NRA: Walking in the spirit

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 175, 183-189

Buck didn’t know what he thought about this new level of what Bruce had referred to as “walking in the spirit.”

That comes a bit later in this scene, but it’s a good introduction to this little mini-adventure starring Buck Williams. Buck, you’ll recall, is in Jerusalem, trying to track down former Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah, who is in hiding after Jewish assassins killed his family just like they killed Christ because he converted to Christianity and has begun preaching from the footnotes of the Scofield New Testament.

Buck’s first idea seemed like a good one — go talk to the Two Witnesses and see if they can help him. They’ve been appearing with Tsion on his evangelistic tour, speaking to the crowds at the huge stadium rallies that Tsion has somehow been permitted to organize throughout the Antichrist’s one-world dictatorship. (Billy Graham called his big evangelistic meetings in stadiums “crusades,” which always seemed unfortunate. In this case, though — considering the convert-to Christianity-or-die message of Tsion’s brand of messianic religion — “crusade” would seem perfectly apt.)

But Moishe and Eli — the impenetrable code names that prevent everyone from realizing they’re really Moses and Elijah — don’t turn out to be much help. They recite a bunch of Bible verses, apparently taken from the concordance entry for “Galilee.” That’s too vague to be useful information — roughly like saying, “I’ll tell you exactly where he is. He’s down the shore.”

And it proves even less useful since Buck doesn’t seem to understand that they’re giving him an essage-May about ion-Tsay. He tells them he’ll come back later and heads back to his hotel for a nap.

It’s there, at the hotel, that Buck begins his new level of “walking in the spirit.” Or, at least, of sleeping in the spirit, since the first thing that happens is he has a dream.

Buck had dreamed that he was Joseph, Mary’s husband. He had heard an angel of the Lord saying, “Arise, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word.”

Buck was confused. He had never been communicated to in a dream, by God or anyone else. He had always considered dreams just aberrations based on daily life.

I’m not sure just what word it was that Jerry Jenkins was reaching for when he settled, instead, on the word “aberrations,” there. I’m guessing it was a word that made more sense in this context than that word does.

Buck’s dream-within-a-dream is kind of trippy and Inception-like, but it’s not as dizzying as the endless recursion of literalism and inerrancy fueling the authors’ logic here. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins regard themselves as literal readers of an inerrant, authoritative Bible. For them, the Bible read literally, and only the Bible read literally, is the Word of God. Thus even when their story requires God to speak — whether its sending Buck a warning in a dream or speaking through the Two Witnesses to tell him where Tsion is — the message from God almost always comes in the form of direct quotations from the Bible.

So in this story, when God wants to warn Buck to flee his hotel, God sends that message by having Buck relive the dream Joseph had in Matthew’s Gospel, warning him to flee Bethlehem. God speaks to Buck through the literal words of God’s inerrant word. But those very words, the words from the Bible that the authors quote there in Buck’s dream-of-a-dream, reveal that this is not how God communicates. The angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream did not present him with a cryptic message cobbled together from the words of scripture. Joseph received a specific warning in a dream. He wasn’t given a dream that he was someone else, having their dream and receiving their warning.

No wonder, then, that Buck is puzzled by what to make of this dream about a dream about a warning:

Was God trying to tell him that he would find Tsion Ben-Judah in Egypt, rather than wherever it seemed the witnesses were sending him? They always spoke so circumspectly. He would have to simply ask them.

The word Jenkins was reaching for there sounds a bit like “circumspectly,” but it’s actually a very different word. This sort of mistake would be easier to forgive if it were an, um, aberration.

The Two Witnesses’ circumlocutions are a product of the same self-destructing literalism that required Buck to have a dream of a dream about someone else’s warning.

The authors’ commitment to the authority of an inerrant Bible, read literally, compels them to have Moishe and Eli speak almost exclusively in direct quotations from that Bible. Any other approach would risk undermining the authority of the inerrant Word of God by introducing words from God — even here, in a work of fiction — that were not themselves taken directly from the Bible. But that means having Moses and Elijah behave differently here than either figure does in the Bible itself. If you read the Bible, literally or otherwise, you won’t find Moses and Elijah walking around speaking only in Bible verses. And you certainly won’t find them quoting large chunks of the New Testament.

So the authors’ ideology of the Bible requires them to respect the Bible by having biblical characters behave in ways that are incompatible with the way those characters behaved in the Bible. Trippy and Inception-like. Dreams within dreams within dreams.

This whole “walking in the spirit” business is tricky for LaHaye and Jenkins. And that makes this part of the story, in which Buck receives direct messages from God, particularly awkward.

Direct messages from God are a bit too much like Pentecostal/charismatic Christianity for LaHaye. The “dispensationalism” part of his premillennial dispensational theology teaches that the charismatic “spiritual gifts” of prophecy and tongues are not a part of the “dispensation” of this present age. And the Pentecostal/charismatic belief in continuing direct revelation from God, in his view, undermines the authority of the Bible — the “Word of God” — by suggesting it is insufficient and could be or needs to be supplemented with other “words” from God. So when an Assemblies of God pastor stands in the pulpit and tells his congregation that he has received a “prophetic word from the Lord,” LaHaye is more than just skeptical — he’s theologically opposed to the possibility.

But on the other hand, Pentecostal and charismatic churches are large and growing. Before the Left Behind series, the biggest blockbuster in Christian-brand fiction had been Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness series, which presented a very charismatic understanding of “spiritual warfare.” LaHaye and Jenkins were surely aware of the massive size of this potential audience for their books, and likely did not want to alienate so many potential readers and their money.

Here in America, though, even adamantly anti-charismatic fundamentalist preachers tend to be steeped in an evangelical spirituality that emphasizes God’s explicit guidance of our daily actions. So much so that we’ll recite Proverbs 3:5-6 prayerfully, trusting in the Lord with all our hearts and leaning not on our own understanding, in all our ways acknowledging him, and praying for him to direct our paths to a good parking space.

In practice, this divine guidance tends to involve gut feelings, emotions and hunches — something reflected later in this chapter, when Chloe calls Buck to warn him of a “premonition” she’s had that he should stay away from his hotel. It’s difficult to say how such a “premonition” really differs from the kind of direct revelation a Pentecostal Christian might describe as a “word of prophecy,” but I suppose that as long as it was just a vague gut feeling and not an explicit “word” received while praying in tongues, it can pass muster with LaHaye’s anti-charismatic dispensationalism.

I’m not part of the Pentecostal/charismatic stream of Christianity, but I wouldn’t say I’m anti-charismatic either. I am, however, very skeptical of premonitions and of “gut feelings” of divine guidance. As with all hunches, such impulses might be proper conclusions reached by subconscious, but rational, calculation of evidence we hadn’t noticed ourselves noticing. Or they might be illegitimate conclusions based on subconscious fears or prejudices.

Any time we have a premonition, or a gut feeling, or a hunch, or a “sense of God’s leading,” it’s our duty to unpack it to figure out which it is. Before figuring out where any hunch or intuition can lead us, we have to figure out what led us to having it in the first place.

Depending on your point of view, you could call that the discipline of spiritual discernment or you could call that a borderline-neurotic tendency for second-guessing. Both are probably accurate.

Anyway, following his dream of Joseph’s dream — but before hearing from Chloe about her premonition — Buck has a hunch that he should check out of his hotel:

Buck followed a strong urge to take his bag when he left the King David that night. In it was his small dictation machine, his sub-notebook computer (which would soon be replaced by the mother of all computers), his camera, that great cell phone, his toiletries, and two changes of clothing.

Thus just as Joseph took Mary and the baby Jesus and fled to Egypt, protecting the Christ-child from Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, so too does Buck flee his hotel, carrying with him “that great cell phone” — a treasure more precious than gold, frankincense or myrrh.

