NRA: God Bless You, Dr. Rosenzweig

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 139-141

Buck Williams and his charter pilot land safely inside of one of the contradictions in Tim LaHaye’s “Bible prophecy.”

“Don’t worry about me, buddy boy,” Ken Ritz told Buck as he helped him off the Learjet. “I’ll hangar this baby and find a place to crash for a few days. I’ve always wanted to tour this country, and it’s nice to be in a place that hasn’t been blown to bits.”

LaHaye’s prophecy scheme tells us that after the Rapture of all real, true Christians, the Great Tribulation begins. During this final seven-year period, the Antichrist will rule over the world as the all-powerful dictator of an all-encompassing one-world government.

LaHaye’s prophecy also tells us that the first thing this Antichrist will do as head of the OWG is sign a peace treaty with the nation of Israel.

See the problem here? LaHaye doesn’t. He’s told us that the Antichrist will rule over every single nation on Earth, sweeping aside all former national boundaries and sovereignties to create a single, global empire.

Except somehow Israel isn’t included. So the Antichrist’s global empire is apparently like the old Los Angeles Country Club.

Nicolae Carpathia’s not-quite global one-world government (gray).

This is the sort of problem that comes from taking a bunch of verses from Daniel and a bunch of verses from Revelation and pretending they’re all about the same thing — a prediction of a future empire that has nothing to do with the Seleucid or Roman contexts that the authors of those books were writing about.

LaHaye’s strategy for dealing with this contradiction is to ignore it and hope no one notices. That means poor Jerry Jenkins has to ignore it too in his attempt to type up a fictional depiction of the fulfillment of these “prophecies.”

Jenkins slips up a bit here, shining a spotlight on this contradiction with Ken Ritz’s comment that “it’s nice to be in a place that hasn’t been blown to bits.” At this point in the story, the Antichrist has been wantonly bombing major cities throughout his OWG — destroying London, New York, Washington, Chicago, Dallas, Toronto, Mexico City, Cairo, etc., and raining death down on millions of his subjects. Israel thus becomes the only safe haven in the world. The place ought to be swarming with refugees.

But then, inexplicably, Nicolae Carpathia’s sudden war against his own empire hasn’t produced any refugees anywhere. Buck and Ken began their journey in Milwaukee — a city one would expect to have been flooded by refugees from the war zone in Chicago. Yet the nuclear destruction of Chicago doesn’t seem to have altered the daily routine of life in Milwaukee at all. The destruction of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago didn’t even disrupt flight schedules in or out of Milwaukee.

The destruction of Chicago doesn’t seem to have resulted in refugees even in Cicero or Evanston or Oak Lawn or any of the other adjoining cities and towns — all of which are miraculously unscathed and unperturbed.

Pause to think about things like that for too long and you’ll never be able to keep reading. It’s too huge. The whole story — and the whole alleged “prophecy” depicted by the story — collapses under the weight of such vast, weird impossibilities. So let’s not pause too long. Let’s just say again, quickly, “Just go with it” and race ahead to the next bit.

Unfortunately, Jerry Jenkins isn’t going to allow us to race ahead just yet. The rest of this chapter turns out to be a review of prophecy/plot points from the first two books.

Buck thanked him and grabbed his bag, slinging it over his shoulder. He headed toward the terminal. There, beyond the plate-glass window, he saw the enthusiastic wave of the wispy little old man with the flyaway hair, Chaim Rosenzweig. How he wanted this man to become a believer! Buck had come to love Chaim. That was not an expression he would have used about the other man back when he first met the scientist. It had been only a few years, but it seemed so long ago.

This is where, if this were a 1980s TV series, the screen would go all wavy and we’d hear Buck in voice-over saying, dreamily, “I remember it like it was yesterday …” The two-fold purpose of the next seven pages is the same as those old TV flashbacks: 1) To remind viewers/readers of what happened previously in the series, and 2) To cut expense/effort by recycling old clips instead of filming/writing new material.

Buck had been the youngest senior writer in the history of Global Weekly — in fact, in the history of international journalism. He had unabashedly campaigned for the job of profiling Dr. Rosenzweig as the Weekly’s “Man of the Year.”

I feel a little sorry for Buck here, congratulating himself on his “historic” designation as a senior writer. What this designation actually meant was that Stanton Bailey realized he could save some overtime expense by switching Buck from an hourly employee to an exempt, salaried staff-member. Bailey guessed, correctly, that this little ladder-climber would be so intoxicated by the new title that he wouldn’t even realize it meant longer hours for less pay. “Good news, Williams! We’re making you a senior writer — the youngest senior writer the magazine has ever had.” The kid bought it hook, line and sinker.

Buck had first met the man a little more than a year before that assignment, after Rosenzweig had won a huge international prize for his invention (Chaim himself always called it more of a discovery) of a botanic formula. Rosenzweig’s concoction, some said without much exaggeration, allowed flora to grow anywhere — even on concrete.

The latter had never been proven; however, the desert sands of Israel soon began to blossom like a greenhouse. Flowers, corn, beans, you name it, every spare inch of the tiny nation was quickly cleared for agriculture. Overnight, Israel had become the richest nation in the world.

We covered this back in the first chapter of the first book — the strangeness of imagining that agriculture was the path to becoming “the richest nation in the world” (see “Weird Science” — from October of omigod 2003). Among the many things Jenkins hasn’t considered here is the difference between growing, say, corn, and growing “flowers.” He seems to assume that everything can be harvested by machine — like in that retrofuturist robot-farm diorama in Disney’s World of Tomorrow. That overlooks the vast army of farmworkers this plan would require to harvest things like flowers, tomatoes, strawberries, etc.

Although Israel’s sudden, massive need for such labor might help to account for another puzzling, impossible-seeming assertion from this section back in the first book, the authors’ matter-of-fact, unexplained and unsupported statement that:

The prosperity brought about by the miracle formula changed the course of history for Israel. Flush with cash and resources, Israel made peace with her neighbors.

And by “made peace with,” the authors actually mean “annexed and absorbed,” since we’re told that — thanks entirely to Rosenzweig’s miracle formula — the nation of Israel has expanded to include what in the actual world is the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and parts of Iraq.

The unreality of this whole bit regarding Chaim Rosenzweig’s miracle formula comes from the backwards process of Jenkins’ project here. He’s not trying to tell a story, but to depict the fulfillment of a prophecy. Thus instead of asking the storyteller’s question — “What happens next?” — he starts with that answer and works backwards.

This miracle formula is a potentially interesting idea. A capable science fiction writer could start with that idea and extrapolate the kind of new world that would develop from such a premise — complete with the conflicts, and thus the stories, that this new world would bring. But that’s not how Jenkins approaches any of this. He’s starting with a bunch of texts describing prosperity in an ancient, agrarian society, and treats those texts as predictive prophecies about the future. He’s not at all curious about imagining the ramifications of Rosenzweig’s formula, or how such a thing would change and reshape the actual world. He just wants to check off another box on LaHaye’s prophecy check list.

“Desert blooms.” Check. “Magog” and Ethiopia invade without effect. Check.

That second one is pieced together from bits of Ezekiel. This is inserted into the “prophecy” from Revelation based on the dispensationalist hermeneutic principle of “Hey, what the heck, why not throw in something from Ezekiel?”

The book of Ezekiel’s reference to “Magog” is a bit obscure, but since it’s said to be north of Israel, and since it begins with an M, “Bible prophecy scholars” during the Cold War decided it meant Moscow — about which more in a moment.

Other nations had been jealous to get hold of the formula. Clearly, this was the answer to any economic woes. Israel had gone from vulnerable, geographically defenseless country to a world power — respected, feared, envied.

Respected, feared and envied seem to be presented there as synonyms. Or perhaps “feared” and “envied” are presented as the authors’ definition of what it means to be “respected.” This is helpful for understanding Tim LaHaye’s political ideology. And probably also for understanding his idea of pastoral leadership.

