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Apocalypse (Almost) Now
NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Posted on 11/24/2004 7:19:53 AM PST by DTaggart

If America's secular liberals think they have it rough now, just wait till the Second Coming.

The "Left Behind" series, the best-selling novels for adults in the U.S., enthusiastically depict Jesus returning to slaughter everyone who is not a born-again Christian. The world's Hindus, Muslims, Jews and agnostics, along with many Catholics and Unitarians, are heaved into everlasting fire: "Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and . . . they tumbled in, howling and screeching."

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Gosh, what an uplifting scene!

If Saudi Arabians wrote an Islamic version of this series, we would furiously demand that sensible Muslims repudiate such hatemongering. We should hold ourselves to the same standard.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the co-authors of the series, have both e-mailed me (after I wrote about the "Left Behind" series in July) to protest that their books do not "celebrate" the slaughter of non-Christians but simply present the painful reality of Scripture.

"We can't read it some other way just because it sounds exclusivistic and not currently politically correct," Mr. Jenkins said in an e-mail. "That's our crucible, an offensive and divisive message in an age of plurality and tolerance."

Silly me. I'd forgotten the passage in the Bible about how Jesus intends to roast everyone from the good Samaritan to Gandhi in everlasting fire, simply because they weren't born-again Christians.

I accept that Mr. Jenkins and Mr. LaHaye are sincere. (They base their conclusions on John 3.) But I've sat down in Pakistani and Iraqi mosques with Muslim fundamentalists, and they offered the same defense: they're just applying God's word.

Now, I've often written that blue staters should be less snooty toward fundamentalist Christians, and I realize that this column will seem pretty snooty. But if I praise the good work of evangelicals - like their superb relief efforts in Darfur - I'll also condemn what I perceive as bigotry. A dialogue about faith must move past taboos and discuss differences bluntly. That's what blue staters and red staters need to do about religion and the "Left Behind" books.

For starters, it's worth pointing out that those predicting an apocalypse have a long and lousy record. In America, tens of thousands of followers of William Miller waited eagerly for Jesus to reappear on Oct. 22, 1844. Some of these Millerites had given away all their belongings, and the no-show was called the Great Disappointment.

In more recent times, the best-selling nonfiction book of the 1970's was Hal Lindsey's "The Late Great Planet Earth," selling 18 million copies worldwide with its predictions of a Second Coming. Then, one of the hottest best sellers in 1988 was a booklet called "88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988." Oops.

Being wrong has rarely been so lucrative.

Now we have the hugely profitable "Left Behind" financial empire, whose Web site flatly says that the authors "think this generation will witness the end of history." The site sells every "Left Behind" spinoff imaginable, including screen savers, regular prophecies sent to your mobile phone, children's versions of the books, audiobooks, graphic novels, videos, calendars, music and a $6.50-a-month prophesy club. This isn't religion, this is brand management.

If Mr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins honestly believe that the end of the world may be imminent, why not waive royalties? Why don't they use the millions of dollars in profits to help the poor - and increase their own chances of getting into heaven?

Mr. Jenkins told me that he gives 20 to 40 percent of his income to charity, and that's commendable. But there are millions more where that came from. Mr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins might spend less time puzzling over obscure passages in the Book of Revelation and more time with the straightforward language of Matthew 6:19, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth." Or Matthew 19:21, where Jesus advises a rich man: "Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor. . . . It will be hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

So I challenge the authors to a bet: if the events of the Apocalypse arrive in the next 10 years, then I'll donate $500 to the battle against the Antichrist; if it doesn't, you donate $500 to a charity of my choosing that fights poverty - and bigotry.

Gentlemen, do we have a deal?


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: bornagain; christianity; evangelicals; leftbehind; rapture; secondcoming
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I'll take that bet.
1 posted on 11/24/2004 7:19:53 AM PST by DTaggart
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To: DTaggart

I never bet on a certainty, the certainty is that all that won't happen...

