NRA: Not of this world

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 125-127, 132

The premise of the entire Left Behind series is right there in the title of the first book: Left Behind. It’s about separation and sorting. The children of God — the real, true Christians of the sort that God finds acceptable — are whisked off to Heaven, and everyone else is left behind.

That everyone else includes all the phony Christians, Jews, believers in every other religion and every nonbeliever. The lot of us will be given one last brief chance to convert to real, true Christianity before we will be killed by Jesus and tortured for all of eternity just as we deserve.

It seems like that should be insulting. The authors, after all, are insisting that we are all utterly wicked and depraved and irredeemably evil. And then on top of that they continually suggest that we’ve all deliberately chosen such wickedness just for the sake of being wicked.

Yet it’s hard to take offense at any of that because whenever they try to describe our alleged wickedness it never actually sounds that bad. None of us likes being called evil, but the word loses its sting once you realize that by “evil” all our accusers actually seem to mean is that we go to the wrong church, or to a synagogue instead of a church, or that we don’t go to church. Or they mean that we prefer peace to war, or that we look favorably on the idea that people in the developing world might not be quite so poor. Or … well, that’s pretty much it.

The authors classify most of the world as evil, but then their definition of evil turns out to be mostly benign. Once in a while they’ll spice it up a bit by suggesting that we’re all marauding criminals, but even then it doesn’t seem like they have much of an idea of what that means either, and they never sustain the idea for very long.

This thin notion of evil gets even stranger on the rare occasions that something actually happens in these books. Every few hundred pages or so there’s an airplane crash, or a bombing. And then, invariably, we’re shown a scene in which all of the “evil” people are scurrying about trying to aid the wounded or to rescue those in danger, while our virtuous heroes pass by, scarcely pausing to notice except perhaps to complain about the way this sudden outbreak of human suffering inconveniences their plans.

Given that, being classified among the evil and the wicked seems nothing at all like an insult. It seems more like a badge of honor.

I think this all flows out of the authors’ misunderstanding of the idea of “worldliness.” For them, to be “worldly” is to be evil. And thus to be good is to avoid “the world” — to shun it lest it’s contaminating contagion of “worldliness” infect them with its evil.

For a sense of what this means, let’s look at two ways of responding to this passage from the book of James:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

For LaHaye and Jenkins, the emphasis there is on being “pure and undefiled” and “unstained by the world.” That’s the priority, and thus for them that other bit about “care for orphans and widows” is perilous — touch an orphan or a widow and you risk becoming “stained by the world.” The orphans and widows business thus becomes, in this view, a kind of optional extra credit, something that’s nice to do, but only provided that one has a chance to do so while still ensuring that one keeps pure, undefiled and unstained by their worldliness.

And thus the authors wind up with the ideal of the Christian life presented in this series, that of Irene Steele, by-stander to the world, who spends all of her time sheltered at home or in church, praying and making “knick-knacks” and shielding her undefiled purity until “Jesus comes back to get us before we die.”

The alternative approach is to read James’ words through the lens of his brother. If we consider this same passage in that light — in the light of Jesus’ words, example and commandments — then we read it with a different emphasis. The idea then becomes something more like this:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and thereby to keep oneself unstained by the world.

From this view, James isn’t telling us to keep “undefiled” and also to “care for orphans and widows,” he’s telling us to keep undefiled by means of caring for orphans and widows. “Worldliness,” in other words, means not caring for those in need.

Viewed in that light, Rayford Steele and Buck Williams and Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins all seem deeply marked by the stain of the world.

For the authors, then, the whole point of life is to avoid “worldliness” and contamination from “the world.” Or, in other words, the whole point of life is to avoid the world — a view that mutually reinforces the escapist eschatology of Rapture-mania.

Part of what this means is that the authors have steadfastly avoided learning about the world.

And that’s unfortunate for their novel, given that the world is where it’s supposed to take place.

This muddles up the section of Nicolae that we’re looking at today in at least two ways. First it means that we’re reading an attempt to describe a detailed agenda for the world written by two men who have scrupulously avoided learning anything about that world or how it works. And second we’re reading an attempt to describe evil government written by two men who equate evil with “worldly,” and thus have no basis for imagining the possibility of good government.

Don’t misunderstand me — I’m not referring to the perennial ideological debate between those who favor larger or smaller government in various capacities and roles. What I mean is that government, by definition, must be worldly. It has to be concerned with the world — that’s its job. Filling in potholes, maintaining traffic safety — everything the government does or is supposed to do will be worldly, no matter how mundane. (That’s actually what “mundane” means — “belonging to the world.”) And therefore everything a government does or is supposed to do will be self-evidently wicked.*

Thus here we’re presented with a scene in which the Antichrist — purportedly the worst tyrant in the history of the world — lays out his agenda for global oppression, yet much of it seems either boring or baffling. He proposes some modest taxes and some impossibly ill-defined ones. He wants to build a second Alaskan pipeline. He offers some extremely vague and contradictory ideas about the structure of his new one-world government (tyranny administered via “bloc grants,” apparently).

All of this is, to the authors, self-evidently evil because it’s all so very worldly. But to readers who are better acquainted with the actual world, the few bits of it that make any sense seem unremarkable and unthreatening. The gist of the passage seems to be that Nicolae Carpathia’s one-world government intends to govern.

Toward the end of the chapter, Nicolae does recommend some actual evil policies, which we’ll try to make sense of next week, but let me skip ahead to the last page of the chapter just to look at Rayford’s reaction after listening in on all of the Antichrist’s plans:

All Rayford could do was pray. “Lord,” he said silently, “I wish I was a more willing servant. Is there no other role for me? Could I not be used in some sort of active opposition or judgment against this evil one? I can only trust in your purpose. Keep my loved ones safe until we see you in all your glory.”

Even Rayford Steele is frustrated by the impotent idleness of a faith that consists only of avoiding the contamination of worldliness. Even he wishes he had some “other role” besides that of feckless bystander. Even he wishes his faith demanded something more “active.”

But in the end, he submits to the authors’ will, trusting that it is God’s purpose that he have no purpose. And praying that he and his loved ones stay safe and unsullied until Jesus comes back to get them before they die.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* Tip-toe up to the ledge with me and take a moment to appreciate how deep and how far this goes. This is how we wound up with a subculture for which the word “secular” is a synonym for evil rather than just a necessary term for the temporal, mundane realm of the world we live in. This affects and infects a great deal of American politics. OK, careful now, let’s step back from the ledge.

"He seems nice."

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  • Invisible Neutrino

    Could I not be used in some sort of active opposition or judgment against this evil one?

    Oh my God, WHAT.

    Rayford, you are like the dude in the joke who kept crying out for Jesus to save him, only to find out that you got sent the boat, three boats, and then a helicopter with a ladder!

    Rayford has had ample chances to be a more “active opposition”. AMPLE!

    And yet he sits like a useless wart on a toad’s ass because L&J have determined that sophomoric pranks like superfast takeoffs are more important than actually sabotaging the Antichrist’s agenda.

  • P J Evans

     Rayford (and by extension Ellanjay) seem to think that God calls you to act by doing big flashy things to get your attention. There’s some stuff about that in the Bible, in the parts they don’t read.

  • Jim Roberts

    Because it cannot be repeated enough, I do not like Rayford Steele.

  • Jamoche

    I do not like you, Rayford Steele
    I do not like the way you feel.
    You say you want to do some good.
    I wish you would! I wish you would!
    You sit there while the Antichrist
    Does many things that are not nice
    The plane goes up, the plane goes down,
    Why don’t you crash it in the ground?!

  • Magic_Cracker

    Your poem got me thinking, how would Homer immortalize Rayford?

    Sing, Muse, of the man of gripes and snipes,
    He sat flat-assed in his pilot seat while the world beneath him burned…

  • AnonymousSam

     … Now I’d like to see a book of AntiSeuss poems.

