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

    Buck just hated the idea that he himself was being used to spread propaganda and lies.

    Go ahead, pull the other one, Jenkins!

    Seriously. How can Jenkins fancy himself qualified to portray a newspaper reporter character when he manages to fuck up all the tropes like he was purposely following his own little checklist?

    1. Derring-do tell-the-truth-at-all-costs crusading reporter? Crossed off.
    2. Standing-on-principles reporter refusing to go into cahoots with the bad guys? Crossed off.
    3. Refusing-to-be-seduced-with-offers-of-power-and-wealth? Crossed OFF.

    Incidentally? #3? Satan tried to do it to Jesus and was rebuffed for his trouble. Buck can’t even act like Jesus Christ after he BECOMES a Christian.

    There is no palm large enough to encompass the magnitude of my facepalm at the sheer unthinking farce L&J are putting on with Rayford and Buck suddenly developing belated consciences.

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

    but with the plane still hurtling down the runway, those people would be pinned in their seats by centrifugal force.

    THE PLANE IS GOING IN A STRAIGHT LINE.

    JENKINS, YOU FAIL PHYSICS FOREVER.

    The plane *is* accelerating, yes, but because it’s going in a straight line, the force we would call that isn’t “centrifugal”, for fuck’s sake.

  • Eamon Knight

     Thank you. Trivial it may be next to all the other awfulness, but it was *really* bothering me, too.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     True. Though it’s jarring to note that when we talk about “centrifugal force”, we’re really just referring to inertia, and inertia is precisely what pins people against their seats in an accelerating vehicle.

  • Dantesque17

    Hey, man, you don’t know.  We know next to nothing about the Condor 216’s design.  Maybe it spins during takeoff.

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

    Yeah, as soon as I got to that “centrifugal force” part, my immediate reaction was  “ooo look, Jenkins learned a new word, but didn’t bother to learn what it actually means!”

  • Will Hennessy

     Well, unless Rayfuck REALLY doesn’t know how to fly a plane.

    Which, let’s face it, is a likely scenario.

  • PollyAmory

    You should be happy he didn’t say “centripetal” force, at least. That deserves at least a plus added to that emphatic F.

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

    Wouldn’t that be an F minus? ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/tomstone Thomas Stone

    You could make a case that making a dictator look foolish on a large scale could be a reasonably effective act of resistance- Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, say- and if you actually managed to make the anti-Christ stumble around like Chevy Chase doing Gerald Ford in the middle of a speech, you might rally people to lose their fear of him. 

    Rayford, of course, does it in private, where nobody but the innermost circle will see it. And Nicky seems to have maintained his dignify fairly well regardless, as L&J haven’t made him the kind of self serious tyrant cannot afford to be made to look ridiculous that Mussolini so abundantly was. So, the whole thing is just petty and childish. But still, if everything else had been different, it _could_ have been some kind of a thing.

  • Michael Pullmann

     I was thinking of “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said The Tick-Tock Man”. But Harlequin’s acts of rebellion are public and grand in scope. (I don’t know *how* he tied up the whole city’s traffic at rush hour with jelly beans, but you have to figure that made the evening newst.) He was also less concerned with bringing down his totalitarian system than inspiring others to rebellion, and possibly throwing the pebble that would one day become an avalanche.

    In contrast, Rayford seems content with a momentary act of minor dickishness that maybe a dozen people, total, will ever know about. This guy is the worst resistance fighter ever.

  • hidden_urchin

    Yeah, Ray, you know you had a chance to delay the bombing of SF right there? You did notice that, right?

    No? Really?

    Yeah, we’re not exactly talking a von Stauffenberg level of resistance here but baby steps, Ray.

    Still no?

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

    If Rayford had been von Stauffenberg dude would have blown himself up in the bathroom dithering over bumping off the Fuehrer or getting to keep his cushy job in the Reich proper instead of having to be, you know, in Egypt or Russia.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

     If nothing else,  this section is a good accidental metaphor describing the passive-aggressive hostility of authoritarian conformists.  Then again, so is this entire rotten series. 

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Is this, like, a joke?

    It isn’t?  Seriously?  A lame *prank* that would embarrass even a rebellious 13-year-old is considered *justice*!?!?!?

    L&J have bit an all-time low.

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

    Wait till they decide it was such a huge success they do it again to Buttmonkey, er, Supreme Commander Leon.

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

    I just realized. This is the first of many sophomoric pranks that Rayford and Mac McCullum commit in the name of “rebellion” against the Antichrist. The next most memorable one for its sheer asininity is Rayford pretending to be different voices trolling Carpathia when he’s supposed to be on an infiltrate-and-extract mission to retrieve Chang Wong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Prost/100002434484052 Tony Prost

    Chang Wong???? Please tell me you are joshing!

  • aunursa

    Chang Wong???? Please tell me you are joshing!

    It’s absolutely true.  His sister is Ming Toy.  Their parents are Mr. and Mrs. Wong.  Late in the series Ming marries Ree Woo.  Which makes her full name Ming Chang Toy Woo.

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

    Ming Chang Toy Woo.

    …iddle i po.

  • Jenora Feuer

    Oh, thank you ever so much for putting that song in my head for the next hour or so…

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart
    Ming Chang Toy Woo.

    …iddle i po.

    You made me giggle like a child, and for that you deserve more than a “like”. Thank you, Jamoche, that was asolutely bloody hilarious.

  • Makabit

    The thing about Ming Chang Toy Woo and friends is that these don’t look like modern Chinese names. They’re using the old-fashioned romanization that gives you Woo, instead of Wu, or Low for Lo, Chew instead of Chiu. These days, a name like that tells you that the family has been in the States for several generations, and kept the romanization they first got when in the country.

    I wrote part of a novel set in San Francisco in the nineteenth century, and I had to look at a lot of Chinese names from the period to get a sense of how people spelled out Chinese words at the time. Ming Chang Toy Woo, except for the rather overkill of names, sounds as though she might live some generations ago. Her modern descendant is named Jennifer Woo, and is embarrassed to only speak a couple words of Cantonese, although her children are taking Mandarin at school.

    Her modern Chinese-born counterpart spells it Ming-chang Wu when she orders letterhead in English.

  • Makabit

    And that’s leaving out the issue that in Chinese, the family name comes before the given name. So while Ming-chang may write it like that on her English letterhead, her Chinese letterhead reads Wu Ming-chang.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Her modern descendant is named Jennifer Woo, and is embarrassed to only speak a couple words of Cantonese, although her children are taking Mandarin at school.

    You know, it was kind of funny.  I took two years of Mandarin in high school.  The first year’s worth was with an accredited tutor during summer breaks, a guy who used to be an English teacher from Hong Kong.  My second year’s worth of Mandarin was in an actual classroom environment, and it seemed like every student there  besides me was a second or third generation Asian American.  

    A few years after high school, I was buying something and the young lady at the reception desk asked me if I went to Newport Highschool.  I said yes, and she said that we were in the same Chinese class.  

    “I recall I was the only non-Asian student in that class.”
    “Yes, that’s why I remember you.”

  • christopher_y

    Conan Doyle had a minor character called Mohammed Singh (sic). But as he was writing at the end of the 19th century, I’m inclined to cut him a bit more slack than Jenkins. Not much, but a bit.

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

    ISTR it was “Mahomet Singh”.