Seems appropriate to close with this, from James Taylor:

"He thinks that he's fooling all the people."

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LBCF, No. 164: ‘That girl’

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  • Jessica_R

    You know, this series gives me new found respect for the original Red Dawn. Because as silly as that film is, it’s honest enough to show that being a brave resistance force isn’t much fun. Those kids are cold, and hungry, and scared. They’re huddled in the Rockies trying to dodge gunships. They’re not staying in posh hotels and when they get a hunch, or a sure sign, trouble is coming they don’t have time to take two changes of clothes and their cologne with them. And you know, John Milius may be a wingnut, but he’s of the warrior culture school that women can kick as much ass as men. So Red Dawn is the only game in town to see Lea Thomspon toting an Uzi around blasting Commies too. I can’t imagine L&J bearing to give that kind of competency to any female in this.

  • Charby

    I think that L & J are just unusually imaginative. At a guess, I assume that they fly first-class or business-class most of the time, stay in reasonably nice hotels when away from home, and are used to eating at nice restaurants. They can’t imagine that a renegade terrorist would be doing anything different, so even when Buck is on the run or searching for a fugitive he never has to do anything more distasteful than catching a limo ride from his hotel to a restaurant or an airport.

    Later on, most of the characters become official enemies of the state and have to leave behind their old homes. Even when they are lurking in a bunker however, there isn’t any sense of real deprivation or suffering. They never really get low on resources before someone figures out a miracle solution. The GC hounds them slowly enough that they don’t face major casualties when moving from hideout to hideout, and don’t even have to move all that often until later in the series. Their juryrigged equipment is at least good as anything the super-powerful world government has, so there’s not even a mismatch there in terms of firepower or technology. It’s not pleasant but it’s not exactly ‘War is Hell’.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I always mentally complained the Tribbles lived *too well*. When you read the Christ Clone, there are instances when Decker Hawthorne meets victims of the world government, and they’re actually suffering, living on the barest edges of society, taking scraps from wherever they can get them.

    By contrast the Tribbles have their billion-dollar “co-op” and their fancy Strong Building with 50 SUVs gassed up and ready to go in the parkade. *rolls eyes*

  • Baby_Raptor

    Of course. You can’t show people actually *suffering* for Christ. That would be too discomforting.

  • SkyknightXi

    And/or it would suggest that God isn’t doing that well in the department of sheltering his Elect from woe, in same fashion as Abednego & Co. (We shall ignore for now how this conflicts with how full martyrdom is praiseworthy.)

  • D Johnston

    Doesn’t it get tougher for them later? I know I’m giving L&J way too much credit, but I recall hearing that they do finally face some real hardships around Book 7 or so. Blame it on the awful pacing – tends to happen when you quadruple the length of a series.

  • aunursa

    I don’t recall the Tribbles ever being concerned about their next meal, or having to live on the street.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Say what you will about the Antichrist, but he really came through with that chicken in every pot and car in every garage.

  • Daniel

    But what people want is great cell phones and mothers of computers. Only Jesus gives you all this… and more!
    What’s not explained is if Buck’s new computer is married. I assume so, so where is the Father of Computers?

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Al Gore? Ironically, after the disappearances he became a regular guest on Fox News, mainly to denounce Electromagnetic Climate Change as a hoax designed to facilitate the UN in usurping national sovereignty and establishing a one world government. If only we listened before it was too late.

  • Baby_Raptor

    The beds in Petra probably sucked, though. Does that count?

  • Ruby_Tea

    There is a (very small) period of time when David Hassid (or “That Jerk” if it’s more convenient) is all alone in Petra and whines about the lack of “creature comforts” and “leisure time.”
    But he still has his computer and his top-notch (in Jenkins’ eyes) cell phone!

  • Guest

    I know this is a (constantly) reoccurring theme in the story but…..really? The good guys are making a doomed last stand here. The entire earth has been pulverized to fourth-world level standards of living and all physical reality will be brought to an end within days but apparently broadband is still up and humming? Who the hell are you going to call? Who are you going to e-mail? How many people are even alive enough to be impressed by your worldly blessings? I know I shouldn’t be amazed by this by now but I am. What. The. Fuck.

  • Ruby_Tea

    And it’s worth noting that the “bunker” is a skyscraper in the middle of abandoned downtown Chicago. So even though they whine about cabin fever, each person could have his or her own floor if they wanted.

  • Original Lee

    Not to mention that the “bunker” magically is not at all radioactive or anything like that.

  • Pops

    War is mild discomfort.

  • That Other Jean

    There’s an “un” missing from “imaginative” in your first sentence. Other than that, spot on. L&J can’t conceive of lives that are not very much like their own, and it makes for terrible storytelling.

  • arghous

    Well, duh. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    But maybe that’s level 12 of walking in the spirit.

  • banancat

    I agree that they’re unimaginative, but I also suspect the authors don’t want to make seem too bad or their followers might start to have minor doubts about this whole thing. They are partly selling RTCism as being a cushy gig.

  • Matri

    On the other hand, this is an excellent counter-tribulation strategy. Don’t forget that Nicolae’s unlimited charge account is providing everything for them.

    So, thanks to him, the Tribbers are always comfortable, well-fed, and never in need or want.

    They think they’re sticking it to the Anti-Christ, when in reality they’re doing exactly what he wants them to do.

  • John Alexander Harman

    It’s also further proof that they don’t actually give a damn about getting people to convert before the Rapture — otherwise, they’d be portraying the Tribulation as a time of horrible suffering even for those who become RTCs after the Rapture, in order to impress upon their readers the importance of accepting Christ. The comfortable lives of the Tribbles only make sense in light of their peculiar “we’re saved and you’re not, neener neener” school of non-evangelism.

  • D Johnston

    And you know, John Milius may be a wingnut, but he’s of the warrior culture school that women can kick as much ass as men.

    Credit where it’s due – that does show some thought. In a post-civilization world, gender roles would mean a lot less since everyone is expected to do what’s necessary.

  • LoneWolf343

    This is true throughout history. The Norse and the Egyptians had higher views of women then, say, the Greeks or Romans, because of the harsher environments.

  • SororAyin

    Don’t forget the Russian women who served in WWII. They flew combat missions and were really amazing snipers.

  • mattmcirvin

    In the US, women were doing factory and technical work in World War II while most of the able-bodied male workforce were off fighting the war. In the 1950s, when times were better… these women were expected to become housewives and be happy about it. Some were not.

  • mattmcirvin

    …On the other hand, it does depend on the type of harsher environment. What spurs people to consider women as workers outside of strict gender roles is a labor shortage. When there’s a labor glut, as during the Great Depression, people can revert to a feeling that a woman with a job is taking it away from the man who should properly have it.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Also a matter of class–not working being generally limited to women of higher status. And with not-working being a status marker it became an aspiration.

    OTOH, practical need meant that my dad made dinner because my mother began working (mostly to help with college costs).

  • Daniel

    The two witnesses’ circumlocutions happened when they were eight days old.

  • Matt

    You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

  • Sue White

    “The mother of all computers”??

  • Daniel

    Well he’s in the middle east, and Sadam may have been moonlighting as an IT specialist.

  • Flying Squid with Goggles

    That part stopped me in my tracks too. Did Le Haye/Jenkins really write that? And isn’t it disturbing that they believed it important enough to leave in the book?*

    It’s not foreshadowing, it’s not useful to the plot, it mitigates against suspense – what use other than reveling in the character’s MAXIMUM EQUIPAGE does it have? And even that’s not a very interesting thing to revel in.

    *Yes, they don’t edit at all, do they?