    And at that very instant we heard a klupp-klupp
    of feet on Wallstreet and the AntiChrist klupped up!
    The boys in the UN had made him one too!
    In his fist was a non-nuclear Big-Boy Boomeroo!
    “I’ll blow you,” he yelled, “into pork and wee beans!”
    “Please do,” the readers said. “Advance this plot, please.”

  • Ruby_Tea

    And as much as Rayford is like the dude in the joke, he is also like the Sheriff of Nottingham The Adventures of Robin Hood, hiding under a table as his men fight Robin Hood:

    “Such impudence, sire!  If I could only reach him!”

  • reynard61

    “Such impudence, sire! If I could only reach him!”

    Or this gem from Robin Hood: Men in Tights!: “So it’s come to this, has it? A fight to the death, mano a mano, man to man, just you and me and my…*GUARDS!!!*”

  • aunursa

    Reminds me of Cary Elwes’ more famous role…

    “So you mean, you’ll put down your rock and I’ll put down my sword and we’ll try to kill each other like civilized men?”

  • hidden_urchin

    Tell me about it. Here’s what I imagine:

    Rayford: ” God, why did you not give me a more active role in fighting the Anti-Christ?”

    God: ” Dude, I told you to take a job as his pilot so you could fly his plane into the ground . Why else would you have been there?

  • TheBrett

     I know, right?

    For hell’s sake, Rayford, you can crash the damn plane!

  • nicolbolas

    OK, so let’s go with this idea.

    Let’s say that God appointed Rayford to kill the Antichrist. He put Rayford in the best possible position to stop countless deaths. This must mean that God put Rayford there for the sole purpose of *preventing* the Great Tribulation. Of stopping one of the seals, thus throwing the whole thing off track.

    Which means that everything that happens is because Rayford believes in the prophecy so much that he just lets it all happen. The prophecy only comes true because Rayford believes that there’s no other choice and thus plays his part.

    So Rayford Steele is Lord Voldemort.

    And maybe TurboJesus is just God getting really pissed off at Rayford for screwing up His plan for derailing the End of the World.

  • aunursa

    The Official Left Behind Movie Facebook page


    We want to know…

    We’ve heard from some of you already, but which actor would
    you cast as Nicolae Carpathia in our Left Behind reboot sequel??



    Top vote-getters

    1. Gordon Currie *

    2. Leonardo DiCaprio

    3. Barack Obama

    4. Nicolas Cage

    5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (tie)

    5. Liam Neeson (tie)


    * Currie played the role of Nicky in the original Left
    Behind movies.

  • Ruby_Tea

    Barack Obama.  Wow, they really just can’t help themselves, can they?

    Liam Neeson would no doubt rock the role.  Though I’m thinking Ralph Fiennes or Rob Lowe or (if I had a time machine) Robert Wagner ca. 1968.

  • aunursa

    Ralph Fiennes received a vote or two.

  • Hth

     Holy moly, a world of Yes.  I might actually see this movie if Liam Neeson were playing Nicolae.

    Rob Lowe would be interesting in a whole different way.  Now I’m imagining Evil Chris Traeger.

    He would LITERALLY end the world.

  • dj_pomegranate

    “This is *literally* going to be the worst tax season yet!”

  • Marc Mielke

    I confused my Traegers and thought you meant Kim Coates. He did play the Umbrella CEO in one of the RE movies, though, so there’s precedent.
    Tig from SOA as the Antichrist is a bit of a stretch.

  • Darkrose

    Liam would be awesome as always, but sadly, I think he’s really too old.

    Jason Isaacs, on the other hand, would be brilliant. They’d have to keep building new sets every day because he’d chew the scenery down to the last piece of drywall. 

    That said, I’m not sure the filmmakers would necessarily want an actor who often talks about how being Jewish has informed his life and work to play the Antichrist.

  • Tricksterson

    James SPader or Neil Patrick Harris. Because you just know Satan invented the Bro Code.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Do they even know Barack Obama isn’t an actor? :O

  • Vermic

    Do they even know Barack Obama isn’t an actor?

    Oh, isn’t he?  He’s been “playing” a non-Muslim, non-Marxist, natural-born American citizen his whole career!

    *drops mic, moonwalks off stage*

    But seriously, it’s fun to remember that the LB fans who picked Obama already think he’s secretly the devil, so what they’re asking is to see the Antichrist playing a politician playing the Antichrist.  Which is kind of cool in a meta way.  Like Victor/Victoria but with Satan.

  • Ross

     But remember, Tim LaHaye has gone on record saying that Obama could not be the Antichrist, because the Antichrist can not possibly rise to power in an Important country like America, as scripture dictates that he will rise to power in some obscure country “no one” knows much about, “like Romania”

  • Ken

     If all that’s required is that Tim LaHaye know nothing about the country, the Antichrist could arise anywhere.  Including, as these books keep revealing, the U.S.

  • VMink

    I read that and, alas, all I could think of was a line that began with ‘Yo dawg….’

    I admit, I think the only way I could watch Left Behind in a theater is if it took itself about as seriously as Kentucky Fried Movie or Manos II: Jazz Hands of Fate.

  • FearlessSon

    Do they even know Barack Obama isn’t an actor? :O

    Admittedly, politicians and actors have a lot of job skills in common.  :p

  • Magic_Cracker

    Do they even know Barack Obama isn’t an actor? :O

    I know! People, Barack Obama is a character portrayed by Fred Savage.

  • reynard61

    “Do they even know Barack Obama isn’t an actor? :O”

    They know that he’s black, a Democrat and an IslamoNaziFasciSocialiCommunist. I doubt that acting ability (or lack thereof) factors into it.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

     Nonsense! He’s President of the United States–of course he’s an actor. All high-visibility successful politicians are. ;-)

  • Makabit

    Barack Obama looks nothing like a young Robert Redford. 

    Then again, as I have stated before, I want Neil Patrick Harris to play Nicolae, and except for being blond, he’s not much closer.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Too bad Kirk Camercon isn’t gunning for the slot. I would pay cash money to see him in the role of Nicolae

  • TheBrett

    He’s got to have an accent, otherwise the American audiences won’t buy that he’s supposed to be smart and evil.

  • Random_Lurker

     Willem Dafoe

  • Jess Goodwin

    Willem “Scary Eyes” Dafoe would be an excellent Antichrist…were it not for the fact it would be painfully *obvious*. 

  • Lori

    I know logically that it’s not possible that every single person who posts on that board is smoking crack, and yet….

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I know logically that it’s not possible that every single person who posts on that board is smoking crack, and yet….

    “They call religion ‘the opiate of the people’, but it’s worse than that.  It’s more like the crack cocaine.” – Hellpope Huey of the Church of the SubGenius.

  • Persia


    But none of them look like a young Robert Redford!

  • aunursa

    At least Leo is the Robert Redford of our time.

  • Mordicai

    That list makes me…incredibly full of chuckles.

  • Rae

    I’m totally in favor of Nic Cage playing both Rayford and Nicolae! Think of the budget it’ll save!

  • misanthropy_jones

    this could be cage’s chance to go all-out, alec guinness in kind hearts and coronets.

    have him play every major role. it would be totally cage-tastic!

  • Michael Albright

     Joseph Gordon-Levitt is tied with Liam Neeson?  I… I don’t even know what that means.

  • aunursa

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt is about the same age as Nicolae in the book.  Liam Neeson is nearly 30 years older, but some fans would prefer him.

  • Charity Brighton

    I would cast Liam Neeson as Jonathan Stonagal.

    Then, in the little power struggle between Stonagal and Carpathia at the end of the first book (the one where Carpathia tries to force Stonagal to his knees with his mind control, and Stonagal says, “No, screw you.”) Except, in a twist, Stonagal wins.