  • christopher_y

    ISTR it was “Mahomet Singh”.

    I’m sure you’re right. I wondered about that when I wrote the comment, but then I couldn’t remember exactly how he’d mangled the name so I took the line of least resistance.

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

    Nope. And for even better lack of verisimilitude, he gets trained by the douchebaggiest IT admin ever, David Hayseed Hassid, who uses Chang Wong as his browbeating target whenever Chang ends up acting a bit too much like a teenager who doesn’t want the responsibilities dumped on him.

  • fraser

     That’s my reaction, but I remember it’s come up before in Jenkins’ inspired nomenclature.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Everybody Chang Wong tonight? 

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    ” Chang Wong.”

    Really?  Was China C. China already taken? 

  • Paul W

    “Was China C. China already taken?”
     
    Yes. Along with Nicolae Carpathia and Bubba Appalachia.

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

    And don’t forget the French gay dude Guy Blod.

    Who is totally not-canonically-gay but acts so ~flamboyant~ that Jenkins is all but flailing the semaphore signals that Guy Blod is, in fact,. gayer than gay gay gay.

  • flat

    sounds kinda gay

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

    Wait’ll you meet David Hassid’s BFF, a Native American woman named…Hannah Palemoon.

    Also doesn’t help that Chang and Ming’s parents stepped right out of a 1930s movie: “Oh!  Husband!  Our son will bring dishonor to the family!”

  • http://mistermunshun.blogspot.com/ Carl Eusebius

    I gave Wolfen a hard time about its treatment of American Indians, but I had to give it credit for not giving the main Indian character an “Indian” name like Jimmy Two-Bears or Runs-with-Deer.

    I think it speaks volumes of L&J’s worldview that Jenkins didn’t know East Asian women don’t traditionally change their surnames upon marriage. Not because it shows he didn’t bother to look it up but because it never occurred to him that other societies aren’t just like America only with funny languages. After all, that particular custom isn’t observed in most societies that aren’t America.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I was wondering about Hong Kong Fooey

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

    No, but Chia Pet was all gone.

  • ReverendRef

     L&J have bit an all-time low.

    That is, until next week when Fred posts the wacky goings on of the Tribulation (no)Force.

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

    No, no, no; you’ve got it all wrong! They’re the Tribulation Farce; doing their bit for comic relief during the Apocalypse.

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

    When I read the excerpts I begin singing a nice chorus of ‘Springtime For Hitler’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tomstone Thomas Stone

    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? Would he just shop up again elsewhere? Would God or Satan or whoever step in to stop it happening?

  • aunursa

    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?

    No they do not.

  • Becca Stareyes

    A lot of the petty rebellion seems to be the actions of a sulky teenager.  

    Now, when I was a teenager, I knew what actions would show my parents I was displeased but bring down no real punishment, and what would be actually rebelling against the rules and lead to punishment.  Now, under the thumb of a guy that nukes cities, the sort of disobedience of minor pranks and inefficiency might seem like a good idea because it doesn’t get you shot.  But:

    1. Buck and Rayford are supposed to be part of a resistance, which means that they should be doing more than the joe/jane on the street who doesn’t like the dictator but doesn’t like the idea of holes in vital organs more.  Basically, surviving the Antichrist doesn’t seem to be the story LeHay and Jenkins want to tell — they seem to want a thriller about the Glorious Christian Resistance.  Which means one needs to resist gloriously, and not in a petty way. 

    2. As Real True Christians, Buck and Rayford have the benefit of knowing that however painful their deaths might be, afterward they get paradise.  Granted, there’s still a lot of instincts pulling them to not be stupid about their mortalities*, and they have to consider both their loved ones and the state of the resistance since it seems mostly to be them and their wives, and various disposable minions treated like mushrooms (kept in the dark and fed shit) until they’re needed.  But it at least means that creature comforts like Land Rovers and credit cards and status symbols shouldn’t mean much when they have a ticket to the swankiest afterlife in the universe with their names on it.  

    So, really it feels like the sulky teenager — enough to show that they are unhappy with the AntiChrist, but not enough to put them in any actual danger of even losing their jobs, let alone death and other unpleasantness.  

    * I’ve had plenty of examples of physics demos where my physics brain knows things are fine, but my instincts are like ‘… don’t be dumb’.  I did do the bed of nails demo, though.  

  • PatBannon

    My favorite example of that was when I was in a skyscraper in Chicago (I want to say the Sears Tower, but it was years ago and I can’t remember exactly). Part of the observation deck around the building had a clear floor, so you could look down at the 90+ story drop beneath your feet.

    It was even sturdier than the rest of the floor, of course, ten people could jump on it to no effect, but I (and many others on the school trip I was on) simply could not walk onto the clear floor. I knew for a fact that it was safe, but my brain saw the drop and said “uhh…no.”

  • aunursa

    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.?

    Second most?  I suppose it could be the case that Rayford and Buck are together, tightly embracing each other in first place?

  • Xclamation

    I don’t know what’s worse, that in Rayford’s world millions of innocent dead can be avenged by giving the man responsible a clumsy, or that the entire scene sounds *exactly* like it came from an unfilmed David Spade/Chris Farley script.

    Think about it, David Spade is the uptight airline pilot busy climbing up the corporate ladder. Chris Farley is the funny male air-line steward who just loves to rock. Carpathia is the evil head of the airline who wants to lay-off the staff to earn a giant bonus so that he can afford to build a swimming pool on the roof of his mansion. Spade and Farley team up to teach that no good Carpathia a lesson and it all starts with a scene where Spade takes off in the new 797 JumboSuperHellYeah Airdoubledecker just as Carpathia is making his speech to the directors of the board. Cue the guitar solo and the audience can sit back, secure in the knowledge that the yucks are gonna keep coming for the next 12 minutes. And then Farley will totally get the girl, Spade’s wife won’t leave him and after the credit’s we’ll all learn that Carpathia ends up selling used toilets in Canada.

    What’s the over/under on me having spent more time thinking that through than Jenkins ever did?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Prost/100002434484052 Tony Prost

     “millions of innocent dead”
    But they aren’t innocent! They are hell bound unbelievers, so who cares!

  • aunursa

    So if the Antichrist is to be the ultimate evil chronologically, he also needs to be the ultimate evil in terms of degree.

    From the series we learn that…

    Buck is the greatest investigative reporter of all time.
    Rayford is the greatest airline pilot of all time.
    Hattie is the greatest flight attendant of all time.
    Chloe is the greatest college dropout of all time.
    Chaim is the greatest scientist of all time.
    Tsion is the greatest biblical scholar of all time.
    David is greatest computer whiz of all time.
    Chang is the greatest teenage progeny of all time.

    Yet the readers were never given any evidence that these candidates were better than any actual people?  Why are you complaining about ol’ Nick?  Isn’t it enough for Jenkins to tell us that he is the most evil person who ever lived?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Buck is the greatest investigative reporter of all time.
    Rayford is the greatest airline pilot of all time.
    Hattie is the greatest flight attendant of all time.
    Chloe is the greatest college dropout of all time.
    Chaim is the greatest scientist of all time.
    Tsion is the greatest biblical scholar of all time.
    David is greatest computer whiz of all time.
    Chang is the greatest teenage progeny of all time.

    Yo, L&J, I think ya’ great and I’ma let you finish, but Left Behind are the World’s Worst Books of all time!

