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.

 

  • The_L1985

    They had a teensy problem with scale.

  • Lunch Meat

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

  • Lunch Meat

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

  • 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.

  • 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*

  • 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.

  • Lunch Meat

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

  • 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.)

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

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

  • Panda Rosa

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

  • Panda Rosa

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • AnonaMiss

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

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Oh, NOW I understand!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Lorehead

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

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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…

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    “douchesaddle”

    Awesome.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.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.

  • 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…

  • Doodle

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

  • Randall

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

  • kadh2000

    Sorting comments

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  • Andrea

    Yes, I believe it’s from Glorious Appearing.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Scott_In_OH

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

    I assume you mean it’s not obvious from the story. From LaHaye’s ideology, it’s pretty clear: Buck believes in a God powerful enough to save Israel from nuclear annihilation (because he’s seen it), but he doesn’t yet believe He sent His Son to die for humanity. So Buck’s still going to Hell.

  • lodrelhai

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

  • 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.

  • 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.


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