Blank Ron suggested I do all this MST3K-style with host segments and such, but I think I'll pass on that. I like the MST3K guys, but I'm not sure how well my style would translate to theirs. I like gratuitous pop culture references and profanity, dammit! Out of curiosity, is there still a big thing in the fandom over who's better, Mike or Joel? I heard it's really more like the Roger Moore! Bond vs. Sean Connery! Bond in that there are passionate voices on both sides, but it's really more about who you were exposed to first. Which for me was Mike. Sorry, Joel fans, though if we're talking in terms of a physical fight, I'd have to give it to Joel. Don't eff with a guy who survived Manos!
If anyone isn't cool with my snark and wants to do their own MST3K-style snark of Kingdom Come, feel free. I'll happily link to it. Thanks again to Firedrake for getting me a copy of this book, so I don't have to put money into Ellanjay's pockets.
And with all the disclaimers out of the way, I'll launch the snark with some music to get us pumped up, thus indulging in my love of gratuitous pop culture references and eighties cheese with one link.
As my inspiration, Fred Clark has noted, Tim LaHaye died recently at the ripe old age of 90. As he mentions in his post, while most people see living to be ninety as an overall good thing, in the particular subculture LaHaye is in, it's kind of embarrassing. Guys like him spend decades making a fortune predicting the End of the World, yet the world keeps on going and they grow old and die, and don't get to see TurboJesus Exterminate All the Brutes!
But no matter what, the subculture never disappears. New acolytes pick up where the old left off and given that the subculture in general is bad at history, if any of my readers have a desire for filthy filthy lucre and no scruples holding you back, you could fill the niche that Tim LaHaye's death has left behind.
Sorry for the pun; there was really no way to avoid making it. Just remember, so long as none of the wrongs you commit involve sex in anyway, you could make a good living in that subculture, no matter how horrible and wrong you may be. A good example of all this is this book. I found a copy of it while searching my grandmother's church's library and just laughed my head off at the cover alone. Didn't look at the contents, but for those too lazy to click on the link, the book is one by John Hagee talking about how the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin means that we'll totally see the rise of the anti-Christ within a year. Fun Fact: Yitzhak Rabin died in 1995. There are children born in that year who will be old enough to drink this year and we still haven't seen neither hide nor hair of the anti-Christ.
But fear not, John Hagee is still making a comfortable living, despite being wrong many, many times. I know, you were really worried about the guy. Because like I keep saying, the RTC subculture is willing to forgive a lot, so long as it doesn't involve sex. I honestly think that Jim Bakker, in spite of all the skeevy financial stuff involved in his downfall, might still have standing within the subculture, if it hadn't turned out that he was playing hide the salami with his secretary. All Bakker would have to do is accept whatever punishment dealt out by the courts (which would likely be a slap on the wrist, because even though White Collar crime costs way more money and hurts more people than ordinary crime, White Collar Criminals generally face little if any punishment), do his time, then when he comes out of prison, make a big show of talking about how he's really sorry for what he's done, but he's all better now because of Jesus, and he would be welcomed back. Wouldn't quite have the same cachet he used to, especially outside the subculture, but again, as long as sex isn't involved, the RTCs are willing to forgive and forget. So aspiring televangelists/con artists looking to prey on the beliefs of others, keep all that in mind.
Okay for everybody going, "STFU, Mouse, and get to the story!" I have to apologize. Because really, there's not likely to be much story this week. Because we all know of Ellanjay's love of padding, the first ten percent of the book's content or its preface, is, well, precisely that. I have no problem with deciding to quote from a snippet of the Bible or a piece of literature that is relevant to your book, but let me break down just how much prefacing there is in this book.
First, is a brief little prayer. It's short and there's not really much to make of it. If the preface had just been that, I'd be willing to let Ellanjay off the hook. Then for some reason, they felt the need to type up the entire Lord's Prayer, because it's not like the RTC subculture would have ever heard of it. I mean, who, Christian or otherwise, would be familiar with something as arcane as the Lord's Prayer? And then to further add to this book's word count, they copied and pasted all of Revelation 20.