Other nations wanted Rosenzweig’s formula so badly that they assigned high-level diplomats and politicians to court him. He acceded to audiences from so many dignitaries that his life’s work had to be set aside. He was past retirement age anyway, but clearly here was a man more comfortable in a laboratory or a classroom than in a diplomatic setting. The darling of Israel had become the icon of world governments, and they all came calling.

Chaim had told Buck at one point that each suitor had his own not-so-hidden agenda. “I did my best to remain calm and diplomatic,” he told Buck, “but only because I was representing my mother country. I grew almost physically ill,” he added with his charming Hebrew-accented dialect, “when each began trying to persuade me that I would personally become the wealthiest man in the world if I would condescend to rent them my formula.”

That’s an odd use of “condescend” there, ignoring the usual negative connotations of hauteur associated with the word. We usually think of someone being “condescending” when they presume a kind of intrinsic superiority for themselves and thus an equivalent inferiority for others. Like, for example, when an American writer describes an Israeli character as speaking in a “charming Hebrew-accented dialect.”

The Israeli government was even more protective of the formula. They made it so clear that the formula was not for sale or rent that other countries threatened war over it, and Russia actually attacked. Buck had been in Haifa the night the warplanes came screaming in.

But if you remember the scene from back in the first book, it wasn’t only Russia that attacked. As per the arbitrarily chosen “prophecy” of Ezekiel 38, Gog and Magog are not acting alone: “Persia, Ethiopia and Put are with them.” So LaHaye’s prophecy, duly depicted by Jenkins, gives us a Russian-Ethiopian joint attack.

And here, in this flashback-summary, we’re told explicitly that this attack was sparked by Israel’s refusal to allow other nations to benefit from Rosenzweig’s formula — not for any price.

So, then, on the one hand we have Ethiopia, a nation chronically ravaged by famine. And on the other hand we have Rosenzweig’s Israel, a nation blessed with miraculous agricultural fertility that it refuses to share or even to sell to people dying of starvation. But we’re supposed to regard Ethiopia as the unambiguous villain in that scenario.

Buck’s current flashback recalls more details of his earlier flashback to the explicit divine intervention that spared Israel from any harm despite the exhaustion of Russia’s entire nuclear arsenal in its attack.

The miraculous delivery of that country from any damage, injury, or death — despite the incredible aerial assault — made Buck a believer in God, though not yet in Christ. There was no other explanation for bombs, missiles, and warships crashing and burning all over the nation, yet every citizen and building escaped unscathed.

It’s not obvious to me why the authors say there, “though not yet in Christ.” Buck’s newfound faith is the result of experiencing an epic, undeniable supernatural act by the God of Israel in defense of Israel. That shouldn’t have set him on a path toward Christianity, it should have made him a resolute convert to Judaism.

 

Stay in touch with the Slacktivist on Facebook:

The Left Behind franchise is coming for your children
Left Behind Classic Fridays, No. 88: 'Sunday afternoons'
Left Behind Classic Fridays, No. 87: 'Episode IV'
NRA: How not to evangelize, Step 1
  • aunursa

    “Left Behind” Trivia Time: Chad Michael Murray plays journalist Cameron ‘Buck’ Williams. Why is he nicknamed ‘Buck’?

    Anne Marie **** Because he “bucks” the system with his hard hitting journalism.
    March 28 at 7:58am

    Corey ****** He bucks the traditions of regular journalists.
    March 28 at 8:06am

    Kimberly * **********
    His “bucking the system” personality and drive take him all the way to challenging the system of the anti-christ!
    March 28 at 8:11am

    [30 additional, essentially identical responses: Because he “bucks” the system]

    The Official – Left Behind Movie Well done everyone! Buck makes a name for himself with his willingness to rush into danger for a good story, and he acquires his nickname from his willingness to “buck” journalistic traditions.
    March 30 at 6:32am

    Sadhana ****** Hey, so I got the answer right!
    March 30 at 9:49pm

    Nina ***** What happened to Kirk Cameron? I love him in these movies.
    March 30 at 10:24am

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

    Well, Nina, Kirk Cameron has gone on to play second fiddle to not-a-bibliophile Ray Comfort, which job involves holding up pictures of “crocoducks” and pretending he understands 4th-grade biology.

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

    http://i.imgur.com/rixOqJH.jpg

    Just spotted this. :)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    “douchesaddle”

    Awesome.

  • kadh2000

    I thought it was because he had, as a youth, applied to replace the Cadbury Bunny.

  • reynard61

    I thought it was because he was a fbucking idiot.

  • Dogfacedboy

    The Official – Left Behind Movie Well done everyone! Buck makes a name for himself with his willingness to rush into danger for a good story, and he acquires his nickname from his willingness to “buck” journalistic traditions.

    Oh, my guess was wrong then. I assumed it was an acronym for Baboonish Useless Clueless Knucklehead.

  • ChristianPinko

    You take that implied slur against baboons back right now!

  • tatortotcassie

    Because he’s a “bucking” moron who can’t do one useful thing in 3.5 years?

  • Justin

    I understand Mr. Berkowitz got into the LA Country Club wearing a moose head.

  • ChristianPinko

    That’s some obscure Woody Allen referencing, right there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    Good, because the only Berkowitz I could think of would’ve shot his way in.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Yes Fred, there are a lot of contradictory ideas here. But one of the defining traits of an authoritarian follower is a kind of mental partitioning that lets mutually exclusive ideas into their head, and holds them apart so they do not annihilate each other in an explosion of cognitive dissonance. They take each new detail as it comes in, accept it uncritically and potentially believe it genuinely, then file it away in its own slot away from all the others. No attempt is made to connect these ideas together into a unified conceptual model.

    I was aware of how people like that could be exploited politically, but it only just occurred to me that this would give them a great deal of tolerance for poorly thought-out fiction. No wonder they love this series so much, they do not see the conflict.

  • Sagrav

    I once asked an avid reader of this bilge how she could accept nonsensical things like nuclear warheads cleanly destroying cities without any real consequence to the surrounding communities. Her response was, “But it’s just fiction!” By that logic, I guess it wouldn’t matter to her if Buck Williams started farting rainbows while Zeus was giving him a piggy-back ride.

    Seriously though, this whole series is just self-righteousness porn for fundamentalist Christians. It exists to make them feel good about all of the creationist rhetoric that they already accept, and it makes them feel good inside to read about all of those annoying unbelievers suffering terribly for having different opinions. As with all forms of pornography, the plot is just an afterthought.

  • EllieMurasaki

    As with all forms of pornography, the plot is just an afterthought.
    You are reading the wrong porn.

  • aunursa

    This is where, if this were a 1980s TV series, the screen would go all wavy and we’d hear Buck in voice-over saying, dreamily, “I remember it like it was yesterday …”

    Cam-Cam: It’s been a week since the greatest disaster the world has ever seen. A week since all around the world simply vanished off the face of the earth. People everywhere are still struggling to come to terms with the reality of what has happened…

  • Victor Savard

    (((NRA: God Bless You, Dr. Rosenzweig)))

    Are YA being sarcastic here Fred?

    I hear YA! MOI?

    http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=18142394&postID=8516266288383586158

    Sorry Fred!

    Go Figure NOW! :)

    Peace

  • AnonaMiss

    It’s a reference to a Vonnegut novel, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

  • aunursa

    The prosperity brought about by the miracle formula changed the course of history for Israel. Flush with cash and resources, Israel made peace with her neighbors.

    Boy, a formula that made the desert bloom would sure be a lifesaver for the Israeli economy. Instead, the Israel of today is … flush with cash and resources, bursting with high-tech start-ups, with the third most companies listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange behind the United States and China.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    They seem to be operating under the assumption that Israel is some kind of war-ravaged backwater that can never get a leg up and has little in the way of resources or intellectual capital. I might grant some of that may be a little more believable if, say, this were taking place in the early 1950s when the nation was still very young and getting established, but then again L&J seem to be suck in the 1950s themselves.