  • Sue White

    And he doesn’t even just grab his cell phone – which isn’t even worth mentioning because who the hell *doesn’t* pick up their cell phone when they go anywhere – it’s “that great cell phone”. And I suppose he takes off in that great fully loaded Range Rover. The sheer materialism on display is staggering.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Well, of course it’s important enough to leave in. How could we respect their other selves, er, I mean their heroes, unless we know that they have the biggest equipment ever treasured by any men in history?

  • Carstonio

    A 12AX7 vacuum tube, apparently.

  • Mr. Heartland

    An abacus or even an Apple II would be amusing options as well.

  • arcseconds

    I had in mind the Colossus Mk-II… or possibly the Manchester Baby or Babbage’s Analytical Engine, depending on what definition of ‘computer’ one favours.

    Yeah… who wants a sub-notebook when you can cart around several tonnes of brass…

  • D Johnston

    …And now all I can imagine is what a steampunk laptop would look like. Well, my current serial is winding down, maybe this is the next logical step…

  • Matt

    Imagine no more

    Steampunk Laptop

  • The_L1985

    That is just gorgeous. I love the winding key!

  • Launcifer

    It probably says far too much about my taste in films that I’m hoping you mean The Colossus from The Forbin Project

  • arcseconds

    I mean, of course, the computing devices that were built in Bletchley Park in order to crack the German Geheimschreiber cyphers.

  • Tim Lehnerer

    If liking Colossus: The Forbin Project is wrong, right has never existed.

  • P J Evans

    The Analytical Engine would require quite a bit of carting, since it would be about the size of a locomotive, according to everything I’ve read. (Impressive, though: you’d have to build the facility around it.)

  • arcseconds

    None of the apparatus I’ve mentioned were exactly small…

  • Vaughn Lowe

    I’m waiting for the moment when Buck opens up his laptop and discovers that they sold him an Etch a sketch.

  • Matt

    Does he actually ever use his “mother of all computers” ever in these things which have the appearance of books but clearly cannot be books.

  • ohiolibrarian

    I want him to open up the laptop and have it address him by name in the creepy calm voice of Hal.

  • D Johnston

    Presumably, he’s talking about one of those $10k+ jobs they picked up a while back. But “mother of all computers” is such a bizarre turn of phrase that I can picture Buck toting some piece of bizarro alien technology with him. Or maybe something more steampunk, like a portable gas-powered analytical engine.

  • FearlessSon

    It makes me think of something like Skynet.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Could be worse, it could be SHODAN. Although she’d certainly make this series a lot more interesting…

  • Invisible Neutrino

    You gotta wonder who flimflammed him on that one, considering the previous laptop he got from some tech genius cost twenty grand.

  • Daniel

    This is the best computer EVER. It costs ONE MILLION DOLLARS. Yes, it does look like a cornflake box painted black with “Computer” written on in chalk, but that’s just to disguise its super awesomeness to deter thieves.

  • Launcifer

    Even better… the British invented it and then gave it away because someone from the CIA asked. They didn’t even ask particularly nicely…

  • Daniel

    A Brazilian may have been involved…

  • myeck waters

    They traded a supercomputer for a wax job?

  • Hawker40

    It cost a Brazilian dollars to develop…

  • general_apathy

    “This is the internet? The whole internet?”
    “Yep. I asked for a loan of it, so you could use it in your speech.”

  • Julie

    That was a magnificent episode of the IT Crowd.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I kind of want to see what LaJenkins would think about the computer from Footsteps of God by Greg Iles. A “super computer” run by a bioscan of a person’s brain that takes over the world and starts nuking places.

    The technology involved would probably explode their tiny brains.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    The authors’ commitment to the authority of an inerrant Bible, read literally, compels them to have Moishe and Eli speak almost exclusively in direct quotations from that Bible.

    Isn’t the problem even more fundamental? By having Moishe, Eli and even God speak to Buck exclusively in Bible quotes, they are explicitly requiring Buck to interpret those quotes, apply them to his own life’s context, to not take them literally at all. No wonder Buck is so slow to get what these hints mean.

  • Charby

    Well, we know that can’t be the case because the words of the Bible are not open to interpretation. They are to be taken literally, and when you apply them to your life’s context you must apply them exactly as written. There are no ambiguities in the Word, and no errors in the inerrant text.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Someone on this blog said they could have used indirection – i.e. “Buck nodded, understanding that Moishe wanted him to find Tsion in Galilee”, etc.

  • arcseconds

    Lo, it was me:

    Or at least something similar.

    I have a degree of sympathy for L&J’s attitude towards putting words into God’s mouth, but they could have handled it better.

  • Jurgan

    Damn, really? Well, everyone, time to boycott Red Lobster…

  • Eric

    For an almighty, omnipotent being, Ellanjay’s God sure seems to be bound and limited by the words of the Bible (KJV-only, of course). Also, they obviously didn’t think through the implications of this. Imagine being stuck in Heaven surrounded by a bunch of guys who can only speak in Bible quotes. Tedious doesn’t even begin to describe it. Worse, you’re stuck there listening to them for ETERNITY (Moishe: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”; L&J: “ya know, that was an inspiring verse the first fifty-two thousand times you said it, but it’s starting to get a little old now, would it be too much trouble for you to say something original?”; Moishe: “A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.”; L&J: *Beats head against wall*

  • aunursa

    I remember one of the authors (I think Jenkins) implying in an interview that he felt uncomfortable putting words into the mouths of Jesus, Moishe, Eli, or the other Biblical figures. So that’s why he just had them quote from the original NKJV.

  • aunursa

    Ahhh … here it is

    Carol: I am very disturbed by what I read when reading Glorious Appearing. I was to the part of the book when Jesus returned. I know the difference between fact and fiction, and I understand that this book is fiction based on fact … but even in fiction, the facts must be presented correctly.

    Jerry Jenkins: I couldn’t agree with you more. That’s why I would never dare have something come from Jesus’ mouth about Himself and His character that was not straight from Scripture.

    LB: Some readers commented that Jesus’ words sounded too stilted at times, primarily because of the use of the formal language of the New King James translation… As Jerry Jenkins said, he and Dr. LaHaye chose not to put words in Jesus’ mouth, so they quoted extensively from Scripture. Those familiar with Dr. LaHaye’s writing and speaking know of his preference for the King James version.

  • Nick Gotts

    Well, if Jacobean English was good enough for Jesus…

  • NelC

    Honestly, this sounds like a hack writer having just an inkling that he doesn’t have the skills to write the words of gods and prophets convincingly and rationalising not even attempting it.

  • Sue White

    He could have solved the problem by not putting them in the story at all.

  • rikalous

    Or by not using dialogue. “Eli told him where he must go.” “Jesus spoke to them of the warnings they had received, and the sins they committed.”

  • ShifterCat

    But but but movie option!

  • Boze Herrington

    It gets worse in Book 7 or 8 when God gives Tsion a vision of a vision in Revelation 12.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    “Yo, dawg, I heard you liked visions….”

  • aunursa

    Tsion took a call from Chloe, informing him it was likely they would be back very late. “Any evidence of GC nosing around?”

    “None,” he said, but he did not add that he had been 93 million miles from Mount Prospect for at least two minutes.

    From Book #7, The Indwelling

  • Matri

    93 “million” miles?

    Is that really what’s written in there??

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I remember it, and yes. Of course, that implies he was in the sun being very not-crispy.

  • Julie

    Well I guess God should have thought more carefully about boxing himself in by saying everything that could ever be said perfectly in the Bible. Now there’s nothing left to say. And he might have to worry about contradicting himself.