    It wouldn’t even be that much of a divergence from the actual book. In the scene I’m talking about, Carpathia’s mind mojo doesn’t work on Stonagal. He tells Stonagal to kneel before him and Stonagal refuses several times, and Carpathia has to point a gun at him to get him to comply. What would have happened if Neeson!Stonagal had drawn his own gun first and gotten the drop on him, or used his own Force powers mind mojo against him? Or, you know, what if his bodyguards ran in and shot Carpathia in the back?

    They’re already monkeying with the premise of the books, by making the entire movie about the Rapture without including the other 9/10ths of the book anyway. They can change the sequels too. Throw the jaded Left Behind bashers a bone this time, maybe!

  • Invisible Neutrino

    “Nicolae, you already have all my money. There is nothing else you could want from me. But what I do have, and you don’t, is a certain set of skills….”

  • Lorehead

    Barack Obama should do it, on condition that his cut go to the ACLU.

  • Tricksterson

    OOr some other demonic instrument of his choice.  Better yet, Planned Parenthood.

  • Nicestep

     No Christoph Waltz?

  • Will Hennessy

    “The things of this world are passing away,
    Here tomorrow, but they’re sure not here to stay,
    The things of this world are passing away,
    So lay your treasure above and start to live for Him today…”

    Of course, I’m not sure Tim LeHaye and Jerry Jenkins would recognize this as dcTalk’s early-’90s, anti-materialist rant about possessions and their ability to cloud what’s really important (James’ thing about orphans and widows). Example: “And all done for Christ IN THIS WORLD will last.”

    They’d probably just read the above lyrics and have it confirm their view that shit (read: people) here doesn’t matter.

  • SkyknightXi

    It’s probably a matter of how you’re not supposed to do anything beyond maintaining your own purity until you’re EXPLICITLY moved by God to take a more active role. Otherwise, you risk accelerating God’s schedule more than he wanted. Which is somehow a thing of utter monstrosity. No direct action until you get a dream message or the like, I guess.

    As to how the world got equated with evil…Well, there ARE the passages which speak of Satanel as the ruler and spirit of this world. But given that the main text I remember this being from is the Apocalypse of St. John, the “world” was probably understood more as the Roman Imperium. I don’t think it’s coincidence that the dimensions of the New Jerusalem make an area that could rather cozily contain the whole of the Imperium at the time. In other words, one was supposed to stay away from the callousness that Rome was at least tacitly endorsing. Beyond that…Unwitting influence of the more anti-physical-world strands of Gnosticism?

  • Invisible Neutrino

    For a religion some of whose sects make a huge freaking deal over how supposedly humans are actually elevated above the angels because we were programmed with the real-deal version 1.0 of FreeWill.Exe instead of the beta release, the folks who trumpet human free will as an important component of willingly coming to God and in doing so, acting in accordance with the basic rules God set out for living, sure seem to find convenient excuses for inaction in the face of gross injustice in front of their fucking faces.

  • Jon Frater

    “Part of what this means is that the authors have steadfastly avoided learning about the world.”

    Betcha five bucks that they know how bank accounts work.

  • D Johnston

    I suspect LaHaye has people to handle those things for him, actually.

  • Mordicai

    They don’t NEED to, they have enough money to have people do that for them!  Because of how not worldly they are!

  • Baby_Raptor

    Bank accounts aren’t of the world! They’re a gift from God to make handling God’s blessings of wealth easier! /snark

  • John Small Berries

    Could I not be used in some sort of active opposition or judgment against this evil one? I can only trust in your purpose.

    Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? “This evil one” is carrying out God’s purpose, so to actively oppose the Antichrist is to actively oppose God.

  • aunursa

    Could I not be used in some sort of active opposition or judgment against this evil one?

    The irony is that in Book #6, Assassinss, when Rayford does seek to act in the role of being Nicolae’s divinely-predicted executioner, he is considered to be acting in sin — contrary to the will of God.

  • DavidCheatham

    He professed no faith, no acrimony toward Carpathia from a spiritual standpoint. The man had committed first-degree murder, and regardless of what Buck thought about the victim, it was a crime.

    So, in other words, the evil dictator of the entire world, who rules by mind-control and has murdered millions of people, is _not actually evil enough to assassinate_ by normal people. It’s only okay if you really know he’s the anti-Christ. That, and only that, would possibly make it understandable. There’s no _secular_ justification for stopping Nikky.

    You know, we can ignore all the completely horrible writing and utterly absurd plotting that is just used to move people around, and the complete lack of characterization…well, whatever. That’s poor writing.

    But here, as we hear the non-evil plans of Nikky, the writers have managed to fail at something that a 10 year-old can manage: Imagining some sort of motive and goals for evil people.

    Or, in fact, for good people! To the extent that the viewpoint characters can be called ‘good people’. (I accidentally called them the protagonists in that sentence, but luckily caught it before I posted.)

    Anyone can fail at writing, but it takes a special kind of misunderstanding of the world to fail at imagining what other people might conceivable want. And I don’t mean _real_ people, I mean _people you yourself have invented_.

    And this isn’t just the normal ‘Hey, the bad guy’s plan doesn’t actually work.’ Fridge Logic that sometimes shows up. That’s a writing mistake, although it’s true here (At least if Nikky knows he’s the anti-Christ.), it’s a common mistake.

    No, they’ve managed to go well past that, to create bad guys that switch rapidly between nuking entire cities and slightly raising taxes! That switch between mind controlling the entire fricking planet, and signing peace treaties for no reason. That put in oil pipelines…because…evil?!

    This is like if Voldemort comes back and the very first thing he does is lobby for England to host the Olympics. It’s like if there was  a subplot in Lord of the Rings where Sauron cheated his way into a dance competition. It’s like if The Nothing decided that, in addition to erasing anything and everything, it was going to set up better cell service in Fantasia.

    I can’t…that’s not even a thing that makes any sense at all.

  • Edo

    It’s like Lex Luthor stealing forty cakes?

  • Ann Unemori

    It’s like Lex Luthor stealing forty cakes?

    And that’s terrible.

  • Ross

     As many as four tens and terrible?

  • Magic_Cracker

    It’s like if there was  a subplot in Lord of the Rings where Sauron cheated his way into a dance competition.

    What do you think that Tom Bombadil stuff was about, bro?

  • VMink

    Middle-Earth’s Got Talent?

  • fraser

     Ah. The rationale by which blowing up abortion clinics is godly but Muslims blowing up anything is an act of Satan.

  • hidden_urchin

    …making ” knick-knacks”…

    Now I want to know what Irene’s Etsy page would look like.

    In any case, if avoiding the world and the people in it is the author’s idea of good then sign me up for Hell. I really can’t say this enough.

  • Darkrose

    Now I want to know what Irene’s Etsy page would look like. 

    Probably like something from here.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Somehow I suspect they’d be more gushingly Christian-themed than Southern-themed.

  • Constella Espj

    I followed your link 2 days ago and just got back.  My cheeks and stomach hurt.

  • P J Evans

     I don’t think I want to know. Plaster bunnies and geese with ribbons around their necks is the first thing that comes to minds. (Plastic-canvas needlepoint tissue-box covers is another one.)

  • Mordicai

    Yeah, this is very much “I’ll get together with all the cool kids & listen to rock & roll & party hard forever, down in Hell.”

    Which is another peril of making up stories of arbitrary good & evil; you’ll make a heaven of your hell, & a hell of your heaven.

  • P J Evans

    Who was it who said ‘Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company’?

  • Mordicai

    Like so many other wonderful sayings, I think Twain.

  • Steve Morrison

     It was Twain, all right. There’s a good resource site called Twainquotes(dot)(com), although I can’t link to it from here because Disqus.