All this makes me feel like I'm reading some high school kid's paper where the kid quickly realized he/she had nowhere near enough content to satisfy the teacher's requirements, so is using whatever trickery they can to fill things out, adding extra words, abusing the hell out of the Thesaurus, screwing with margins and font size, and of course, copying and pasting tons of quotes from the Bible, Classic Lit, or just plain better writers in hopes of lending your crappy project a note of gravitas.
And now we get to the note from the Late Tim LaHaye.
Tim LaHaye wisely assumes his audience consists of total morons by patiently explaining how a millennium is equal to a thousand years.
THE MILLENNIAL kingdom gets its name from the twentieth chapter of the book of Revelation. Millennium is derived from the Latin words mille (one thousand) and [_annum _]( year).
The Millennium defines the duration of Christ’s kingdom following the Rapture and Tribulation and prior to His creation of a new heaven and new earth. During the Millennium, Christ will physically reign on earth.
Don't worry though. It isn't long before Tim LaHaye stops with the idiot explanations and leaps to his own fanfiction based on the Bible.
Not many details are provided about Christ’s millennial kingdom in Revelation 20, except the final order of last-days events, the windup of history as we know it, and the length of the reign. There are, however, enough details to provide an idea of the way things might unfold. Many passages in the Old Testament and the New tell of the future kingdom of Israel within Christ’s kingdom.
Okay, looking back at Revelation 20, which was linked to in this post, Tim LaHaye is right in that not a lot is given about what the Millennial Kingdom will be like. But that's because John, the prophet who wrote Revelation, was probably more concerned with teaching his followers how to live in the here and now. Biblical writers tend to be so inconsiderate, talking about how you have to actually do good deeds in order to be a good person and can't just say The Prayer with the precise amount of Sincerity demanded and spend the rest of your life not doing certain things and expect to get into Heaven.
Okay, I'm going to quote a passage from the tail-end of Revelation 20, one that despite being quoted in full at the beginning of the book, y'know neither Tim LaHaye nor Jerry Jenkins has actually read.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
The bolding in there is mine, put in for emphasis. As enthusiastic members of Team Hell, RTCs love to cite this passage because it's one of the few passages that comes close to mentioning the popular culture's depiction of Hell. But as Fred points out in that link and the quote from Revelation shows, their depiction of Hell isn't that Biblical, just bits and pieces cobbled together from Dante and John Milton, who were themselves basically writing Biblical Fanfiction. Though at least, Milton and Dante had style, because they were still working in the era when the Church was the only game in town for artists, composers, writers, and other creative types, so you couldn't just slap on a Jesus Fish on a piece of crap and call it a day. Do that and your wealthy patron will be like, "Tough!" then proceed to fire you and give your job to one of the many other desperate starving artists standing in line.
Plus, the passage in Revelation again keeps saying that they were judged according to what they had done, and while the Revelation of John is way trippier than a lot of the stuff from the Prophets, he, like most of the New Testament writers, was probably following in a long tradition of the Old Testament prophets of speaking the truth to power, calling out those who live in the lap of luxury, while the majority live in appalling misery. Remember Revelation 18? It was only a few chapters ago and basically it is an exhortation to his followers to come out of Babylon. Given that all the goods listed in that chapter, were opulent ones only available to the superrich and that the Roman Empire was built like all other empires, on the suffering and toil of a majority for the benefit of a privileged elite, John is clearly saying, "Walk away from a brutal system of oppression, because all of this isn't going to last. Empires are inherently unstable--they will fall--and it's better to get out before they do."