  • Deborah Moore

    Except for their concept of bombing, which is stuck in WWII and has not fully assimilated what nuclear weapons mean. (I have mentioned this before, but LaHaye was apparently a bomber pilot in WWII, so I can only assume the wildly inaccurate descriptions of nuclear war is based on his experiences in conventional bombing).

  • Flying Squid wtih Goggles

    Or a machine gunner on a bomber, according to Wikipedia. Either way, you’d think he would have noticed the advent of the nuclear age.

  • Grimgrin

    Way back in the day on the old TypePad site I worked out what the entire Russian nuclear arsenal would have done to the state of Israel (present day borders). I believe it would have made a radioactive crater 20 feet deep.

  • fraser

    And if only it had some way to make itself respected and feared besides a kick-ass military, lots of funding and Mossad.

  • flat

    Well as Fred noted in his earlier essays: why didn’t they just steal the formule.
    I mean the whole dessert is now a vegetable garden, it would be incredible easy to get the miracle formule.

    And by using deduction they would find out how to reproduce it.
    But then again I am using logic, sorry people I forgot this is left behind.

  • aunursa

    The whole dessert is now a vegetable garden? What’s on the menu: carrot cake? Sweet potato pie? Zuchini cupcakes? ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Wheat and cucumbers, if the previous book is anything to go by…

  • aunursa

    And what do they have to look forward to? Everyone say it with me: Piles of steaming vegetables drenched in butter.

  • arghous

    But where does the butter come from? From cows (or perhaps goats). And bees. You can’t have a land flowing with milk and honey without them, now can you? So they better cut back on the zuchinis.

  • tatortotcassie

    . . . . of course, they never explain where the butter came from. Or why, if there’s butter, there isn’t any yogurt or cheese or scrambled eggs. (There is a plant substitute for rennet, so it isn’t like they couldn’t make vegetarian cheese.)

  • aunursa

    Irene had made butter from milk she had collected from a cow, so when everyone had assembled, they were met with steaming piles…

    Kingdom Come, p 2

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I like their use of the word “collected”. Like Irene went up to the cow with a sock full of pennies and explained to the cow that it’d fork over the milk if it knew what was good for it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    All I can think of now is Glitch. One collected meat by nibbling on pigs, which were no worse for the experience.

    Glitch died. :(

  • Doodle

    Is that SPoFPDiB a quote? Where dat? *confuzzled*

  • Andrea

    Yes, I believe it’s from Glorious Appearing.

  • P J Evans

    I don’t know how they’re going to be growing all this stuff in a desert, without getting a lot of water from *somewhere*. (One of my uncles grew corn a couple of times. He said it needs three things to do well: water, water, and water.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Teh-Bewilderness/100001375292446 Teh Bewilderness

    Once they used the Star Trek Genesis bomb on Israel it was supposed to spread over the world. All the back breaking labor is in preventing it from spreading. That is why Nikki blew everything up. OK. Maybe not.

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

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 207 pages

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I have to ask, cuz I’ve seen it SO MANY TIMES, but is this actually a THING? Like where they confront over her shoes? Cuz I need to go lie down if that’s true.

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

    Buck and Chloe confront Verna about being a lesbian (and ultimately blackmail her). Jerry Jenkins “foreshadowed” Vern’a evil lesbian ways by pointing out that she wears “sensible shoes.”

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Blackmail, rufk’nkiddingme???!!!??

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

    Buck and Chloe followed her out toward the front door. “Our private lives, our beliefs, are none of our employer’s business,” Buck said. “For instance, if I knew you were a lesbian, I wouldn’t feel it necessary to tell your superiors.”

    “Buck! I had no idea Verna was a lesbian!” Chloe said.
    “You had no idea? Neither did I!”
    “You’re kidding!”
    “I’m not. You think that little revelation was of God too?”

    I rest my case, although I think RubyTea would agree with me.

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

    Yup. And I’m sure that Jenkins would argue that Buck would never do something so nasty as blackmail somebody. After all, Buck got the information through God, so it’s not really real blackmail, right?

    Except it totally is.

  • SisterCoyote

    …Or he’d argue that, being a lesbian, she had it coming.

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

    Not quite right. Looks like it’s God blackmailing her, rather than Buck and/or Chloe. He works in mysterious ways, you know.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    *flabbergasted*

  • Lorehead

    Just in case it doesn’t go without saying, that’s really, really tasteless. Also, the character of Buck is a total jackass. Also, isn’t he supposed to be Verna’s superior, or does that change in the next 207 pages?

    But more than that, how, in a world set years in the future, where all the RTCs vanished, and ruled by a literally Antichristian liberal hyper-ecumenicist (who IIRC has other reasons to favor gay rights), outing someone to her supervisors in his OWG is a blackmail threat and not something that would get him hauled into HR for mandatory diversity lessons?

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

    Oh, I’m not arguing that it makes sense. In fact, Jenkins runs into the same problem in his Underground Zealot series, where he creates a world ruled by atheists, yet he still can’t shake his own RTC-ianity and imagine how such a world would view things like prostitution, war, and marriage. He just can’t help but graft his own “morality” onto all his characters, even characters who would never, say, cause anyone problems for the “crime” of being a lesbian.

  • Ben English

    How do you blackmail someone for being a lesbian? Especially in the world of these books where all the RTCs are gone and nobody is left to tell people how evil gays are.

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

    Just because you’re a QUILTBAG person doesn’t mean you necessarily feel in a comfort zone to come out.

    I’m in Canada, where we have anti-discrimination laws and legal same-sex marriage but I still don’t feel comfortable discussing my bisexuality at my work.

  • Ben English

    True, but Buck’s comment carries the threat of telling her superiors, as if the GC Weekly has a ‘no gays’ policy or something. Also, as far as I know Verna’s only direct superiors are *Buck himself* and… well, The Antichrist… The Antichrist, whose fathers were gay. Somehow I doubt Nicky would care too much.

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

    Actually no, Verna is nominally Buck’s boss. In practice he managed to escape much of her authority by going far up the chain to the President or Vice-President himself and having him tell Verna he’ll be working from home etc.

  • Lori

    Verna was Buck’s boss at one time, but she isn’t any more, is she? Wasn’t Bucky-boy promoted to head of GW as part of his oh-so-impressive resistance plan of helping the antichrist run the world?

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

    Oh, right. Buck Douchebag got put in charge of Nicolae’s media empire.

    So Buck is basically insinuating that Verna’s job is at his mercy.

    Nice, real Christian of you, Buckmeister.

  • aunursa

    That shouldn’t have set him on a path toward Christianity, it should have made him a resolute convert to Judaism.

    But Christianity is simply Judaism + Jesus. Didn’t y’all know that?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Messianic Jews are totally still Jews. Just ask a Christian. :p

  • lofgren

    For an agnostic like Buck, that’s true enough. Remember, we’re talking about a guy who had barely a vague notion of Christianity before he converted.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    One thing that bothers me about Rosenzweig’s formula is that, once a thing has been proven to be possible, it is not long before others repeat the process of that discovery. Think about artificial nuclear fission. The earliest forms were developed in secret in the Manhattan Project, the specifics of their function was kept a closely guarded secret for obvious reasons. Yet, it did not take the Soviet Union very long to begin their own nuclear program. Many thought that this must have meant that someone gave the Soviets the secret of the bomb (leading to the Red Scare) but in reality it was just the Soviets quickly playing catch-up once the concept had been proven to be workable.

    Even if other countries wanted Rosenzweig’s formula, if they cannot get it from him, then they need to resort to developing their own versions. It should not be that hard to make their own versions, especially if they manage to get a few soil samples from Israel (when the entire country is now farm land getting a few handfuls of dirt should be pretty easy.) Once Rosenzweig proved it could be done, others can do it too, having some soil to chemically analyze would just expedite that process.