I am sure fed up of being told I don't understand the Tanakh by people who wouldn't know the difference between a tet and a tav...

All this second coming mishmash enter in the category of how analphabetes understand a book...

BTW this kind of hysteria has been going on for 1700 years at least...


2 posted on 11/24/2004 7:23:39 AM PST by Pitiricus
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To: DTaggart
My younger sister loves those Left Behind books.

Anyway. Hope you have your flame-retardant jammies on.

3 posted on 11/24/2004 7:23:47 AM PST by wizardoz (Arafat's funeral was the Wellstone memorial, with guns.)
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To: DTaggart

This guy has obviously never seen Michaelangelo's Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.


4 posted on 11/24/2004 7:23:58 AM PST by 3AngelaD
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To: DTaggart

I just love a "tolerant" liberal to quote scripture to me. I would be willing to bet the horrible bigot Christian authors donate much more to charity than this commie hairball.


5 posted on 11/24/2004 7:23:59 AM PST by wasp69 (Hey, DUmmies! Can ya feel it? Does it hurt?)
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To: DTaggart
Which side are you betting on?

I will bet all of my lifes fortunes that the end of the world doesn't come within 10 years.

6 posted on 11/24/2004 7:24:19 AM PST by Phantom Lord (Advantages are taken, not handed out)
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To: DTaggart

I don't think one should wager with the anti-christ.


7 posted on 11/24/2004 7:25:36 AM PST by Big Guy and Rusty 99 ("na na na na na na na na LEADER!")
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To: DTaggart

Man, Kristof seems to have ripped me off....

On various Apocalyptikook threads (usually about them lying about increases in earthquakes, etc.) I've offered to bet any amount of money that the World doesn't end within the next 10, 25, 50 years, or whatever.


8 posted on 11/24/2004 7:26:05 AM PST by Strategerist
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To: Phantom Lord

god.... is my bet...


9 posted on 11/24/2004 7:26:09 AM PST by Gibtx (pajamahadeen call to arms.....)
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To: Phantom Lord

Kinda moot, since if it does, would you really be expected to pay out? ;)


10 posted on 11/24/2004 7:26:40 AM PST by TheBigB (<----still tired and red-eyed from this weekend's BAYWATCH marathon on TV Land.)
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To: Pitiricus

Daniel Webster was asked 200 years ago why he believed in God. His answer was quick and precise, "The Jews, sir the Jews." God has a plan for Israel, and we see it happening in front of our eyes. The restoration of Israel to the Land is a modern miracle. The rest of the prophecies will come to pass as well.


11 posted on 11/24/2004 7:26:44 AM PST by fishtank
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To: wizardoz

Having glanced at a couple in a bookstore they actually manage to be more poorly-written than the DaVinci Code, and that's an accomplishment.

Anyway, the Left Behind books are basically Religious Porn.


12 posted on 11/24/2004 7:27:19 AM PST by Strategerist
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To: TheBigB
Kinda moot, since if it does, would you really be expected to pay out? ;)

Yeah, that's the joke of it of course.

13 posted on 11/24/2004 7:27:49 AM PST by Strategerist
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To: fishtank

Webster was right as Christianity is a bastard offshoot of Judaism... Bastard in the sense that it is a throwback to politheism...

But for the rest..


14 posted on 11/24/2004 7:28:15 AM PST by Pitiricus
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To: DTaggart
Being wrong has rarely been so lucrative

Just look at Michael Moore.

These morons are incapable of gettin it, moral equivalency is their dogma, there is no right and wrong, just opinions and feelings, pathetic kool-aiders.

15 posted on 11/24/2004 7:29:40 AM PST by Mister Baredog ((DO IT NOW, if you haven't put up a flag on your FR homepage yet,PLEASE))
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To: DTaggart

The problem I have with the "lef behind" series is that its poorly written. I mean we used to have Christian writers like CS Lewis and GK Chesterton and now we have these two guys.
(though I guess one could argue most "popular" fiction today isn't as good as it used to be)

Also it took two people to write the "left behind" series? yeesh.


