T.F.: Chairface Carpathia


In other words, what other Christians regard as a once-and-for-all showdown between love and power at Calvary, premillennial dispensationalists view as a Round 1 loss to be made up for in Round 2, when power gets defeated not by love, but by an even greater power. That suggests a moral universe in which the most important difference between good and evil is simply that good is stronger. [Read more...]

T.F.: The Logic of Hell


Accept that Hell is real and that it is infinitely more important than any earthly concerns and suddenly the very things that might compel you to attend to this-worldly needs and injustices — compassion, empathy, faith, hope, love — become reasons NOT to do so. … If Hell is real, then you are a monster unless you drop everything else and become like Rayford Steele — the sort of person who cannot allow himself to care if his co-workers all regard him as a pushy jerk and a nutcase zealot. [Read more...]

T.F.: Unlikable

As desperate as they are to be impressive, it’s just not possible for readers to be impressed with the toadying instincts of Buck and Rayford, Jenkins and LaHaye. The best one can do, instead, is to feel a measure of pity for four characters so earnestly desiring to be liked but so confused about what might make them likable — so intent on being admired, but so utterly clueless as to what is admirable. [Read more...]

T.F.: Tweaking Buck’s article

Every moment of Buck’s life for the past two weeks has been accounted for in our story so far. Almost none of that time has been spent on this assignment, even tangentially. He flew from Chicago to New York to London to Germany to New York and back to Chicago. None of that travel was in any way related to this project. He ate cookies with Chloe and dinner with Rayford and fish and chips with Alan Tompkins. We’ve seen him flirt with three women and mistreat a fourth. We’ve seen him — twice — duck into the bathroom to search his soul. But we never saw him research or write anything for this article. [Read more...]

L.B.: Two swell guys

It may be helpful here to remember that Left Behind’s dual protagonists also serve as wish-fulfillment surrogates for the book’s dual authors. Manly, attractive airline pilot Rayford Steele is Tim LaHaye’s Mary Sue stand-in, and jet-setting, award-winning journalist Buck Williams embodies the fantasy of Jerry Jenkins. [Read more...]

L.B.: Worlds collide

I love that membership in the Pan-Con Club (fremder!) is something that Rayford flaunts like a hard-earned trophy. “He’s with us,” he says. Don’t worry, my young friend, I have pull. Stick with me and I can get you into traveler’s lounges at airports all over the country. I’d bet he’s the same way with his membership in the Columbia Record House. (“I know people, my friend. I can get you eight CDs for a penny.”) [Read more...]

L.B.: A billion Samanthas


This could work if it were intended as over-the-top satire, but that satire would have to be front-and-center as the dominant theme. It would have to be a story about the human capacity for epic denial — a story about the way people can be so profoundly narcissistic that they could literally stroll past the burning wreckage of an airplane, side-stepping charred bodies without the slightest hesitation and tuning out the cries of the injured as though they didn’t even exist. [Read more...]

L.B.: The Missing Children


If it seems I’m being picky here, singling out their neglect of UNICEF, note that they also never explore what’s going on with parents, grandparents, schools, day-care centers, nurseries, orphanages, toy stores or Nickelodeon. Even New Hope Village Church hasn’t given any thought to what it means to have church without Sunday school. The only thought the authors give to the ramifications of this sudden childlessness is to note that abortion clinics would be out of work. [Read more...]