  • TheBrett

    Sort of. The Soviets did have people who leaked information to them about making a bomb (Klaus Fuchs), although they likely would have figured it out on their own eventually.

    I agree with your broader point. There’s no way Israel would be able to prevent people form taking soil samples across one of its many borders to end up in a chemical laboratory, where they could independently duplicate the formula after some time.

  • arghous

    The ol’ russkies were actually pretty clever. On the race to thermonuclear weapons, they briefly lept ahead of the U.S. When U.S. scientists got atmospheric data back from that test, they did a collective “Doh! Lithium!” head-slap at how they never considered that.

  • The_L1985

    I’m so happy, ’cause today I’ve found my friends, they’re in my head…

    </obligatory bad joke>

  • Czanne

    They don’t even need soil, necessarily. Israel exports a metric crap-ton of produce, some fresh, some preserved. Some of the preserved stuff is likely still around — canned, dried, frozen. Mass spec a few thousand samples of the old stuff, compare to new, work backwards from statistical results. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just better.

    Also, why is there not an enormous outcry from food safety activists about GMOs and unknown chemicals? A Seekrit Fertilizer that that makes everything, including corn (a notoriously thirsty crop), grow in a region that gets less than 30 cm. of rain a year, has got to be out of Dr Frankenstein’s DNA lab. I could imagine ginormous boycotts of all Israeli produce.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    What might make a fun story is all the other country’s failed attempts at replicating the formula. Marvel’s done that viz the Captain America Super-Soldier project for the last decade or so.

    My guess? Milk of the Dark Mother, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young. But side effects from that are pretty darn noticeable.

  • Czanne

    *grin*. Of course, we’re taking as read that Dr. R’s formula is the product of something like Stark Industries — simple, functional, elegant in design. In other words, something that does not exist in their ‘verse.

    Given LaJenks’ self-deluded view of their world, the crop-dope is actually a Hammer Systems product — toxic to make, deploy and consume, liable to break easily and all about the appearance.

  • kadh2000

    I think the formula isn’t something reproducible by science. I think it’s supposed to be “pixie dust” and if anyone tried to replicate it, they would get something that wouldn’t work and would have to conclude the formula was scientifically impossible.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Well, people who refuse to understand science often see it as working like magic, so that view would make sense.

  • phoenix_feather

    Maybe the formula was sent down by God like all the other disast- erm, miracles- for no reason except that it fulfills a step on his prophecy checklist. Say Turbo-Jesus decided it was time to end the world, and he knew that the formula was the first step in the End Times checklist. But he also knew Israel had no hope of discovering the miracle formula on their own, so he got impatient and sent it to them. That explains why they won’t release it: because no one, including Chaim, actually knows how it works.

  • Randall

    Isn’t the traditional Lovecraftian plant-growth formula the Colour out of Space? I mean, for at least a short time.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    This is the thing that puzzles me most. Keeping the process to build a nuclear bomb secret should be the *easy* thing; you could reproduce the research that lead to the bomb for certain, but it’s going to be quite hard to get hold of a nuclear bomb itself to study it. But this is like… a fertilizer? It’s going to be splashed all over the whole country. The more of it you manufacture and use, the more of it there is around to steal and the more know-how there is on the making of it out and about. And this stuff isn’t being kept in like, military bases or secure areas. It’s being kept in farms. If you pay for real security for all facilities where the formula is being used, then you’ve eliminated the economic advantages of mass factory farming that your formula once offered you. This is, specifically and linearly, a chemical which benefits you more the more you use it.

    I can only make this make sense if we imagine some sort of Monsanto situation where draconian futuristic IP laws mean that everyone has access to the Rosenzweig formula, but it’s patented. Russia is more afraid of the consequences of a nuclear strike than it is afraid of violating Israel’s patent rights.

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

    …when an American writer describes an Israeli character as speaking in a “charming Hebrew-accented dialect.”

    It gets even better–in Desecration–

    …but his was still the plaintive, weak voice with the thick Hebrew accent that reminded Buck of Jewish comedians or storytellers or timid scholars—the latter of which Dr. Rosenzweig certainly was.

  • Anton_Mates

    You know, like Joan Rivers.

  • fraser

    Hebrew accent? Wouldn’t it be an Israeli accent?

  • ohiolibrarian

    Apparently he’s never heard of Yiddish.

  • Lunch Meat

    “Charming” is totally my go-to descriptor when I hear something plaintive and weak.

  • MDubz

    long time lurker, first time posting (I think)

    I just got back from Israel, and a “Hebrew accent” is a lot of things, but timid is NOT one of them. As it’s currently spoken, Hebrew is a language dripping with machismo.

  • Vermic

    How is it that using the formula to grow on concrete “had never been proven”? Doesn’t sound like it would be a very expensive test.

    (Incidentally, if Chaim’s formula is that potent, it would make one hell of a bioweapon.)

  • Mark Z.

    Damn, you’re right. Mix it with some kudzu seeds or something, spray over enemy cities.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Then you could harvest the kudzu to refine into ethanol to supply your army.

    http://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2008/06/23/kudzu-biofuel-potential/

  • P J Evans

    I’d donate some ‘weed from hell’. (it’s some kind of knotweed, I think. It was beating out *English ivy* at one place I lived.)

  • reynard61

    Am I the only one who thinks that this may have been how the Krynoid got it’s start?

    “The Krynoid Salad Bar! Eat it before it eats you!”

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

    I’m sure I’m not the first commenter to think this, but Rosenzweig’s magical elixir sounds a lot like water to me. I mean, isn’t that usually what’s needed to make the desert bloom?

  • lofgren

    Actually, (though I am not a botanist nor a farmer nor a geologist) I believe what the Middle Eastern deserts need more than water is SOIL. Somehow, Rosenzweig’s formula must extract the nutrients that one would normally acquire from rotting plant matter and animal waste from the desert rock and convert it into a form that is bioavailable to plant roots. Or something. The mechanics of this are really unclear, but it seems like no matter how you decide that the formula works, you would need TONS of it. Eventually the process would become self-sustaining, but that would probably take a VERY long time. Also I hope the Israelis are using some of that formula to grow trees, or else eventually they’re going to be back in the same boat when massive windstorms uproot everything in their path and scatter the thin layer of topsoil like Robert Downey Jr. sneezing on his mirror.

    I’m not one of those people who gets all pissy when my sci-fi asks me to ignore a little science in order to accept its premises, but they could at least dress it up with some technobabble or something.

  • Lorehead

    That’s called fertilizer.

  • Lectorel

    Too much fertilizer kills plants, though. Plus, you need soil to hold nutrients, support microorganisms some plants need to grow, retain water, balance ph for optimal growth, and prevent plants from toppling over from their own weight. Even water-based plants need to be rooted in something.

  • Lorehead

    Okay, I was being snarky, but you can grow plants hydroponically if you have fertilizer and water.

  • lofgren

    Yeah, it makes perfect sense that Rosenzweig’s formula would allow the Israelis to grow crops hydroponically in the desert. Thank you for your contribution.

  • Kirala

    Also, salinization. Irrigation can leave salt deposits behind and leave the soil worthless for farming. My wiki-fu is unable to determine how much this is an issue around Israel, but IIRC the Fertile Crescent is no longer fertile because of millennia of irrigation depositing salts – and the Wikipedia article on soil salinity hints that the Near and Middle East are affected.

    And this gets uglier because it’s the PRESENCE of salt that’s a problem. There’s no simple additive to get rid of it.

    Hmm. Rosenzweig’s formula might be less of a fertilizer and more a salt binder? Anyone who actually knows this aspect of agriculture, weigh in here? Hey – I may have found a technobabble explanation!

