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Monday, March 29, 2004

Double-dealing deities

From the front page of today’s New York Times comes a question I hadn’t even thought to ask:

Like Christian booksellers across the country, Bob Fillingane is doing everything he can to prepare the way for “Glorious Appearing,” the climactic installment in the “Left Behind” series of apocalyptic thrillers that goes on sale tomorrow.

Mr. Fillingane, owner of Lemstone Books in Hattiesburg, Miss., has arranged television, radio and newspaper advertisements and even a marquee over the front of his local mall, and next week he will hold a book signing by the authors, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, on a Bible Belt bus tour from Spartanburg, S.C., to Plano, Tex.

Not that “Glorious Appearing” needs his help, Mr. Fillingane said.

“I really believe that there is a blessing on this series from the Lord,” he said. “Just like with the ‘Passion’ movie, it is all part of the warning we get before Christ returns.” He added, “Many people have asked me, Do you think they will finish the series before Christ comes?”

So this is what the religious right is worried about these days:  will Christ return before the “Left Behind” series is finished?

Well, this raises all kinds of complex eschatological problems, now that I think of it.  First of all, what does the Book of Revelations say about fundamentalist-Christian pulp-fiction writers who are trying to complete their Revelations-based book series before they’re raptured into heaven?  Does Scripture itself predict whether novels about the Final Days will be published during the Final Days?  Do they arrive in bookstores just after the seven-eyed, seven-horned Lamb opens the first of the seven seals (6:1), or do we have to wait until the appearance of the seven-headed, ten-horned dragon (12:3)?  Second, when Christ returns, will He hang out for a while-- maybe even serving as an editorial consultant on the remaining “Left Behind” books-- before initiating the series of events leading to the Apocalypse, or will He just be all about the Apocalypse?

Most important, why would Christ return before LaHaye and Jenkins have finished their work in the first place?  Wouldn’t that be, like, God giving away the ending?  I hate it when people give away the ending.  I hate it even more when omnipotent beings-- who obviously have the power to restrain themselves-- give away the ending.

In all seriousness, let’s turn back to the author, Tim LaHaye:

In an interview last week at his home in Palm Springs, Calif., however, Dr. LaHaye, 77, said that his only agenda was spreading the Gospel, by illustrating both the gruesome perdition ahead for unbelievers and the merciful salvation awaiting faithful Christians. What’s more, he said, he was merely relying on what he considers the literal meaning of the words of the Bible.

“If I invented the story, you’re right, I’d be terribly arrogant,” he said, “but I didn’t invent the story.”

. . . and let’s remember that the LaHaye-Jenkins books aren’t just blockbuster bestsellers (the first eleven installments have sold 40 million copies); they’re documents, based in fact, and spiritual guides for a lot of the people currently running our country.  These would be, of course, the people who believe that God Himself picked our current leader and has been directing our foreign policy since the attacks of September 11.

Yes, I know, you’ve heard this all before.  But then it turns out (in a related story) that God has in fact declared war on America, according to the new Hamas leader, Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi:

“We knew that Bush is the enemy of God, the enemy of Islam and Muslims,” Dr. Rantisi told several thousand Hamas supporters attending a rally at the Islamic University in Gaza City. “America declared war against God. Sharon declared war against God, and God declared war against America, Bush and Sharon.”

What’s up with this?  It sounds to me like this God guy is double-crossing us big time.  I mean, this is the very definition of treason-- whispering in LaHaye’s ear one day and Rantisi’s the next.  What a creep.  And after we went through all that trouble to put Him in the damn Pledge of Allegiance, here He goes and declares war against us.  I say we take ‘Im out.

So, to that end, I’ve joined the VFW-- for Victory over Fundamentalist Wackos at home and abroad.  Flash me a V sign if you’re with me.

UPDATE:  Readers write in and they’re not about the V-- they’re all about the S.  Yes, I did a bad bad thing-- I wrote “Book of Revelations” instead of “Book of Revelation.” Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.  You know, I could go back and fix it, but I think I’ll just leave it there . . . a Real Mistake.  Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Now get off my case already.

Posted by Michael on 03/29 at 09:26 AM
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