  • Daniel

    They’re also exposing the inability of the characters to question anything. The Bible is a book they read obsessively, apparently they have a five thousand page commentary on it and read this with some bizarre reverence too. How is it a surprise that they only hear God talk in scenes lifted directly from the Bible? I think if that happened to most people they’d assume the best course of action would be to lay off the Bible reading for a little while.
    I once dreamt I could reproduce The Who songs perfectly, as recorded, simply by opening my mouth. I woke with a smile, but I didn’t suspect Pete Townsend was trying to contact me.
    (I’d made a similar mistake before, admittedly, but I’d been extra cautious so I wouldn’t get fooled again.)

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I see what you did there. By the way, that song makes a pretty good Rapture anthem (especially if you fudge the grammar of the opening lines so the “children at our feet” will be gone along with the “morals that they worship.”)

  • Daniel

    I think the Seventh Day Adventists have it as their anthem already.

  • bificommander

    So, Buck gets two divine warnings (one through Chloe) to get out of his hotel… Guess Bruce Barnes and his special awesome burden wasn’t special enough to get a headsup to stay the fuck away from that hospital.

    And of course Buck had a “strong urge” to take “that great cell phone” with him. There’s nothing divine about that. Buck has had that urge to keep all phones as close as possible, ever since this story began.

  • aunursa

    Wait until the later books when, on a number of occasions, Rayford is saved from certain death through divine intervention. He survives a pair of nuclear bomb blasts, and a missile passes through his helicopter without causing any damage. Yet unprotected characters, and especially unsaved characters, aren’t so lucky.

  • hidden_urchin

    Plot Armor: Never leave home without it.

    (Yes, that’s a TV Tropes link. Click at your own peril.)

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Plot Armor? Here, it’s more like Plot Phlebotinium Shelter.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Yea for Phlebotinium!

  • Baby_Raptor

    He also tries to drown himself but is forcibly saved, if I recall correctly.

  • Ruby_Tea

    Yeah, but that’s by Mac McCullum (or one of the other Not-Rayford pilots), not God.

  • Lori

    Mac was clearly acting as God’s agent.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Considering he “Speaks” for TurboJesus near the end and talks like a complete jackass about Nicolae… mmhmm.

  • Ruby_Tea

    Also, Mac has the plot armor of the hero’s best friend. Although in this case, “best friend” means “guy who actually listens to the hero’s stupid stories and keeps saying, ‘fascinating, tell me more.'”

  • Dogfacedboy

    I’m not sure just what word it was that Jerry Jenkins was reaching for when he settled, instead, on the word “aberrations,” there.


    So when an Assemblies of God pastor stands in the pulpit and tells his congregation that he has received a “prophetic word from the Lord,”…

    When I was a kid and attended an AG church, our pastor was always receiving messages from the Lord just when the service should be wrapping up, and the messages were generally that God wanted us all to remain in our pews for another hour or so while the preacher finished delivering his message that he wasn’t done with yet and that God desperately wanted us all to hear. I wanted so badly to stand up and say, “Well God just told me that we should all go home and watch the football game that comes on in fifteen minutes.” But I never had the guts. And ended up missing a lot of first quarters of those Vikings games.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I bet he was the guy who never grokked the subtle social cues people gave off which shouted, “STOP BORING US.”

    People like that make me wish looks could kill. Or at least maim.

  • LoneWolf343

    You could always look and say out loud. “Did You?”

    And the skies would open up and, and a voice from the heavens would speak, “Yes, but only because I wanted him to stop talking to Me. Thanks for letting that cat out of the bag, asshole.”

  • MaryKaye

    Once a year in January my dojo goes down to Puget Sound, strips to swimsuits, joins hands and rushes into the cold water. The senior instructor leads us in dunking and yelling (if you yell, you are breathing, which is a good thing) and then eventually drops hands and everyone can rush out and dry off.

    I asked one head instructor how he decided when to stop. He said, “I look at your faces and when I see that if I don’t stop you’ll kill me, then I stop.”

  • aunursa

    Buck, you’ll recall, is in Jerusalem, trying to track down former Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah

    Former Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah is referred to as “Rabbi Ben-Judah” throughout the series. Because Jews don’t convert to Christianity — they just become “Completed Jews.” Because accepting Jesus is the most Jewishy Jewish thing a Jewish Rabbi can do.

    &%*#%&* L&J

  • SororAyin

    What the….?
    That’s messed up. Even by L&J’s standards.

  • connorboone
  • MikeJ

    “I’ll tell you exactly where he is. He’s down the shore.”

    The important thing here is that we get to the part where you ask me how I’m gonna get down to the shore.

    Oh, how you gettin’ down to the shore?

    Funny you should ask, I’ve got a car now…..

  • damanoid

    Oh wow! How’d you get a car?

  • Mr. Heartland

    “Buck had dreamed that he was Joseph, Mary’s husband.”

    Oh yeah, that one. Having that dream when you’re 14 and Catholic is several factors above awkward man let me tell ya.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Urban legend suggests that Catholic Schoolgirls often hit on the expedient of using… other bodily orifices to satisfy the condition of technical virginity.

    Based on your statement this would suggest that Joseph and Mary were using the same logic.

  • Mr. Heartland

    I’ve heard Mary/Joseph explained as a beard marriage before, maybe in Dogma? I don’t recall.

  • Asha

    And now, I suddenly want to write the Nativity as an mpreg…

    And now I need a drink.

  • Catt

    That’s… epic.

  • Kenneth Raymond

    I’ve mainly heard how artists would depict Joseph as an old man to imply he would have been impotent, and thus only married her as a sort of status symbol, to assure people that yes, Mary totally would’ve still been a virgin, honestly, yep, definitely. Not exactly the same, but broadly similar concept.

  • rikalous

    Not Dogma, I know that. In the words of the apostle Rufus, “The nature of God and the Virgin birth, those are leaps of faith. But to
    believe a married couple never got down? Well, that’s just plain

  • rikalous

    Oh for fuck’s sake, Disqus, what do you want from me?

  • Alix

    Regular blood sacrifices, apparently.

  • Daniel

    And first born child if you don’t make them on time. (It used to be “first born son”, but apparently the damn liberals got the rules changed…)

  • Daniel

    You have to guess its true name.

  • Jamoche

    Got it! Disqus is obviously a contraction of Discord and draconequus.

  • noyatin

    Yeah, that’s deep into “Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary” territory

  • arcseconds

    Do you suppose that LB fan-fiction sometimes involves non-canonical characters dreaming they’re Buck, dreaming he’s Joseph, dreaming he’s being warned by an angel of the Lord?

  • D Johnston

    Ugh…LB fanfiction. Not sure if I want to think too hard about that.

    That being said, I think I’ve actually read some. The story I’m thinking of featured a pop band of angels managed by Jesus, and I swear I didn’t make any part of that up. Just a reminder that, on the Internet, there is no rock bottom.

  • Jurgan

    Oh, no, it just occurred to me: Rule 34. I’m… going to sleep now, hope I don’t have nightmares.

  • Daniel

    Rayford/Buck. Sweet dreams.

  • Constella Espj

    You monster! I can’t un-imagine that!

  • Daniel

    Rayford Steele’s mind was on a reporter he’d never touch…

  • Launcifer

    If some musicians allegedly sell their souls to play great music, does it follow that a band of angels managed by Christ would play nothing but abominable shite? I… find myself perversely curious as to quite how appalling the end product could possibly be, Rule 34 or no.

  • Phoenix Feather

    The worst one I came across starred Taylor Lautner as a demon who spent the entire first chapter beating his daughter. Which sounds properly demonic except I think you were supposed to sympathize with his character. And that was *literally* the only thing that happened in the story.

    *shudder* Sometimes I still have flashbacks…

    Edit: Yes, this was categorized as a Left Behind fan fiction, and, no, I have no idea what Taylor Lautner has to do with Left Behind either.