  • Lindenharp

     My favorite expression of that sentiment is from a 13th c.French poem:

    “But in Hell will I go. For to Hell go the fair clerks and the fair
    knights who are slain in the tourney and in the great wars, and the
    stout archer and the loyal man. With them will I go. And there go the
    fair and courteous ladies, who have friends, two or three, together with
    their wedded lords. And there pass the gold and the silver, the ermine
    and all rich furs, harpers and minstrels, and the happy of the world.
    With these will I go, so only that I have Nicolette, my very sweet
    friend, by my side.”

  • BC

    “. . . touch an orphan or a widow and you risk becoming ‘stained by the world.’ The orphans and widows business thus becomes, in this view, a kind of optional extra credit, something that’s nice to do, but only provided that one has a chance to do so while still ensuring that one keeps pure, undefiled and unstained by their worldliness.”  Yeah – but then, they also object to the government doing the “orphans and widows business” and so their view is that no one should be doing anything for orphans and widows or any other poor people.  Jesus is spinning so fast he could energize the planet if we only had some way to get a wire to him.

  • Ruby_Tea

    Oh, and Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 216 pages

  • LL

    Yeah, I pretty much accept the label of “sinner” or “heretic” or, certainly, “secular” with equanimity now. Consider the source, as my mother used to say to me when I was in school and encountering mean people. It didn’t help so much then, but it does help  now. It’s amusing to me now when people consider these insults. 

  • Edo

    This is really tangential, but prompted by the post title (and this ties into your truly damning condemnation of evangelical attitudes toward Creation yesterday)…
    I’m not gonna knock the language of  “worldliness.” Call me a Johannine fanboy, but I love that rhetoric of “the world,” enough that I want to live it. I grok that we aren’t to be of the world, even as we’re in it over our heads. And I get why, too. It’s right there in the unread followup to John 3:16. God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.That’s the beauty of the Johannine NT. We’re called from the world so we can live in-and-out the story of its salvation. In the world, but not of it, but for it, in Christ’s name and for Christ’s sake.And that’s the horror of the World’s Worst Books. That every Friday we witness anew L&J forsaking that. Believing, and assuming, and proclaiming that to be Christian is to be in the world, but not of it – but against it. Not to save, but to condemn.

  • Edo

    “And that’s the horror of the World’s Worst Books. That every Friday we witness anew L&J forsaking that. Believing, and assuming, and proclaiming that to be Christian is to be in the world, but not of it – but AGAINST it. Not to save, but to condemn.”

    That was a separate paragraph. No idea why it didn’t format thus.

  • Jared James

     You, sir, have grasped the Christ part of Christian, and have not gotten lost somewhere along the way past several other, more qualified but less qualifying, adjectives. (Real, True, Bible-believing, God-fearing, mix and match your favorites!)

  • Randy Owens

    (tyranny administered via “bloc grants,” apparently)

    You really need to either correct that to “block grants”, or put a “[sic]” after it, so we know if it’s really that bad.

  • AnonymousSam


    For them, to be “worldly” is to be evil. And thus to be good is to avoid “the world” — to shun it lest it’s contaminating contagion of “worldliness” infect them with its evil.

    To quote my favoritest Christian in the whoooole wiiiiide worrrld…

    Christianity is NOT A FRIENDLY FAITH.  It is exclusive, hostile, incompatible with all other beliefs.  This is because it is the Truth, and the other faiths are the counterfeits. …   I am thankful my mind has not been filled with the progressive, anti-Christ crap pumped out by our illustrious public education system, the trash streaming constantly out of Hollywood and the pop music industry, pornography, the impurity and immodesty encouraged by the fashion industry, literature that does not edify, alcohol and mind-altering drugs, etc. etc. etc.  I have been exceedingly selective in what I allow in my eye and ear gates, because what goes in will come out.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Boy oh boy, that guy sure talks a lot about the stuff he doesn’t like.

    I don’t go around complaining constantly about the fact that I can’t stand macaroni+cheese. If I did, someone would probably have the natural reaction of asking me why I’m spending so much time on that and considering me a bit wonky into the bargain.

  • AnonymousSam

    This was actually our good friend, Ginny Bain Allen.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Who is remarkably unfamiliar with the bible, it seema.

  • Chris Doggett

    I don’t go around complaining constantly about the fact that I can’t stand macaroni+cheese. If I did, someone would probably have the natural reaction of asking me why I’m spending so much time on that and considering me a bit wonky into the bargain.

    And yet fundamentalists all over the U.S. are talking about how awful homosexuality is, non-stop…

  • Lunch Meat

    I am thankful my mind has not been filled with … alcohol and mind-altering drugs, etc. etc. etc.  I have been exceedingly selective in what I allow in my eye and ear gates, because what goes in will come out.

    You’re doing alcohol wrong.

  • AnonymousSam

    Everyone knows that it works best injected directly into the brain stem! A few doses of that and I can hardly even coddle elephant inflatable fourteen!

  • Mr. Heartland

    Replacing overt White supremicism with some other claim to being above the biosphere does seem to be the main appeal of this theology.  Only “They” eat, fuck & die etc. 

    The male supremacy is, of course, still perfectly overt, though the porn-named alpha-males who don’t do anything are more surrealistic than offensive. 

  • Chris Doggett

    When I first read the poll, I thought the top name was Tim Currie; I could have gotten behind that…

    I think LeHay and his ilk suffer from conflating religion and ethics. Some religions have ethical rules, but not all religions provide a framework for a system of ethics beyond those rules. This gets to be a problem with the authoritarian types, who love following rules, and love having an authority they can impose upon others. The same rational that LeHay & co. use for biblical command (“The Bible is the literal word of God!!1!”) prohibits them from expanding the list of rules that they derive from the Bible.* 

    The net result of all of this is “X is good because God said so”, and “Y is bad because God said so”, with no underlying rationale. As a consequence, because they don’t understand what makes something good, they have no understanding of what “evil” really is. Unsurprisingly, sections of these books describing “evil” are about as moving as reading attempts at erotica by 12-year-olds. 

  • VMink

    My gods, Tim Currie as Nicolae? I would so wait for the movie’s release with barely-held antici…


  • Lunch Meat

    Is there any chance we can reboot the Left Behind reboot and get Joss Whedon to direct it? I’m picturing Nathan Fillion as Rayford, Neil Patrick Harris as Nicolae, Summer Glau as Chloe, Sean Maher as Buck…

  • Invisible Neutrino


    Sean Maher as Buck. He’s actually cute and looks like the kind of guy who you just know has probably not only done real news reporting, but has an aw-shucks way about him that draws the ladies. :)

    And Nathan Fillion as Rayford? The Arc Words for this series would be “I aim to misbehave”.

    For Chloe? While Summer Glau as action-lady!River  Tam would naturally translate, I would probably vote for Krista Bridges, who played Ivy the first time. ( )

  • Tricksterson

    Plus she’s Canadian whom we all know are lackeys of the Devil.

  • flat

    So which movie am I going to watch: left behind or Rapturepalooza.

    I saw the trailer and how Jesus got shot down by a laser, and despite jesus getting shot down by a laser is not supported by my faith.
    However I had to think about the chairface carpatia article here on slacktivist.
    So my question is: how many of the ideas of Rapturepalooza are based on the articles Fred wrote for slacktivist?

  • Makabit

    “despite the fact it is very funny, Jesus getting shot down by a laser is not supported by my faith”
    I know what all those words mean individually, but I still have no idea what this statement means. It still makes me laugh, though.

  • MaryKaye

    Frankly, I would expect Barack Obama to do a decent or even excellent Nicolae.  He is a good orator and can project earnestness and sincerity, which Nicolae really needs.  No acting background, but politics might substitute.  (We know acting experience can substitute for political experience….)  Of course it would not be a career-furthering role….

