Articles from June 2010

Left Behind: Apollyon Review–Part 3

Previous parts

On page 55, we read, “[Carpathia] was the most dynamic, engaging, charming speaker Buck had ever heard.”  Okay, Buck, you have been deprived!  You’ve truly never heard any more dynamic speaker than the one who recites historical trivia and names of nations?

On page 56, Buck’s “cell phone vibrated in his pocket.”  Was that his pants pocket?  For anyone else this would be nothing, but for our phone-fetishist Buck, this is sexy, baby!

In Carpathia’s speech on page 105, we read,

Following the disappearances that caused such great chaos in our world, some looked to obscure and clearly allegorical, symbolic, figurative passages from the Christian Bible and concocted a scenario that included this spiriting away of the true church.

Many Christian leaders, now members of Enigma Babylon, say this was never taught before the disappearances, and if it was, few serious scholars accepted it.  Many others, who held other views of how God might end life on earth for his followers, disappeared themselves.

From a small band of fundamentalists, who believe they were somehow stranded here because they were not good enough to go the first time, has sprung up a cult of some substance…..

You see here two things: the idea that fundamentalist Christians are being persecuted for believing rightly, and the idea that traditional beliefs about the End-Times are somehow associated with the Antichrist and a heretical one-world religion.

Note that the Christian leaders who rejected the Rapture doctrine, were not only not raptured, but are now members of that one-world religion–the authors’ little moment of,

“Ah-HA!  The world called us ‘fundamentalists’ with scorn, you mainline and traditional Christians said we were wrong, but now you’re on the side of the Antichrist and will burn with the rest of them!”

There is more of this on page 320, after the unbelievers are stung by demonic insects, when Rayford shakes his head and says, “I feel sorry for them and for anybody who has to endure this.  If they had only listened!  The message has been out there since before the Rapture.”

On pages 112 through 115, more indignities keep getting heaped upon Hattie: First Rayford makes a crack about her being “more attractive than bright.”  Then the doctor Floyd says there’s nothing attractive about her, that the poison (from Carpathia trying to take out her and the baby) has done its work, that “she makes no sense when she talks, and spiritually she’s bankrupt.”  Yet somehow, we find, Floyd has fallen for her anyway:

“What I want is to love her.  I do love her.  I want to hold her and kiss her and tell her.”  His voice grew quavery.  “I care so much for her that I’ve convinced myself I can love her back to health in every way.  Physically and spiritually.”  He turned and faced Rayford.  “Didn’t expect that one, did you?”

Rayford’s response:

Rayford put an arm on Floyd’s shoulder as they went back into the house.

“I’m no love counselor,” he said, “but you’re right when you say this one makes no sense.  She’s not a believer.  You’re old enough to know the difference between pity and love and between medical compassion and love.

“You hardly know her, and what you know is not that pretty.  It doesn’t take a scientist to see that this is something other than what you think it is.”

Then on pages 122 to 124, we discover that Floyd’s wife (also a Real True Christian like Irene) also nagged him about converting before the Rapture.  Then they lost two children, not in the Rapture but one to a miscarriage and the other to a school bus accident.

The grief drove them apart, yet while Floyd went off for some time on his own, his wife continued to do his housework, make him dinner, do his laundry, and “knew just when to call or send a note.  Every time, Rayford, every stinkin’ time, she would remind me that she loved me, cared about me, wanted me back, and was ready to do whatever I needed to make my life easier.”

So basically, Floyd’s wife had no self-respect and kept calling and begging and telling him she’d do whatever he wanted, and made herself a cook and housekeeper for the man who had left her.

I get the impression they were separated for some time, maybe even a few years, yet she continued to do this.  Not only would most women not do this, but most men would probably see her as pathetic, maybe even want a restraining order against her.

But instead, Floyd and Rayford marvel over how she “humiliated” Floyd and won him back.  Floyd says about how she acted while he grieved, “I knew it was God in her life that allowed her to do that.”

Then Rayford says, “I don’t want to bad-mouth an old friend, but I suggest you think about the kind of woman your wife was before you consider Hattie as a replacement….I’m not saying Hattie couldn’t become that kind of person.”