  • Nick Gotts

    Maybe it was specifically his daughter’s left behind that he was beating?

  • ohiolibrarian

    At least it sounds more fun than the original LB.

    Pop band. Huh.

    So much absurdity.

  • Daniel

    All of which is there to fulfill the fan’s dreams that they are Buck dreaming that he is Joseph dreaming he’s being warned by an angel of the Lord.
    Then there’s a pointless snow scene.

  • Dogfacedboy

    I’ve dreamt I was Buck dreaming he was Joseph dreaming of an angel who appears to the shepherds abiding in the field, and then one of the shepherds kills me with his sheep. And then I wake up.

  • Launcifer

    Unless Buck got eaten by a yellow Snowman in his dream. If were lucky, it might blur the definitions of reality and occur in “real life”.

    Damn it, now I can’t unsee that image.

  • Daniel

    Old Eskimo warning “Don’t get eaten by the yellow snowman”

  • SororAyin

    I gotta ask. Is anybody else thinking of Frank Zappa’s Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow?” Or is it just me?

  • Jurgan

    “I’m not sure just what word it was that Jerry Jenkins was reaching for when he settled, instead, on the word “aberrations,” there. I’m guessing it was a word that made more sense in this context than that word does.”

    I think it was “abstractions.”

  • Catt

    Thank you, that was bugging me.

  • Constella Espj

    Same. Goin’ crazy over here.

  • Dash1

    I was thinking it might be “projections,” the distance between “aberrations” and “projections” being closer than Jenkins usually gets to the target.

  • Vashti

    “Variations” was my thought.

  • Daniel

    As Buck Williams awoke one morning from a night of troubled dreams he found
    himself transformed in his bed into a vessel for God.

    Buck was the first to admit that he had always been a rational man. Before his conversion he had prided himself on his rationality- in addition to the name he had been given for refusing recommendations in restaurants (which pricked the pride of his “superiors”!) he had also been nicknamed “Kant”, although he’d only heard this used by his admirers as he walked away from them, uttered reverentially under their breath. This had led him to think about writing a piece on regional accents as he noticed the different vowel pronunciations when he said “Kant” and when his underlings did. The piece had never been written: he hadn’t been able to find a linguist in the office and he didn’t have the numbers of any immediately to hand.

    Buck needed no help with language- he was the greatest investigative reporter of all time. Chloe had made him a badge. There wasn’t a word in the English language he didn’t know the meaning of, and he’d never needed to use a dictionary. He was justifiably scornful of those who had. He picked most of his vocabulary- or “vocab” as the pros, like Buck, called it- in context. He was a quick learner, probably the fastest learner ever. It was a vital part of his skill set, and he was not vain enough to show false humility and deny it. He could always pick up on threats, however veiled, and act accordingly. He could always recognise quotes from the Bible, the only book he had- upon conversion he’d destroyed the books from his previous life and had done the same with Chloe’s when they married. He needed nothing else, and therefore neither did she.

    One word he had learned swam into his mind now. “Aberration”. He had seen it used in his annual appraisals by desk bound rule followers like Verna Zee so it was clear the word meant something like “insight” or “insightful”. It, and the related word “abhorrent”, had been used to describe his input to the paper, his behaviour towards the rest of the staff, and his general attitude to work.

    He had always considered dreams just aberrations based on daily life. Recently he had dreamt a lot about Rayford, and his new shower head, about winning the Pulitzer prize, finally, and showing those stuffed shirts a thing or two about dynamic, powerful, potent journalism and how what was written on your heart was more important than any stories you did or didn’t submit. But he had never been communicated to in a dream, by God or anyone else. He had rarely been communicated to by any one else in real life- people had tried but they always strayed off topic, talking nonsense about subjects Buck was uninterested in, uninterested because they were of no worth to him. People felt compelled to listen to him, and to read what he wrote, and daunted in his presence they became mumbling, self-conscious and foolish. They would sit in open mouthed disbelief as he spoke to them about anything and everything, disbelief at the wisdom of one so young and dashing. It was Buck’s skill as a wordsmith that made them feel this way. Chloe had tried valiantly, but she was only his wife, and when he listened to her it was more from a proper husbandly sense of affection than an improper sense of interest in the things she said. Showing interest could have led her to think independently, and thus undermine the whole basis of their marriage. It could possibly cause brain damage too. Besides, there was no use listening- she couldn’t benefit his career in any way, and he’d be mortified if she’d spoken to anyone who could. That would be unseemly, a remnant of the pre-saved Chloe, the one he’d lusted after but not loved. The one who’d eaten cookies with countless others. She was different now. He thanked God he no longer lusted after her.

    Threatened by Buck’s skills as a writer, other people would pre-emptively threaten him, and Buck would weigh up the options and decide cleverly to avoid writing a story that would expose himself to danger and those in power to criticism.

    Though he was a passionate journalist, and would risk anything- his boss, his wife, even his car and phone- to get a story, he would never let that passion overcome him. He was driven by the mantra that the public has a right to know, and this right would be better served if he remained unharmed, and close to those who mattered. He could sneer at them when they left him alone in their private jets, fighting the good fight alone, nobly, humbly. This sometimes, and quite rationally, meant holding back on publishing or even writing a story about the evils of those in power. Men less rational than himself might condemn him, but these men would never find out. This was another of Buck’s many skills as a peerless journalist- ensuring he was the only one to know about a potential story, and keeping it that way.

    Now he was reborn he could do away with rationality- after all, where had it
    got any body? A world full of people who believed that electromagnets took
    their children, caused planes to fall from the sky, trains to derail and automobiles to crash, killing untold millions and then rained down nuclear fire on the world when any one with eyes to see knew that this was God’s infinite love manifesting
    itself. The proof could not be more blatant- magnets would have ruined the
    phones. Since his rebirth Buck had come to accept that there are only ever two
    possible explanations for any event. He was fortunate to always know the right
    one, in his heart.

    He had always thought dreams were merely replays of familiar, routine, day
    to day events but he was now prepared to accept that God had used quotes from the Bible to communicate with him directly. Since his conversion he had read the Bible every day. It was as much a part of his routine now as showering and napping, and the good book was as indispensible to the Good Buck as his
    hairdryer, his amazing phone and his sub-notebook, which he always kept under
    his über-notebook. This would soon be dispensed with, he eagerly awaited
    delivery of the mother of computers, which was literally better than any other
    computer ever- who but the world’s greatest reporter would have any use for
    such a device? He couldn’t wait to play solitaire on it before not using it to write any stories. It would certainly impress other people though, and the thought warmed Buck like the spirit of the Lord.

    Buck had dreamed that he was Joseph, Mary’s husband. He had heard an angel
    of the Lord saying, “Arise, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word.” God had spoken with a familiar, commanding voice, and knowing he was Joseph, and hearing that voice, Buck finally understood how Mary’s pregnancy by
    another had been so happily accepted. But he was still confused about what the
    Lord was telling him. It was so circumspect- a word he’d malapropriated from an
    overheard conversation Verna Zee had had about a fellow reporter who was not
    pulling his weight and was due for the sack. Did God mean for him to go to Egypt? Or was God trying to tell him Chloe was pregnant? There weren’t any babies left to slaughter, so he couldn’t be warning him about that. No, this would take all the power of Buck’s brain to deduce. He’d need another nap.