    As a dark horse for the role, how about Schwarzenegger?  He can be kind of wooden, but that worked great for the Terminator, and it might work for Nicolae–this person isn’t real, isn’t speaking his own words, he’s a puppet moved by a malignant force.  Arnold might be able to pull that off.  And his physical presence would help add some much-needed scariness.

    (Should it be scary that Disqus knows how to spell “Schwarzenegger” but not “Disqus”?  Or just absurd?)

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Erm, are you sure it’s not your browser doing the spell-checking?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Do you need to worry about career-furthering roles after being elected US President for the second time?

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Barack Obama may need something to do after he retires, even with his pension. :) I wouldn’t mind seeing him act as “The President” in TV shows; he certainly looks Presidential. :)

  • AnonymousSam

    I’ll put it this way: there are thousands of people who believe that Obama is going to somehow get a law passed which allows him to continue on as president after his term should have ended. Him leaving office will not deter them from continuing to believe that he’s pulling strings for his UN masters.

    I have few doubts that if he took on a movie role as antichrist, we’d be reading about his murder within the month.

  • Makabit

    “I’ll put it this way: there are thousands of people who believe that Obama is going to somehow get a law passed which allows him to continue on as president after his term should have ended.”
    He’ll forget. Bush was supposed to do that too. They never remember in time.

  • AnonymousSam

    To be fair, I was one of the crowd fearing that out of GWB. In the wake of the PATRIOT Act, anything, no matter how unConstitutional, seemed possible from that son of clay.

  • Lori


    Do you need to worry about career-furthering roles after being elected US President for the second time?   

    Not generally, but at least in Obama’s case you have to worry about life-furthering roles. He’s got more than enough nutters wanting to kill him as it is. No need to add more folks who can’t separate fact from fiction.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I wonder if they’ll make an exception to the rule that says only 10 years of Secret Service protection after a Presidency, rather than for life, just in case, y’know.

  • P J Evans

     They passed a law in January that restores lifetime protection. Because yeah. It covers Shrub, also.

  • Lori

    I’m hoping that after he’s been out of office for 10 years the need will have more or less gone away, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it doesn’t and an exception does have to be made. 

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Apparently the 10-year limit was passed in 1994 and would apply to Presidents sworn in after 1997.

    Probably some cheap penny-pinching measure passed by the Republicans to look like they were cutting “wasteful programs”.

    The Secret Service does not divulge the costs of its protective details, but it’s believed to be in the range of tens of millions of dollars a year for each former president.

    Oh, puh-LEASE. That’s a rounding error in a trillion-plus dollar budget. Given that the Secret Service has files on probably a thousand-plus people stupid enough, or reckless enough, to present themselves as actual dangers to the person of the US President, the money spent is probably worth it for general peace of mind all around.

  • aunursa

    If the law limiting protection was passed in 1994, then presumably it was signed into law by President Clinton.  (I could find no indication that the law was passed over a presidential veto.)  And the Democrats controlled Congress in 1994.  So this is not a law cannot be blamed on Republican penny-pinching.

  • FearlessSon

    I have to wonder if a lack of “worldliness” in its more original idealization was similar to the Buddhist ideology of rejecting attachment.  In the case of the later, the intention is to leave this temporal existence via spiritual self-enlightenment, which requires abandonment to our temporal existence (in the reincarnation theology it is our attachment which keeps drawing us back to be reborn.)  

    The lack of attachment could be used to justify coldness and aloofness, not caring about the world.  However, it is also pared with a theology of mindfulness, the idea that we must be aware of the consequences of our actions and avoid spreading unnecessary suffering through those actions.  Making a choice to not help others in need is, in a way, spreading unnecessary suffering because the action being taken (walking away) does not mitigate that suffering.  

    The more positive view of the lack of worldly attachment is to not be too fixated on ideas of temporal gain, and conversely not be too worried about the potential of temporal loss.  To be happy, to be free of suffering, one needs to manage one’s desires so one is content with what one has, and one does not suffer from the fear of losing that which one has.  On the other hand, suffering for its own sake should be avoided, and no one should be expected to suffer for being unattached.  A person still needs to eat, for example, even if they would rather not be attached to the desire for food.  

  • Edo

    I’m pretty sure it *wasn’t* about nonattachment. 1st-century antiquity was familiar with comparable ideas in Stoicism and Cynicism, but Christianity was distinguishing itself from them at least the Gospel of Mark, if not Jesus himself – and for Jesus and the Twelve, separateness is in terms of Second Temple Judaism: it’s about religious identity, Israel’s chosen status and relation to God, and (as Fred’s fond of writing about, regarding Peter’s vision in Acts) codes of purity and contamination.

    (And it DID result in coldness and aloofness. That’s why the parable of the Good Samaritan involves a priest and a Levite: their coldness was BECAUSE of their purity, not despite it.)

    I think your last paragraph nails it, though. Christian asceticism at its best is about discipline: cultivating virtues and creating spaces to learn a certain freedom from concern, the better to keep your eyes on the goal and run the race with Paul.

  • Jenny Islander

    Re Christian asceticism: I recommend Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster for a pithy summary of how non-RTCs of the past tried to be in the world but not of it.  The lifestyle the book recommends would appall Rayford and Buck.

  • Edo

    Seconding that recommend; Richard Foster can’t be recommended highly enough. (And in a rare on-topic digression, Celebration has a truly splendid footnote somewhere: “No effort will be made here to refute the heresy in Dispensationalism that the Sermon on the Mount applies to a future age rather than today.” That line alone is worth the price of the book.)

  • Dave W.

    What astonishes me is how the authors can read the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus is explicitly contrasting the behavior of the priest and Levite, who were theogically correct (to Jesus’s audience) but failed to respond to the needs of the traveller, with the behavior of the theologically “incorrect” but compassionate Samaritan, concluding with the injunction to go and do likewise, and conclude that they need to be more like the priest and the Levite.  It’s not even  “What Would Jesus Do?,”  it’s What Did Jesus Say You Should Do?

  • Edo

    What’s to be astonished about? L&J have horrible eisegesis because they have horrible theology because they have horrible beliefs. Left Behind isn’t missionary literature, it’s personal apologetics writ large: an enormous (and brilliantly executed) self-validation attempt. It’s like if (to riff on Freud) somebody made a movie series about how their neighbor never had a pot, they never borrowed their neighbor’s pot, and they certainly returned it yesterday.

  • FearlessSon

    I wonder if we are seeing some of this desire to reject “worldly” concepts in some of the politicians supported by the religious right when they promote policies based less on their pragmatic considerations and more on what kind of “message” they send.  

    For example, comprehensive sex education and subsidized access to birth control would be a pragmatic means of controlling reproduction, allowing families to build up more stable assets, give greater opportunities to their children, and reduce the total number of abortions performed.  However, in practice most of their policies are things which try to shame women for abortion while limiting young people’s access to solid information about sexuality so that they can “send a message” that sex and abortion are both bad.  

    Normally, I am content to live and let live, but despite the little regard they give to “the world” we have to inhabit that world with them, and what they do there affects me and those I care about, if only indirectly.  I wish they would stop feeling like they need to screw over this world to show their eagerness to get to the next.  

  • Leum

    Mary, that’s your browser’s spellcheck, not Disqus’.

  • flat

    I believe the short definition for what You just wrote is: letting somebody/something go because of love.

  • Dogfacedboy

    For them, to be “worldly” is to be evil.

    When I brought my first girlfriend home to meet the ‘rents way back when, my mom (who who could hold her own with Irene in the knick-knack department), characterized her as worldly.  I know she meant to dissuade me by saying that, but boy did that get me excited.

  • MaryKaye

    CS Lewis writes at length about the word “world” in _Studies on Words_ and also touches on “secular” en route.  He says that all of these world-words have two meanings in the Christian cultural context, one neutral to positive and one very negative, and that immense mischief has come from their confusion.  He quotes “God so loved the world” and “Love not the world” as exemplars of that confusion.