  • Beleester

    First, we complained about all of those. But Nicolae gets extra complaining because the villain drives the plot, so everything the heroes do revolves around him. We wouldn’t be complaining as much about sending him tumbling down the aisle if it didn’t seem so banal compared to nuking millions of people.

  • aunursa

    I was being tongue-in-cheek.  I regret that I didn’t make that clear.  Obviously I’m doing a poor job in terms of sarcasm in this thread.

  • The Guest Who Posts

     I should have known your quote wasn’t from LB. It was too good.

  • lowtechcyclist

    For me, the Left Behind books bring back the distant memory of reading Bret Easton Ellis’ “Less Than Zero.”  The protagonist of that book, like our Trib Force crew, witnesses all sorts of atrocities, but doesn’t ever reach the point of being interested in stopping any of them.  “I wanted to see how bad it could get,” he keeps on thinking to himself, over and over.  (Can’t vouch that that’s the exact words; it’s been a quarter-century since I read the stupid book.)  I really can’t tell the moral difference between Ellis’ protagonist and Rayford, Buck & Co.

  • Persia

     I think Ellis was deliberately making his protagonist hard to like, though. (Although with Ellis’ recent tweets, who the hell knows.)

  • Lori

     

    Although with Ellis’ recent tweets, who the hell knows. 

    Good lord, someone really needs to take away that guy’s internet access. It’s bad enough that he’s a complete tool, but the fact that he’s so transparently “Look at meeeeee. Won’t someone please look at my has-been self and validate my existence” is just embarrassing. His fancasting wank about the 50 Shades movie and trolling for scriptwriter consideration were just pathetic.

  • Persia

    I am seriously baffled by the whole thing. Unless it’s performance art. Nope, even then I’m baffled.

  • http://mousehole-mouse.blogspot.com/?zx=899fdf7701a6708f Mouse

    Let me guess, Rayford’s brave, manly act of Resistance (BMAR) will be to leave a flaming bag on Nicky Kilmanjaro’s front steps, ring the bell then run away? After short-sheeting his bed, I bet.

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

    Now that I’d like to see!

  • Ymfon

    “But everybody enjoyed a powerful takeoff every once in a while, right?”

    Ooooh, yes, with the fully loaded plane and everything!

  • http://semperfiona.livejournal.com Semperfiona

    Another triviality, but… You’re a flight attendant (or possibly one of the princes, we don’t know) on a plane with the dictator of the world, who just slaughtered millions of people and could order you shot at any moment, you see him fall down under acceleration, possibly injuring himself severely, and you say “Oh my goodness”!?!?! Are you six?

    It’s not like the character is an RTC who can’t swear, so what up, LaJenkins? A series of asterisks would be more realistic without putting cuss words in print.

  • aunursa

    No.  Jenkins would never write edited profanity.  He would say something like: “She said a word that Rayford himself had occasionally used before he became an RTC.”  See for example from Book #2…

    [President Fitzhugh] used profanity liberally, and though Buck had never been in his presence when Fitz was angry, his outbursts were legendary among staffers.

    He swore.  And then he swore again.  Soon he was lacing every sentence with profanity.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Launch every ZIG.

    For great justice.

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

    Second most evil?  You don’t think Buck can get in the running?  Awww…..

    (Readers here seem to divide into ones who hate Buck more than Rayford and ones who hate Rayford more than Buck.  I am in the hate-Buck camp myself.  But Rayford has an unfair advantage in this scene, as he has the Antichrist on a plane.  Buck has to settle for being his chief of propaganda.)

  • aunursa

    Another big moment in the Tribulation Force’s rebellion against the Global Community is in Book #8, when David Hayseed vomits all over Nicky.

    David: I can’t believe I threw up in front of the anti-Christ.
    <Buck: Face it, David. You threw up on the anti-Christ.

  • VMink

    See, now, that sort of line could be funny if the characters were portrayed as being absolutely, unequivocably *unable* to do anything about Nicolae’s Masterplan for The End of The World and are just sort of, you know… keeping time.  Sort of like if the boss in Office Space were the Antichrist.

    But instead it’s portrayed as some sort of act of resistance rather than an act of a weak stomach.

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

    Since the actor who played Flounder, who threw up in front of/on the Dean, also played Vir Cotto on Babylon 5, and we’re talking about evil rulers, I’m now getting the delightful image of Londo telling him “Face it, Vir.  You didn’t throw up in front of Emperor Cartagia.  You threw up on Emperor Cartagia.”  (Of course, that would hardly be the worst thing he ever did to him….)

  • Lori

     

    David: I can’t believe I threw up in front of the Antichrist.
    Hannah Palemoon: Face it, David. You threw up on the Antichrist.   

    In a better book this exchange would totally have worked. It would be fantastic in something in the Whedon-verse. In these books it’s made of fail.

  • KarenH.

    Okay seriously? Jenkins and LeHaye actually ripped off ANIMAL HOUSE for dialogue???

    Talk about evil… ;)

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

    I don’t think this has been addressed yet, so, no, they weren’t quite that bad.  As I understand it, the vomiting-upon is canon, but aunursa wrote the Animal House dialogue with character swaps for the lulz.

  • aunursa

    No, L&J didn’t actually rip off Animal HouseI ripped off Animal House.  Sorry that I didn’t make that clear…

    David could not move and sensed the turning heads of those nearby. Carpathia looked puzzled, seeming to beckon him. David said, “Pothen-potenth-Exshell–” and pitched forward. His last image before crashing to the floor, head banging the marble, was that he had vomited all over Carpathia.”

    David awoke in the paace hospital during the wee hourse to someone caressing his hand.
    “Don’t speak,” she whispered. It was Nurse Pale-moon. “You’re a celebrity.”
    “I am?”
    “Shh. It’s all over the palace that you blew chunks on Carpathia.”

    The Mark, pp 96-98

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

    “blew chunks”?

    The Animal House lines would be an improvement. (Why am I not surprised…)

  • Tofu_Killer

    “The Banality of Evil” indeed.

    If the Left Behind universe to hold a Banality Bake Off event, Nicky wouldn’t even place in the medals.

    So this What-Would-Anti-Jesus-Do thread that keeps coming up because Nicky Rockytop is simply blah, how can that best be answered?
    My instincts tell me that the old measure of mass murder won’t be the best yardstick, and this passage proves it. Look at what LaJay have done here, aside from crimes against intelligence and the written word, they have slaughtered something like a 1/4 of the world’s remaining population and it doesn’t change what we think of Nicky in the least. And don’t the good guys have to slaughter sometimes? Look at Lincoln, or Eisenhower.

    For anyone working on their own anti-WWJD novel, can I suggest that real evil is convincing people to willingly, enthusiastically  participate in their own harm? Killing and making with the evil laugh is so Bond Villain.  Now being a Fox News Anchor… that has possibilities.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Actually, Jesus didn’t…like, actually physically save that many people, did he?  Sure, some, but he didn’t like– fly around like Superman stopping trains from going off the tracks or…well, whatever the opposite of the Holocaust is. 

    Right?  But he theoretically saved souls, & theoretically laid down a larger philosophy that in sum total would help people…right?

    So the Antichrist is like that.  Some influential thinker whose teachings would lead others to mistreat each other, behave in inherently un-Christlike ways & would ultimately lead a ton of souls into damnation.