Floyd responds, “I know.  But there’s no evidence she wants to be.”

Poor Hattie!  Why can’t Floyd be in love with her, or at least have a crush on her?  How condescending to tell him how he feels!  She’s on her deathbed here; can’t she love again, can’t someone love her?

Or will Rayford not let anybody else love her, because if he can’t have her, nobody can?

Poor Hattie has been portrayed as a whore for falling for Rayford, for letting him toy with her emotions, for getting upset when he tossed her aside after tiring of her.

Rayford calls her an “old friend” and hypocritically says he doesn’t want to bad-mouth her, when he’s done plenty of that already.  He doesn’t treat her as a friend at all, never has.

She is understandably angry with Carpathia for poisoning her and feels the desire for retribution; she understandably feels unworthy of redemption after going along with Carpathia’s schemes to undermine the Tribulation Force; she is worn out and possibly on her deathbed after being poisoned and miscarrying.

She needs her caregivers to be patient and understanding, rather than judging her, and perhaps eventually she will repent.  Jesus did not condemn the adulteress, though he did tell her to sin no more.

Hattie’s desire to kill Carpathia is no different than Rayford and Buck occasionally wanting to kill Carpathia.  But because she is not yet that perfect Real True Christian, because she would never be like Floyd’s servile wife, Rayford will not let anyone else fall for her or love her back to health.

On page 172, Rayford suggests Floyd carry her upstairs and let her walk downstairs, to build up her strength.  Floyd replies, “Problem is, Ray, I look for reasons to touch her, to hold her, to comfort her.  Now you’re telling me to pick her up and carry her, and you want me to rethink my feelings for her?”

Rayford says,

Get a grip, Doc.  You’re no teenager anymore.  I hoped your obsession with her wasn’t purely physical, but I should have known.  You hardly know her, and what you know drives you batty by your own admission.  Just behave yourself until we can get back and help you keep your senses….

And, Doc, remember that our absolute, number one, top priority with her is her soul….

If you care a whit about her beyond your adolescent need to have her in your arms, you’ll want above all else to make her part of the family.

Oh, Rayford, you old romantic, you.

So we see that our authors have no clue of what real romance is like, which seems strange since they are married themselves.  Apparently they have this strange idea that only teenage boys experience lust, that a crush is an unhealthy obsession, and that true love has nothing to do with wanting to hold the object.

So wanting to touch, hold and comfort the one you love–actions which are hardly sinful or sexual in themselves–is “adolescent” and means it’s “purely physical”?  So desiring and loving someone like Floyd does Hattie, makes it an “obsession”?

No wonder the romances in these books have been so empty so far: I’ve seen more passion in the works of Jane Austen, which portray no sex or even kissing.  Jane Eyre was also written far better, with no sex or petting, but plenty of passion.

For a modern example which is also in the Christian genre, see the Thorn in My Heart series by Liz Curtis Higgs.  We know what the characters look like, because we have detailed descriptions, and gorgeous cover pictures which match the descriptions very well.  We feel the passion of the characters.

The series is the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah brought into eighteenth-century Scotland, which causes some logical difficulties, but the books are so well-written that I don’t care.

And the story gets downright lurid when the incarnation of Leah essentially steals her sister’s husband from her on the day of their marriage, but we root for her just the same.  In fact, even though we don’t get blow-by-blow (ahem) sex scenes, it is very clear that the characters have sex, and that they enjoy it and want more.

We see in the works of Austen, Brontë and Higgs that even a chaste, Christian romance can be well-written and resonate in your heart long after you’ve finished the book.

Such a romance, however, does not exist in these Left Behind books.  At least, so far; I can only hope to find one as I read on through the series.

To be continued.

Left Behind: Apollyon Review–Part 2

Part 1

For various reasons, I took a break from this blog. But now it’s time to get back to it!

On page 53-54, we find that the former-pope-turned-supreme pontiff of the Enigma Babylon One World Faith, now wears “a high, peaked cap” with an infinity symbol, and clownish robes full of colors, tassels, stripes, colored stones and astrological symbols.