  • P J Evans

    Actually, there’s a lot of material in the desert; it’s just that there isn’t enough water to for it to break down to soil, or release a lot of nutrients.
    (The deserts of the western US have a lot of plants and animals, but people don’t see them. ‘Bellyflowers’ are only an inch high when they bloom, and everyone ignores insects and lizards.)

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

    How he wanted this man to become a believer! Buck had come to love Chaim.

    This kind of gushy language really is kind of uncomfortable. It makes me wonder if LaHaye is part of a Christian sect that purposely uses this kind of language to condition the listener or reader into feeling well-disposed towards “unbelievers” while maintaining a feeling of self-superiority.

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

    It reminds me of your discussion of love-bombing in Edge of Apocalypse–they do the same thing to Hattie when trying to talk her out of an abortion–“We love you Hattie, we really, REALLY love you!

    Yeah, it’s pretty cringe-inducing. And pretty guilt-tripping. And pretty much strips the word “love” of all meaning, much like the Christian radio hosts who breathlessly claim to love “everyone.”

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

    Speaking of. And yeah, it struck me as being like that creepy love-bombing stuff too. :O

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

    …but his was still the plaintive, weak voice with the thick Hebrew
    accent that reminded Buck of Jewish comedians or storytellers or timid
    scholars—the latter of which Dr. Rosenzweig certainly was.

    Why does this suddenly remind me of 1984’s description of Emmanuel Goldstein?

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

    This emphasis on Israeli agriculture and “desert blooming” reminds me of that great fictional vignette I saw somewhere in Fred’s LB posts, where we see a young Israeli woman disgustedly surveying the field she’s been sent to work on and wishing she was doing anything but this backbreaking labor day in and day out.

  • c2t2

    Was it a professionally published piece or a Right Behind storylet?

    *ahem* http://exharpazo.blogspot.com/2010/03/lipre.html

    (I really need to finish parts 2 and 3)

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

    That was the very one! Reminds me of Wheelworld, by the way. Same premise: indentured farmers grow oodles and oodles of food and make some people obscenely rich due to nearly nil production costs.

  • c2t2

    It took me a few minutes to reply because I was bouncing around my room squealing with glee that anyone read/liked the piece, even though I’m simultaneously doing the authorial cringe at my old prose. You may have just inspired me to finish the damn thing! (I have Ideas about the rapture that I never got around to posting. Evil, evil Ideas.)

  • hidden_urchin

    How did I miss that the first time? It was really compelling and you should definitely consider returning to it, if you are so inclined.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It’s not obvious to me why the authors say there, “though not yet in Christ.”

    Because without hasty assurance to the contrary, then the readers might be inclined to think that belief in God—perhaps even in any manifestation of God—would be sufficient faith to be saved from TurboJesus and the Eternity of Hellfire (coming 1999 2000 2002 2008 2012 2013)!

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I like how you skip MOST the Bush years. ;^D

  • Lorehead
  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Ah, 1988. Leland Jensen predicted Halley’s Comet would destroy the world on April 29th (his second prediction; the first was a nuclear attack in 1980). Edgar Whisenant predicted the Rapture to occur September 13th, then October 3, and then revised it again to September 30th the following year. It was a busy year.

  • Andy

    So Halley’s Comet, which passed closest to Earth in 1986, was supposed to make a U-turn in its orbit and come back to hit us in 1988? Unfortunately, this is still not the strangest end-times theory I’ve ever heard.
    1988 was supposed to be the year because it marked 40 years (“one generation”) since the founding of the modern state of Israel. However, I’ve now had someone (my barber) tell me that one generation is 70 years, so watch out for 2018! When the world doesn’t end in that year (presumably), I imagine a generation will be found to actually equal 75 years, etc.
    And agree heartily with all the negative posts about the new Disgust commenting system; I can’t make head or tail of it.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Kenton Bashore agrees, but places his estimation on 2021 (or somewhere between 2018 and 2028).

    Ooh, updates! The next reported date for the Apocalypse is September 2016, made by “The Ministery of Forbidden Knowledge” in a book titled The Fifth Seal and the Octopus. The anonymous authors claim that the fifth trumpet has already sounded and the rise of unchecked capitalism is the Fourth Beast, and that only the 144K “Saints of Revelation” can prove to the world what is taking place.

    Drew Simmons also places the Apocalypse in 2016, but for different reasons, which he explains here: http://wakeupbabylon.blogspot.com/2011/03/2016-converging-clues-and-timelines.html

    After 2016 is 2020, a prediction made by Jeane Dixon. This will have been her second prediction, after a predicted destructive planetary alignment failed to come to pass in 1962. I consider it striking how she placed this prediction a comfortable span of years after any possible chance of still being alive — she was born in 1904, so living to 2020 would have made her 116 years old.

    Then again, if predicting the Apocalypse long after your death is a bad thing, we Isaac Newton would have Hell to pay — he guessed the year 2000. Nostradamus guessed 1999, but how many of us were taking him seriously anyway?

    And if failed predictions were noteworthy, Harold Camping would be king of the hill, with a record five predictions to his name. Pat Robertson only made two, but we hardly need those two to hate him. Him or Jerry Falwell and Ed Dobson of the Moral Majority, who made predictions for the year 2000. Also in 2000 was Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, but as much fun as we make of them as it is…

    *Cough* This is kind of my thing.

  • G.G.

    have to dust off my garage sale copy of “the 1980s: countdown to armegeddon” and see what it says about this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/j.alex.harman John Alexander Harman

    Well, there is a strong possibility that we’ll have a truly spectacular comet in the sky during the last couple of months of 2013, so there’s that; the nuts who are always looking for signs of the apocalypse will doubtless wet themselves with excitement if Comet ISON lives up to the most optimistic projections for the size and luminosity of its tail.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Looking forward to it. Maybe it’ll inspire my writing. :p

    (Current story began as deconstruction of a premillennium dispensationalism story where the obsession over the end of the world is what causes it.)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    @Vermic:disqus Kind of the opposite of Agent Orange, eh?

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

    Even if other countries wanted Rosenzweig’s formula, if they cannot get
    it from him, then they need to resort to developing their own versions.
    It should not be that hard to make their own versions, especially if
    they manage to get a few soil samples from Israel (when the entire
    country is now farm land getting a few handfuls of dirt should be pretty
    easy.) Once Rosenzweig proved it could be done, others can do it too,
    having some soil to chemically analyze would just expedite that process.

    Indeed. And with the Green Revolution of the 1960s, we already know that selective breeding of plants and the proper use of fertilizer can produce amazing results.

    You know, come to think of it, doesn’t this Rosenzweig formula depend on that old “The rain follows the plow” idea? The plants growing under the influence of his formula need water, surely. If they suck water out of the desert and transpire it, there’s going to be no more left pretty fast!

    So it either has to rain a LOT more there, or Israel has to foot the bill for a gigantic desalinization and irrigation network over – what, thousands of square kilometers?

    Imagine if a pipe broke, or a computer failed, or…. invent your own crisis here. :O

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Heck, I would think that Israel engineered its own crisis with the agricultural overproduction born of Rosenzweig’s formula, an economic one. Imagine that many crops flooding the market at once, the price of produce would drop really quickly. Israel would find itself overproducing and underselling, probably driving itself into an economic slump when the prices level out across the market.

    Now, it might have gained considerable profit from Rosenzweig’s formula if it had actually done what the other countries were asking for, which is to sell it, or more precisely, to license it. That kind of thing works for Monsanto’s profits, it could work for Israel’s profits. Sure, all these other countries are growing their own bumper crops with Rosenzweig Brand Soil™, but from each sale those individual crops make, Israel gets a little money back. Collectively, that is a lot of money back.

    The economic model just makes more sense that way.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    This was discussed in the comments at the time this was introduced to the story, the fact that the ONLY way for Israel to get rich off the formula WAS to license it.

  • Deborah Moore

    Maybe he invented a special formula that lets plants grow without water.