  • Jenora Feuer

     Except that, really, if you want some big influential thinker who leads people to behave in un-Christlike ways and mistreat each other, damning hundreds of thousands of souls because they followed him instead of Christ…

    …  really, you’d be doing the Anti-Christ as a televangelist.  And there’s no way L&J would dare touch that, it might get people to think…

  • VMink

    …  really, you’d be doing the Anti-Christ as a televangelist

    Or as the bestselling co-author of an inexplicably popular series of ostensibly “Christian” novels that hold up very non-Christian values.

  • Dash1

     

    really, if you want some big influential thinker who leads people to
    behave in un-Christlike ways and mistreat each other, damning hundreds
    of thousands of souls because they followed him instead of Christ…

    …  really, you’d be doing the Anti-Christ as a televangelist.

    Or as Ayn Rand.

  • Chris

    In my personal never-to-actually-be-written End Times story, there are several plausible candidates for Antichrist (including but not limited to the President of the USA, the Secretary-General of the UN, and the Pope). There is also a large, active Christian resistance against them, which often seems to actually be winning. And about halfway through the story, it suddenly becomes painfully clear that the actual Beast is none other than the leader of said Christian resistance.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    NaNoWriMo was made for this!

  • Someguy who hates pants

    I would read this, more importantly I would pay money to read this.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     So basically Ayn Rand.

  • Paul D.

    “Actually, Jesus didn’t…like, actually physically save that many people, did he? ”

    The only one I can think of is Barabbas.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    As a side note, I find that whole “Barabbas” & “Bar Abba” connection really…interesting, mythically resonant, & indicative of some unreliable narration.

  • nemryn

     I take it as a glimpse at a fragment of a different story: There was this other guy around at the same time as Jesus who was also calling himself the Messiah. And unlike hippy-dippy Jesus and his ‘sell everything you have and follow me’ message, Barabbas was an old-school, wrathful Messiah, more like Moses in Egypt. Barabbas had been charged with murder and sedition, remember, which probably meant the murder of Roman soldiers, and advocating for the downfall of Rome. Given that, it’s not really surprising that the crowd chose him over Jesus.

  • Tricksterson

    Likewise with the “thieves” crucified with Jesus.  Crucifixion was for crimes against the state.  More then likely they were sicarii, what they called the terrorists/freedom fighters of the time and area.

  • Jenny Islander

    What about the woman caught in adultery, who was going to be stoned to death?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Don’t forget Lazarus. Or whatshisface’s daughter, or whatshisotherface’s–I forget what canon says the relationship is but I have read that the kid is supposed to be the guy’s whatever the word is for teenage male lover. Or the blind guy or the guy who got lowered through a hole in the roof or anybody who got undemoned and I am probably forgetting a bunch.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     Well, there were a bunch of people with chronic illnesses and a few reported as on the point of death that he healed, and (counting these problems separately) a number of blind or deaf or lame or mentally ill (or, from descriptions – “he throws himself into the fire” – possibly epileptic) people, and a handful who were actually dead – he’s reported to have restored all of them to health. Granted, they eventually died of something anyway, but so did Barabbas.

  • Lori
    “Actually, Jesus didn’t…like, actually physically save that many people, did he? “

    The only one I can think of is Barabbas.

    I don’t see how Barabbas would count as a save by Jesus. It’s not like it was Jesus’ idea for Barabbas to go free.

    Raising people from the dead would seem to count though. There were 3 of those—Lazarus, the widow’s son and whatshisname’s daughter. He also kept Peter from drowning during the “walking on water” incident.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Also, like, he brought Lazarus back to life & healed some blind people I guess. Typical mid-level cleric spells.

  • Seraph4377

     The woman caught in adultery

  • http://nelc.livejournal.com/ NelC

    OMG! Ayn Rand was the Anti-Christ!

  • SkyknightXi

    I think that may ultimately be WHY LaHaye and Jenkins have what looks to us like a malformed hierarchy of evil. Satanel’s first and foremost desire? Not bloodshed for its own sake. Not inciting fear to shore up his self-esteem. No, it’s all about stealing souls from God. Fear, strife, etc. are just means to an end. Good and evil distill down here to whether or not humans stay loyal to their rightful liege. And creating them is necessary and sufficient for rightful liegehood. Not much more than property concerns, in the end.

  • redsixwing

    “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking.” Rayford put as much concern as he could manage into his voice. He was sitting on a target- his giant plane squarely in the fallout zone of the bombs that would hit San Fransisco as soon as the Potentate was safely in the air – so there was plenty of concern to go around. The tower confirmed Chloe’s plane was gone.

    “I’m afraid our takeoff is going to be a little delayed.” He thumbed the intercom off just in time to protect his ears from the single, barked syllable “What!” from the passenger compartment. Someone in there started shouting, then banging on the cockpit door. As it was wedged closed with the empty and relocated copilot’s chair, Rayford was reasonably confident that it wouldn’t do any good, and ignored the noise.

    Instead, he was monitoring his engines – a gauge was flashing amber on his dash, and an anonymous technician in coveralls, walking away, held up one fist with a thumb extended.

    The technician would be fired, if anyone could find her; Rayford hadn’t
    asked where she was going, just told her it was best to leave as soon as
    possible. She’d arched an eyebrow at him, snorted “no shit, Sherlock,”
    and taken her payment: a working, untraced cell phone, a card good for
    at least one withdrawal from a high-level checking account, and the keys
    to a brand new Range Rover.

    “Good news,” he said to himself.  It was all he could do; to pray aloud, here, now, would be a dead giveaway, so he didn’t spare himself even that comfort. He toggled the intercom again. “That’s resolved it, ladies and gents, here we go.”

    As he taxied the sabotaged plane onto the runway, the gauge went from amber to red. Everyone enjoys a powerful takeoff sometimes, right? The initial thrust stopped the banging on the door as the person responsible yelled and went over backward.

    The plane tilted horribly at a bare fifty feet in altitude, trailing fire from both engines on the left wing, and smashed back into the earth it had so recently left. Rayford’s last view was of the sky; his last thought, that they wouldn’t dare drop the bomb while the Potentate’s condition remained unknown.

  • David Starner

     No need for external sabotage; he could just take it up, point the noise way up until it stalls, put the engines at full until they burn out (they can’t get air like that), and gravity combined with jet fuel will make sure that anything that looks human in the wreckage won’t be.

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

    The abominably stupid thing?

    Rayford and gang do almost EXACTLY that to a plane when they fake some pilots’ deaths in order to get them out from having to Take The Mark.

  • redsixwing

     An excellent point! :D

    There’s all kinds of wonderful ways to goof up massively with an airplane, and most of them seem to end very badly indeed.

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

    Precisely. Not goofing up massively takes aptitude, training and relentless self-discipline (and having healthy respect and watchfulness for potential “bad luck” low-probability catastrophes doesn’t hurt, either). Where have we seen those traits recently?

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

    Yes, but to do that would require a) that Ellenjay actually understand something about what they’re writing about, b) care enough not to insult readers’ intelligence overmuch and c) can stand to kill off one of their fave characters doing the right thing.

    What ever possessed you to think that they could do any of the above?

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

    The picture in my head right now is of Daria Morgendorfer, arms crossed, face neutral: “My hero.”

  • redsixwing

    *cough* Obvs. I should’ve edited the swear out of the above, then.

