Skip to comments.Apocalypse (Almost) Now
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."
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?
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...
Anyway. Hope you have your flame-retardant jammies on.
This guy has obviously never seen Michaelangelo's Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.
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.
I will bet all of my lifes fortunes that the end of the world doesn't come within 10 years.
I don't think one should wager with the anti-christ.
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.
god.... is my bet...
Kinda moot, since if it does, would you really be expected to pay out? ;)
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.
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.
Yeah, that's the joke of it of course.
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..
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.
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.
I can't understand how the Da Vinci Code became such a success... Boring!
"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.
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.
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