But Ellanjay and his ilk would find that kind of message to be uncomfortable, so when it came time to deal with that passage in the LB books, using the kind of bending and twisting of words that a lawyer would envy, they found another way to interpret it. For those of you wondering, it was the whole plot tumor where Judd hung around with Germans, but to put it in shorter words:
In the latest book, there is one laughable situation where some German Christians supposedly read a verse in the Revelation about God's people being told to come out of Babylon, because the city was going to be destroyed "in one hour", and so they travelled to the Antichrist headquarters in Baghdad just to save God the embarrassment of not having anyone inside to "come out" when the time came. Seriously! This is exactly how contrived the so-called fulfillments of various prophecies are, as far as Jenkins and LaHaye are concerned. Find a verse, weave it into a good car or plane chase, and then pretend that it is what the Bible was talking about all along.
Those words come from this website which I've linked before. I don't agree with all the views presented on the site, but I do feel it did a good smackdown when talking about Chloe Steele's "ordeal" at the hands of the GC.
Or in other words, Chris Fisher's comments on a recent NRA post, while maybe not a hundred percent in accord with the words of John and all the prophets, are probably closer to what they were trying to go for, than anything Ellanjay come up with. I like his comments so much I copied and pasted them into Evernote, where I keep quotes and pictures I like. Though I'd share them with you, because I think they're pretty cool. If Chris Fisher objects for whatever reason, I'll take 'em down.
Chris Fisher's Comments in a Slacktivist Left Behind Post:
There would be no ‘mark’, at least not one the humans would recognize. No dramatic choices. No moment where the ‘hero’ decidedly rejects taking a mark and dies a martyr’s death.
The mark was seen only by those with eyes to see. His friends down below. His enemies above.
Each human was born into beast, the systems that controlled their lives, that demanded their attention, that distracted the soul from what was important. The beast, largely of their own invention, that screamed into their ears the inane and profane of their day to day existence until the soul became hard and calloused. A system that quantified and valued their lives based on scraps of paper and later on computer bits that they traded back and forth with one another and wasted decades of their lives on.
Work was no longer a joy or an expression of the worker, but a day to day drudgery in the pursuit of those bits. They needed those bits for things. Things made by slave labor. Things made by children working in even more horrid conditions than their own workplace some 6,000 miles away. The distance, of course, made it easier to ignore their support of cruelty in the pursuit of avarice and gluttony.
And don’t even get me started on compound interest, Nicolae thought. Word down below was that his father had flayed many a demon that day for not thinking of the idea before the humans.
But that was the wonderful thing about humans. They didn’t need a constant tempter whispering in their ear. All they really needed was a little push in the right direction from time to time and they would invent the most exquisite torments that made Senior Management down there jealous.
Of course, possibly their greatest blasphemy had been identifying the Enemy’s church with the system they had built.
No, there was no chip, no armband, no barcode. There was only the system. Save a nickel and shop at the store that buys products from slavers overseas. Take that incredible deal from the company that just laid off 10,000 workers. Participate in the system and don’t think about it. Don’t think about the cruelty on which it is built.
Whether they knew it or not, Rayford Steel and Buck Williams were far closer to being in his camp than either of the two dolts realized. Their attendance at church was dangerous and had to be monitored. Not because of the church itself. That church was one of the more acceptable ones to the Senior Management. No, they still had to be monitored, because often even in the most acceptable of churches by hell’s standards, there was still a small number of His. And any one of His could be capable of spreading dangerous ideas, like love, temperance, self-sacrifice, and justice…
Those things have no place in the system.
If I were to write something like this in long form or even as a short story, the rapture would not be a reward for the faithful, but a liberation for the oppressed as God's first opening salvo at dismantling the foundations of the kingdom of this world.
I think that if heaven and hell exist, we are closer to heaven when we value others and live in peace and we are closer to hell when we value things and live for empty pursuits.
All right, enough lecturing, back to the actual content of the book.
Tim LaHaye talks about how the Millennial Kingdom will be great, full of peace and prosperity and all that, but won't be Heaven, because part of his weird mythos is that the Millennial Kingdom lasts only a thousand years, after which Satan gets let out of Hell, just so TurboJesus can punt him back into Hell, for reasons that totally make sense and aren't convoluted as all get out. Only then can we finally get the actual Heaven.