16 posted on 11/24/2004 7:29:50 AM PST by escapefromboston (manny ortez: MVP)
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To: Strategerist

I can't understand how the Da Vinci Code became such a success... Boring!


17 posted on 11/24/2004 7:29:51 AM PST by Pitiricus
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To: Pitiricus

"BTW this kind of hysteria has been going on for 1700 years at least..."
__________________________________

You're right about that. One of the reasons there was such stagnation in Western civilization until the Renaissance was that nobody was motivated to do anything because they were all waiting around for the second coming...then they finally woke up.


18 posted on 11/24/2004 7:31:11 AM PST by Cornpone ((Aging Warrior))
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To: DTaggart
Merchandising...The REAL money is in Merchandising!
19 posted on 11/24/2004 7:32:34 AM PST by Edgerunner (The left ain't right. Hand me that launch pickle...)
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To: DTaggart
But I've sat down in Pakistani and Iraqi mosques with Muslim fundamentalists, and they offered the same defense: they're just applying God's word.

If Komrade Kristoff were truly being intellectually honest, he wouldn't take the tired tack of 'Christian Fundamentalist= Islamic Fundamentalist.' The argument he outlines for the Christian side is 'God Will Judge You,' and the one for the Islamic side is 'WE Will Judge You.' He's being dishonest in equating them, but I'm sure he feels no need to be fair to people he so oobviously loathes.

20 posted on 11/24/2004 7:34:24 AM PST by atomicpossum (I am the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to me.)
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To: DTaggart
When will Christ return?
"Sit at my right hand, until I make a footstool of your enemies."
Then.
21 posted on 11/24/2004 7:34:53 AM PST by evets (God bless president George W. Bush)
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To: DTaggart

Uh Mr. Kristof, the book is a novel of fiction. To say that everyone who reads the books thinks that this is what is coming soon is a serious leap. These guys are in business to sell books.


22 posted on 11/24/2004 7:35:04 AM PST by pissant
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To: DTaggart
"...enthusiastically depict Jesus returning to slaughter everyone who is not a born-again Christian"

Where is this depicted? Christ returns, and MERCIFULLY allows everyone to live ETERNALLY! The only difference is WHERE you spend that eternity... There is no "slaughter" in the second coming of Christ...

Jeff
23 posted on 11/24/2004 7:39:09 AM PST by go_W_go
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To: DTaggart

Matthew 6:19, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth." Or Matthew 19:21, where Jesus advises a rich man: "Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor. . . . It will be hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
-----
Keep reading. Maybe the real meaning will come to you.


24 posted on 11/24/2004 7:39:16 AM PST by Earthdweller (US descendant of French Protestants)
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To: DTaggart
If Saudi Arabians wrote an Islamic version of this series, we would furiously demand that sensible Muslims repudiate such hatemongering.

They already have -- it's called the 'Koran'...And they intend to create hell on earth...

Critic NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF (and assumbably a gnasher of teeth) has forgotten LaHaye and Jenkins has written a novel -- although the Bible has indeed earmarked certain "non-believers" with the distinct possibility of hell -- or at least "separation from the presense of God."

25 posted on 11/24/2004 7:40:23 AM PST by F16Fighter
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To: DTaggart
When I started reading the Left Behind series, they seemed to have promise, but somewhere around the fourth book, the writing became lame, the margins became wider and the story appeared repetitive. The whole idea of a Tribulation Force battling the anti-Christ became silly.

It was a good concept that would have made a great three book trilogy. Regardless, the series has sold millions of copies. (So what do I know!) I may borrow the last book from the library just to see how they portray the Second Coming...

