Monday, March 4, 2013

Coming to Know Left Behind (Biblically)

I'd like to say that Left Behind is the worst novel that I've ever read, but I'm not sure that it even qualifies as a novel. It's more like a bunch of ridiculous Christian propaganda with a story loosely draped around it. So loosely, in fact, that it slips off and gets trampled all over by the raging end times paranoia of the nutty fucks that Christed all over the page.

By the way, while writing this I got tired of repeatedly writing "LaHaye and Jenkins" or "the authors of left Behind" so for simplicity's sake they will henceforth be known as "The Raptards."

Here are the main problems with Left Behind:

1. It's filled with all kinds of ignorant hatred towards Jews.

“Stay in town long enough to come to my church, and God'll getcha.”
“He's already got me, Lucinda. But Jesus is another thing. The Israelis hate Jesus, but look what God did for them." 

Israelis aren't necessarily Jews, and Jews don't hate Jesus. They just disapprove of him because he was a nice Jewish boy who grew up to be a carpenter instead of a lawyer.

Here's Buck's editor trying to sell him on covering a story:

We're talking Jewish Nationalist leaders interested in one world government—”
“Unlikely and hardly compelling.” 

“—Orthodox Jews from all over the world looking at rebuilding the temple, or some such—”
“I'm being overrun by Jews.”
“—international monetarists setting the stage for one world currency—”
“Also unlikely.” 


The Raptards: THOSE BANK LOVIN JEWS R GUNNA TAKE YER GOVMENTS AND STANDARDIZE YER CURRENCIES.
Left Behind fans: This is totally rational. It is not the paranoid ramblings of two bigots in any way. Please write more books!

Jimmy, your two groups—the religious Jews who want to rebuild the temple and the ecumenicalists who want some sort of one-world religious order—are they going to be at odds with each other? Will there be religious Jews—”
“Orthodox.”
“OK, Orthodox Jews at the ecumenical meeting? Because that seems at cross
purposes with rebuilding the temple.” 


The fact that Buck thinks a "religious" Jew is the same as an "Orthodox" Jew has me struggling to understand what Buck's concept of a non-Orthodox Jew is.

Pictured: A joke the Left Behind authors didn't get
 

"... I always called myself a Christian, mostly because I was raised that way and I wasn't Jewish.” 

Is he saying that Christianity and Judaism are the only two religions? Or that ethnic Jews can't be Christian? Either way, I'm pretty sure the Raptards are cow rapists.

2. The authors have no idea how non-Christians think

I'm an atheist. I know many of you reading this are Christian. The following is not a generalization of all Christians, who are largely reasonable people. It's aimed squarely at the two lunatics that wrote Left Behind... Unless what they say strikes a chord with you, in which case yes, I'm talking about you, Christard.

(Rayford) found (the Bible) on the floor, next to the bed. Would there be some guide? An index? Something that referred to the Rapture or the judgment or something? If not, maybe he'd start at the end. If genesis meant “beginning,” maybe revelation had some thing to do with the end, even though it didn't mean that. The only Bible verse Rayford could quote by heart was Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He hoped there'd be some corresponding verse at the end of the Bible that said something like, “In the end God took all his people to heaven and gave everybody else one more chance.”

If you grew up in Western civilization, you automatically know more about the Bible than Rayford demonstrates here. He is elsewhere described as having been a former churchgoer, not to mention the fact that his wife was a fundie. Yet, he somehow remains completely ignorant about the book of Revelation. That's right, guys - if non-Christians aren't Christian it's just because they have never read the book that comprises the foundation of Western civilization.

Now he was getting somewhere. Who was this who testified of these things, and what were these things? The quoted words were in red. What did that mean? He looked through the Bible and then noticed on the spine, “Words of Christ in red.”

Somehow Ray managed to grow up in America without knowing who Jesus is. That's impressive. You have a real talent for being an ignorant turd missile. I'd say you could restart the Westboro Baptist Church in the wake of the rapture, but they're probably still around.

For years he had tolerated church. They had gone to one that demanded little and offered a lot. They made many friends and had found their doctor, dentist, insurance man, and even country club members in that church. Rayford was revered, proudly introduced as a 747 captain to newcomers and guests, and even served on the church board for several years.
...
When Irene discovered the Christian radio station and what she called “real preaching and teaching,” she grew disenchanted with their church and began searching for a new one. That gave Rayford the opportunity to quit going at all, telling her that when she found one she really liked, he would start going again. She found one, and he tried it occasionally, but it was a little too literal and personal and challenging for him. He was not revered. He felt like a project. And he pretty much stayed away.