    Chloe called his awesome cell phone to witter something incomprehensible about leaving the hotel. He didn’t understand a word- she was crying like women do- and he was impatient to return to his game of snake. But Buck was worried about… not worried. Buck never worried, he reminded himself. When others might have balked at travelling on a false passport to Britain for no apparent reason, Buck took it all in his stride. Where a wounded wife’s whimpers would have kept a lesser man awake, Buck slept peacefully and refused to allow her selfish noises to distract from him journalistic responsibility to be well rested. Buck had the savoir-faire to negotiate the purchase of a top of the range Range Rover in a none-radioactive nuclear blitz and still wipe the floor with the salesman. No, Buck Williams never worried. But he was puzzled by God’s message to him. And why God’s voice was so like Rayford’s.

    *edited for spelling*

  • arcseconds

    ‘malapropriated’ is a fantastic word :-)

  • Invisible Neutrino

    You capture so well the complete self-delusion of Buck Williams. :)

  • Jamoche

    The proof could not be more blatant- magnets would have ruined thephones.

    Well, obviously!

  • themunck

    Marry me <3….or write a book, either works.

  • Daniel

    OK. But I don’t want a big ceremony, something understated would do me fine. And can we do the silk road as a honeymoon?

  • themunck

    I have no idea what that means, but sure.

  • Daniel

    Also, on your second suggestion- if there are any publishers reading on the look out for sarcastic, petty minded, poorly plotted, and clever-clever material to publish please do get in touch. I’m hopelessly naive and you can fleece me without much trouble. Incidentally, I’m not too good at character or dialogue either, but as I say, I’m shit hot at sarcasm, so really… do get in touch.

    That’s not sarcasm.

  • Constella Espj

    That was really beautiful. I laughed so hard my stomach hurts now. <3

  • Lorehead

    A certain prominent Catholic recently had a mystical experience, too.

  • Ross

    See, this is how that whole “papal infallibility” thing is supposed to work. God stepped in and suggested Benedict pursue other career options before he could keep making things worse.

    Of course, what he’d already accomplished before the Big Guy saw fit to have a heart-to-heart does make you wonder just how amazingly awful the thing Benedict was planning would be.

  • Lorehead

    My favorite joke about it is, “What is Thy will, O Lord?”

    “You’re fired.”

    But seriously, it was the right decision and I’m glad he seems to be happier now as well. Perhaps he subconsciously realized he was not the Pope his church needs today.

  • Ross

    Hm. Kind of strange to imagine Ratzinger on the saying side of a sentence that is synonymous with “What is your will, my master?”

  • Lorehead

    Give the man some credit: he had power and glory, and walked away.

  • Phoenix Feather

    I still can’t get over the fact that Buck and Rayford know they’re working for a man who has supernatural mind control powers, and yet they immediately follow every irrational “hunch” they have without bothering to question the source. This kind of hubris should not turn out as well as it does for them.

  • LoneWolf343

    Because they have Jesus-certified mind filters!

  • Phoenix Feather

    Or so they think!

  • FearlessSon

    A little off topic, but this is the music that I want to go to the rapture by. (Not coincidentally, that is played at the ending of a series about civilization facing a galaxy-wide rapture conducted on a regular basis by god-like robot Cthulhus and saying “No, not this time.”)

  • Phoenix Feather

    Ooh, I like it! It makes me wish I played video games so I could appreciate the emotions behind it more.

    For me, I think this is the song I’d like to be Raptured to, mostly because it has the word “Rapture” in it, but also because I figure I might as well go out dancing to something…

  • Asha

    At least the music was good, right?

  • Skweisgaar Skwigelf

    Objection: You don’t actually get to say “no, not this time” without immediately losing the war. You still have to do things according to the Robocthulhu Playbook to survive, which is why even the Extended Cut of ME3 is a terrible, terrible ending.

  • Phoenix Feather

    He had always considered dreams just aberrations based on daily life.

    Maybe Jenkins didn’t misspeak. Maybe he just thinks that dreaming is really unusual and unhealthy. It makes sense when you consider how often he tries to avoid using his imagination.

  • Daniel

    Jenkins’ nights are just periods of coma black nothingness. Eight solid hours of total oblivion then his timer switch kicks in and he’s up and typing, typing, typing to delay that hideous blackness.
    Or he’s just really dull.

  • MuseofIre

    Oh, I’m quite certain Buck’s dreams are aberrant.

  • Daniel

    He has troublesome dreams that leave him in a mess. He hates that he enjoys them. Night after hideous night he wakes in a cold sweat, soiled by his subconscious visits to Millies’ Cookies.

  • AnonymousSam

    Buck was confused. He had never been communicated to in a dream, by God or anyone else.

    It’s the “or anyone else” part that amuses me.

    “Buck had never been communicated to in a dream, but he had received several telepathic messages from dolphins, which reminded him to upgrade his mobile phone to a model with a real-life web browser.”

    Any time we have a premonition, or a gut feeling, or a hunch, or a “sense of God’s leading,” it’s our duty to unpack it to figure out which it is.

    I’m afraid to try unpacking my dream about the Rapture. The end of it in particular. :p

  • Alix

    There’s a pretty strong streak of belief in demons in fundie circles. Like, it’s not entirely universal in that subculture, but a lot of people believe that the Devil and his minions can influence you via, say, tempting dreams.

    But yeah, that’s still some amusing phrasing.

  • AnonymousSam

    Buck is new to Fundyville though, suggesting that he was double-checking dreams before he converted for signs of message-tampering. XD

  • Alix

    True, or doing so retroactively.

  • Alix

    Though he might well have been/be one of those people who’s convinced the government’s sending them radio signals through their teeth, or something. XD

    ….Oh. Wow. In the hands of a better author, this line coupled with background knowledge of the Antichrist’s mind mojo becomes chilling.

  • GDwarf

    Buck is new to Fundyville though, suggesting that he was double-checking dreams before he converted for signs of message-tampering. XD

    …Great, now you’ve got me trying to come up with a way to cryptographically validate messages in dreams.

  • AnonymousSam

    Check to make sure they’re HTTPS and at least 64-bit encryption. :D

  • Alix

    …And just after posting, it occurred to me that that phrasing is another form of the “Buck was a worldly virgin” sort of thing – it’s Jenkins ineptly saying that Buck may have been a nonbeliever, but he had never been truly touched by sin.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Buck, you’ll recall, is in Jerusalem, trying to track down former Rabbi
    Tsion Ben-Judah, who is in hiding after Jewish assassins killed his
    family just like they killed Christ

    I never understood the people who feel strongly about this.* For one, dying was part of the whole point of Jesus coming down here. Where would the religion be if Jesus died in bed of old age, with Mary Magdelene at his side? Second, I seem to remember some Romans being involved, and yet there’s no blood libel regarding Italians.

    *Okay, I do understand and the answer is “anti-semitism.” But still, it’s a really stupid argument they’re putting forward.

  • Matt

    Yeah, but the Romans were clearly patsies for those evil Jews.

  • Nick Gotts

    Where would the religion be if Jesus died in bed of old age, with Mary Magdelene at his side?

    Whether Mary Magdalene survived him I don’t know, but apparently they did marry, and he died a natural death at the age of 120 in Kashmir.

  • Jamoche

    Second, I seem to remember some Romans being involved, and yet there’s no blood libel regarding Italians.

    Always best to downplay the involvement of the people who are still in power at the time you’re writing the book :)

  • die Geisthander

    So wait.

    If the Bible is the Word of God and the only way God can communicate after the Bible was written is through quotations of itself (shades of the Star Trek: TNG episode “Darmok” there), does that mean that God only really exists in the Bible for these guys?

    I know it’s probably a respect thing where they don’t want to put words in God’s mouth–at least not any more than their interpretation of the Bible does–but it really is fascinating to think about.

  • Sue White

    I don’t see what’s respectful about making Jesus a character in a crappy novel, then making him a mass murderer. South Park was more respectful.

  • Lorehead

    It’s not what you have him do, it’s how much you flatter him.