26 posted on 11/24/2004 7:40:29 AM PST by Portnoy (Fahrenheit 451...Today's Temperature is hotter than you think...)
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To: DTaggart
"If Saudi Arabians wrote an Islamic version of this series, we would furiously demand that sensible Muslims repudiate such hatemongering. We should hold ourselves to the same standard."

One need not look further than the islamic koran....where it tells the muslim followers to "kill all infadels". How is that for "Hatemongering"?

27 posted on 11/24/2004 7:40:51 AM PST by all4one (My thoughts and prayers are with our soldiers.....and their families)
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To: DTaggart

Liberal Christians do not like to acknowledge the apocalyptic side of Jesus' message - they find it embarrassing. But scholars generally agree that those apocalyptic passages are among the most certainly authentic statements of Jesus. Nevertheless, I'm not into the specifics of the "Left Behind" series; I don't think it necessarily represents accurate Biblical scholarship.


28 posted on 11/24/2004 7:41:17 AM PST by Steve_Seattle
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To: DTaggart
Back in the 1970s, my Grandmother was a big follower of all the end of the world religious nonsense. She would go on and on about how the world was about to end and Jesus was going to come back very soon and save everyone. I remember once asking her, "If the world is going to end soon, why do I need to do my homework?" It was an important question for someone in elementary school. Her answer, "Just in case". LOL.
29 posted on 11/24/2004 7:41:33 AM PST by killjoy (My kid is the bomb at Islam Elementary!)
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To: Strategerist
"I've offered to bet any amount of money that the World doesn't end within the next 10, 25, 50 years, or whatever."

It's not a fair bet, because if the world ends, you don't have to pay. lol
30 posted on 11/24/2004 7:43:13 AM PST by Steve_Seattle
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To: DTaggart

Considering those great numbers of born-again Christians blowing themselves up in shopping malls and massacring children in schools and making DVDs of their beheadings of unbelievers, it is not hard to understand why liberals would be majorly concerned about this sort of hate speech...or, uhm, am I missing something here?


31 posted on 11/24/2004 7:45:11 AM PST by cartan
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To: DTaggart
If Saudi Arabians wrote an Islamic version of this series, we would furiously demand that sensible Muslims repudiate such hatemongering. We should hold ourselves to the same standard.

Another sicko from the NYTimes equating today's Christian fundamentalism with today's Islamic fundamentalism. This simplistic nonsense plays well in Manhattan I suppose.

Keep it up you blue state wise guys and know it alls and keep losing elections.

32 posted on 11/24/2004 7:46:21 AM PST by dennisw (G_D: Against Amelek for all generations)
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To: DTaggart
"If Saudi Arabians wrote an Islamic version of this series, we would furiously demand that sensible Muslims repudiate such hatemongering. We should hold ourselves to the same standard."

The "Left Behind" series anticipates a divine intervention in history; it does not encourage anyone to kill or attack nonbelievers, or to force conversions. So Kristof's atttempt at a parallel with radical Islam falls flat.
33 posted on 11/24/2004 7:46:27 AM PST by Steve_Seattle
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To: Pitiricus

I agree it was the most predictable poorly written number one book ever.


34 posted on 11/24/2004 7:47:06 AM PST by aft_lizard (This space waiting for a post election epiphany)
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To: fishtank

Wasn't that a Disraeli quote?


35 posted on 11/24/2004 7:48:18 AM PST by rightwingcrazy
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To: DTaggart
But I've sat down in Pakistani and Iraqi mosques with Muslim fundamentalists, and they offered the same defense: they're just applying God's word.

Big difference here. Christians just tell how they see it will unfold. Followers of Islam attempt to impliment it every day...

