  1980’s anti-New Age Movement
    propaganda–use that instead.  The Commie under your bed isn’t
    as scary as the Commie with an invisibility spell and mind-control powers
    At the start of Left Behind, you guys made it so
    that magic works in your universe all of a
    sudden.  Use that.  You ought to explain
    that in the story, by the way.  Don’t worry, it’s easy. 
    Check out 2 Thessalonians 2:7: “For the secret power of
    lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back
    will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.” 
    You guys think that happens at the Rapture, right?  So just say
    that “the one who now holds it back” also stopped magic
    from working wherever Christianity took over, and now that “the
    one” is “taken out of the way” magic works
    again.  Easy.  Your target audience believes that already, which is why they go all batshit about Harry Potter, like they’re worried that a kid might start playing around with a stick and actually kill somebody with an Avada Kadavra.Sure there’s plot holes there, but at least their
    diameter isn’t measured in light-years like the ones you’ve got now.  The story could start with Camshaft investigating reports of a mysterious  miracle worker in some faraway place who’s feeding crowds out of a lunchbox, healing the sick, the whole shebang.  He tracks him down, but can’t get close enough for an interview because of the crowds, but he sees some things that astonish him.  After some effort, he finally gets his interview, and he’s totally taken in by him.  Maybe Buck becomes his Benjamin Creme, and by the time he gets Saved(tm) it’s too late to get out.  We’re doing this instead of the Russian nuclear attack, by the way, ’cause that was just stupid.

    Hey, Tim, you’re supposed to be a big ‘prophecy expert,’ right?  Have you ever even read the Book of Revelation?  20:8.  Go on, read it.  It puts the ‘Gog and Magog’ thing after the Millennium.  It goes at the end of the Prophecy Checklist, not at the beginning.  So we start the story off with reports of a new miracle worker, but the world isn’t convinced yet.  Some mystery and building suspense as Camshaft tries to find out what’s going on.  Then the Rapture.  Then our Antichrist steps out and starts working miracles, imitating Jesus, except that he basks in the publicity instead of telling people to be quiet about it.  Oh, and he should totally use the Rapture as his springboard to power.

    How?  How?!  Are you kidding me?  Look, another big problem that needs fixing is the way you guys just have Business As Usual keep on trundling along no matter what happens.  The Rapture took away every child on Earth plus tens of millions of adults.  All those ‘Left Behind’ers’ are gonna be scared shitless, and willing to do anything to get their children back.  So, our Antichrist makes a big entrance with some kind of flashy miracle, like ‘calling down fire from heaven in the sight of men.’  Then he tells the people that an evil magic force stole their children.  He wasn’t able to hold it back completely, but he stopped it from taking everybody, and if they all join him and work together, they can defeat the evil force and get their children back.  Then, since magic is working again, you can have people who worship him get the ability to work magic too, like the Egyptian wizards in the Book of Exodus.  Maybe ‘the Mark’ can link people together magically, and give people that take it the ability to learn how to work magic.  Now you’ve explained why why the world follows him all of a sudden, and why they’ll join his world government and want the Mark.  The rest of the story starts to fall into place.

    Oh yeah, the Temple in Israel.  Let’s toss the whole Chaim Jewy Jewish McJewensteinschweigberg thing.  It doesn’t make any sense or connect with anything else anyway.  Remember that 1980’s New Age panic in Evangelicaldom?  Well, you wouldn’t have to read too much New Age material before you ran into some stuff about the ‘geomantic grid.’  There’s lots of different versions, but basically the idea is that all the temples and sacred sites–places like the Pyramids and Stonehenge–were all linked together into this big global magic internet kinda thing.  By the Atlanteans or the UFO aliens or whatever.  So our Antichrist wants to build Solomon’s Temple and start the sacrifices again because he wants to reactivate all the temples and their ceremonies, to start the geomantic grid running again. 

    Yeah, I know, it’s kinda silly, but it’s not nearly as bad as ‘Every child on Earth disappears.  Everybody goes to work the next day.’  Everybody’s lost their children.  They’re desperate, and this guy with the magic powers says he’s got the answer.  The geomantic grid will protect the Earth and give humanity the power to open the dimensional portal and bring their kids back, or whatever.

    Look.  All you’ve really got to do, is imagine what you’d feel like if you were one of those people after the Rapture, and your kids vanished into thin air.  Once you’ve got that down, the Antichrist’s speeches write themselves.

    Oh.  Yeah.  Empathy.  It’s…oh nevermind, you guys wouldn’t understand. 

  • Tricksterson

    Have you read the Christ Clone trilogy?  Because it adresses the problems you’re identifying in much the same way.  It’s not a perfect fit but pretty close.

