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Tuesday, March 30

And now the end is near and so I face the final curtain....

I read in the NY Times that the last book in the "Left Behind" series is being published called "Glorious Appearing". This is the 12 book where Jesus himself returns. Retailers have ordered more than 2,000,000 copies already. 40,000,000 copies of the previous books have been sold. This is getting scary. (Don't forget you heard it here that if Jesus ever does come, these folks are not going to recognize him) This article explains a lot about the Christian right in this country of late and their strange behavior. It also explains why I call them the Christian wrong. So let's dissect some of this stuff, shall we?

From:In 12th Book of Best-Selling Series, Jesus Returns By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, The New York Times.
..... "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?"

We are getting the picture here that some people think this stuff is true. I hope they are not teachers or high ranking government officials.
... Along the way, the "Left Behind" books have drawn sharp criticism for elements like their emphasis on the conversion of Jews and their focus on the brutal rule of the Antichrist, who happens to head the United Nations.

Well yeah. Jews have thought that they were the chosen people for more than 5,000 years and it is probably unsettling for them to hear that they are going to have to be converted. I think they have had just about enough crap from the Christians for the past 2000 years.
..... "Tyndale House, the evangelical Christian publisher of the series, says it plans to spend $2 million marketing "Glorious Appearing." More than 20,000 people have volunteered for a "Left Behind" "street team," promising to disseminate messages about the books to their family, friends and neighbors.

Yikes this reminds me of the time the Jehovah's witnesses sent a little kid up to my door around 1986 to tell me that the end was near. My son was just a toddler and I was very over protective of him.. more than now. I hollered down to the sidewalk to the older folks and asked, "Will the end come before my son gets his driver's license?" They said yes. I was relieved. My son is driving now. 'The End' didn't come.
..... "Some theologians call the novels a dangerous distortion of Scripture. In an interview, Joseph C. Hough Jr., president of Union Theological Seminary in New York, warned that the novels' preoccupation with the suffering that many evangelical Christians foresee for unbelievers "leads people to think that Christianity is about cosmic fire insurance."

Dr. Hough argues that the novels misconstrue Revelation to mean that there are only two sides to every question, God's and the Devil's.

"It's the same sort of vision of the world that is reflected in some of our recent presidential administrations, that there is the world of good and the world of evil, like `the axis of evil' and `the evil empire,' " he said. "The enemies of America are the enemies of God. It is very dangerous, because it leads you to do things in the expectation that everyone who is against you is evil."

Exactamundo. And this is why I frequently write stuff about religion. It's dangerous. I was a religion teacher and I should know. I took great pains to avoid teaching about the world in black and white terms. There is no black and white. That is probably why I don't agree with anything that comes from the Bush Cartel.
..... " 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."
..... "
I suppose if these people weren't so self righteous, they might win a convert or two. Honestly, if there is a God who reflects this God of the Bible, then who needs him? Think about it... did he put us here with earthly desires and needs only to dictate a book that not only contradicts itself but then demand that we behave like puppets? Doesn't make sense. He wouldn't have given us free wills.

And the most important thing of all, would a real loving God want people to worship him only because they are afraid of going to hell? I wouldn't want someone to love me out of fear. What's more. You can't love someone out of fear. You merely fear them and do what they say to avoid their wrath. That sucks.

...."He came up with the idea of turning prophecy into fiction about 18 years ago, and he eventually teamed with Mr. Jenkins, a prolific and best-selling Christian author, to spin Bible verses into fast-paced, futuristic thrillers. Their first novel, "Left Behind," opens with a vivid description of the Rapture, the moment when many evangelical Christians believe all the born-again will abruptly disappear to heaven. In a nod to the authors' views on abortion, they describe an unborn fetus ascending from the womb to heaven as well."

Remember those bumper stickers? "In case of rapture, this car will be empty". How very Christian.
...."The succeeding novels tick off the pivotal steps Dr. LaHaye foresees during the ensuing "tribulation," a seven-year period of turmoil and cataclysm when unbelievers have a last chance to see the light. The fictional Antichrist, a Romanian named Nicolae Carpathia, rises to power as head of the United Nations. He signs a peace treaty with Israel, setting off a seven-year countdown to the Second Coming, and he ultimately establishes a worldwide government, a brutal dictatorship and a false religion with himself at its head. Meanwhile, 144,000 Jews convert to evangelical Christianity, including one rabbi whose conversion takes place live on global television, and lead an underground "remnant" of believers who periodically recite passages of Scripture that Dr. LaHaye relies on as a road map to their future.

Dr. LaHaye said he believed that over all the series reflected the biblical truth.
"That's the way it's going to be during the tribulation period, according to Revelation, and if it happens to parallel what the seculars are trying to do today, so be it," he said.

"The Bible clearly teaches there's going to be a one-world government in the last days. And after the Rapture of the church, then that one-world government will coalesce, bringing together all the governments of the world and also bringing together all the religions of the world." He added, "The fact that we're seeing some of those things happen right now must be a wake-up call to some people to say, `Hey, we may be closer than we think.' "

Trust me, one of these days I'll complete an essay on apocalyptic writing. Don't read the Book of Revelations unless you have a degree in Theology or have studied apocalyptic writing. Let me just say that the writer of Revelations was a man named John on the Island of Patmos in about 90AD who is describing the fall of the temple of Jerusalem. It already happened. Also keep in mind that in those days of the New Testament, people expected Jesus' return to be imminent... Just like the imminency of the Iraqi regime against the United States. Doesn't the name, Nicale Carpathia sound like a villain in a James Bond movie? oy.
....To those unfamiliar with Dr. LaHaye's views of Revelation, the most striking aspect of the novels may be the bloody massacre Jesus wreaks on the Antichrist's unbelieving armies.

"Tens of thousands of foot soldiers dropped their weapons, grabbed their heads or their chests, fell to their knees, and writhed as they were invisibly sliced asunder," the authors write. "Their innards and entrails gushed to the desert floor, and as those around them turned to run, they too were slain, their blood pooling and rising in the unforgiving brightness of God."

That might seem like the end of the end, but Dr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins say they are not quite finished. They plan a postscript to the series, describing one last battle between God and Satan at the close of Jesus' 1,000-year rule on Earth, and a prequel, filling in the early history of the Antichrist.
But it may be hard to top "Glorious Appearing."

"For believers, we really are looking forward to the glorious appearing," said Steve Nelson, a Southern Baptist minister in Gallatin, Tenn., and fan of the series. "We know from reading the Word that we win in the end, and this is the winning round coming up."
Doesn't it sound like John From Patmos didn't read the words of Jesus in the Gospels?
Anyway, now it's easy to understand why the right wing Christians are so happy about the wars in the middle east. It fits in with their idea of the end times and they are just itchin' for it to come.
But I tell you, they aren't going to recognize it if it should ever happen.

This article is Copyright © 2004The New York Times Company.

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