NRA: In the house of the Lord forever

NRA: In the house of the Lord forever August 30, 2013

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

Chapter 10 begins unremarkably enough, but then, suddenly, it grabs the reader by the lapels and hurls them forcibly out of the story. This happens twice in the next half-dozen pages.

I don’t mean that the reader encounters a few little hiccups or rough spots in the story. These are insurmountable obstacles that slam down in front of you. The sort of thing that causes one to say, “No. No that cannot be.” And then to close the book, get up out of the chair and walk away.

I’m not talking here about the sort of thing that merely makes one realize one is reading a poorly written book. Nor even about the kind of thing that might provoke a reader to post a no-star review on Amazon. What happens here, rather, is the sort of thing that ought to make readers contact the CFPB to inquire about the possibility of criminal penalties for Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins and Tyndale House publishers. It’s the sort of thing that ought to lead to a lucrative class-action lawsuit on behalf of anyone who ever purchased or read this book. Perhaps a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all readers everywhere, living or dead. And all writers, editors, publishers, Christians, Jews and English speakers.

It’s that bad. And it happens, as I said, twice in these six pages. We’re going to deal with just the first of those this week.

Buck Williams has hailed a cab from his hotel to return to the Western Wall, where he hopes to ask “Moishe and Eli” again for help in finding his friend the former Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah. They’ve already told him that Tsion is in Galilee, but he’s hoping for more specific instructions. “How far to Galilee?” he asks the cab-driver.

The cabbie took his foot off the accelerator. “You go to Galilee? Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.”

Buck waved him on. “I know. Wailing Wall now. Galilee later.”

The cabbie headed for the Wailing Wall. “Galilee now Lake Tiberius,” he said. “About 120 kilometers.”

Here is evidence that Jerry Jenkins may have done a tiny bit of research, likely involving a map of Israel and the West Bank. So Jenkins has looked at such a map– at least enough to approximate the distance to, and the spelling of, Tiberias. Remember that later.

For now, though, brace yourself, because here comes the first Impossible Thing in this chapter:

Hardly anyone was at the Wailing Wall or even in the entire temple mount area at this time of the night. The newly rebuilt temple was illuminated magnificently and looked like something in a three-dimensional picture show. It seemed to hover on the horizon. Bruce had taught Buck that one day Carpathia would sit in that new temple and proclaim himself God. The journalist in Buck wanted to be there when that happened.

The newly rebuilt temple …

This is how readers learn that the Temple in Jerusalem has been rebuilt. We’ve been wandering around Jerusalem with Buck Williams for a couple of chapters now, but until this off-handed description of background scenery here, this is the first we’ve heard of this. We read a multi-page account of Buck’s earlier visit to “the Wailing Wall” and yet, somehow, nothing in that scene saw fit to mention that above that wall now sat “the newly rebuilt temple.”

Our story takes place here, in Jerusalem. Except it’s not Jerusalem. It’s nothing at all like Jerusalem.

That’s astonishing just on the basic level of describing the scenery, but what’s even more astonishing is that the authors don’t seem to see any significance in the Temple other than as just scenery.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read the Hebrew scriptures — the collection of 39 books that make up what we Christians call the “Old Testament.” That’s where we read about the Temple in Jerusalem. A lot. It’s not a minor part of the story of those books. It is a central, essential fact at the heart of most of the Hebrew Scriptures. It is also a really important factor in much of the New Testament.

It is not possible to understand anything about Judaism without understanding the meaning and significance of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is not possible to understand much about Christianity without understanding the meaning and significance of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins do not see anything meaningful or significant about the Temple in Jerusalem.

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.

Buck is looking for Tsion Ben-Judah, who is in hiding because he’s stirred up controversy among Jewish religious authorities for preaching that Jesus was the Messiah (which, in these books, is a novel concept previously unheard of). The “controversy” sparked by Tsion’s 2,000-year-old theory wouldn’t merit a single column inch or a single second of broadcast time amidst the turmoil and flood of religious reconstruction and rebuilding that would accompany the reconstruction and rebuilding of the Temple. Tsion’s “Jews for Jesus” message might have garnered a tiny bit of attention if his name had been Tsion Cohen, but it still wouldn’t have distracted anyone from the more pressing questions about the reconsecration of the holiest site, the recommissioning of priests, the resumption of sacrifices, tithes and offerings, and the countless other huge, world-changing consequences of “the newly rebuilt temple.”

