NRA: Atlas shunned

If you're reading the Left Behind series, then you won't be needing this.

This redrawing of the map of the Middle East creates a bit of a problem for readers in these chapters. Buck is going to have to smuggle Tsion across the border, but we have no idea where the border actually is. “He must leave the country,” Michael says of Tsion Ben-Judah. In our world, this would be mission accomplished, since Tsion is already three miles past the border. But in the world of these novels, I’m not sure what that means. [Read more...]

NRA: Escape to Antichrist, an anti-Semitic adventure story

Iranians were upset with "Argo," because its escape-driven plot made Iran look evil. The escape-driven plot in "Nicolae" is set in Israel.

There’s a Birth-of-the-Nation aspect to this adventure story here in “Nicolae.” Unlike Jerry Jenkins, D.W. Griffith was a masterful artist, but while “The Birth of a Nation” is a work of art, it’s also a repugnant film. Griffith directed his whole genius to getting his viewers caught up in a thrilling adventure story, but the only way to get caught up in that story is to accept the racism and racist mythology that drives his plot. Griffiths’ racist enthusiasm isn’t something overlaid on top of his story, it is the premise of that story. Without it, the story cannot happen. [Read more...]

NRA: Someone wrote this. And someone else published this.

"Michael reached to embrace Buck. He squeezed him with a huge bear hug and was laughing and weeping."

Buck was sent up the river by Moses and Elijah to look for Tsion Ben-Judah. Michael had been sent to the river by Moses and Elijah to kill anyone looking for Tsion Ben-Judah. You may notice a potential problem there in the biblical patriarchs’ plan, but it all works out OK because Michael had also been instructed to await the arrival of an unnamed “deliverer” — the one person he should help rather than kill. That turns out to be Buck, so it’s all good and our hero doesn’t get shot and dumped in the river. [Read more...]

NRA: Twenty Questions … with murder!

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Buck Williams is sailing up the Jordan River under cover of night, when suddenly the engine stops and the captain confronts him with a series of questions … and a loaded gun! True or False? Answer carefully, Buck, because you’re playing a deadly game of Twenty Questions … with a killer! [Read more...]

NRA: Roll, Jordan, roll


We could say more about this extravagantly awful scene in Nicolae. We could talk about how the whole business about “oars … just like in the Bible” seems to be a long way to go for a belabored “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” pun, and how the Bible really doesn’t say much of anything about “oars” anyway. We could goggle at the botched cliché of Buck standing in the bow, the wind whipping his hair like he was Leo and/or Kate in Titanic. But all of that pales in comparison to the overriding, overwhelming wrongness Gorenberg mocks in this passage and to what he says it reveals about the jarringly untrue and unreal “landscape of their imagination” the authors present here and throughout these books. [Read more...]

NRA: Your young men shall receive phone calls

"Jerusalem, it's a heckuva town. The Temple's up and the Kidron is down ..."

But this is how God communicates with Buck in this chapter because this is how the authors imagine God communicates with all Christians. This is what they imagine it means to “walk in the spirit.” It requires us to break the code and to solve the puzzle based on nothing more than strong feelings and random snippets of Bible verses that can be taken to have applications they never had in context. [Read more...]

NRA: In the house of the Lord forever

Our story takes place here. Except it's not here. It's nothing at all like here.

Here in Nicolae, for the authors, the presence of the Temple is meaningless except as some lights in the background behind the Western Wall. For the authors, the rebuilt Temple means nothing. It changes nothing. That is simply impossible. And it renders everything else in this chapter impossible as well. Buck Williams is in Jerusalem, and yet it is a kind of Jerusalem that would be unchanged by the rebuilding of the Temple — which is to say it is not Jerusalem. It is nothing at all like Jerusalem. [Read more...]

NRA: Walking in the spirit


Buck Williams isn’t warned by God in a dream. He’s warned by God in a dream in which he’s a Bible character being warned by God in a dream. This 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. [Read more...]