According to The Raptards, non-believers are non-believers mainly because of ego. Oh, and because church is hard. I don't know how much more of this cutting analysis I can take, guys!

“For his salvation,” Rayford whispered. “Salvation.” Another ten-dollar church word that had never really impressed him. He knew Irene's new church was interested in the salvation of souls, something he'd never heard in the previous church. But the closer he had gotten to the concept, the more he had been repelled. Didn't salvation have something to do with confirmation, baptism, testifying, getting religion, being holy? He hadn't wanted to deal with it, whatever it was. And now he was desperate to know exactly what it meant.

Rayford somehow missed the entire point of Christianity, every time he went to church, his whole life. And they let this guy fly planes.

Rayford's daughter Chloe is quite skeptical of this whole rapture business and doesn't take to her father's desire to be born again. Rayford takes her to speak with Bruce Barnes, one of the few people at his wife's church to get left behind. Chloe keeps making sarcastic comments about his new faith until:

Bruce Barnes sat back and looked at Chloe, then at her father. “I'm going to ask you something,” he said, turning to her again. “Could you let me tell you my story briefly, without interrupting or saying anything, unless there's something you don't understand?”
...

“I don't want to be rude, but I don't want you to be either. I asked for a few moments of your time. If I still have it, I want to try to make use of it. Then I'll leave you alone. You can do anything you want with what I tell you. Tell me I'm crazy, tell me I'm self-serving. Leave and never come back. That's up to you. But can I have the floor for a few minutes?”
Rayford thought Barnes was brilliant. He had put Chloe in her place, leaving her no smart remark. She merely waved a hand of permission, for which Barnes thanked her, and he began.


This Barnes guy is a truly a rhetorical master. If you use the ingenious debate tactic of asking someone to listen to you, they'll be rendered powerless to counter you until you're finished! 

This also suggests that the only reason atheists don't believe is because they've never heard what Christians have to say. If you live in America, you know why that idea is absurd.

Chloe had gone with him to the church meeting for skeptics the night before, as she promised. But she had left a little over halfway through. She also fulfilled her promise to watch the video the former pastor had taped. They had discussed neither the meeting nor the video.

We never see the church meeting for skeptics or hear Chloe's reaction to anything. We never hear a debate. Isn't that convenient? It's almost as if The Raptards have no fucking clue how atheists think. But that's absurd! They've written sixteen books about it. Sixteen awful, nonsense-ridden books.

Between their house and the airport, they saw more than a dozen homes that had been gutted by fire. Rayford's theory was that families had disappeared, leaving something on the stove.
“And you think this was God's doing?” Chloe said, not disrespectfully.
“I do.”
“I thought he was supposed to be a God of love and order,” she said.
“I believe he is. This was his plan.”
“There were plenty of tragedies and senseless deaths before this.”
“I don't understand all that either,” Rayford said. “But like Bruce said last night, we live in a fallen world. God left control of it pretty much to Satan.”




  
 “Did she also tell you about the end times, Chloe?”
“Sure. All the time.”
“But you still don't buy it?”
“I want to, Dad. I really do. But I have to be intellectually honest with myself.”
It was all Rayford could do to stay calm. Had he been this pseudo-sophisticated at that age? Of course he had. He had run everything through that maddening intellectual grid—until recently, when the supernatural came crashing through his academic pretense. But like the cabbie had said, you'd have to be blind not to see the light now, no matter how educated you thought you were.


According to The Raptards, you'll come to believe if you just stop thinking so much.

Oh, there would be skeptics and those who worshiped objectivity.

Right, skeptics "worship" objectivity. When an atheist stones someone to death because they're not being empirical, you can say we "worship" it, Jenkins.

3. The characters are a bad word I won't say here, but it rhymes with "cunts"

Ray is at home waiting for his daughter to call, and Hattie gives him a ring to tell him her family is alive:

He leaped when the phone rang, but it was not Chloe.
“I'm sorry, Captain,” Hattie said. “I promised to call you back, but I fell asleep after the call I took and have been out ever since.”
“That's quite all right, Hattie. In fact, I need to—”
“I mean, I didn't want to bother you anyway at a time like this.”
“No, that's OK, I just—”
“Have you talked to Chloe?”
“I'm waiting for her to call right now, so I really have to get off!”
Rayford had been more curt than he intended and Hattie was, at first, silent.
“Well, all right then. I'm sorry.”
“I'll call you, Hattie. OK?”
“OK.”
 