  • KevinC

     

    Have you read the Christ Clone trilogy?  Because it adresses the
    problems you’re identifying in much the same way.  It’s not a perfect
    fit but pretty close.

    No, I haven’t.  I’ve seen it referenced here  a few times, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it.  It has to be lots better than LB though.  If only because its author managed to get the job done in a “trilogy” rather than a…”dodecology?”  Unless you count the LB: Kids books, LB: The Pets and whatever other spinoffs there might be.  From what I remember reading here, the CCT is actually good.

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

    Oh hell yes, it IS good. It’s so good, in fact, if you just stop at the second book you almost wonder if “who to worship” hasn’t been completely turned on its head.

    Of course, BeauSeigneur is writing for a largely Christian audience so he yanks the book series back to “safe” territory later. But it’s still an awesome read compared to the useless boring turgid bilge that is Left Behind.

  • Tricksterson

    So far, in the points you’ve covered (and I figure you could write a book categorizing how this could have bben a better series so I hope to see more) the only thing Lebaeuseigneur flubbed was the Gog and Magog part but at least he didn’t have Isreal attacked by Russia and Ethiopia.  Instead he has a threeway nuclear exchange between Pakistan, India and China stand in. (He slowly ramps up the blatant supernatural stuff, for instance instead of people actually dissapearing he just has them keel over dead.)

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

    Also? The Disaster (as it’s called) is far more realistically portrayed in the CC.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Okay, between GDwarf and Invisible Neutrino, we seem to be well on the way to getting rid of the idea that a little wine or beer in the dirty water protects you from getting sick. So why did premodern people drink so much so routinely?

    Eh, probably they liked it. Even birds, FFS, will seek out overripe fruit and get loopy on it. And if you don’t have any machinery that runs fast enough to cause big problems when you’re tipsy, and your life is pretty miserable and short whatever you do, why not drink your way through it?

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

    That a little bit of alcohol in water doesn’t actually make you safe does not mean pre- and early modern people did not think it did. Most people even in the most-educated places still think things that are completely wrong about health. I.e. that anyone can lose weight if they just try, that the BMI means anything, that you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding, we could easily make a very long list. Most people definitely thought that alcohol would at least help them not get sick. Remember, this was before germ theory. As lately as the mid-19th century, doctors were refusing to wash their hands after autopsies, and this refusal killed half the women in labor they touched.

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

    That a little bit of alcohol in water doesn’t actually make you safe does not mean pre- and early modern people did not think it did. Most people even in the most-educated places still think things that are completely wrong about health. I.e. that anyone can lose weight if they just try, that the BMI means anything, that you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding, we could easily make a very long list. Most people definitely thought that alcohol would at least help them not get sick. Remember, this was before germ theory. As lately as the mid-19th century, doctors were refusing to wash their hands after autopsies, and this refusal killed half the women in labor they touched.

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

    That a little bit of alcohol in water doesn’t actually make you safe does not mean pre- and early modern people did not think it did. Most people even in the most-educated places still think things that are completely wrong about health. I.e. that anyone can lose weight if they just try, that the BMI means anything, that you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding, we could easily make a very long list. Most people definitely thought that alcohol would at least help them not get sick. Remember, this was before germ theory. As lately as the mid-19th century, doctors were refusing to wash their hands after autopsies, and this refusal killed half the women in labor they touched.

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    In the previous week’s LB thread, someone talked about why they had to stop reading the weekly LB threads, because the horrible writing and theology just got to be too much. I feel that way, too, sometimes, but not because of the deconstruction. It’s because of the comments and specifically, the flash fiction. Every time I read one of those awesome pieces of flash fiction*, I get depressed at how good these books could’ve been and how utterly horrible they actually are.

    (Of course, if the books had been good, I never would’ve arrived here or heard about them, so I guess it’s a bittersweet blessing).

    *Chloe, Rise of the Antichrist is probably my favorite, but all of them are excellent. I still love the ones where Amanda is a resistance fighter.

  • arcseconds

     I keep seeing glimpses of a work of pure genius in the Left Behind series, through Fred’s criticism.   It’d almost be like it is now: a kind of political-techno-thriller war story action-hero-saves-the-world, apocalypse end-times religious horror mashup, complete with  pompous self-important heroes who fail to actually do anything heroic, an Antichrist who often comes across as reasonable and courteous, world-shaken events that are continually forgotten about in order to focus on arduous travel logitistcs porn, perfectly reasonable and competent people (often women) walked all over by the heroes, intriguing side-plots that peter out, plans that don’t actually work but the heroes keep chalking them up as successes, &c. &c.

    Except, you know, written by someone who knows what they’re doing.