    Surely Jesus was not hostile to concerns of the world (neutral sense):  “Give us this day our daily bread” is about as worldly (neutral) as a prayer can get.

    The negative sense, Lewis says, is about ambition and pride:  caring about “the world” in this sense means caring more about what people think of you, how important you are, how rich and powerful you are, than you do about God.  It seems to me that these teachings are not ones that wealthy, powerful, self-important people are going to easily remember or grasp.  So they use the “world”-words confusion to redirect onto a completely un-Jesuslike emphasis on not touching the unclean, not associating with those of lower status–which is precisely “worldly” in the negative sense.

    Rayford actually seems pitiable to me.  (I am in the faction that hates Buck more, for some reason.)  Here’s a man who has a central role in the great spiritual drama of the ages–and yet his own spirituality is utterly empty and barren.  There is no wonder, no joy, no awe, no holy fear; no experience of the peace that surpasses understanding.  There is not even the purifying force of real contrition.  It’s all dust, because it is, in the last analysis, worldly (negative)–and the underlying theology has managed to make Heaven worldly.  Purges in the Millenial Kingdom?   Differences in rank among the Elect?  How worldly can you get?  “I am more important than you” played out on the stage of Eternity with all the stars for witness.  That is sad.

    As an adult I have a lot of issues with Lewis (whom I loved as a child) but at least the man knew what the experience of God might *mean*.  In _Surprised by Joy_ he talks about a sense of aching longing that is paradoxically more to be desired than any earthly satisfaction.  Rayford hasn’t a clue about anything like that.

  • Jen K

    For the authors, then, the whole point of life is to avoid “worldliness” and contamination from “the world.”
    I am reminded of Talis Kimberley’s response to the British authorities clearing Occupy London from St Paul’s Cathedral.

    Bookends and stationery, jigsaws and gifts For you lovers of luxury, strangers to thrift  All your cufflinks and printed silk shawls bought from the shop of St Pauls  Gordon Brown’s laughing so all must be well  ‘We’re a centre for public debate’ say the bells  The economists set out their stalls under the dome of St Paul’s Christopher Robin and Christopher Wren, When will my England lie easy again? With sanctuary offered to the women and men  Who stand on equality’s side?  The good Christian Reverend Fraser resigns,  But the bulk of his colleagues have pulled down the blinds  While their restaurant serves only the finest of wines  And the organ plays ‘Here comes the Bride’… 


    Of course the Church of England can’t be Real True Christians, but somehow I think Ray-Ray would feel more comfortable touring the cathedral and eating in their restaurant than doing anything with or for the poor.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I think Ray-Ray would feel more comfortable touring the cathedral and
    eating in their restaurant than doing anything with or for the poor.

    You can tell he’s a COMPASSIONATE person because he drives by the poor, not over them.

  • aunursa

    The question asking fans to choose an actor to play Nicolae was posted on Tuesday.  Now the Left Behind fans are helping to make a decision that’s much more important: whether Ashley Tisdale should be a blonde  (Chloe in the book) or a brunette (Chloe in the original movies.)  There’s considerably more interest in this question; it’s only been out for six hours, and there are already a hundred more responses than for Nicolae.

  • Ruby_Tea

    I think the movie should mess with their heads and make Chloe a redhead.

    Then again, isn’t red hair a sign of witchcraft?

  • aunursa

    Aside from a couple of requests for redhead, it’s split almost evenly between blonde and brunette.  About one out of every ten comments says it should be blonde because the movie must remain faithful to the book and that was her hair color in the book.  A few even said blonde even though they agreed with the general consensus that she looks better as a brunette.

  • Magic_Cracker

    You know, I also assumed that for Fundegelicals “worldly” meant diddling daddles (as well as daddling diddles, diddling diddles, daddling daddles, etc.). I had no idea the term was so inclusive as to exclude pretty much all of everything.

  • D Johnston

    While acknowledging the validity in Fred’s arguments, I’m going to suggest something a lot simpler to explain Nicolae’s not-especially-evil evil plan. It’s nothing more complex than a writing fallacy, one that’s so common in dystopian literature that I don’t even notice it anymore.

    A hallmark of the immature writer is a villain who simply represents everything the author hates. It doesn’t matter if those traits make sense together, or if the villain’s motivations make sense. That’s just the way it is. In dystopic novels with political themes (a very robust subgenre), this applies to the evil ruling body. The government (or corporation, or church, or whatever) supports whatever policies the author opposes, even if those policies make no sense in the context of the story. After all, those policies are the point of the story.

    The only thing that’s surprising is that this sort of thing would appear in a novel produced by an alleged professional. Just goes to show how far you can make it in Christian literature without ever honing your craft.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Is there a term for the antagonist equivalent of a Mary Sue? If not, I suggest Barry Boo.

  • Starbeam

    I usually just see them called “Villain Sue”, alas. There are plenty of varieties now and “Sue” is considered a sort of catch-all (often gender-neutral) term.

  • Fanraeth

    I’m about to link to TV Tropes. In the words of the Doctor, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

  • Aeryl

     I’ve heard “Gary Stu” used. 

  • Beroli

    “Gary Stu” is a male Mary Sue. Not a non-sex-specific “this character is everything I hate” character.

  • Beroli

    “Gary Stu” is a male Mary Sue. Not a non-sex-specific “this character is everything I hate” character.

  • Jenny Islander

    While “Mary Sue” has been coopted to mean “she’s female and she’s awesome and females can’t be awesome,” I think the observation that sparked the Mary Sue/Gary Stu thing in the first place is still valid.  If the story has laid down rules as to characterization, things that are and are not possible for people to do in this setting, etc., and suddenly a new character appears and all of the rules bend so as to make him/her look awesome–that’s a Sue/Stu.  If the narrator is constantly going on about the looks/prowess/emotional depth of the character, but the character him/herself doesn’t do anything to back up those assertions, that’s a Sue/Stu.  If the plot screeches to a halt so that people can line up to tell the character how wonderful he/she is–that’s most definitely a Sue/Stu.  If the character never has to struggle for great achievements but gets rewarded anyway, or if he/she is written into terrible danger and then pops right back out without a scratch but with a shiny new medal, or suffers what should be lasting harm but gets to have it erased by some affirmation from the supporting characters, then Mary Sue/Gary Stu is onstage.
    Basically Mary Sue/Gary Stu is what you get when the author forgets that he/she actually has an audience.

  • Beroli

     Okay, none of what you said is untrue, but I wonder why you posted it as a reply to me.

  • Jenny Islander

    Because I keep replying to the wrong people on Disqus.  It’s a curse.

  • Rae

    Yeah, and also “Any time the main character has more than one of his interests or personal history line up with the author’s” or “the main character looks like the author (used to) and is portrayed as very good-looking” or “minor attractive characters of the protagonist’s preferred gender are falling madly in love with him/her”
    And, for all that “Mary Sue” brings up mental images of female characters and Bella Swan, if you look in any action/thriller/crime books on the NYT bestseller list at any given time (Douglas Preston and Clive Cussler spring to mind) the male protagonists of those most definitely seem like a Gary Stu. 

  • Dmoore970

    Bingo!  I think someone hit the nail on the head last week about Carpathia.  His program consists of a modest tax on fuel consumption used to fund development in poor countries instead of something more diabolical because it allows them to respond to liberals proposals to tax fuel consumption and give aid to poor countries as the emodiment of all evil.  If he did something really diabolical, they would have to admit that, even if they oppose redistributionist taxation, it really does not rank all that high on the total depravity scale.