Tsion would be a footnote. His stadium crusades would fizzle. Even with the added draw of fire-breathing assistants he couldn’t hope to compete with “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.”

So Buck Williams is in not-Jerusalem, looking for a man who is in hiding even though no one has the time to care to look for him, and he’s taking a cab to the “Wailing Wall.” This is a holy site in the actual Jerusalem because it is the most visible remnant of the Second Temple. Buck is going there to visit the Two Witnesses. But why are they preaching there, at the foot of the Temple Mount, instead of “the court outside the temple” — which is where they seem to preach in Revelation? And why do the authors weirdly behave as though the Western Wall would remain a holy site more revered than the Temple itself? Why do they still insist on calling it the “Wailing Wall” — the “place of weeping” — when it’s no longer necessary for those who gather there to weep over the absence of the Temple?

I can’t do justice to the enormity of the impossibility of what we have here. LaHaye and Jenkins have given us an insignificant Temple. To counter that I would need to convey the full immensity of the Temple’s significance — in Judaism and in Christianity. I’m nowhere near enough of a theologian to do that. No one person could be.

All I can do is flail about sputtering … but, but but … But what about Moishe? He’s supposed to be the patriarch Moses, raised from his grave in the land of Moab and here, at long last, in the Promised Land. Moses, who spent his whole life striving and straining to reach this place, now just spends all day, every day, crouching amid ancient ruins (not that ancient to him, I suppose) at the bottom of a hill. That hill dominates this city, the city of David (“Eli” could explain to Moses who David was). And at the top of that hill stands not a tabernacle, not a tent, but a temple — the Temple. And yet, in this story, Moses never bothers to walk up the hill.

Nicolae is the third book in a series that eventually sprawled to include 16 titles. Want to write a 16-novel series yourself? Here’s all the premise you’ll ever need: “The newly rebuilt temple.” Take the world, just as it is, and make that single change. Then all you need to do is chase down as many of the implications as you can. What would that mean theologically, politically, economically, culturally …? Even after your first 16 books you still won’t have exhausted all of the possibilities.

This is why Jews, Christians, Muslims and Mormons all only tend to speak of the rebuilding of the Temple in cosmic terms involving the end of the world. We can’t imagine it otherwise. The implications are too complicated and too big.

For Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, though, “the newly rebuilt temple” means nothing. It’s a bit of background flavor for Buck Williams to view from the window of his cab. And it’s another check on LaHaye’s End Times Prophecy Check List. But that’s all.

“Bruce had taught Buck that one day Carpathia would sit in that new temple and proclaim himself God,” L&J write. The “prophecy” there comes from the book of Daniel. In LaHaye’s scheme, Daniel gets mixed into a hodge-podge of exilic and post-exilic Old Testament passages that he treats as a single prediction of the rebuilding of the Temple in the last days.

As with all of his “prophecy” studies, LaHaye is more concerned with sequence than with meaning, so all he really cares about is making his check list. What does he think these prophecies prophesy about the Temple? That it will be rebuilt, defiled and then destroyed. That sequence is the only meaning he sees and the only meaning he attributes to the Temple. For LaHaye, that’s what the Temple is for.

Feh. All I can do is try to wash that away. Here’s the fourth movement of Brahms’ Requiem, based on the words of Psalm 84.

(I went with the rendition by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir because: A. I couldn’t find a contemporary guitar, cello, piano, etc., arrangement, which is a crying shame; B. the LD Saints know what they’re doing when it comes to choral music; and C. the slight disconnect I have about hearing Mormons sing the words of Psalm 84 and the difference they attribute to the words “how lovely is thy dwelling place” is a theologically fruitful reminder of the same kind of disconnect Jews will experience when hearing other Christians recite those words with the differences we attribute to them. Seriously, though, I’d like to hear, say, Sufjan Stevens or the Polyphonic Spree or Sarah Jarosz and Alison Krauss do this one.)

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  • themunck

    3rd? I’ve always heard Medina has quite the significance as well.

  • Daniel

    Oranges are not the only fruit- it turns out they very definitely are.