    I’m kind of thinking a bit like Jim Jarmusch’s ‘thriller’, The Limits of Control (which has a whole lot of thriller tropes but is mostly actually just people sitting around in cafés having high-brow conversations and drinking espresso) crossed with the absurdity, pointlessness and satire of self-importance that we see in Catch-22, with a bit of the Illuminatus! trilogy and maybe a bit of Kafka and James Joyce thrown in for good measure.

  • Lawrence LaPointe

    “I am all right,” Carpathia insisted. “It is my own fault. I will be fine.”

    New T-Shirt on the Left Behind website:
    I GAVE THE ANTI-CHRIST A BOO BOO!

  • http://schweinsty.livejournal.com schweinsty

    TW: violence.
    Note: a bit of a Dark Knight Rises spoiler here, because I was just rewatching it and I thought – Nicolae basically shanghaied all the police officers in the world into his security forces, and you don’t hear a peep from them? That wouldn’t even fly in flipping Gotham – and it got me thinking.

    Nicolae blinked. ‘Crap, my head hurts’ was his first thought, followed closely by ‘what the hell?’ as he realized he was lying, tied hand and foot, on the ground of some sort of cave.

    The man in the – bat suit? the everloving fuck? – kneeling in front of him grinned, a tight little smile with teeth that glinted under the spotlight trained on them from behind.

    “Hey. He’s up.” It was a young man’s voice, and a young man’s movements as the batman stood fluidly and turned towards the darkness of the cave.

    It took Nicolae’s eyes a few moments to adjust to the shadows, but soon enough he could make out four shapes: two elderly men, a middle-aged man with gray at his temples but well-muscled arms, and a woman in a catsuit with – were those fucking knives on her fucking stiletto heels?

    “So kind of you to join us, Mr. Carpathia,” said the middle-aged man. He nodded to the man in the batsuit. “We’ll take it from here, John.”

    The younger man jerked a nod and walked out of Nicolae’s sight without looking back.

    John. That would be useful, once Nicolae’s soldiers – those his Father handpicked for his protection – found him and murdered these. John he would keep, to find out exactly who-

    “If you’re thinking of rescue,” said one of the older men, who wore a suit with a bow tie and occasionally glanced at a device in his hand that looked not quite like any cell phone Nicolae had ever seen, “You’d better think again. I’ve disabled your homing device – all three of them – and redirected your security forces to a – shall we say, more convenient location. Oh, and those bombs you were going to target Chicago and San Francisco with? Ought to be hitting New Babylon any minute now.”

    ‘Impossible,” said Nicolae, but the man in the bow tie just smiled pleasantly back. ‘Father?’ Nicolae thought – ‘Father? Father, help-‘ and nothing happened.

    The middle-aged man nodded, and the gentleman in the tuxedo produced, from behind his back, something that looked like a power drill with several wires attached.

    Father, please, Nicolae murmured.

    The middle-aged man and the woman with the knives walked to him and kneeled at his head.

    “You can’t kill me,” Nicolae said. “I won’t die. I’ll come back stronger than ever, and I’ll make you suffer, I swear to-”

    The man smeared something wet across the back of Nicolae’s neck and attached some of the wires to it with a squelch.

    “Oh, we’re not going to kill you,” crooned the woman. She smiled down at Nicolae and brushed a lock of hair off his forehead. “Not yet. First we have a few questions. And it won’t do any good to try to lie – Mr. Fox has the latest in lie detectors. Just attach it, and the wrong bit of your brain lights up, well. You really won’t like that.”

    The middle-aged man rested the drill at the base of Nicolae’s skull, and Nicolae heard something beep.

    “Now, it’ll take us a moment to get set up and calibrate,” said the woman. “So here’s the first question, so you can think really hard about what you’re going to want to say. Where are all the children?”

    The man behind him started the drill and pushed.

    Nicolae screamed.

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

    LB: The Pets.

    (Credit to KevinC)

    The cat had a name given it by the humans. As far as the cat was concerned, he could have been called “Cat” for all he cared.

    However, the humans liked special words for things that moved, though, and called him Charlie. He was a sleek black cat, except for a small white patch under his nose.

    Even to Charlie’s relatively limited perception of the world, something was very wrong when his human, having just set his food and water dishes before him, disappeared without warning!

    Alarmed, he let out a short, sharp, “Mew!” and dashed under a chair in the next room.

    He crouched, his predator instincts coming to the fore as he searched intently for a target, his tail flicking sharply back and forth.

    But as time went on, nothing changed.

    His human didn’t come back. Only the items that clung to his skin were left in a heap on the floor.

    Charlie the cat hesitantly padded back into the kitchen, carefully sniffed the smooth fabric, and let out a plaintive meow.

    His human couldn’t just be gone!