Seems like a perfectly reasonable way for Ray to act, considering that he's not sure if his daughter is alive. But Hattie doesn't think so:

She told Buck about her call to Captain Steele and brought him up to date on who Steele was, that he had lost his wife and son, and that she had been late calling him back after hearing her good news from Buck. “And then he just brushed me off because he's waiting for a call from his daughter... And I know he's grieving because it's like his wife and son are dead, but he knew I was on pins and needles about my family, and he never even asked.” 

Jesus, Ray. All you're doing is simultaneously grieving for your family and waiting to find out if your daughter's alive! No need to be a dick to people.

“Captain, it's me again. I'm sorry, I won't keep you long, but I thought you might have tried to call me, and I've been on the phone, so—” 

GET OFF THE GODDAMNED PHONE.


"Hattie actually is a true Christian, but I left her behind because she's such a fucking bitch."
 
".. you can be grateful your daughter didn't get on Pan-Con directly out of Palo Alto. The last one out of there went down last night. No survivors.” 
“And this was after the disappearances?”
“Just last night. Totally unrelated.”
“Wouldn't that have been a kick in the teeth?” Rayford said.
“Indeed.” 


"Ah shucks, my daughter died horrifically. Just my luck!"

“How involved is Jonathan Stonagal?”
“Overtly, you mean?” she said.
“Well, everybody knows he's circumspect. But is there a Stonagal influence?”
“Does a duck have lips?”
Buck smiled and jotted a note. “I'll take that as a yes..."


Because, ducks... have lips? 

“Mr. Burton's body was discovered in his flat this morning. He had suffered a bullet wound to the head. I'm sorry, as you were a friend, but suicide has been determined.”
Buck was nearly speechless. “By whom?” he managed.
“The authorities.”
“What authorities?”
“Scotland Yard and security personnel here at the exchange.”

Scotland Yard? Buck thought. We'll see about that.

"What authorities?" Are you trying to take the alpha retard mantle from Ray? 

Buck took both his real and his phony passport and visa—a customary safety precaution—caught a late flight to London out of La Guardia Friday night, and arrived at Heathrow Saturday morning.

Do the authors seriously think that traveling with a fake passport is a "customary safety precaution"? It can actually net you ten years in prison. The only journalism Buck is going to be doing are gonzo editorials about limp biscuit games.

“We kidded him about being such a klutz.”
“Yeah. So?”
“If he was with us right now, where would he be sitting?”
It suddenly dawned on Buck what Alan was driving at. “He would be sitting to one of our lefts, and he was such a klutz because he was left-handed.” 


... Never heard that before. You sure you guys were born in the 20th century? 

Anyhow, Buck almost gets caught in a car bomb, and he litters his real passport on the ground next to the burning wreckage so that the perpetrator will believe he's dead... Which guarantees that he'll be going to prison after he returns to the US and shows up alive, as the only way he could have done that was with a fake passport.

I mean, he could have gone to the US Embassy and been under the protection of US Marines and a big-ass gate. He could have told the embassy officials that he was almost the victim of a goddamned car bomb and that he needs a little bit of a security detail getting home. Instead, he decides no one will care about a little felony here or there because he's a journalist. Better learn to speed-fap, Buck!

4. It has one of the worst violations of "show, don't tell" in the history of literature

Throughout the book, we're told that the main antagonist, Nicolae Carpathia, is an incredibly charismatic and persuasive individual:

Nicolae Carpathia, a 33-year-old born in Cluj, had in recent months taken the nation by storm with his popular, persuasive speaking, charming the populace, friend and foe alike.

“Carpathia's impressive,” Steve conceded. “He's handsome as a young Robert Redford, and this morning he spoke in nine languages, so fluently you'd have thought each was his native tongue. The media is eating him up.” 

Even from a distance, the man seemed to carry himself with a sense of humility and purpose. His presence dominated the room, and yet he did not seem preoccupied or impressed with himself.

Carpathia addresses the UN in what is described by Buck as "one of the most touching scenes (he) had ever witnessed."

He spoke earnestly, with passion, with a frequent smile, and with occasional, appropriate humor.