  • Daniel

    This is off topic, kinda, but given what you’ve posted here I was wondering if you could help me with something that in English seems ungooglable.

    A few months ago my mum had her purse stolen. As well as the usual money and cards etc she also had a copy of the san svete bogorodice inside. It was a family heirloom from her parababa and as it’s her birthday soon I was hoping to make her one to replace it.
    Here’s the favour-

    I can’t find any details about them on google, and I don’t know if there’s a particular layout for the prayer/poem bit (which I have been able to find) and also if there’s any standard icons that should be used to illustrate it (I assume Mary and Child). If you know anything about this could you please help me out? There aren’t many Serbs around here to ask…
    Thank you kindly.

  • Sorry, I only know “zdravo” and “smrt” (and maybe some phrases, “dobro jutro” and so on) and from wikipedia I have a feel for the ‘flavor’ of the language, but any in-depth knowledge is gonna take someone who knows a lot more than me.

    EDIT: Also, I’m not religious, you’re gonna want someone who’s Serbian Orthodox to tell you what to look for.

  • RachelS

    In my college choir we all wore identical dresses. Moderately hideous black dresses made of 150% polyester. The guys wore tuxes. In the community group I’m in now for formal concerts we wear black, though we are allowed to choose our own black clothes. Again the guys wear tuxes. This sort of thing is actually quite normal.

  • Kirala

    It’s the fact that the spirit of Moses already appeared in the Promised Land during the Transfiguration described in Matthew 17. Or Mark 9. Or Luke 9. So at least the workaround is about as old as Christianity.

    I think the assumed identity of the two witnesses stems from the Transfiguration, too, but that’s a much greater leap. At least, Wikipedia doesn’t list a consensus interpretation. But as intriguing as the various eschatological fanon interpretations are, this branch of fandom isn’t my milieu, so I can’t speak to serious interpretation.

  • Kirala

    This is how VeggieTales told a story-within-a-story in the movie “King George and the Ducky”. And this flannelgraph story is how I came to realize that King George and the Ducky are child-appropriate standins for freakin’ DAVID AND BATHSHEBA. King George seeing the rubber ducky in a bathtub on the roof. “But King George, you already have quite a few duckies…”

    Sorry, off-topic, but that was my first exposure to flannelgraph and the dissonance of VeggieTales and a story of lust, adultery, and murder still freaks me out.

  • GeniusLemur

    Yeah, and Satan can’t make them have ten toes for the same reason.

  • Buck had problems with orthographic projection. ;)

  • Daniel

    To Timkins criticism is like water off a coat that has been thoroughly waterproofed before being allowed to get wet.

  • FearlessSon

    I think that Alex SL makes a good point here, that yes the Temple is of immense theological significance, but how much of that is widely known? There is a lot of Christian mythology that spills over into the wider western culture (way more than proselytizers seem to think) and we can generally expect a lot of people to be at least familiar with some key points and Bible stories, if not in depth. However, the Temple is often left out of this spillage. How many American Christians themselves are only tangentially familiar with this piece of history, for example?

    I have to wonder if that more than anything else is why L&J just kind of gloss over it.

  • Daniel

    It was a bit of a shot in the dark, but thanks for the reply. One Serb word I know and enjoy- which doesn’t appear in any dictionaries I’ve found so I may be spelling it wrong- is “Fufitza”. It’s a word for a woman like Ms. Durham, but it sounds lovely.

  • FearlessSon

    For the sake of my argument here I am assuming good faith on the part of the Bush administration. I am not necessarily saying that the invasion was ordered in good faith, but even if it was, it was still an intelligence failure.

    The reason stuff like that kind of miffs me is because I like a strong national defense. I think it is important for the security of the state. But doing things like over committing our forces on egregiously bad intel actually leaves us more vulnerable and insecure if only because it means too much of our strength is tied down to deftly respond to other situations.

  • LMM22

    Eep. You had a deal with God and it got answered by the anti-Christ?

    Screw these novels. People are boring. I want a post-Tribulation subscription to _Science_, _Nature_, and whatever the leading journals are that discuss Jewish theology.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    It is not possible to understand anything about Judaism without
    understanding the meaning and significance of the Temple in Jerusalem.
    It is not possible to understand much about Christianity without
    understanding the meaning and significance of the Temple in Jerusalem.

    Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins do not see anything meaningful or significant about the Temple in Jerusalem.

    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.

    Actually, it does.
    But what it changes is NOT much of an improvement:

    It’s a checkoff on the End Time Prophecy Checklist.
    “Temple Rebuilt? CHECK.”

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Bruce had taught Buck that one day Carpathia would sit in that new
    temple and proclaim himself God,” L&J write. The “prophecy” there
    comes from the book of Daniel. In LaHaye’s scheme, Daniel gets mixed
    into a hodge-podge of exilic and post-exilic Old Testament passages that
    he treats as a single prediction of the rebuilding of the Temple in the
    last days.

    In “LaHaye’s scheme”?
    More like “In Hal Lindsay’s scheme as rewordgitated by LaHaye.”

    Because I remember that exact mixture of Daniel & Revelation & Dispensation from Hal Lindsay, back when the Bible had 3 1/2 books: Daniel, Revelation, the Nuclear War Chapter of Ezekiel (the half), and (the most important) Late, Great, Planet Earth by Hal Lindsay.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    My sympathies.

  • Jamoche

    There’s a Livejournal community, , originally set up for writers to get answers where research fails, but I’ve seen enough questions that don’t mention writing that your question could probably slide by. Even when people don’t know the answer, someone usually knows other places you can try.

  • Fusina

    Thanks. It is mostly better now. I bent my knee too far the right direction and I could feel the ripping. Damn, but that can hurt. I don’t think I would wish it on Ray-ray even.

  • aunursa

    And I guess another stupid question is, why not just buy an abandoned plot of land and build the new temple there?

    The Bible indicates a specific place for the location of the Temple. There is no suggestion in the Hebrew Bible that the Jewish people may choose a different location.

  • atalex

    I actually had the same experience with book 4 (I skipped 2 and 3) over something much more banal. After the earthquake, the entire world’s telecommunications system shuts down. And the OWG reconstructs it as an evil solar-powered telecommunications network called Cellular-Solar or Cell-Sol (get it?). After I read that, I literally could not continue and had to put the book down and go for a walk before I could continue.

  • The best part is when the Tribbles go into absolute fits of righteous indignation because HOW DARE NICOLAE GET THE COMM GRID BACK UP FIRST.

    Never mind that Buck Wiliams practically eats cell phones for breakfast.

  • ohiolibrarian

    If only I had a hammer …

  • Eric Oppen

    There would be endless complications with rebuilding a Temple, including finding some way to purify the workers enough to set foot on the holy ground. As I understand it, some extremely religious Jews are trying to figure ways to do this, but it’s insanely difficult. Something to do with sacrificing a pure red heifer, IIRC.

  • SirThinkALot

    Okay. ‘single holiest’ may have been a bit of an exaggeration. But my general point still stands: The Mosque currently standing in the Temple Mount(as well as the rock within it) are considered extremely sacred to a billion people. And in the real world any attempt to tear it down or move it(especially to put up a new Jewish temple), would lead to MASSIVE demonstrations, riots and very likely invasion from one or more of the Muslim countries that surround Israel.

  • Lorehead

    Another problem being that the areas of the Temple, including the Holy of Holies, would need to be built where they originally were, which no one today knows. That’s the current justification for most Jews to stay off the Temple Mount, which also avoids conflict with the Muslims. Oh, speaking of which.

    Fred dramatically understates the impossibility of this: in the real world, the Palestinians, the rest of the Muslim world and the U.N. would all be in open revolt at this point. The mere rumor of a plan to demolish the mosques has started violent revolts. The U.N. is not exactly known for taking Israel’s side as it is, and this is a world in which at least one country with a veto on the Security Council is so much more hostile to Israel that it attempted genocide.

    Also, this impossible treaty between the One World Government and Israel must have had Israel agree to sign over sovereignty of Judaism’s holiest site in its Eternal and Undivided Capital to the U.N. and the Enigma Babylon One World Faith. Anyone who can’t immediately see several reasons this could never happen is an ignorant fool.

  • Lorehead

    The Christians, during any of the times they ruled Jerusalem, either after the conversion of Constantine or the First Crusade or World War I, never considered rebuilding the Temple, and in fact Julian the Apostate was going to do it as a way to weaken Christianity, but didn’t live long enough.