  • Sue White

    I dunno, it’s not a very flattering portrayal of Jesus or the two witlesses when the author has turned what were once (presumably) living, breathing human beings into mindless quote-bots. Declining to write original dialog for them isn’t respect, it’s recognizing that you’re a hack writer who has written yourself into a corner.

  • Lori

    I suspect it’s less a recognition of Jenkins’ hackdom than a recognition that if he writes dialog for God or Jesus someone is going to come along and nit-pick it until people start thinking they need to have a stance about it. Because that’s what LeHaye would do to someone else’s book.

  • Sue White

    I could see that. But it still seems kind of cowardly. And there’s something unsettlingly zombie-like about the two witnesses’ quote-mining. Even Buck realizes he can’t get a straight answer out of these dudes. You would think he would be wondering “What’s wrong with those guys?”

    Did they really *have* to drag Moses and Elijah into the story? Where is it written that they would be resurrected as televangelists?

  • Mordicai

    I wonder if this has to do with the “end of the age of miracles” argument I’ve heard, like “why aren’t there cases of god appearing as a pillar of fire or whatever any more?” Well, because after [insert favorite arbitrary thing here] God stopped doing that, of course! Now he moves in mysterious ways, like…quoting himself!

  • Ruby_Tea

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 159 pages

    (Think I may have forgotten to post it last night…or it was Disqus. I have decided to blame Disqus!)

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Always blame Disqus.

  • Daniel

    I’m really impatient to find out what happens in this much hyped confrontation. If you don’t want to give the game away to everyone else you could try using a secret code to let me know? I’d suggest selected passages from the Bible. No one else will ever understand what you’re saying then.

  • aunursa

    GIRAT: Our private lives, our beliefs, are none of our employer’s business. For instance, if I knew you were a lesbian, I wouldn’t feel it necessary to tell your superiors.
    Ms. Sensible Shoes: WHO TOLD YOU THAT?? What business is that of yours? You tell anybody that and I’ll–
    GIRAT: Verna, your personal life is confidential with me. You don’t have to worry that I’ll ever say anything to anybody about that.
    Ms. Shoes: There’s nothing to tell!
    GIRAT: My point exactly.
    Ms. Shoes: So we’re agreed … that neither of us is going to say anything about the other’s personal life?
    GIRAT: Sounds fair to me.

  • Daniel

    It’s more wonderfully bigoted than I could have ever imagined… Thank you.

  • The Old Maid

    And it doesn’t give everything away. We aren’t waiting for the text, which any of us could read at any time. We are waiting for Fred’s dissection of the text. The countdown continues …

  • Invisible Neutrino

    What else would you expect from Buck Douchebag?

  • Lori

    So much so that we’ll recite Proverbs 3:5-6 prayerfully, trusting in the
    Lord with all our hearts and leaning not on our own understanding, in
    all our ways acknowledging him, and praying for him to direct our paths to a good parking space.

    My aunt was like this. She absolutely believed that God himself got her good parking spaces. She prayed, out loud, whenever we pulled into a parking lot didn’t immediately see an open space near the front. I never did get any explanation for why God chose to focus on her parking needs rather than say, preventing the car accident that killer her daughter. God moves in mysterious ways.

  • Lectorel

    The joke in my family is that there’s a parking angel. God’s one thing, none of us believe in god, but evidence for the parking angel seems fairly strong, and it seems to like us.

  • Semperfiona

    We call her the Asphalt Fairy, and thank her each time we get a good spot.

  • flat

    So I didn’t asnswer until now, but nice article, I don’t have much more to say about it and I enjoy the discussions.

  • SkyknightXi

    l think the word Jenkins wanted in lieu of “aberrations” was “hallucinations”. In other words, things that the Straw Worldly Man (or better still, Straw Materialist) that was pre-Rapture Buck would auto-dismiss as unworthy of consideration for anything. Without thought for what he might be subconsciously linking together, things that would be, for lack of a better way of putting it, psychic homophones for him. (i.e. he might want to consider HOW they became psychic homophones. What’s the overlap point?)

  • Gregory Peterson

    Scofield Bible, 1917 edition: “(5) A prophetic declaration is made that from Ham will descend an inferior and servile posterity Genesis 9:24 Genesis 9:25 . ”

  • TheOldMaid

    Did I miss something, or did this “Curse of Ham” reference come out of a clear blue sky?
    Noah cursed Canaan (Gen. 9:25-25).
    But Ham had FOUR sons (Gen. 10:6). Canaan was the fourth son.
    1. “Cush” was an ancient word for Ethiopia.
    2. “Phut” was an ancient word for Libya.
    3. “Mizraim” was a word for Egypt as recently as Biblical Hebrew. If you could read the Psalms in Hebrew, you would see the word Mizraim where English Bibles use the word Egypt.
    None of these children were ever cursed.
    Also, Ham was not cursed. God blessed Ham when he came out of the Ark (Gen. 9:1), and no one can curse what God has blessed (Numb. 23:20, among others).
    Why was Canaan cursed? Did he do something? Was it a proxy strike against his father? Was it a prophecy rather than a curse? Was it a drunkalogue? (Liquor makes mean drunks.) Whatever the reason, the Canaanites were exterminated long ago. There is therefore no person to whom this curse can be applied.
    The “Curse of Ham” is un-Biblical. It is a false teaching. It never existed.

  • Gregory Peterson

    “Buck, you’ll recall, is in Jerusalem, trying to track down former Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah, who is in hiding after Jewish assassins killed his family just like they killed Christ because he converted to Christianity and has begun preaching from the footnotes of the Scofield New Testament.”

    I quoted a footnote in the Scofield Bible which Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah probably won’t preach in the book, but nevertheless seems to be somehow suggestive of the writers’ mindsets.

  • The Old Maid

    Ah, okay. Solving a problem that didn’t exist, then. :)
    I own a Scofield and the interpretation of Isaiah 53 is a key point in rapturist dispensationalism. They put the interpretation in footnotes/commentary. Even the Scofield doesn’t change the wording of the KJV (as far as I’ve seen).
    (The reason for the big-card thrown-down is because so many readers have remarked that whenever a character in the LB series isn’t a white man, the authors make a point of saying so — repeatedly — often by including an accent and an appetite for certain foods. If they did that for white Americans, and to the same degree, it surely would include references to their regional accent and a declared preference for assorted menu items from McDonald’s. And nothing else.)

  • bekabot

    Thus just as Joseph took Mary and the baby Jesus and fled to Egypt, protecting the Christ-child from Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, so too does Buck flee his hotel, carrying with him ‘that great cell phone’ — a treasure more precious than gold, frankincense or myrrh.

    That’s sarcasm coming from a source I respect, so it’s hard for me to find fault with it. But I’m going to do so anyway. Think about it: Buck’s cell phone represents Buck’s access to information, and information is more precious than gold or frankincense or myrrh. (Though I suppose it’s still one-down relative to baby Jesus — especially in a book like this.) The comparison might work better if the gold and frankincense and myrrh were to be ranked against Buck’s sub-notebook computer, but then again, maybe not: the computer represents information which has been hived-up or “entombed”: it’s the information Buck has already, in one form or another, taken in, not the information he has still to gain. The sub-notebook computer is to memory what the great cell phone is to resourcefulness. (At the time this book was published I don’t think computers of the type Jenkins is describing could connect up with the net. Could they?)

    Short version: Buck needs all the advice he can get, and anything which can deliver it to him, whether that’s dreams, intuition, street-corner prophecy, or a cell phone, is veritably more precious than rubies.

  • Alix

    Sure, but the phrasing makes it sound like it’s not the information or connectivity Buck values, but the phone itself. (If that distinction even makes sense.) The stilted language, to my ear, puts the emphasis on phone as status symbol, not phone as tool.