  • flat

    I am against any kind of torture, I think somebody who tortures somebody else in any way is disgusting and immoral.

    But I REALLY REALLY want to torture rayford and Buck.
    I want them to lie crying on the floor on their own completely broken and completely humiliated, no yelling out in pain but completely blank and in shock of what just happened to them.

    I know it is wrong to think like this, but the urge is so incredible strong.

  • Tricksterson

    Well, they are fictional so give yourself a pass.

  • aunursa

    I REALLY REALLY want to torture rayford and Buck.I want them to lie crying on the floor on their own completely broken and completely humiliated, no yelling out in pain but completely blank and in shock of what just happened to them.

    I’m sure one of our writers could help you out, here.  Do you want only the GIRAT and Brave Sir Rayford on the rack?  Or do you want the authors to suffer alongside their stand-ins?

  • Nomuse

    Mmm, redsixwing.  That was exactly my thought; snap the nosewheel on the grass at the start of the take-off run, and see if they will continue the attack the with plane stuck there…or if the universe itself will change the rules and levitate the plane away just to keep the prophesy intact.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I can’t wait for the chapter when Buck “sticks it to the man” by swiping a little bit of napalm from Infant-Kitty-Puppy Industrial Burninator  to give Nicolae a hotfoot.

  • Magic_Cracker

    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.

    Agreed. Say what you want about mass-murderous Satanic despotism, at least it’s an ethos.

  • student

    Has anyone else here taken a look at the updated version of the first book that was free on Amazon a while back? I ask because Carpathia isn’t a young Robert Redford anymore, he’s a young Brad Pitt. The silliness runs deep here.

    Also, just as a remark, in case people weren’t aware, Chinese women don’t traditionally change their names upon marriage…

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

    Has anyone else here taken a look at the updated version of the first
    book that was free on Amazon a while back? I ask because Carpathia isn’t a young Robert Redford anymore, he’s a young Brad Pitt. The silliness
    runs deep here.

    Oh, geez.

    L&J actually tried polishing a turd.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I think I finally figured out what bothers about the Brad Pitt nee Young Robert Redford description: As a comparisons go, it only tells us that he is superficially handsome — blond hair, strong chin, big smile — and doesn’t capture any other qualities Nicolae supposedly has, not even charisma. (I don’t think either actor is especially charismatic.) A good comparison needs to capture several similarities on several levels. It would have been better to go with, say, Jack Kennedy who, in addition to being an easily recognizable  cultural touchstone, was superficially handsome in the same way Pitt and Young Redford are, but was also a charismatic statesman whose memory evokes strong emotions.

  • Makabit

    When I imagine these scenes, I can only see Nicolae being played by Patrick Neil Harris. This does not add to the gravitas of the situation.

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

    The line break had Patrick on one line and Neil Harris on the next. I was a bit surprised; my mental casting for the scene might have had Sir Patrick Stewart as Nicolae and for Rayford… take your pick of Steve Buscemi or Pee Wee Herman.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I think I finally figured out what bothers about the Brad Pitt nee Young Robert Redford description: As a comparisons go, it only tells us that he is superficially handsome — blond hair, strong chin, big smile — and doesn’t capture any other qualities Nicolae supposedly has, not even charisma. (I don’t think either actor is especially charismatic.) A good comparison needs to capture several similarities on several levels. It would have been better to go with, say, Jack Kennedy who, in addition to being an easily recognizable cultural touchstone, was superficially handsome in the same way Pitt and Young Redford are, but was also a charismatic statesman whose memory evokes strong emotions.

    How about “as handsome as Brad Pitt with the charisma of Bill Clinton”?

    …I’ve just realised that George Clooney is the antichrist. Holy crap.

  • aunursa

    Also, just as a remark, in case people weren’t aware, Chinese women don’t traditionally change their names upon marriage…

    I didn’t know that.  And obviously Jerry Jenkins didn’t care enough to research.

  • SisterCoyote

    Well obviously, the Christian thing to do here is to change any and all cultural traditions, conventions, and what-have-you to match the white Christian expectation. If they’re Real, True Christians, why wouldn’t they behave exactly as middle-class suburbanites? That’s what Christianity means, right?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     A few weeks ago I ws trying to explain to someone an issue with a character played by a black actor in a science fiction show. They argued that the protrayl was fine because the character’s race wasn’t part of the specification, therefore it could not possibly be racist, and anyway, how would we expect a character to “act black” when they’re from the future and well-educated? Surely in a non-racist society, black people and white people would act the same.

    I couldn’t quite get it through to him that the problem was that “Acts like a 20th century middle class white man” was being presented as “human default for all people in all times and places such that any person will default to that when placed in a futurey society”.

  • Loquat

    To elaborate further on Chinese names, it’s (as usual) a bit more complicated. While a Chinese woman will not typically change her own name upon marriage, that doesn’t mean she’ll be known as Mrs. Original-surname. Instead, “Mrs. Husband’s-surname” becomes something like a title, an acceptable alternate way of addressing her – sort of like calling Prince William the Duke of Cambridge. 

    And to further confuse matters, it can also be acceptable to address a woman with children as Child’s-full-name’s-mother. So if Liu Ming marries a fellow surnamed Wu and has a kid named Wu Zhang, her own name is still Liu Ming, but you might also call her Mrs. Wu or Wu Zhang’s Mom, depending on which aspect of her identity you wish to emphasize and whether you think addressing her as Child’s-name’s-mom is likely to annoy her. 

  • GDwarf

     

    Also, just as a remark, in case people weren’t aware, Chinese women don’t traditionally change their names upon marriage…

    They also, I believe, order their names: Family, Personal. So “Ming Toy” would be “Toy, of the Ming family”.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Everybody bang gong tonight.
    Everybody Chang Wong tonight.

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

    “powerful takeoff” suddenly sounds like a very lewd euphemism.

  • Dantesque17

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

    Come on, now.  In the Ellenjay-verse, there are no scientists among the saved.

  • RArcher

    The thing for me is, at least in my mind a genuine monstrous tyrant would have Ray shot for pulling a stunt like that. An image-conscious monstrous tyrant would have him quietly disappeared. An ordinary, non-monstrous politician or CEO would fire him or demote him. A grade school teacher would send him to the principal’s office. Since I predict none of these things are going to happen, Carpathia will end up looking less monstrous than my third grade teacher, and that is a hell of a low bar.

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

    That’s the weird thing. Carpathia’s proven he has no problem nuking anybody who gets in his way. For him to fail to have Rayford face any consequences for his little stunt is patently unrealistic.

    Skewed to the Middle:

    Once the plane was airborne, Rayford Steele looked at Mac McCullum and relaxed.

    The slight squeak of the door portended sudden doom as Rayford swivelled in his chair to see who came in.

    A very frigidly angry Nicolae Carpathia stood over him and asked, “What was the meaning of that unnecessarily swift takeoff?”

    Rayford tried not to let his teeth chatter as he replied, “S-surely you wanted to get airborne as quickly as possible? Potentate?”

    Nicolae leaned down, his hands on either side of the Captain’s chair. “Do. Not. Lie. To. Me! Were I anyone other than myself, I might have been killed by your little stunt which bowled me over like tenpins! Rest assured, you would have faced immediate execution on this very plane had I been killed due to a broken neck.