36 posted on 11/24/2004 7:51:47 AM PST by Axenolith (This space for rent...)
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To: rightwingcrazy

dunno


37 posted on 11/24/2004 7:53:05 AM PST by fishtank
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To: DTaggart
I've read all but the last book in the series and enjoyed them immensely. This twit obviously doesn't understand that without Christ, we are all sinners and the penalty for sin is death. God's Justice insists on payment - that's why He sent His Son to pay the penalty for us and gave us all the opportunity to choose everlasting life in lieu of death. I guess I have no choice but to pray that this guy gets it before it is too late and he ends up being one of the casualties he scoffs about...
38 posted on 11/24/2004 7:54:32 AM PST by trebb (Ain't God good . . .)
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To: Pitiricus
"I can't understand how the Da Vinci Code became such a success... Boring!"

For anyone with a modicum of knowledge about the Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi gnostic texts, and the history of Christianity, the book is laughably inaccurate and therefore almost unreadable. But liberals loved it because it reinforced all their paranoid stereotypes and misconceptions about the history of Christianity.
39 posted on 11/24/2004 7:54:40 AM PST by Steve_Seattle
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To: escapefromboston

Quote:The problem I have with the "lef behind" series is that its poorly written


I read the first 3 books and they were all the same. I've never read a series of book where the plot lines are so dragged out. I sometimes wonder if the authors are dragging out the story line to get more $$$$ knowing people will buy their books


40 posted on 11/24/2004 7:58:16 AM PST by superiorslots
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To: DTaggart

"Why don't they use the millions of dollars in profits to help the poor - and increase their own chances of getting into heaven? "


Because that would be actually living their faith, rather than profiting from it.


41 posted on 11/24/2004 8:04:12 AM PST by Blzbba (Conservative Republican - Less gov't, less spending, less intrusion.)
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To: Pitiricus

You sir, have a very small and petty mind. In the name of common decency, try to control your insecurities and withhold your venom from this board.


42 posted on 11/24/2004 8:04:48 AM PST by mikeus_maximus
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To: mikeus_maximus

For stating the truth?

LOL!


43 posted on 11/24/2004 8:05:50 AM PST by Pitiricus
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To: Strategerist

"Having glanced at a couple in a bookstore they actually manage to be more poorly-written than the DaVinci Code, and that's an accomplishment.

Anyway, the Left Behind books are basically Religious Porn."



Agreed. I actually read the first one. Boy, what a stretch of fiction that was! To summarize, the anti-Christ Nicolae Carpathia comes to power in the UN and convinces all the world's military powers to give all their weaponry to him, via the UN.

Yeah, right. I can just see the Israelis blindly agreeing to given their billion-dollar military to the UN. And China, North Korea, the USA, etc.

Just far too unbelievable and poorly-written to boot.


44 posted on 11/24/2004 8:06:20 AM PST by Blzbba (Conservative Republican - Less gov't, less spending, less intrusion.)
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Comment #45 Removed by Moderator

Comment #46 Removed by Moderator

To: Pitiricus

"For stating the truth? "


That's probably a sin to some Christians.


47 posted on 11/24/2004 8:10:12 AM PST by Blzbba (Conservative Republican - Less gov't, less spending, less intrusion.)
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To: Blzbba

Probably... :-)

try to tell some of them that the KJV is a flawed translation, and see the feathers fly!


48 posted on 11/24/2004 8:11:08 AM PST by Pitiricus
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To: Pitiricus

Sheeps and Goats.

If you don't know what this means then your a goat.

Read Matt 25:31-46

As for the Left Behind series it is totally fiction based on a literal reading of the book of Revelation. The current theology of a rapture with a second chance came about on the early 1800's. The actual theological view is that when Jesus returns it is immediately judgement day and your then segregated as a sheep or a goat.

Baa Baa!


49 posted on 11/24/2004 8:11:45 AM PST by boilerfan (Hoosier born and Boilermaker educated!)
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To: Pitiricus

Even if that statement were correct, (and it shows an oustanding lack of scholarship), a decent person would not go out of their way to insult strangers. It's obvious what "religion" your value system is based on-- self worship.


50 posted on 11/24/2004 8:14:04 AM PST by mikeus_maximus
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