  • aunursa

    Wouldn’t it be something if Israel really did invent something that made the desert bloom?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Neat technique, but not quite as revolutionary as it needs to be to serve the needs of this series unfortunately sketchy plot.

    You know, a much more plausible scenario than in the books would be if Rosenzweig was actually some kind of engineer who invented some kind of miracle desalinization device which was capable of reliably making several tons of freshwater from saltwater every hour. Now that would lead to a farming revolution, desert blooming in an unprecedented manner, etc.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    There’s a terrible movie called The Omega Code with Casper Van Dien and this guy who’s the bad guy in a lot of 80’s TV. That’s the Anti-Christ’s evil plan, he’s the developer of the water desalinization plants that provide water to every nation on Earth. Then HE RULES THE WORLD!!!! Gets shot in the head and resurrects. TurboJesus makes an appearance, IIRC, it’s been years. I had knew about these books, but never read them. This movie was eerily similar to them though, a complete rip-off. The movie was better though, but this is WAY more entertaining.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.herrington.1 Boze Herrington

    The Omega Code! Michael York is a mischievous, Shakespeare-quoting Antichrist!

  • phoenix_feather

    I thought “The Omega Code” was the best End Times movie! Considering the only other End Times movies I know of are the “Left Behind” trilogy, “Apocalypse,” and “A Thief in the Night,” that is not saying much at all. But I thought it was cute how hard they tried…

  • Lunch Meat

    I saw in “King of Dreams” that Joseph actually invented irrigation (3:20)

  • Lori

    Other nations had been jealous to get hold of the formula.

    This sentence is just bad. Can’t Jenkins do anything right?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    That sentence is bad, and Jenkins should feel bad.

  • Dogfacedboy

    I sometimes write like that, too, when I’ve been drinking.

  • reynard61

    It’s very disturbing to know that someone can write that badly while stone-cold sober.

  • Lori

    Strictly speaking we have no way of knowing what state of sobriety that Jenkins was in when he wrote that.

  • Dogfacedboy

    Perhaps he was “drunk in the spirit” as they say.

  • aunursa

    I’ll write Glorious Appearing in October and November, and I’ll go to the cave where there’s no phone, Internet, radio, or TV… But that’s all I’ll do—I can either write or procrastinate. I’ll do a good deal of both when I’m there, but once I’m in there I’ll probably write 20 pages a day until it’s done. If I get behind, then I’ll write more than that. I try not to get behind because I don’t like to write more than 20 any more. I used to write 40, sometimes 60 pages a day if I had to. I wouldn’t turn in anything that I wasn’t happy with. But now that I’m older, my standards are higher, and I like to pace my writing. I’m pretty religious about finishing the 20 pages. If it takes until noon, that’s fine. If it takes until midnight, I’ll still do it because I don’t want to fall behind.

    Regardless of how I feel, inspired or not, the second half of the advance is the inspiration. There’s a deadline. You have to do it. I realize that I just need to park myself in front of the keyboard and get to work. Once I get to work, I ask myself why I put this off or why I worried or felt that I didn’t have anything. I’ve learned that eventually, it will come.

    Jerry Jenkins on Writing the Left Behind Series

  • Lori

    I wouldn’t turn in anything that I wasn’t happy with. But now that I’m
    older, my standards are higher, and I like to pace my writing.

    This would seem to argue rather strongly that he drinks. A lot.

  • tatortotcassie

    His standards are higher? So, instead of his standards being one millimeter off the ground, they’re now two millimeters off the ground?
    By his own admission, Jenkins implies he goes for quantity over quality. 20 pages a day — the man’s a frickin’ word assembly line, not a writer.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    It reminds me of the first incarnation of Battlestar Galactica (back in the 80s, I think?) in which Our Heroes would shoot at an attacking spaceship while announcing that it was “microns” away.

    And miss.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Yeah, but their lasers would always harmlessly explode on the wall of space behind the cylons.

  • The_L1985

    Microns? …. Thousandths of a millimeter. So it was basically touching them.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Exactly.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    No, see, people get this wrong all the time. The original ending of Battlestar Galactica was supposed to be that Galactica discovers Earth and is promptly eaten by a small dog, because the colonial fleet is actually only a few angstroms wide and the entire series has taken place inside a soap bubble.

  • The_L1985

    They had a teensy problem with scale.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Oh, NOW I understand!

  • kadh2000

    In old BG, words like “micron” didn’t mean what we understand them to mean. They thought microns, centons, etc., sounded like cool alternative words to second, minute, etc., and that nobody would know (even if they knew themselves – which I doubt) what a micron was.

    When they said a ship was “microns” away, it would be like us saying “seconds” away. IMO that meant, they’ll be in range in seconds.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Well, sure. They apparently thought they were inventing all those words. But if you knew that “micron” is a real word with an agreed-upon meaning – especially a meaning that made the BG dialog really, really silly – their usage was hilarious.

    And Jenkins bragging about how he’s raised his standards, when nobody here realized he had any detectable standards to raise, reminded me strongly of the micron nonsense.

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

    From what I’ve seen of LaHaye, I wouldn’t begrudge Jenkins the occasional belt to get through the chapter.

  • TheBrett

    If anything, the formula would be brutal for a lot of farmers. You’d get a flood of produce, a massive drop in agricultural prices, and a lot of farmers out of business because they can’t make ends meet at the new prices. Good for everyone else (super-cheap food!), but not really a source of wealth.

    I doubt the formula would stay secret for long, either. It would probably take some visiting chemists grabbing some formula-enriched soil and moving it across the border to be taken to research laboratories to get the ball rolling on independently figuring it out.

    I feel a little sorry for Buck here, congratulating himself on his “historic” designation as a senior writer. What this designation actually meant was that Stanton Bailey realized he could save some overtime expense by switching Buck from an hourly employee to an exempt, salaried staff-member. Bailey guessed, correctly, that this little ladder-climber would be so intoxicated by the new title that he wouldn’t even realize it meant longer hours for less pay. “Good news, Williams! We’re making you a senior writer — the youngest senior writer the magazine has ever had.” The kid bought it hook, line and sinker.

    It’s good to know that the Mega-Car was not the first time that Buck got suckered.

    I’m trying to think of what Buck could possibly bring to the table as a reporter for Global Weekly – and I mean the real Buck, not his ridiculous self-conception. Maybe he’s really good at writing catchy ass-kissing pieces about whoever happens to be famous at the moment, like a younger, less intelligent Thomas Friedman.

  • kadh2000

    and the mega computers…
    and you can bet the mega cell phones cost way more than retail…

  • TheBrett

    I bet Bucky Boy counts it as a plus to spend way more than the regular retail price. It shows that he’s a big shot.

  • Justin

    “Rosenzweig’s concoction, some said without much exaggeration, allowed flora to grow anywhere — even on concrete.

    The latter had never been proven…”

    Uhh, why not? Maybe you wanna…I dunno…test it, or something?

  • Wednesday

    No! Testing it would be doing Science. And doing science is morally wrong, especially if it involves biology, because of evilution.

    …yeah, basically, I don’t know why else they wouldn’t test such a thing.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Or Perhaps, the Israelis might know, but no one else does. No outsider has ever seen proof of crops growing from a stone, and Rosenzweig is silent on the matter, but nevertheless the rumors persist…

  • lodrelhai

    Rosenzweig’s formula exists! And is apparently owned by Canada Green… http://youtu.be/kqbUssvYBJE?t=32s

  • Cradicus

    Wait, I thought the attack was a complete surprise? In fact one could say that it was as surprising as the Great Wall of China is long! (I wouldn’t say that, but Senior Writer Buck Williams did!)

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

    If anything, the formula would be brutal for a lot of farmers. You’d get
    a flood of produce, a massive drop in agricultural prices, and a lot of
    farmers out of business because they can’t make ends meet at the new
    prices. Good for everyone else (super-cheap food!), but not really a
    source of wealth.