    Nicolae didn’t look like he had superhuman strength, but somehow, his chair swung around so violently Rayford was flung to the side and nearly fell out of the chair when Carpathia halted it.

    “Fly this plane, Captain. The next time you get any ideas, I need only one bullet. Perhaps you should ask your friend Cameron about that.”

  • SisterCoyote

     Wow. That’s excellent.

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

    And get a load of the whole “Cloud Ten is a secret Satanic front organization because CROSSES IN THE O’S” thing.

    http://libertytothecaptives.net/cloudten_quartered_circle.html

  • SisterCoyote

    …because that’s the only thing that could be meant by a quartered circle. Of course.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     So… Cloud Ten is a front for the Old Ones who serve The Light?

    Would that make Kirk Cameron, Gordon Currie and Brad Johnson the Three From The Track?

  • phoenix_feather

    Ah, Invisible Neutrino, I got shivers!

    *shivers*

  • David Starner

     I don’t; monstrous tyrants can tend towards the random. It was pretty hard to predict what Stalin was going to do or who he was going to have killed. It’s a stretch, but I can almost see Ray being taken as a court jester or best bud. In that case, Ray gets away with stuff because it’s all in good fun and never gets in the tyrant’s way, and not being able to laugh with it would just reflect bad on Nicolae (at least in his mind). It makes him more human then Anti-Christ, though; a little insecure and misinterpreting. On the other hand, an Anti-Christ who saw a lot could find Ray hilarious; you’ve got this arrogant pompous windbag who pulls these little stunts and acts as if they matter. He believes he’s fighting against the Anti-Christ and yet Nicolae couldn’t find a better pilot.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

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

    Fixed that for you.  

  • MaryKaye

     I suspect that the authors *cannot* think hard about these scenes, because if they did, their whole edifice would fall apart.  It goes like this:

    Nicolai is doing God’s work by fulfilling the prophecy.  So Rayford should help him, thereby working toward the fulfillment of God’s plan.

    But…Nicolai is evil and one shouldn’t cooperate with evil, and besides it’d be horrid if you showed Rayford happily working for the Antichrist.  It might end up revealing that God’s plan here is, in fact, horrific.

    But…if Rayford opposes him he’s opposing God’s plan.  That has to fail and anyway it’s a sin to even try!

    But….round and round it goes, because there is no solution.  Once you accept that Nicolai is ordained by God to slaughter the millions, there are no paths from there that don’t lead to “God wants the millions slaughtered” and from there you’re in spitting distance of “God is evil” or else (for a horrendous warped set of definitions “Nicolai is good.”

    The same player is controlling the White and Black pieces, but the authors still want to treat it as a meaningful game.   Better not to think about it too much.  The books sell anyway.

    (Does anyone know the relative sales figures of the different volumes?  Because 1 was bad but had moments, and 2 was quite bad, but 3 reaches new lows.  Surely you have to lose some readers eventually.)

  • Jon Frater

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

    Hmmm . . .

    What else would be considered “justice” in this respect? Sending unordered pizzas to Castro’s palace in Havana? Hiding Stalin’s mustache trimmer? Slipping a note to Hitler telling him what Eva *really* thought of him in bed? Swapping Mao’s rifle with a clever lookalike that shot flowers?

    Suggestions?

  • Magic_Cracker

    Telling Augusto Pinochet he’ll have to reschedule the mass executions because of a soccer match.

    Pulling a ding-dong-ditch on Abimael Guzmán.

    Requesting a Book of Mormon and concomitant missionary visit for Oliver Cromwell.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Also, my psychic sensitivities allowed me  on page 1 to pre-ply to your comment one page 2:

    I can’t wait for the chapter when Buck “sticks it to the man” by swiping a little bit of napalm from the Infant-Kitty-Puppy Industrial Burninator  to give Nicolae a hotfoot.

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

    Swapping Mao’s rifle with a clever lookalike that shot flowers?

    That would actually be kinda awesome. I can picture heroes doing that. Even better: keep doing it, to everyone around Mao, over and over and over. It’s a direct opposition to a violent tyrant, and would actually make said violent tyrant look foolish in a way that points directly to his tyranny.

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

    …would actually make said violent tyrant look foolish in a way that points directly to his tyranny.

    That’s the thing, isn’t it?  “Falling down” doesn’t nevessarily lead to “looking foolish,” except in LaJenkins’ fantasy. 

    In fact, Nicolae handles the whole situation with aplomb–he admits his fault and doesn’t let anyone endanger themselves by trying to help him–and ends up looking far more classy and dignified than fully-loaded schoolyard-trickster Rayford.

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

    The last two things might inconvenience or annoy Hitler and Mao, so they don’t count. Rayford’s “justice” is to simply do his job properly and rely on Carpathia choosing to stand on a taxiing plane for no apparent reason. Even Carpathia himself doesn’t seem upset, because, as he says, it is his fault for standing up for no reason even though he’s been on a plane for this entire book basically and knows the procedure by now.

    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. 

    Actually, that kind of makes sense. Carpathia doesn’t realistically have enough personnel reporting directly to him to monitor the entire world. A smart world ruler would simply suborn the top ranks of the police and military while leaving the rank-and-file in place. Why bother hiring, recruiting, equipping, and training millions (tens of millions) new police officers and soldiers when you can just take control of the existing apparatus? The Chicago police officers would already know the area and know what they’re doing; just give them new orders and make them enforce it. 

  • GeniusLemur

    And Nicky was conveniently standing during takeoff for no particular reason, and the flight attendant comes forward and tells Shit, I mean Ray, that. They have a conversation about it, and at the end Nicky is still standing for no particular reason. Ray starts down the runway too fast, and Nicky doesn’t jump into a chair for some reason.

    And the punchline to all this belabored setup is: Nicky falls down.

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

    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.

    It’s important to remember that “worse” isn’t a linear scale here. Nicolae doesn’t have to be more “genocideal-y” or “mass-murdery” or “human-purge-y” than those three, he just has to be bad in a way that those three aren’t. 

    When I write flash-fiction about Nicolae, I’ve found the most effective way to make him feel monstrously evil is to make him self-aware,  genre-savvy, and zealous.

    Mao? Stalin? Hitler? I doubt any of those people viewed themselves as “evil”. They saw themselves as working towards noble goals, doing good for their people. To make Nicolae “worse” then them, to make him more horrible, I strip away that illusion. When I write Nicolae, he knows he is doing wrong, knows he is immoral and acting against decency, mercy, and kindness. 

    Nicolae knows this isn’t a war, or a battle. He recognizes the Tribulation for what it is: pageantry and drama, like a luchador wrestling match. The outcome is already decided, the fight is fixed, but what matters is putting on a good show for the crowd. And he knows his role is the Heel

    The last ingredient is that Nicolae in my work is committed to his role. It’s vitally important that he do his job well, even if it is an evil job of cruel acts. He can’t just bomb cities, he has to bomb cities without warning while cackling evilly and sipping champagne. It’s not enough to capture the rebelling militias; they need to be publicly executed, ideally after a long bout of torture and public humiliation and suffering. Nicolae knows this sort of thing is counter-productive… if your actual goal is to rule, but that’s not his goal. His goal is to be a monster, and he wants to do it well. 

    Of course, L&J can’t write that, because it requires admitting that the one who wants Nicolae to be a monster is God.

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

    Mao? Stalin? Hitler? I doubt any of those people viewed themselves as “evil”.