  • Tricksterson

    Please don’t let Charlie starve!  Have someone find him!

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

    As promised. :)

    LB: The Pets

    Charlie the cat meowed and meowed but his human did not reappear!

    Finally, however, his hunger and thirst finally won out over his anxiety at his human being completely absent from his domain.

    He crouched near his water dish and lapped up some water, then ate some of his food. Just as he swallowed his third mouthful, the door creaked open and another human came up to him!

    The human, who smelled like the person his human would lie in bed
    with and make strange noises with all night, made a noise that might
    have been fright (Charlie could almost smell it), and covered her mouth with her hands, only slowly lowering her hands after that as she stared at the skin-coverings that had been left behind.

    He sat up, stared wide-eyed, and meowed plaintively. He pawed at the fabrics that had fallen to the floor, willing the other human to understand what had happened.

    She reached down to pick him up, and he meowed quietly as he sought comfort from the human’s warmth.

    She was making noises as humans usually did, but he could only comprehend the emotion behind them: the smell he could now feel almost pouring off her: fear and uncertainty.

    He batted at her hand gently and meowed reassuringly. Now that another human was here, they would find his own human, just wait and see!

  • Newbiedoobiedoo

    That reminds me- do L&J ever clarify what would happen if Rayford were to, say, put the plane into a 900 mph nosedive over the open ocean? Like, would Nicky be bodily resurrected in the same place, and thus have to swim his way out?

    The Cloud Ten film with Kirk Cameron and Louis Gossett Jr. do have a Kill-Carpathia! moment. Gossett as the POTUS calls down a missile on Carpathia, but the bad guy walks out of the explosion.

    The writers of the book series are not very happy with the writers of the film series. That’s why we haven’t seen any more film series.

  • Newbiedoobiedoo

    Dogfacedboy: if it hasn’t been done yet, Welcome, and please don’t kill us with sheep.

    There’s a list of related websites in a post called “TF: August and everything after” ( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2010/08/10/tf-august-and-everything-after/ ). Ruby Tea’s site, Mouse’s site, and a bunch of others were put up in the comments section to tide them over during a Left-Behind drought.

    On the wine, supposedly the Romans flavored their wine with lead, which meant that if you drank too much, you not only got drunk, you also got damaged. That’s why in Chemistry class the elemental symbol for lead is Pb, the abbreviation for the Latin word “plumbum,” meaning plumbing, which was all lead.

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

    Also, if any beer making recipe called for boiling the water first before cooling it back down and adding yeast, this unintentional Pasteurization step would have gotten rid of a lot of the bacteria and made the beer (reasonably) safe to drink.

  • Someguy who hates pants

    Question about the time line for the anti-Christ, I don’t think it has been addressed on this blog before.
     
    Does God decide that he has had enough and then tells the devil to raise up the anti-Christ?
    Does the Devil know the time that God is going to have for the third Appearance of Christ and works backwards from there,  wouldn’t this make the devil more “in the loop” than Jesus who said something like “I don’t know the hour of my return only my father in heaven knows”
    Does the Devil constantly get his little anti-Christs ready and when God thwarts his plans he moves on the next one? Maybe Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Genghis, Attila, and that kid who broke my nose all really were the anti-Christ but God wasn’t ready for them.

    Or and this is the worst one, is God sitting up in Heaven waiting for the Devil to make his move?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think a major point of this blog is that there isn’t one singular Antichrist and isn’t going to be an End Times unless we blow ourselves to kingdom come.

  • aunursa

    According to Pre-millenial Dispensationalism (the doctrine which those who anticipate a Rapture believe in,) God will do thing on His timeline.  He doesn’t wait for Satan to act.  He doesn’t wait for certain human events to take place.  He will cause the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Second Coming, and the Millenium when He feels like it.

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

    Acknowledging the problem isn’t the same thing as fixing the problem,
    though. As much as Buck may dislike that he is “being used” to support
    Nicolae’s slaughter of millions of people, neither Buck nor the authors
    seems to consider withdrawing that support.

    A serious quotestion to mr. Carpathia: Why don’t you just grin evilly and tell the Tribulation Force people that they’re all fired?

    That would provide the characters some direly needed time for self-introspection. Most importantly, that would really hammer to the home that they’re now facing the same perils as everyone else in the planet and that, incidentally, they have no chance of affecting anything… while they had a slim chance to save the world while they were personally employed by the Antichrist.

    Garden-variety nasty people would just kill our intrepid protagonists. But death is just a form of resting, isn’t it? Truly evil people would recognise the protagonists pose no threat to them, and let the protagonists live to experience the consequences of their personal failure to do good things. Because that will not give them rest, you know. Sooner or later, they wish they just had been killed.


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