    The same, I imagine, with showing Carpathia’s sexual depravity by having him (gasp!) live with a woman he is not married to.  It allows them to feel so superior to the countless cohabiting couples these days.  If he did something really depraved, it would be hard to argue that non-marital cohabitation was all that evil on the total scale.

    The nuking entire cities, I suppose, is thrown in for gratuitous evil.  Then you can think, foreign aid today, nuking cities tomorrow.

  • Chris Doggett

    I like the theory that “Carpathia is total evil, so he should do the things that the American Taliban opposes to prove how evil those things are”, but I’ll offer one more alternative explanation:

    Tim LeHay can’t have Carpathia performing any inspired acts of evil, because then the readers will ask “how did you come up with such evil schemes for Carpathia?” Imagination is viewed as suspect at best in such a culture, so the only way LeHay could write such evil plans is if he too held evil in his heart!

    Jerry Jenkins didn’t write such things because Jerry’s brain was replaced with sawdust and gravel in 1986, and has been working with regular oil changes every six months or 600,000 words. 

  • fraser

     Also there’s the perennial problem (discussed here and in many other places) that a lot of the Christian fiction readers buy books under the assumption they will not be offended by anything published under that label. If Carpathia kept a harem, that might qualify.

  • Deni zen

    “If Carpathia kept a harem, that might qualify.”

    Not in the books themselves, but I’ve read fanfiction where he kept “women of global peace” in his bedchamber. It was on a site that is unfortunately no longer around, but they were fans of the books dedicated to fleshing out the world of Left Behind.

  • arcseconds

    I’m not sure the writers worry too much about putting co-habitation and tax adjustment into perspective.  If that was the concern, the nuking entire cities would already be a problem.  

    The rest of your post sounds right, though.  I think you’ve hit the nail on the head in your last remark: rather than worrying the readers might notice the gap between co-habitation and mass destruction and murder, the point is really to collapse the distinction.

    The very reason for the books is to preach.  There’s not much point in preaching against serial rapists, because everyone, including non-RTCs, is already very much against them.

    The books are to a large extent about encouraging the readers in their RTC norms.  Portraying co-habitation and tax adjustment as things moral monsters do acts as both a carrot and a stick.  If you do these things (or approve of them, or not disapprove of them enough) then you’re in league with moral monsters.  If you refrain from and condemn then, though, you’re morally superior to the hoi polloi who just go along with these things.

  • Ross


    If he did something really diabolical, they would have to admit that,
    even if they oppose redistributionist taxation, it really does not rank
    all that high on the total depravity scale.

    My god… It’s the anti-NABA

  • WayofCats

    It’s tempting to think Carpathia’s plans have some kind of overarching sense, but it’s just our brains turning vases into faces. It’s a list of pet peeves and then mass death.

    Kind of like throwing a dinner party and exclaiming, “It can’t all be finger food!” and dumping a six pound roast in the middle of the table.

  • Randy Owens

    Kind of like throwing a dinner party and exclaiming, “It can’t all be
    finger food!” and dumping a six pound roast in the middle of the table.

    (Wait, what was that “finger food” again?)

  • perfectnumber628

    Good post. It seems like some Christians think their goal should be to NOT SIN (and I used to think that too). But now I think being a Christian should be about loving and helping others- especially those who are different from us. Interactions with people (especially across cultural differences) open up the possibility of misunderstanding/hurting each other- oh no, that’s sin! But it’s certainly better than focusing on just trying to isolate oneself and “not sin.”

  • Jon Maki

    I think it would be interesting to have Nicolae played by two separate actors.

    One would be dynamic, charming, and handsome, the other would be…well, not.  There are a few ways* you could go with the other Nicolae.

    The point is, the dynamic, charming, and handsome actor would portray Nicolae as he’s seen by the unsaved.  The other would be Nicolae as he’s seen by those who have been saved.

    You could go with one actor who’s able to pull of two very different performances in one movie, and then do some make up/FX to subtly alter his appearance, but I think it would be more effective to have two actors to create a more marked contrast.

    *I actually think the “Nicolae as seen  by RTCs” role would be interesting if it were filled by Keanu Reeves at his most wooden.  Being sort of bland, blank, and non-threatening underneath the façade, especially given that despite his non-descript nature he’s engaging in acts of supreme evil, would be an interesting take, perhaps providing a powerful example of the banality of evil.

  • Rae

    Funny you should mention Keanu Reeves, I’m watching Constantine on TV right now, but I can see that!

  • AnonymousSam

    Peter Stormare played a pretty spiffy Satan too.

  • Teh Bewilderness

    Haley Joel Osment, for Nicky!
    Christian Bale, for Rayford!
    Philip Seymour Hoffman, for our intrepid reporter

  • aunursa

    I’m glad to hear that the lifetime protection has been reinstated.  I never understood why it had been limited to ten years in the first place.  I would not be surprised if there are many, many deranged people who are obsessed with harming either President Obama or former President Bush, and the passage of ten years may not ease their zeal.

  • Ross

    I believe the theory was, no lie, “C’mon. No one seriously expected Carter to still be around this long. These secret service guys cost taxpayer money!”

    (Only 7 presidents have had retirements much longer than 20 years, two of  them are the ones who are alive now, and a third is Gerald Ford. Of the 11 presidents who lived past 80, 7 were twentieth century presidents, and Ronald Reagan lived the second-longest of any president while suffering from a chronic, degenerative, life-shortening illness)

  • ohiolibrarian

     Presidents can’t all be William Henry Harrison.

  • P J Evans

     The problem is that Alzheimer’s isn’t really a life-shortening illness. People usually die from something else first.

  • fraser

     I didn’t know it wasn’t lifetime and yeah, it does seem like a good idea.

  • MaryKaye

    I got to see the Secret Service protecting an ex-President a few years ago:  my department put up a big outdoors tent for a dedication ceremony attended by President Carter, and we unexpectedly got to see the Secret Service agents clinging to the tent polls to keep the whole thing from blowing away in a high wind.   They did a great job–very quick to act.  (I don’t suppose they were happy with us afterwards!)

  • Ken

    The only possible choice for Nicolae is Robert Redford. 

  • Zornorph

    Most of the names people are throwing around for Carpathia are too old – my first thought was Julian McMahon. Not sure if they’d want him since he already played Dr. Doom and he might now be too old himself, but I could totally see him in the role.

  • Nekouken

    Julian McMahon would be a good choice for the Nicolai of the book: handsome, and unconvingly disingenuous. I’m not a fan; he was given so much to work with on Charmed and was completely unable to hold my interest, and he played Dr. Doom like the Mad Thinker — pretending that’s who he’s supposed to be was the only way I could tolerate him in the otherwise surprisingly enjoyable FF movie.

    I’m on board with that casting, but only if the movie treats Nicky the way Fred does.

  • Ruby_Tea

    Hmmm…now this whole “Joss Whedon does Left Behind” is stuck in my head.  I swear we’ve done this mental exercise before, but I figure there are two ways to go about this–the serious way or the parody way.

    Serious way:

    Rayford: Nathan Fillion
    Buck: Enver Gjokaj
    Chloe: Jewel Staite
    Hattie: Christina Hendricks (or Amy Acker)
    Nicolae Carpathia: Tahmoh Penikett
    Tsion Ben-Judah: not sure.  Anthony Head?
    David Hassid: Fran Kranz
    Leon Fortunato: Alan Tudyk
    Bruce Barnes: Harry Lennix
    Amanda White Steele: Olivia Williams
    Annie Christopher: Eliza Dushku

  • Persia

    Enver might be able to pull off Carpathia better than Tahmoh Penikett, actually. Enver seemed to have more range.

  • Aeryl

     Enver’s also got the vague Eastern European thing down too.  He’s a lot less vague about it though. 