    Actually, there’s a compelling theory that’s slowly but steadily gaining popularity that Hitler saw himself as an artist of evil. 

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

    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.
     
    Yet another Walter Mitty moment.  I’ve lost count.

  • LL

    I think the truth is, LaJenkins really don’t have a problem with Nicolae’s methods, only his motivations. If he was slaughtering millions of sinners in the name of God (the true God, not the namby pamby sissy type of God that loves everyone, even poor people and black people and gay people), that’d be OK. But he’s doing it in the name of Satan, therefore, it’s wrong. It’s wrong not because it’s wrong to kill people, but because it’s wrong to kill people unless you have a really good reason to do so. 

    They can’t hide their love of tyrants and authoritarianism. Most “conservatives” can’t. 

    Also, Rayford’s flying the plane, and it hasn’t occurred to him to fly it into the side of a mountain or, as someone notes above, crash it on takeoff? I mean, it would require him to sacrifice himself, which actually would seem Christlike, but I guess that hasn’t occurred to LaJenkins, either. Can’t kill off your “hero.” He has many more women to be patronizing and insulting toward and more evil to enable, while feeling secretly kinda bad about it. The evil enabling, not the women stuff. Real men never feel bad about being patronizing and insulting towards women. 

  • Veylon

    Actually, it may shock you to learn that Rayford does, eventually, crash the plane. With nobody aboard. And in such a way as to not inconvenience the Antichrist – or his evil workings – in the slightest.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Actually, it may shock you to learn that Rayford does, eventually, crash the plane. With nobody aboard. And in such a way as to not inconvenience the Antichrist – or his evil workings – in the slightest.

    The hell?  

    Okay, let me entertain an idea: Rayford has been completely mind-mojoed by Nicky.  Bam, whamp, his faith does no good, he is Nicky’s puppet.  The critical detail being he does not know that he is Nicky’s puppet.  Part of that mind controlling effect is the illusions it creates in the mind of those effected by it.  Rayford is absolutely convinced he is following “God’s will” and so it is okay to serve the anti-christ, when in fact it is not the will of God he is following, but a will altogether more malevolent.  

    And because he cannot see that, every evil thing he does, he does thinking he is fulfilling the part in some greater good plan.  That is how Nicky’s mental domination works.  

  • Splitting Image

    The only problem with imagining that Rayford has been mojoed by Nicky is that it introduces the possibility that a Real True Christian might be wrong about something.

    And Real True God knows we can’t have that.
    Or to put it another way, that is exactly how it should be done and exactly why someone other than Lahaye and Jenkins needs to be writing this.

    Suggested book title: Armageddon on the River Kwai.

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

    Even Colonel Nicholson came to his senses in the end. :P

  • GDwarf

     

    Okay, let me entertain an idea: Rayford has been completely mind-mojoed
    by Nicky.  Bam, whamp, his faith does no good, he is Nicky’s puppet.

    I’ve just finished reading Redshirts by John Scalzi, it’s a book about characters who are members of that often-sacrificed-for-drama caste in a shoddy Star Trek knockoff, but who don’t realize it. Every time the writer has something out-of-character, or stupid, happen for the sake of drama they find themselves suddenly losing all common sense and doing exactly what the script requires, even though as soon as they’re done they realize just how idiotic or weird it was.

    …Which raises the idea that Rayford’s faith does stop Nicky’s mind-mojo…by having God use his instead. Since God wants the Antichrist to stay alive for now, our “heroes” find themselves acting as his faithful lackeys whenever they’re in his presence, only to go back to fuming at him when they aren’t.

  • LL

    Of course. What a douche. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It’s wrong not because it’s wrong to kill people, but because it’s wrong to kill people unless you have a really good reason to do so.

    To be fair, that’s hardly a sentiment unique to L&J. Just upthread there was a comment about how even “the good guys” engage in mass slaughter on occasion. Implication being that being responsible for large scale violent death doesn’t make you a “bad guy”, as opposed to the argument that it means your categorisation of “good guy” is off.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Truly an act of justice worthy of America’s Funniest Home Videos.

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

    I’ve always preferred Dave Barry’s alternative name for the show: Boneheaded Americans Injure Themselves on Home Video.

  • Ben English

    Apropros of Fred being on the topic, I have posted

    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8548453/2/Parousia-A-Fanfic-of-the-Earth-s-Last-Days

    Chapter Two of my parody/crossover, as Carpathia flexes his propaganda arm to dispel the notion of superheroes: Buck Williams!

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

    Woot! *goes to read*

    Ha! I love all the little in-jokes and references you peppered that chapter with. My favorite?

    “Vodka’s not a religion,” Tanya protested. “It’s a relationship.”

    Very reminiscent of the RTC protest that they’re in a “personal relationship with God” :P

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

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 256 pages

  • aunursa

    More actual character names in the Left Behind series…

    Aurelio Sequoia Figueroa
    Cendrillon Jospin
    Demetrius Demeter
    Dwayne & Trudy Tuttle of Tacoma Washington Oklahoma
    Eleazar Tiberius
    Enoch Dumas
    Dr. Floyd Charles
    Gustaf Zuckermandel Sr (“Big Zeke”)
    Gustaf Zuckermandel Jr (“Zeke”)
    Loren Hut
    Lukas Miklos & Mrs. Miklos
    Suhail Akbar
    Tyrola Delanty (“T”)

  • Ben English

    Good grief… it’s like JKR characters, if JKR was a meth addict.

    I sincerely hope that Suhail Akbar uttered the phrase “It’s a trap!” at some point.

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

    I don’t believe he does, but he IS one of the more intelligent characters in Nicolae’s little cabal.

  • aunursa

    Oh, and I couldn’t possibly forget …

    Viviana Ivinisova … who is introduced to the readers as Viv Ivins (VI VI VI -ns).

    Jerry Jenkins.  He’s so clever.

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

    Of all those names, the one I mind the least is Loren Hut. The character is Canadian, and those are both names with English origin. It’s a damn sight better than Ming Wong Toy Woo, at least.

  • P J Evans

    ‘ Dwayne and Trudy Tuttle’ sound like people you’d find in Oklahoma. Or Texas.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah. At least when G&S wrote The Mikado, they had the excuse of at the time there really wasn’t a hell of a lot of English-language material on how Japanese names work.

  • GeniusLemur

     Yes Conan Doyle has the same excuse in The Sign of Four when he gets the Indian names all messed up. In that place and time, what source could he consult to get it right?

  • http://dragoness-e.livejournal.com/ Dragoness Eclectic

     Oh, I dunno, maybe walk downtown to the right club and *talk* to some British East India veterans?  Or their Indian servants? Not like India hadn’t been a very significant part of the British Empire for a century by that point…

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’m pretty disappointed that the Cadinal who became Pope was named Peter Mathews instead of Seamus O’Mick. Show some commitment to your art, L&J!

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

     Peter Mathews was his chosen Pope name.  His birth name was of course Patrick Shillelagh O’Toole.  And that darned Tribulation Force was always after ‘is lucky charms, doncha know?

  • P J Evans

    named Peter Mathews instead of Seamus O’Mick.