But Tim LaHaye has more words about the Millennial Kingdom:
But as newborns come along, obviously, they will be sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation. I believe the scriptural prophecies indicate that anyone who does not trust Christ by the age of one hundred will be accursed. And while some may disagree, popular consensus among those of us who take the Bible literally wherever possible is that such people will die on their hundredth birthdays, thus exposing themselves as unbelievers.
First of all, what's all this about newborns? I thought there was supposed to be no sex, so how are there newborns? Well, okay there are kids under the "Too Short to Be Punted Into the Fires of Hell for all Eternity" line when TurboJesus shows up, but that's still a range where a good percentage are older than what most of us think when we think of newborns.
And where exactly is this verse about unbelievers dying on their 100th birthday? Since you say popular consensus, I'm sure Tim LaHaye's not just quoting his own opinion and there is an actual verse you can cite.
But that bit about "literally..." It's one of the things that keeps disappointing me about this series, not-so much that they interpret the Bible literally, but that they're nowhere near literal enough.
For example, here's the beginning of Revelation 13, which talks about the evil beast that rules the world. Ellanjay, of course, consider Nicky to be the beast spoken of in that passage. But read the passage, really read it and tell me if Revelation 13 sounds anything like the weaksauce beast we get in the books:
13 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
How much of that passage sounds like it's describing a polyglot pacifistic politician from Romania? Little to none. And how many of you are reading through the quoted verses and being, like me, "Oh come on! How come we're not getting that?! That would have been awesome!"
Yeah, you can make a case that if Nicky was actually a seven-headed, ten-horned, leopard-bear-lion-dragon monstrosity, it would look kind of stupid, but it'd be the kind of stupid that's so over-the-top and metal that it crosses the line and becomes great. I could see why someone would worship a beast who looks like that; hell, I would worship a beast that looks like that!
If they every do a film adaptation where they really do interpret the Book of Revelation literally, they'd have to get Guillermo Del Toro to direct. He may be the only one with the madcap vision to really do the florid, grotesque imagery justice.
To further show just how much Tim LaHaye can completely and totally miss the point, here's his summation of the Old and New Testament.
You may also find it instructive to see the Millennium as yet another of God’s efforts to reach the lost. He started by providing the perfect environment, the Garden of Eden.
But sin invaded.
Then came the faith age, in which Old Testament heroes acted on their trust in God. The New Testament book of Hebrews contains a faith Hall of Fame, each description of each saint’s acts preceded by the phrase “By faith.”
But sin invaded.
Then came the age of the law, during which God’s people tried to please Him by following meticulous rules.
But sin invaded.
Then came the age of grace, when Jesus died for our sins and all we had to do was trust Him and His work on the cross for our salvation. Still men and women rejected God.
Then will come the Rapture and the Great Tribulation, and despite these obvious signs that God is sovereign, humans will turn from Him and go their own ways.
Like I keep saying, Ellanjay's depiction of God is an unshaven guy dressed in a wife-beater and bath robe, shouting at his cowering spouse/children, "Now look at what you made me do!" We must never forget this.
Though I am disappointed that I'm never given an explanation by anyone as to why the sudden personality change with Jesus. Was all this "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do," merely a ruse or a strategy in order to rope in followers? Because I doubt a persecuted minority suffering under the weight of a massive empire, would be open to all this "Turn the other check" and all that.
I suppose a possibility is that Jesus went out of his mind from the pain and torture of the cross, so therefore when he comes back, he's not going to be in the mood to save anyone. But I doubt Ellanjay would approve of that message.
But Ellanjay are the toadies, directing the bully to other targets to save themselves, panting in anticipation of watching the bully do what they can't, dish out punishment to anyone they willy-nilly feel deserves it. As a general rule, most find the toadies to be much more repugnant than the bullies in that scenario. The bully is still a horrible person, but they're being a smidge more honest than the toadies. The Bully is being an a-hole who delights in inflicting misery and pain on those weaker than them, but at least, they're not trying to claim the moral high ground, the way toadies like Ellanjay do.