    You know, this implication makes the scenario in c2t2’s post even more plausible: the only way to get back to making huge profits out of a MIracle-Gro formula is by forcing people to work for next to nothing, and because they can’t get citizenship anywhere else, they’re stuck working the land so some agribiz outfit that has deep connections with the government can get all the money.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    That would be an awesome angle for the Antichrist to exploit to solidify power.

    Unfortunately for L&J, it would involve delving into the politics of labor practices, which I am sure is too “worldly” for their consideration.

  • Anonymous

    Regarding “condescend”:

    I think Jenkins is attempting to use the word in an old-fashioned sense, wherein it refers to someone who is in fact of a superior status doing a favor for an inferior. For example, Barack Obama might condescend to invite me to his birthday party.

    Presumably, the miracle formula makes Chaim Rosenzweig a superior status to the diplomats and political leaders who court him, so that he’d be condescending to give them the formula. But I think this is doing violence to even an archaic understanding of “condescend.”

  • Lori

    My first thought was that Jenkins had been reading Jane Austin.

  • Anonymous

    I thought the same thing. Perhaps if he had gone further in imitating Jane Austen, we’d be reading a better book right now.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Wouldn’t he have had to understand human behavior and motivations?

  • Jamoche

    Oddly enough, mine was Flashman.

    (Hey, what happened to OpenID login?)

  • banancat

    I understood how he was using it, but he still shouldn’t have used it that way. Language changes, and most people do not use the word in that sense anymore, especially his audience. And as a writer, his first job is to know his audience. Even if it’s technically correct according to a dictionary, it’s not good writing to use it in that way unless he intended to make it stand out for some purpose.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I do think he was just confusing “condescend” with “consent”. Good alternative hypothesis, though.

  • Panda Rosa

    You mean “condescend” doesn’t describe a prisoner climbing down a ladder? :-)

  • markedward

    Actually, prophecy experts (I use that phrase loosely) claimed was Moscow was ‘Meshech’, from the same passage where Magog is mentioned by Ezekiel. They also chose to transliterate the word ‘Rosh’ (instead of translating it as ‘leader’ or ‘chief’), so they could connect it to ‘Russia’.

  • BC

    We could use Miracle Gro to get a desert to bloom. It’s not chemicals that keep deserts from blooming, it’s lack of water! Oh, and once you start irrigating, the hard part is to keep the soils leached of salts – there are salts in soil and salts in water that need to be washed out of the root zone or the soils will either freeze up (harden) so that plants can’t put down roots or will get so salty that nothing will grow, regardless of the amount of chemicals placed in the ground. It is thought that Mesopotamia was the first civilization to experience this – there’s a reason that Iraq has desert and non-fruitiful land around the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Wonder what the fundie farmers think of Chaim Rosenzwieg’s miracle formula?

  • hidden_urchin

    They just let it go.

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

    Actually, prophecy experts (I use that phrase loosely) claimed was
    Moscow was ‘Meshech’, from the same passage where Magog is mentioned by
    Ezekiel. They also chose to transliterate the word ‘Rosh’ (instead of
    translating it as ‘leader’ or ‘chief’), so they could connect it to
    ‘Russia’.

    It’s honestly pretty thin.

    I mean, there’s considerable ground for interpretation, and in fact if you go back to the 18th century, you’ve got people who attribute the End Times to schisms within the Roman Catholic church.

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

    Chaim “was past retirement age anyway,”

    Rosenzweig’s age is never explicitly stated. Although he is described as “elderly” one year prior to Book #1. Yet he is only “late sixties” at the beginning of Book 10, (4 1/2 years later) and “early seventies” at the beginning of Book #11 (7 years later). If we assign him the age of 69 at the beginning of Book #10, then he would be about 67 in Book #3. So to Jerry Jenkins, 64 is “elderly” and 67 is “past retirement age.”

  • P J Evans

    Maybe he thinks ‘retirement age’ is 55.

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

    IIRC, they also frequently imply that Tsion ben-Jewishguy is “old,” even though he is only a couple of years older than Ray-gun, who is in his early- to mid-forties.

  • Lunch Meat

    Wait wait wait. It takes them 9 books to get through 3 1/2 years (including an 18 month time jump in the second book) and then the tenth book lasts 2 1/2 years? *facepalm*

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

    Have you seen the photos that LaHaye, who was born in 1926, uses for publicity? It’s understandable that he would be confused about what elderly looks like, because he is forever, like Jack Benny, 39.

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

    I am amused–when I do a Google images search for Tim LaHaye, I get picstures of Jesus and Kirk Cameron in the first two rows.
    President Obama appears on line 7.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    “He’s not trying to tell a story, but to depict the fulfillment of a
    prophecy. Thus instead of asking the storyteller’s question — “What
    happens next?” — he starts with that answer and works backwards.”

    This is another way Sara Douglass tells this story so much better in the Wayfairer Redemption series. She admitted that she wrote the story first, then The Prophecy that binds the initial story together. She skips the Rapture, the only people lucky enough to escape the Tribulation are the ones who died in the past. Of course she actually skips the Christianity part of the Armageddon tale, but you can definitely feel at times how that story gets its inspiration from this premillenial dispensationalist formula.

    I also think Jenkins meant Chaim to say that should he consent to rent out his formula, not condescend. With the void of Christian sexual ethics Fred often points out though, it’s easy to see why he would get the two confused.

  • Will Hennessy

    “Don’t worry about me, Buddy Boy…”

    I assure you, Ken. Buck was not in the least worried about you.

    Also, I for one am glad that Jenkins does these little flashbacks to points we read every time a character who is not an author-surrogate shows up (so like a billion times now). And it’s a good thing nothing else was going on in the story so we have the time.

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

    “I’ll hangar this baby and find a place to crash for a few days. I’ve
    always wanted to tour this country, and it’s nice to be in a place that
    hasn’t been blown to bits.”

    You know, this could almost qualify as actually acknowledging that the world kind of went through a minor little thing called a nuclear war.

    But it just doesn’t feel real, in the same way as another story I once read, a professor in it casually talked of going on sabbatical only four months after a terrible nuclear conflict wiped out the Eastern Seaboard.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    This part also shows how TERRIBLE Jenkins is at foreshadowing. He thinks he’s being coy, having Buck declare his desire to save Chaim, but in actuality he’s just telegraphing what will happen, especially by spending this moment in a huge info dump about Chaim, immediately afterward.

  • aunursa

    Not really foreshadowing. Every single person that they befriend gets saved. Not a single relative or friend of our two heroes dies unsaved.* Rayford and Buck (and the rest of the Tribbles) are never forced to confront the realization that a loved one is burning in hell for all eternity.

    * Except for Buck’s mom. It is strongly implied that she died unsaved. But that happens in Prequel #2, and so at the time that L&J wrote the main 12 books, it hadn’t been established yet.

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

    WRT Buck’s mom, it’s probably a lot easier to die unsaved when you haven’t seen blatantly supernatural phenomena like the not-nuking of Israel and the Rapture happening yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/WingedWyrm Charles Scott

    Of course, if they had an unsaved friend, one they had to acknwoledge was suffering an eternal immolation, that would bring some moral ambiguity into this mix, make us potentially empathize with someone in Hell. That just can’t be allowed to happen.

  • Deborah Moore

    Look I know this has been pointed out before, but if you are trying to get ahold of a country’s super secret formula, dumping your entire nuclear arsenal on the country and reducing it to radioactive glass is about the worst possible way to get it. It would make more sense if you had gotten the formula and wanted to ensure that no one else got it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    I could see going straight to ‘If I can’t have it, nobody will!’ if your country didn’t have, oh, one of the most infamous spy agencies in the world. (Russia, not Ethiopia. Never heard much about Ethiopian Intelligence agencies.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/alden.utter Alden Utter

    Which just shows how effective it is!

