LBCF, No. 131: ‘7 pages, 6 phone calls’

Bad writing entails a failure to convey or communicate whatever it is that the writer is trying to express. LaHaye & Jenkins have failed at something prior to and more fundamental than that. They began by portraying one whole world — the post-Event world following the Rapture, and then they abruptly and completely abandoned it for a different one, a different kind of world, in which the next set of preordained events from their End Times Checklist could be imagined. [Read more…]

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LBCF, No. 130: ‘Dissipation’

Every attitude expressed by Buck here — his condescending exploitation, his bitter, spiteful frustration — is reinforced later in the book or the series by born-again characters intended to be perceived as wholly reliable narrators. Hattie refuses to be merely a sexless and submissive helpmeet, so she is condemned as a slut. These are, in the world of Left Behind, binary options for women. [Read more…]

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I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly

Michele Bachmann still treats “Left Behind” as a how-to manual for politics. White Christians in Alabama are fine with disenfranchising black voters, but not with extramarital affairs. “I’m going to rewrite the ‘Pina Colada Song’ as a Palm Sunday story,” somebody thought, and did. And Billy Sunday wasn’t much of a hitter, but he once stole 82 bases in a single season. [Read more…]

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LBCF, No. 129: ‘Body and Soul’

Jerry B. Jenkins sat at a computer and typed these words: “Let me give you an idea how a woman thinks.” And then — inexplicably, unforgivably — he kept writing. If ever the seas were going to boil, the skies were going to fall and the moon was going to turn to blood, it should have happened then. [Read more…]

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LBCF, No. 128: ‘That beats all’

Last Monday, a third of the planet vanished faster than you can blink, without a trace, without an explanation. The entire world has seen something “that no one can explain.” There are no more children anymore and no one knows how or why or what happened. Compared to the confounding, incomprehensible, world-altering Event, a couple of guys tripping and dying scarcely registers on anyone’s personal list of unexplainable happenings. [Read more…]

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LBCF, No. 127: ‘Fire-breathing Martians’

Writing a bad book — a hastily written, shabbily imagined, incoherent story with wrenching lapses in continuity, hilarious factual errors, and characters that do not behave in recognizably human ways — was the only way for LaHaye & Jenkins to keep their prophecy beliefs intact. Had they tried to write a better book — one in which, at a minimum, there was a semblance of continuity and in which people acted like people — they would have been forced to realize that the thing they’ve been telling themselves they believe is an impossibility. [Read more…]

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LBCF, No. 126: ‘Ben and Glory’

The decision to have Nicolae’s rise to power result from magical deception allows the authors to avoid having to imagine how else such a rise to power might occur, or how a leader not possessing such dark magics might still be able to “deceive many.” This failure of imagination tends to have real-world consequences. L&J’s target audience of white American evangelicals and fundamentalists, you may have noticed, tends to be particularly susceptible to demagoguery and the machinations of Mayberry Machiavellis. [Read more…]

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LBCF, No. 125: ‘Is the pope Catholic?’

The idea of a papal Antichrist endures because while premillennial dispensationalists insist that the book of Revelation has nothing to do with the Roman Empire of the time when it was written, they still have to account for why Rome plays such a prominent role in the Apocalypse. The idea also endures because many PMDs are the sort of American fundamentalists who really don’t like Catholics. [Read more…]

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