L.B.: The Literal Donkey’s Penis

Left Behind, pp. 10-15 I like Ezekiel. Even by the standards of Old Testament prophets, the guy was pretty over-the-top. Lots of prophets accused the faithless nation of "promiscuity" and "whoredom," but Ezekiel took it a step further: "Every prostitute receives a fee, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors. ... no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and … [Read more...]

L.B.: Peace in the Middle East

Left Behind, pp. 8-9 Here in reality, the "road map" peace plan is stumbling and staggering and likely to fall apart. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat seem determined to undermine the plan in any way possible. Its two-state solution, and its stated goal of an independent Palestinian state in what is now the occupied West Bank by the year 2005, seems highly optimistic. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins don't believe in the road map peace plan. … [Read more...]

L.B.: A Thief in the Night

Jimmy Breslin, God bless him, isn't just a great newspaperman, he's a pretty good theologian too. Breslin writes of a tragedy -- an infant strangled in the night in a fall from a bunk bed. Part of the reason that Breslin has been so good for so long is that he writes with an expansive compassion -- a love for New York and all the people who live there. He provides a moving portrait of a struggling family barely coping with work, death, violence and the American Dream ("The clothes … [Read more...]

L.B.: Weird Science

Left Behind, pp. 6-8 Buck Williams is, as mentioned, the Greatest Investigative Reporter of All Time: At thirty, Cameron Williams was the youngest ever senior writer for the prestigious Global Weekly. The envy of the rest of the veteran staff, he either scooped them on or was assigned to the best stories in the world. "Global Weekly" is, apparently, like TIME or Newsweek -- except with a reputation for top-notch journalism. As the GIRAT, Williams is assigned to write GW's story on … [Read more...]

L.B.: Meet the GIRAT

Left Behind, pp. 6&7 It's a dangerous thing for a writer to introduce a fictional character who is, the reader is told, the Greatest Investigative Reporter of All Time. The pitfall here is the same as if you introduce a character by telling readers he is "the absolute funniest person who ever lived." You can get away with this, somewhat, if you're writing about a great painter or musician. There you can get away with simply piling on the superlatives, perhaps describing … [Read more...]

Joan Didion on Left Behind

Thanks to "david" in Atrios' comments, I found this essay by Joan Didion in The New York Review of Books. Didion's frightening question is how much the kind of thinking found in the Left Behind books influences the decisions of President George W. Bush, proud evangelical Christian, doubter of Darwin, and courter of the fundamentalist Christian right. She cuts through to the scary political implications of these books having a fanbase of 55 million: We understand immediately: … [Read more...]

L.B.: Meet Buck Williams

Left Behind, pg. 6 Here we meet LaHaye and Jenkins' second protagonist: Buck Williams. I grew up in Jersey, so I'm a long-time admirer of Buck Williams. The man was a rebounding machine -- dominating the NBA boards for a decade, pulling down more than 13,000 rebounds (No. 12 on the all-time list). Williams is still the Nets all-time leading scorer and rebounder. So who did they get for him in the trade with Portland? Freaking Sam Bowie. Great trade guys. LaHaye and Jenkins, of course, … [Read more...]

L.B.: The denial of death

Left Behind, pp. 4-5 Left Behind has been praised by some as an "evangelistic" book, but it's not. Although the book does attempt to scare people into conversion, that is secondary. The authors' real message for those they regard as unsaved is to thumb their nose and do a little victory dance. "You just wait until Jesus gets back and proves we were right and you were wrong. Then we'll see who's laughing at who." Not the most winsome approach to sharing … [Read more...]