  • phoenix_feather

    Maybe the Russians did have it already! But nobody else in the world found out because their spies were just that good … or maybe all the Russians who knew the formula were Raptured before they could use it…

  • colleeniem

    I have de-lurked (after years of lurking and reading and re-reading!) to say.
    Brilliant title, Mr. Clark.

  • ReverendRef

    Yet the nuclear destruction of Chicago doesn’t seem to have altered the daily routine of life in Milwaukee at all.

    This is good news. Miller, MGD and PBR are still in production and available.

  • P J Evans

    For that matter, when they bombed Los Angeles, they would have missed both Budweiser (in Van Nuys) and Miller (in Irwindale).

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

    Yet more evidence that we do not live in a world with a benevolent god: Disqus and these strange, pretend pages of comments.

  • kadh2000

    And I really wish I understood why temporal order meant absolutely nothing.

  • Lunch Meat

    …pages that you can’t even get to with the page number. This just keeps getting worse.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Everyone who is registered should go to http://disqus.com/support/ and file a bug report.

    You have to rub their noses in it or they won’t ever learn.

    Or is that dogs, not web developers?

  • stationary

    As a team lead who attempts to teach web developers daily, I don’t appreciate the insult to dogs represented by this comparison.

  • banancat

    It’s like they decided to keep the crappy “upgrade” but to revert only one part of it, and decided to pick the worst part. I complained that the new system took forever to load and froze my computer completely, so I guess they though this would help but it still has the same problem of taking forever to load, plus all this ridiculousness on top of it. It’s almost like they’re intentionally trying to create the worst possible system, either out of spite and getting high on a power trip, or as some surrealist piece of performance art. And the sad thing is, very few people will ever read this clever comment I’ve written, because the new system has driven blog traffic way down.

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

    @RubyTea: I am now devoutly wishing someone would invent a specialized Slackti-browser that can automatically re-parse all the comments into a flat format.

  • Deni zen

    This gets worse in the prequel novels. Nicolae gets told by Satan to go get the formula, because it is incalculably valuable. My question is why Satan dosen’t already have the wonderous secret of the formula. Satan is a being as old as the universe and is of supernatural cunning. He could easily have figured out the secret if Rosenzweig’s formula was simply science. Or he could just send in some invisible demons to steal the formula from Rosenzweig’s laboratory.

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

    Okay. For anyone who uses Windows, RSS Bandit will download not only the top-level articles, but also comments to those articles and store them in absolute chronological order.

  • Lorehead

    The Magog-Russia connection is a lot older and more ironic than that, although I couldn’t tell you the intermediate steps on the journey. Back around the ninth century, there was a Turkic tribe called the Khazars, whose leaders at least converted to Judaism (how many of the common people did is still under debate). Their territory was in and around what’s now the Ukraine, but during the Cold War was part of the Soviet Union.

    Medieval Christian writers identified the Khazars with Biblical Gog and Magog. For example, Christian of Stavelot in 864 wrote, “At the present time we know of no nation under the heavens where Christians do not live. For [Christians are even found] in the lands of Gog and Magog — who are a Hunnic race and are called Gazari (Khazars)… circumcized and observing all [the laws of] Judaism.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/alden.utter Alden Utter

    “respected, feared, envied.”

    This was close to almost working. If it had been “respected, envied, feared”, there would have been a natural progression, of sorts, although “admired” might have done better than “respected” if that was the case, and “feared” seems odd since the reason they’re so feared is a giant pile of cauliflower, rather than their unofficial nuclear arsenal. But still, a simple swap and it’s *better*.

    Hacks.

  • Catherine Archer

    Oh, my. Such a formula! Not one word about oil, but- the formula! Back where I come from that miracle formula that causes growth is called horse manure. As for poor old Chaim’s ‘charming Isreal accent’ probably consisted of a few choruses of ‘ Ave la gia’. Oy vey!

  • Baby_Raptor

    Ugh, Disqus…What the balls are you doing? I click “load more comments,” get warped to the bottom of the page, and then there’s no comments!

    We used to sacrifice to Disqus to make it behave, but that apparently doesn’t work anymore…What’s after sacrificing?

  • LoneWolf343

    Orgies.

  • Ymfon

    Personally, I feel the time has come for Disqus to give up this sad attempt to be a computer program, and embrace its true nature as an industrial-strength vacuum cleaner.

  • lofgren

    130 comments? No way am I going back to see if this joke was already taken.

    This is inserted into the “prophecy” from Revelation based on the dispensationalist hermeneutic principle of “Hey, what the heck, why not throw in something from Ezekiel?”

    Also the hermeneutic principle of how I make pasta sauce.

  • LoneWolf343

    I tend to prefer my pasta sauce without ancient Semetic prophets, thank you very much.

  • lofgren

    Ezekiel is our neighbor who grows basil and tomatoes. Also we have him chained in our basement and we’ve been keeping him alive while we hack off his limbs and eat him piece by piece. He’s a decent guy. Kind of loud on weeknights, though, and also while having his arms sawed off.

  • http://twitter.com/NelC NelC

    How many arms does he have?

  • c2t2

    Only two, but they grow back.

  • Panda Rosa

    Oh I dunno, those prophets do give it a pretty good kick, if you add an extra pinch or two.

  • Mrs Grimble

    I assume – well, I hope – that Fred is referencing Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You Mr Rosewater.
    The hero, Elliot Rosewater, is something of a Christ figure (though not obviously so) – despite being the heir to a gigantic family fortune, he’s a drunk who lives amongst the poor and the sinners; there’s a plot in progress to have him declared insane and stripped of his inheritance.
    One of the things Elliot does that makes his relatives think he’s insane is to answer phone calls from the sad, mad and the desperate who need somebody to unload their troubles to. He sees it as his calling and is utterly sincere, listening for as long as they want, offering encouragement and gentle advice and never condemning. He treats all his callers as decent human beings and they go away a little bit uplifted.

    If EllenJay had written that, half the book would be taken up with lengthy, loving descriptions of the phone and most of the rest would involve Elliot getting his callers to recite the Sinner’s Prayer.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    [Jenkins is] not trying to tell a story, but to depict the fulfillment of a prophecy. Thus instead of asking the storyteller’s question — “What happens next?” — he starts with that answer and works backwards.

    In the same fashion, “Creation Science” is backwards. Instead of trying to come to a conclusion based on the evidence, and modifying the conclusion in light of new evidence, Creationists begin with their desired conclusion and cherry-pick — or invent — evidence to support it.

  • kadh2000

    Sorting comments

    By default, comments are sorted by “Best”. Commenters have
    the choice to select their own preference for sort order by clicking the
    Discussion tab drop-down menu. To ensure your sort preference is
    remembered in the future, make sure that browser cookies are enabled.

    Best – Comments with the most votes trending over time.
    Newest – Most recent comments first.
    Oldest – Oldest comments first.

  • banancat

    Yeah, I think most of us are aware of that system. That’s doesn’t even begin to address our complaints. Sorting by oldest only looks at the top-level comments, and completely ignores replies. If I want to see what conversations have been added to since the last time I read the comments, there’s no way to do it but to scroll through everything, skim every comment, and try to determine if I’ve read it yet. I can look at the posting time to get a general idea, but it’s basically impossible to just see what’s new, since the vast majority of interesting comments are replies to other comments and not just top-level ones that start their own thread. So using the little menu that you so helpfully explained to all of us silly people doesn’t resolve the problem in the slightest.

    Give me a helpful solution and then I might be thankful, but as it is you’re either really late to this party and don’t understand our complaints about Disqus, or you’re a Disqus plant trying (unsuccessfully) to convince us that this giant steaming turd is actually a diamond.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000950306035 J Neo Marvin

    The new pagination of Disqus comments (now when you hit “load more comments” you go to a new page instead of just expanding the existing comments) is a weird way of fixing what wasn’t broken.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X