Yeah, I'm going to quote C.S. Lewis again. For all his flaws, he had more insight into human nature than Ellanjay:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
Me and aunursa and many others will point out that Tim LaHaye's summation of the Old Testament is insultingly simplistic and anti-Semitic. But Tim LaHaye assures us that he is in no way Anti-Semitic:
It should be plain from our treatment of this great future period that we are the opposites of anti-Semites. Indeed, we hold that the entire Bible contains God’s love letter to and plan for His chosen people. If Israel had no place within the future Kingdom of God, we could no longer trust the Bible.
Again, Ellanjay's deepest desire for the Jews is that they abandon the faith that has sustained them through countless centuries of persecution, convert to Christianity, and from there, either cease to exist, or they can cling to the faith and burn forever. I don't know why anyone would interpret that as Anti=Semitic, I really don't.
Tim LaHaye closes his little thing with a "Come Lord, Jesus, come" message and I know it's probably perverse of me to say it, but I take some delight in thinking about how irritated he must have been, living to be ninety, only to wind up dying without ever seeing any of his revenge porn fantasies play out.
Yeah, I can't help but think of how disappointed Tim LaHaye must be when it turns out that Heaven's not the ultimate gated community.
Okay, that does feel a little mean-spirited. I apologize.
After Tim LaHaye's note, we get a list of the cast of characters. These will all be ones from the Adult Books, but if y'all follow Fred's snarks, you kind of know about most of them. Just remember that Rayford Steele and Buck Williams are at the top of the great hierarchy that runs the LB-verse and you'll do fine. Yes, they're even higher up than Zod and TurboJesus. Were it not for the fact that they were too wussy to have those two say something besides Biblical quotes, I'd suspect there'd be a passage where Zod or TurboJesus broke down and started sobbing as they talked about how they wished they could be as tall or manly as Rayford or Buck.
And after all this prefacing, we get to the Prologue. WHICH IS JUST A COPY-AND-PASTE OF A PART OF THE PREVIOUS BOOK, GLORIOUS APPEARRING!
:deep breath: I am dead serious here, that's what it is. To quote Dave Barry, "I am not making this up." It's just one of those things were your only response is staring in appalled horror, alternating that with a whole lot of screaming profanity. Because people totally begin a fiction series intended for grownups with the 13th book, so it was absolutely necessary to have all this stuff copied and pasted from the twelfth book; it's most definitely not padding.
:shakes head sadly: It's stuff like this that makes you honestly feel a little sorry for Ellanjay's target audience, because they're paying good money, only to get cheated so badly. But only a little sorry for them, seeing as they're rooting for the End of the World. Most normal people would consider the End of the World to be a bad thing and would consider the characters trying to save the world from cosmic forces bent on destroying it, to be the good guys, but in Left Behind...Yeah, just as they desire to be eaten first, they also cried loud tears of anguish and rage whenever the Fantastic Four defeats Galactus.
Yes, I did do all that as a thinly veiled excuse to post links to Jack Chick parodies! I thought you all were used to that kind of thing by now.
[Fantastic Four Tangent] I keep wondering about that franchise, how nobody seems to be capable of doing a good Fantastic Four movie. When Roger Corman's unreleased version is considered the best film adaptation, you know a franchise has problems, enough that I'm wondering if there's some kind of curse involved. I'd say it's the angry spirit of Jack Kirby, but several of Kirby's other characters have been successfully adapted, so I'm afraid that theory doesn't work. But it may be due to their main villain, Doctor Doom, being so theatrical and over-the-top in villainous grandeur that there's pretty much no medium that can accurately depict him except comic books. But I'm open to everyone else's theories. [/FF4 Tangent]
Anyway, the only part of the prologue that was remotely interesting was when Amanda and Irene, Rayford's exes, met up. Because I am dirty-minded pervert, I've immediately crafted an elaborate head canon where Irene and Amanda start talking. Irene will say something like, "Does he still insist on wearing the epaulets all the time, even in the shower?" "Yes. Did he always insist on being called Captain at all times?" Then Irene would shake her head and be like, "Honey, I heard when he was a kid, he insisted upon being called Mouseketeer Steele." And she and Amanda would have a good hearty laugh at Rayford's clownish vanity and walk off-stage making wisecracks until Rayford was safely out of earshot. Then femmeslash would ensue.