    True, Isaiah repeatedly says that the Temple will become a house of prayer for all nations and no one, not even eunuchs, will be excluded from it, but apparently that, like his prophecies that nation shall not make war upon nation and shall beat their swords into plowshares, will be the work of the Devil while Jesus is preparing to commit genocide.

  • Lorehead

    Breeding a red heifer is something that some Evangelicals in Texas are trying to do; it’s not a thing in mainstream Judaism. (That said, I’m sorry to say that there are Jewish extremists who would like to rebuild the temple and destroy the mosques there now, but they at least are counting on that to spark a holy war, in which they expect God to intervene. It’s the same strategy as in the Second Jewish Revolt, and look how well that worked out for us.)

    I was taught the red-heifer law as the canonical example of a rule so blatantly irrational and inconvenient that it must certainly be divine, because no sane human being would ever have come up with anything like it.

  • Lorehead

    Seriously, Russia, Iran, Libya and Ethiopia are all declaring nuclear war over super-fertilizer, but everyone goes along with this? It’s so utterly insane.

  • ohiolibrarian

    And given that all their kids went missing, do you think they would fall in with such a radical plan? Offered by a what? A Christian or at least Western leader?

    Mind unbelievably boggled.

  • nemryn

    This is great.

  • Lori

    I see you remain as ignorant and as abusive as ever.

    The entire “Great Wall” is over 13k miles long. Many people are under the impression that that’s a more or less continuous structure, but it is not. The existence of a section that is 422 miles long does not disprove Daniel’s point. In fact, it supports it.

  • I was thinking of Discworld as well. In particular, that scene where Vimes (I think it was Vimes) confronts the dragon in Guards, Guards! “It’s head alone was bigger than a man. And it’s eyes were the size of really large eyes.”
    It’s disturbing that L&J do not see themselves as humorists.

  • “Unless the intended frame of reference was to say “the building looked like something from a View-Master slide. In which case I want to add two rolls of quarters for such an archaic reference.”
    It’s come to this. A toy I loved as a child is now classed as “archaic.” *sigh* Ye Gods, I need a drink.

  • Daniel

    “a drink”?
    Showing your age there- everything’s dehydrated now, grandad. Except Soylent’s delightful products.

  • I swear I actually saw an Orchid bee once. I live in Ohio, and I know that shouldn’t be possible, but still. It was a beautiful sight, whatever it was. Like some sort of flying, sparkly green jewel.
    And, my mother is a hobbyist beekeeper. I’ve come to the conclusion that anything to do with bees is cool.

  • Lori

    You are now using your abusiveness here to drive traffic to your Twitter feed? And you’re doing that in support of ignorant nit-picking that totally misses the point?

    How very typical of you.

  • You really seem to have a problem with this “flouncing” thing, don’t you?

  • esmerelda_ogg

    “It’s disturbing that L&J do not see themselves as humorists.” – SororAyin

    Oh yes! Pratchett does that kind of thing so well, on purpose. And Timkins does it so badly, by accident.

    Then again, thinking it over I’m glad they don’t intend to be humorists…consider what they would come up with if they were trying to make something like the shared cookie sequence hilarious.

    No. Don’t consider it. Go bleach your brain. Right now.

  • AnonaMiss

    ‘Little’ is always relative.

    You really suck at human communication. Have you ever had a friend?

  • Jamoche

    Or it’s like one of those rock concert nitpicky details, like specifying the color of the M&Ms, that are there as a test to see if people actually did read the entire contract.

  • Lorehead

    At this point, it equates to being a stooge for the Antichrist.

  • Lorehead

    That would actually make a certain sense. I mean, once you’ve somehow gotten around the problem of why an omniscient supreme Being needs to test people the way He did Job in the first place.

  • Jamoche

    After following a few links on Wikipedia, my current impression is that it was the cow owners trying to make sure that the rule didn’t apply to *their* very valuable cow. “Sure, I’d just love to donate a cow. But I couldn’t possibly donate a cow that was anything less than perfect, and gosh, none of them quite measure up.”

  • Vashti

    I remember those from “Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit”.

  • rizzo

    How about the McCourys doing ‘Workin on a Building”?;)

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Slack, I read that title “NRA: In the House of the LORD forever” with “NRA” defaulting to “National Rifle Association”.