Jerry Jenkins: I'm not going to tell you what he said but trust me, it was a really, really good speech! Just imagine what someone who is a really good writer would write. That's what he said.

“In 1944, the year the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were established, this great host nation, the United States of America, along with the British Commonwealth and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, met at the famous Dumbarton Oaks Conference to propose the birth of this body.”

"Allow me to give the readers the UN delegates a brief history of the UN taken from the first paragraph of Wikipedia."

Displaying his grasp of history and his photographic memory of dates and places, Carpathia intoned, “From its official birth on October 24, 1945, and that first meeting of your General Assembly in London, January 10, 1946, to this day, tribes and nations have come together to pledge their wholehearted commitment to peace, brotherhood, and the global community.”

Are you reading a book report, Carpathia? If so you're going to get an F since there aren't any "tribes" that make up the UN.

He began in almost a whisper, “From lands distant and near they have come: from Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria ... ” He continued, his voice rising and falling dramatically with the careful pronunciation of the name of each member country of the United Nations. Buck sensed a passion, a love for these countries and the ideals of the U.N. Carpathia was clearly moved as he plunged on, listing country after country, not droning but neither in any hurry.

There are 193 member nations in the UN. I shit you not - he is listing every single one of them. To them.

More than five minutes into the recitation, Carpathia had not missed a beat.

Holy goddamn fucking seriously!? Five minutes?!

And there was more, as the Nicolae Carpathia juggernaut sailed on. Over the next half hour he displayed such an intimate knowledge of the United Nations that it was as if he had invented and developed the organization himself. For someone who had never before set foot on American soil, let alone visited the United Nations, he displayed amazing understanding of its inner workings.

Jerry Jenkins: When I say that this speech was amazing I'm not lying! I wish that there someone who could tell you what he said because it was really great. Trust me!

During his speech he casually worked in the name of every secretary-general from Trygve Lie of Norway to Ngumo and mentioned their terms of office not just by year but also by specific day and date of their installation and conclusion... Then he swept through the eighteen U.N. agencies, mentioning every one, its current director, and its headquarters city.

This is absurd. There is no way that the best and brightest of the world would be impressed by this guy reading from the Encyclopedia Britannica. The Raptards are obviously writing characters far beyond their skill level. If you don't think you could give a speech that would leave the entire world in awe, then don't have your character's make one.

 5. Unintentional hilarity, utter nonsense
 
 Dirk Burton had been a reliable source in the past...

"Dirk Burton." That's actually the guy's name. No comment.

And with that he slowly ate his cookies, the smell and taste bringing images to him of Irene in the kitchen, and the milk making him long for his boy. This was going to be hard, so hard.

... There just aren't enough lolz, guys.

Nothing could have been scripted like this, Buck thought, blinking slowly. If somebody tried to sell a screenplay about millions of people disappearing, leaving everything but their bodies behind, it would be laughed off.

And it is.

Though he was already in his eighties and appeared infirm in news photos, he not only owned the biggest banks and financial institutions in the United States, but he also owned or had huge interests in the same throughout the world.  Because rich people can't be old?
How long would it take to make all those crazy connections and finally get on an Ozark flight from Springfield to the Chicago area? He remembered the oldest joke in the airline industry: Ozark spelled backward is Krazo. Only it didn't amuse him just then.

Or anyone, ever. 

The news on TV showed the amazing progress being made at clearing the roadways and getting mass transportation rolling again. But the landscape would appear tacky for months.

Tacky: adj 1. Something unfashionable. raptarded 1. The landscape as it appears after thousands of people have died in traffic accidents. 

Rayford gazed out the front window in the darkness, just in time to see Chloe, one big suitcase on the ground next to her, paying a cabdriver. He ran from the house in his stocking feet and gathered her into his arms.

Rayford is an adult male wearing stockings. I have no idea. 

“Well, what if I decide to become a Christian tomorrow? I'd kind of like you (at church with me).”
Chloe looked at him. “I don't know, Dad. It's not like graduation or something.”
“Maybe it is. I feel like your mother and your brother got promoted and I didn't.”
“Gross.” 


Nope. No fucking clue here, either.

They strolled under a bridge to elude the hot spring sun.

This is in New York City, where the average high during spring is seventy one degrees. Who are these guys, snowmen? Vampires? Gingers? Wait, those last two are the same thing.

And on that note of awful bigotry against Ginger-Americans, I will leave you. More later.

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