I know, I'm a dirty-minded pervert--like I said, I cut my story-telling teeth with fanfiction, what does that tell you?--but I love putting* more Yuri and Yaoi into Christian Fiction. Though it's hardly a challenge, given that Christian Writers are some of the best unintentional creators of Ho Yay around. So much so that I pretty much concluded that Buck married Chloe to get close to Rayford. Because Chloe is his daughter, so Buck can bite his lip and tell himself that he's sleeping with someone of Rayford's blood, while performing his marital duties to Chloe. Yet it's easier for him and Rayford to sneak around because it'd make sense because Buck is Rayford's son-in-law. And the existence of Chloe and later, the child they have together, would dispel any nasty rumors about Buck's sexuality. Because Gay Men are incapable of producing semen or performing with a woman; therefore, if a guy has a wife and a child, he most certainly isn't Gay. I don't know why you'd think someone raised in a culture that considers Homosexuality to be an abomination, would feel the need to do something so gauche as live a lie, so they can have something resembling a normal life, while sneaking around for anonymous hookups (which are totally safer than an open, committed relationship) on the side.
I suppose I should be merciful, think of the pain they're causing Chloe, but Chloe has been assimilated. So maybe I'll just assume that Chloe lacks the nerve to just move a thousand miles away from her husband like Beverly LaHaye and make living, telling other women that they shouldn't have careers and should be solely devoted to their husbands. But at the same time, Chloe needs a husband in order to keep up appearances in the subculture, and she does want to have a baby; she just doesn't want to have to deal with a husband demanding sex from her all the time. So she knows about Rayford and Buck and deliberately turns a blind eye to it, because it makes her life so much easier to ignore the ugly truth.
Okay, to be fair, the only person Rayford and Buck could truly love, would be a clone of themselves, but can you honestly say that Rayford and Buck aren't virtually clones of each other in the first place?
Yeah, I know, delved into some serious effed up stuff in those previous paragraphs, but it's a reoccurring thing with Ellanjay. No matter how much they assert how "happy" and "content" and "godlike" the characters are, I can't stop seeing unwholesome undercurrents to all this. Experience has taught me that anyone who feels a need to loudly proclaim a virtue that they are so "tolerant" of those different from them or that they're such Nice Guys, chances are pretty good that they suck at whatever virtue they're proclaiming.
After the Cut-And-Paste, we finally get to...MORE FILLER MATERIAL LAYING OUT LARGE EXPOSITORY LUMPS OF INFORMATION THAT CAN BE MORE ORGANICALLY PLACED AS PART OF THE ACTUAL STORY WHERE IT NOT FOR THE FACT THAT ELLANJAY ARE SO UNBELIEVABLY LAZY!
:deep breath: Sorry, I said I'd try to get through all the front matter, so we can finally launch into the actual story next week, but this snark's hella long and I think I'm going to have to cry, "No Mas!" Sorry guys...
Anyway, that's it for this week. I know, I know, no actual story, but I like to think there was still some value in the material I delved into this week. If nothing else, it serves as a reminder as to just how badly Ellanjay screw over anybody who reads their books. And hey, if anybody wants to take some of the stuff I've mentioned and make meta-fiction with it, I'm totally on board. Again, I'll link to it and do my part to promote it in the Slacktiverse.
*I almost used the word "inserting" but then I realized the implications and felt so dirty about the pun I'd be making.