    And +1000 to Christina Hendricks as Hattie, the naughty minx!  She’s got “sin” written all over her.  Plus, it’d be nice to see Saffron and Mal get over their “differences”.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Nicolae Carpathia: Tahmoh Penikett

    Oh, now. You can’t make Helo Agathon the Antichrist. There’s like, a law against that or something. :P

  • Ruby_Tea

    You hush.  He’s gorgeous, the right age, and he can play both evil and good.

    He’s perfect. 

  • Invisible Neutrino

    He IS gorgeous, I’ll give you that, but – he’s Helo. I mean, one of the few guys on BSG who had a conscience about the Cylons before it became fashionable for Laura Roslin to have one. :P

  • Ruby_Tea

    Have you seen Season 4 of Castle?  :D

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Noooo. But apparently he’s a bad guy? Dayum.

  • Ruby_Tea

    Well, it’s not a spoiler, because the minute you see him, you know.  But yeah, cool character.  Worth a watch.

    (He’s also going to be in the new Superman movie, but no idea if he’s on the side of good or not-so-good.)

  • Jon Maki

    Hm, the character he’s playing is called “Henry Ackerdson,” which is a new one on me, though I’m reminded by IMDb that in the recent animated movie Justice League:  Doom, that was the alias used by Metallo, who’s decidedly on the not-so-good side.

    That’s not the name typically associated with Metallo, though – usually it’s either John Corben, Roger Corben, or George Grant, depending on the version of the character. 

    So I’m not sure what that means.

    Interestingly enough, his BSG co-star, Alessandro Juliani, who played Gaeta, is also in the new movie.  Juliani was on Smallville as Emil Hamilton, a character who also appears in the new movie, but is being portrayed by Richard Schiff.

    (Looks at IMDb entry some more)  Wait…Nadira?  But no Az-Rel?  Hmmph.  At least it’s Faora this time, though hopefully she’s like the Faora from the comics, and isn’t just some pale imitation of Faora the way Ursa was.

  • Patrick McGraw

    Metallo is a character very well-suited to being introduced early in a series and then getting the supervillain upgrade in a later film. Same with Emil Hamilton (though I was overall rather peeved when it turned out he was Ruin).

  • Lunch Meat

    I was TOTALLY thinking of Alan Tudyk as Leon Fortunato. You read my mind!

    (I’m pretty sure “Joss Whedon does X” is in the headcanon of at least one fan of any work. Just because it’s so fun to imagine.)

  • Lunch Meat

    Oh, and Mark Sheppard as Dirk Burton.

  • Ruby_Tea

    *thumbs up*

  • banancat

    I’ve always viewed the fundagelical avoidance of the world as being on the same level as “Well, I don’t care that you didn’t invite me to your party because I didn’t want to go anyway!”  They’re so worried about not fitting in that they act like they’re just so superior to begin with.

  • phoenix_feather

    Lately I’ve been picturing Ryan Gosling as Nicolae Carpathia.  Although Neal Patrick Harris would probably be amazing too.  

    This is so ridiculous I’m still waiting for someone to jump out and reveal this whole movie as a hoax.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Alan Tudyk as Supreme Commander Leon? Well, he’s the kinda guy who could probably believably act as the butt monkey when called upon. 

  • Ruby_Tea

    In one of the prequels, Leon tells Nicolae about how he got expelled from his Catholic university for strutting around campus in a cardinal’s vestments.  Completely ridiculous and over-the-top, but I bet Tudyk could make it sound utterly believable and hilarious.

  • AnonymousSam

    Completely off topic, but am I the only one who thinks Survivor is a distillation of all the worst traits of human behavior? It’s on the TV in the other room and all I can think is “intimidation, greed, lying, betrayal, corruption, misogyny, degredation and all glory to entropic processes. I have bingo!”

  • RavenOnTheHill

    Quick! Get this man a copy of the Evil Overlord’s Handbook!

  • Deni zen

    When I read the books I always imagined Carpathia played by Josh Lucas, and oddly enough Leo Fortunato played by TV’s Frank from Mystery Science 3000. 

    Rayford Steele was played by David Morse (probably because of his role in the Langoliers where he played a different pilot on aboard a plane where half the passengers disappeared). I also imagined him with a beard. 

  • Randy Owens

    No, Rayford’s beard got raptured, remember?

  • lawrence090469

    Fred, I love your blog. I read it every day. Your theology is what my theology was, when I still had it. I am an atheist now. Unlike some of my esteemed fellow travelers in the New Atheist movement, I know you are my ally and not my enemy.  

  • Vermic

    The Whedon stable is fine and all, but what I really want to see is Left Behind as portrayed by the cast, or at least characters, of Community.

    You get Joel McHale as the snarky, frequently shirtless Nicolae Carpathia, and Jim Rash as his adoring toady Leon Fortunato.  Chevy Chase is the perfect fit for Captain Rayford Steele, the insensitive jackass who thinks he’s still under 40.  Danny Pudi is “Buck” Williams, whose reporting skills are matched only by his inability to relate to other humans.  Alison Brie is Chloe, Gillian Jacobs is Hattie, and Yvette Nicole Brown adds some much-needed depth to the character of Loretta.  Donald Glover plays Pastor Bruce because that way he gets another role with the last name of Barnes; also biblical exposition is much easier to sit through when it’s delivered in rap format.

    Ken Jeong will be Jesus.

  • Fanatic-Templar

     I want Arnold Swarzenegger as Nicolae, George Clooney as Rayford Steele, Chris O’Donnel as Buck, Uma Thurman as Hattie Durham, Alicia Silverstone as Chloe and Michael Gough as Bruce Barnes.

    And the movie should have a heavy emphasis on neon for its aesthetic.

  • Nomuse

    Eh, why stop there?  We used to have a tradition of trying to cast a vehicle using only Looney Tunes characters.  (Evita — Elmer Fudd as Juan Perrone, Daffy as Che, and of course the only possible Toon who could carry off the dress and the dance, Bugs as Evita.)

    Only trouble is, I kind of see Foghorn Leghorn as both Ray and Buck.  For some reason I sorta see Egghead, Jr. as Chaim — he has that combination of well-intentioned earnestness, unworldliness, and intelligence. 

  • Matri

    I was going to suggest Wile E as Nicky, but then realized that would mean he’d be far more competent and evil than the book.

  • Lunch Meat

    The Brain would be Nicolae. Pinky would be Leon.

  • christopher_y

    Nicolae must be played by John Simm. The rest is negotiable.

  • chris the cynic

    Going to use a fair number of dead people, assume we hopped in a Tardis and grabbed them while still alive or something, because, quite frankly, Zombie Ronald Reagan is too terrible to contemplate.

    Ronald Reagan as Carpathia
    Peter Graves as Rayford
    Peter Sellers as Buck, the President, and Dr Rosenzweig (who is in a wheelchair for a while, it should be noted.)
    I’ll go with the suggestion if Summer Glau as Chloe even though it doesn’t make much sense to me just because… Summer Glau.

    The guy who played Billy Keikeya in Battlestar Galactica for Leon.
    While we’re on Battlestar, Lucy Lawless as Verna because D’Anna Biers could be a convincing reporter and be a jerk when need be.

    Cavil, not Dean Stockwell but Dean Stockwell as Cavil, for Bruce.

    Lorena Gale as Elosha for Loretta.

    To be honest now that I’ve got some Battlestar characters I want to work new-Baltar in somewhere in there.  But I’m not sure where.  Maybe as Tsion if he could do the whole thing with a sort of, “WTF, can’t you find some long time Christian to cling to?  I only converted quite recently you know,” while an angel of the Lord says, “No.  You’ve been chosen so sit down, shut up about how inconvenient this is for you, and start leading the flock God has given you.”

    David Spade (as his receptionist character from SNL) in the role of the unnamed church secretary.

    Kat Dennings, played the female lead’s sidekick in Thor, as Alice.

    And so on.