  • David S.

    I think it’s the whole bit: “In it was his small dictation machine, his sub-notebook computer (which
    would soon be replaced by the mother of all computers), his camera, that
    great cell phone, his toiletries, and two changes of clothing.”

    If you told me someone jumped out of a burning plane clutching a bag with their most valued possessions, I might be a little annoyed at them, but I’d understand the impulse. You phrase as the above, and you’re probably generate eye-rolling.

    Not to mention “the mother of all computers” and “that great cell phone”. It feels like bragging about material things, not the important things in your life. “his cell phone, his connection to the rest of the world” and “his laptop containing all his notes, all the prophecy” would be much more convincing if someone was aiming for what you say.

    (I had to check Haithtrust to search inside the book, just to convince me that they really wrote this. Not to distrust the Slactivist, but that’s amazingly bad writing. “That great cell phone”? I can’t imagine a non-sarcastic context that would make that acceptable writing.)

  • Invisible Neutrino

    The inappropriate focus on materialism in these books is a rather telling instance of L&J inserting the Prosperity Gospel motifs into their literature even if they didn’t specifically have that goal.

    Look at the way they (mis)appropriate all kinds of top-flight luxury items, and the way Rayford and Buck beat the shit out of anything they have/use that isn’t top of the line or isn’t permanently theirs (like Verna’s old car, or the rental Lincoln Buck roars up to the Range Rover Dealership in).

  • J_Enigma32

    Aberrations, huh…?

    Gingerly, anxiously…

    Buck extracted himself carefully from the dense tangle of shadows, within eyeshot of the two witness. Past displays had proven them to be just as dangerous as the Bible had claimed they would be; their words cutting across language barriers like a psychic message; with the same incendiary nature as the flames they breathed to defend themselves. There wasn’t a soul around who couldn’t understand what they were saying.

    He crept along the rocky, stony floor of the Temple Mount, trying not to rise the security that was standing nearby, at the the gated entrances to keep the masses out. Sneaking through had been a challenge, but the security forces of the Antichrist weren’t particularly intelligent; slipping past them to get near the witnesses involved bribery and cunning; pulling what handful of strings the creatively inventive journalist could manage to get through the layers of security before finally burying himself in the darkness for the final approach.

    Flickering lights cast sickly orange and yellow globes of light in the dry heat of the desert night, flies and dust dancing around. These lamps and lights highlighted the faces of the witness, their white hair long and tangled, their faces wrinkled like a cast-off bed sheet. Dark shadows wreathed their eyes.

    This was dangerous. There were few things in life that weren’t, but this could certainly get him killed. But if there was anyone who knew where Dr. bin Judah was at, it would be them.

    He stood up, the halos of flickering light revealing him in a cloud of dust particles and insects, blotting the stars out overhead.

    “I need your help.”

    The witnesses didn’t move; there was no response. He decided to try again. He nervously cleared his throat.

    “I need your help.”

    His voice projected into the darkness. it echoed off the stone walls, and Moise tilted his head upwards, his eyes still hidden under the shadows.

    Well, I’ve got their attention now

    Pushing aside the building tension in his limbs and the urge to spin around and get the hell out, Buck took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and then spoke: “I-I need to find where Dr. bin Judah is. Do-do you know?”

    Moise slowly stood up, the tattered robes draping around his form. Eli, the one beside him, stood up as well, hunched slightly under the crippling weight of age.

    “And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.”

    He didn’t exactly speak it. The old man’s mouth didn’t move; the words unscrambled themselves from the tense net of thoughts that mapped his brain, and Buck nervously swallowed the knot in his throat.

    “The… the Sea of Galilee.”

    Eli projected thoughts next: “After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.”

    That’s where he was. The Sea of Galilee. He nodded again, his skin pimpling up.

    “Right. I-I understand.”

    Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed something. Just a fleeting glance; his eye distracted by something flashing – perhaps flickering off a payphone. The shadows Moise and Eli cast were hunched with age – but Moise appeared to have a crown of tentacles that were waving, with minds of their own, from his face. Glancing back at the witnesses, his eyes opened wide in horror as the two, realizing they were caught, dropped the projection.

    Psychic powers could only get so far with humans, but sometimes the cattle got smart and noticed the ruse.

    Both of the moved beyond their disguises, their appearance as old men vanishing. “Moise” wrapped the tendrils around Buck’s screaming face before he could react, silencing him and driving the black beak through his fleshy, boney parts. Dark claws attached to bony fingers, thin arms, and a body covered in rubbery mauve skin, sank into his arms. After flailing for a few seconds, the human died.

    Have some dignity, Xallibosk. If you’re going to consume, share the brains.

    The illtihid glance back at his fellow traveler.

    Xalilbosk looked backwards, the protruding eyes focusing on the guards. They hadn’t noticed; the stupid human hadn’t been too loud. That was a good thing. If the guards noticed, the might get wise to the whole plot.

    Of course, it wouldn’t matter which side you were on. After the botched psychic ceremony to create the ultimate illithid leader that resulted in the disappearance of a bunch of people, they’d been playing it quietly. Their “great leader” hadn’t been that great at all; just a stupid tool, dumb even by human standards. Rather than an ultimate illithid they got some Romanian kid, but Xalilbosk knew that his species was good for playing with the hands that they were dealt, as the filthy humans might say.

    You might want to tell Tsi… er, Methell, that one of his tools discovered us.

    The other ilithid moved closer. This was one of our pawns?

    Xalilbosk let Buck hit the floor, blood running from the mouth of the illithid and dripping down his black robes.


    The other illithid dope smacked him.

    We talked about this before we left, didn’t we? We specifically said: No eating the pawns..

    Xalilbosk crossed his arms. I think you’re being to harsh. It’s not like there was a lot in there to eat, anyway. Besides, we need to hide the body. How are we going to do that?

    The other illithid conjured up a burst of fire from their mouth, incinerating the corpse. So sad – but at least this one had a wife. She might be useful pawn, if Methell could manage it.

    Both illithids re-assumed their disguises as the witnesses, as the guards came running. As far as the guards would never know, it was just some poor fool who got too close – not some poor fool who learned too much.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Here you go, your very own personal internet. That was awesome.

  • banancat

    He had never been communicated to in a dream, by God or anyone else.

    I know this is beside the point and it’s almost too easy to criticize bad phrasing, but what could this possibly mean? Who else could possibly communicate to him through a dream? Egwene Al’Vere? Maybe Satan could also have the power to communicate through his dream, but if there’s only one other possibility, why phrase it “or anyone else”? Why not just say “by God or Satan”? The passive voice here is also awkward and clumsy.

  • ReverendRef

    Buck’s dream-within-a-dream is kind of trippy and Inception-like,
    but it’s not as dizzying as the endless recursion of literalism and
    inerrancy fueling the authors’ logic here. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
    regard themselves as literal readers of an inerrant, authoritative

    I am seriously late to this party (football preseason stuff, laundry, wife’s concert and a wedding took up yesterday), but my sermon today just happens to touch on biblical literalism.

  • frazer

    Anyone else instantly think of “that dweam within a dweam”?

  • ohiolibrarian

    Mawwige? (sp?)

  • Bill Hiers

    “Say man and wife! Man and wife!”

    (uncomprehending) “Man and wife…”

  • HM

    But Fred, Moses and Elijah *do* speak in Bible verses. Just open up the Bible and look–every single thing they say is a Bible verse!

  • Carstonio

    Ellanjay hijack the legacies of Moses and Elijah to extol a type of Christianity that regards Jews as traitors. So reminiscent of marriage equality opponents who claim that Martin Luther King would be on their side, when many of these folks originally derided King as pushing communism and racial division.