    Heck, they could have gone for Patrick Kelly and gotten a better result. Or my grandfather’s Irish Catholic brother-in-law: Mike Driscoll.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    One half of my family tree is Irish Catholic, including Kennedys and Nolans among the surnames and Kevins, Pats, Micks, D’Arcys, Brigids, Clares among the first names. So yeah, my family too could contribute much better stereotypical Catholic names than L&J came up with.

    It pretty much looks like they gave stereotyped names to all the non-white characters, but lumped all white nominally Christian people together as a single monoculture.

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

    But at the time they were writing this, there’d only been one non-Italian pope for over 400 years, so I think we’d get a Giuseppe Siciliani.

  • MaryKaye

    While trying to find volume by volume sales figures (I failed, except that sales seemed to ramp up sharply at #7) I stumbled across a site that ragged on LB because it got its apocalypse theology wrong–all REAL RTCs know that you can’t be saved after the Rapture unless you had actually never heard the Gospel, Catholics can’t possibly be saved, once you have the Mark you can’t be saved,  fetuses aren’t Raptured, and so L&J are HERETICS.  (And, annoyingly, very successful influential heretics.)

    I knew intellectually that this must be a thing but was still tickled to find it.

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

    Oh yeah. There are people out there who make L&J look like theological moderates.

    Was it Liberty To the Captives dot net?

    http://libertytothecaptives.net/pretrib_promoters_trying.html

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

    That’s the problem with extremists. As with hack writing, plausibility and any claim to intelligence tend to disappear long before they do… and there’s always somebody who can make the lowliest Ellenjay-wannabe seem Shakespearean by comparison.

  • banancat

     Wait, precious innocent fetuses aren’t supposed to be raptured?

  • Lori

     

    fetuses aren’t Raptured   

    What? Why not? Is this some weird version of original sin or something?

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

    Wasn’t a pregnant woman in the first book found to have had her baby (still inside her) Raptured?

    EDIT:

    Most shocking to Rayford was a woman in labor, about to go into the delivery room, who was suddenly barren. Doctors delivered the placenta. Her husband had caught the disappearance of the fetus on tape. As he videotaped her great belly and sweaty face, he asked questions. How did she feel?

    Indeed.

  • Lori

     

    Wasn’t a pregnant woman in the first book found to have had her baby (still inside her) Raptured?   

    Yes. In L&J world everyone under 12, including the “pre-born” are raptured. The folks Mary Kaye found disagree and I don’t get that. L&J’s position makes sense to me in it’s own context. I’m not seeing why fetuses wouldn’t be raptured. Unless those folks don’t think fetuses have souls, which would be really interesting.

  • Amaryllis

    fetuses aren’t Raptured… Is this some weird version of original sin or something?

    Yes. The fetus hasn’t Made the Decision to Ask Jesus Into Its Heart as its Personal Savior.

    That goes for already-born children, too, regardless of how young they are.

    This is usually modified, for the sake of Evangelical parents’ peace of mind, to say that for children below the age of reason, it goes by families. If the parents are Saved, so are the children who are too young to have made a decision for themselves. If not, not.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    If the parents are Saved, so are the children who are too young to have made a decision for themselves. If not, not.

    What happens if only one parent is Saved? Boys go with the father and girls go with the mother??

  • EllieMurasaki

    Moot point. What Saved person would be married to someone unSaved?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

     Rayford’s first wife.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     

    What Saved person would be married to someone unSaved?

    Good point. After all, we’re talking about Real True Christians, not like those first century fakers married to pagans whose problems come up in one of St. Paul’s letters (basically his position was “stick with the pagan spouse, but if they decide to get divorced don’t fight it” – so I guess St. Paul wasn’t a RTC either, the sinner.)

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

    They could both originally be unSaved, until one of them Saw The Light and became a RTC, leaving the other out in the cold.

  • Amaryllis

     Shrug.

    I think that one Saved parent is enough, but I can’t say I’ve gone into the matter in detail.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     Some things don’t deserve to be studied in detail.

  • banancat

    So what would happen if a pregnant woman got raptured? Would the fetus just drop to the ground and get left behind?

  • Tricksterson

    No, fetus goes with her.  In fact here is a scene in Book 1 of a pregnant woman, in the deivery room whose stomach oes flat because her baby has been raptured.

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

     banancat was talking about a different sect’s beliefs, in which fetuses won’t be raptured.  So L&J’s take on it is irrelevant to that point.

  • banancat

    Sorry, I didn’t mean in these books where L&J clearly think fetuses get raptured. I was asking about the view of those people who think the default state is unsaved and that children too young to make the decision will be left behind.

  • KevinC

     This whole concept of Fetus!Rapture makes me think of a Lovecraftian tale in which Our Hero’s sanity is finally demolished at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom when he hears a wet, squishy pawing at his door, and a waterlogged, meeping voice saying, “Glub…glub…”

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

    One word: Eraserhead

  • Tricksterson

    Thing is L&J do create a character whose crimes against humanity and the planet put Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Polt Pot combinedl in the shade.  The problem s it’s God.

  • Erikjohnsonillustator

    Perhaps in another month or two Rayford will get the nerve to faux-fumble while handing Nicolae a fax and then fantasize about giving him a nasty paper cut!

  • Carstonio

    When we first meet Nicolae, he’s all about peace, unity, harmony and all that Aquarian hippie stuff that’s always infuriated LaHaye.

     
    The old Cold Warriors insisted that the Soviet Union’s leaders used those terms as code for worldwide communist domination, and that any groups with those goals were probably in league with Moscow. (One said that a UN agency’s goal of “peace, disarmament and international security” was suspicious because these terms were used by the era’s anti-nuke protesters in Europe.) LaHaye most likely intended for Carpathia’s hippie rhetoric to be a deliberate front the same way.

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

    What, is Rayford a 6-year-old who tears up a sibling’s crayon drawing out of spite or jealousy?

  • Vermic

    This moment, this useless prank, is where the book should end.  Because this is effectively the endpoint of the story.  It’s the climax, the culmination of Nicolae’s story and Rayford’s story and everything that’s happened until now.  Left Behind has protagonists, a villain and a pending apocalypse.  The central question of any such story is: Will our heroes prevent the end of the world?  And with this scene — with Rayford allowing the nukes to go off and contenting himself with a meaningless stunt — we have our answer: No, no they will not.  There’s nowhere else for the story to go.  Left Behind effectively ends here, nine books before it actually does.

    It would have been the perfect ending if Left Behind had been written as a cynical, absurdist satire like Dr. Strangelove.  We are shown with certainty that the end of the world will occur without interruption, because none of the people able to stop it have the power, good sense, or courage to do so.  Rayford’s prank is that last hollow jest before the end, the “Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!” of this tale.  After that, we cut to San Franciso and other cities being destroyed, somebody plays “We’ll Meet Again”, and then it’s all over but the author bibliographies and the page that talks about the typeface.  Kubrick would have loved this.

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

    Just a trivial FYI, that “page that talks about the typeface” is called a colophon.

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

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

    Rayford … couldn’t resist

    Now that sounds like a story I could read.

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

    My slash goggles on your post and my previous post immediately lead to this next line:

    “With a powerful thrust, McCullum proceeded…”

    :P

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

    I’ve never seen an author who didn’t write sex scenes use the word “thrust” as often as Jenkins does.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    “Of all those names, the one I mind the least is Loren Hut. The character is Canadian, and those are both names with English origin.”

    No Lady Elizabeth London, sister-in-law to Anglo Jones?


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