Since he used to be the pope, and the Pope wears rich clerical robes and a high cap, what else can we see here but a blatant rip on papal garments?  In his book Are We Living in the End Times, LaHaye makes it very clear that he considers Catholicism to be a false religion based on paganism.

So it hardly seems a straw man argument, or reading in things that are not there, to note that the new Supreme Pontiff of the false amalgamated religion looks like a clownish version of the Pope.  For example:

If Babylon is the mother of all false religions and Jerusalem is the mother of true faith (since Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and resurrected there), then Rome is the mother of an unholy mixture of the two (p. 172).

He goes on to describe how Rome, already Satan’s “spiritual headquarters,” was full of pagan temples.  When Constantine converted (which LaHaye doubts is a true conversion), he gave the pagan temples over to the Christian leaders.  This led to pagan statues being made into Christian statues, and

Gradually the pagan practices and teachings of Babylon began to worm their way into Christianity.  These included prayers for the dead, making the sign of the cross, worship of saints and angels, instituting the mass, and worship of Mary–which in the church of Rome was followed by prayers directed to Mary, leading to the 1950 doctrine of her assumption into heaven and in 1965 to the proclamation that Mary was the “Mother of the Church.”

As pagan teachings increased, biblical authority decreased.  Just over one hundred years after Constantine, the brilliant Augustine came along with his brand of Greek humanism and introduced “man’s wisdom” along with “God’s wisdom,” further paving the way for more pagan thought and practice.

Although he did not intend it, his spiritualizing of Scripture eventually removed the Bible as the sole source of authority for correct doctrine.  At the same time, the Scriptures were kept locked up in monasteries and museums, leaving Christians defenseless against the invasion of pagan and humanistic thought and practice.

Consequently, the Dark Ages prevailed, and the Church of Rome became more pagan than Christian.

Had it not been for Wycliffe, Tyndale, and other valiant pre-Protestant heroes of the faith, Christianity would have been destroyed, and Satan’s Babylonian mysticism would have prevailed, effectively destroying true Christianity.

LaHaye then goes on to describe how terrible things were while “Babylonian mysticism controlled the church,” with massacres of born-again Christians, etc., things that make it, as he states on page 175,

difficult for many Christians to trust current efforts at reestablishing unity between Protestants and Catholics.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the only dispenser of salvation, which can come only by personal faith in Him, never by works of righteousness.  His work of redemption was finished for all time on the cross.

True Christians will never “unite” for the sake of religious unity with those who will not acknowledge the supremacy of Jesus Christ.  We take Peter’s admonition very seriously: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Who are those who do not acknowledge the supremacy of Jesus Christ?  LaHaye clearly points the finger at the Catholics.

Where did he get that version of church history–Chick Tracts?  And is he unaware of the existence of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which was one with the Roman Catholic Church for centuries before the Great Schism, and had/has many of the same practices as the Catholic Church?

Is he aware that the Eastern part of the Church did not go through the Dark Ages with the Western Church, did not “lock up” the Scriptures in monasteries, did not have the same Roman and legalistic bent as the Roman Church, yet somehow ended up with its own sign of the cross, prayers for the dead, mass (Divine Liturgy), and adoration (NOT “worship”) of Mary, the saints and angels?

The Orthodox Church does reject such things as purgatory and indulgences, and will not consider calling Mary “co-redemptrix” with Christ, but its practices and the Catholic Church’s stem from the same root and are very similar.

While the Orthodox disagree with some of Augustine’s writings, LaHaye’s critique of him is hardly true or fair–and doesn’t he know that the Protestant Reformers he praises, used Augustine’s teachings?

Doesn’t he know that the Early Church used the Septuagint, with its books of Maccabees, one of which speaks of prayers for the dead?

Oh, I guess he must have known something of Orthodoxy, after all.  On page 177, he describes how the Rapture would strip all the churches–Catholic, Orthodox, liberal Protestant, Evangelical–

“of any true believers and would make religious unity without respect for doctrinal differences instantly possible.  It was exactly this in our novel Tribulation Force that enabled the eventual leader of the one-world church”

to describe that all the religions are unified and no matter if you believe God is a person or concept, “God is in all and above all and around all.  God is in us.  God is us.  We are God.”

So–right here he makes it perfectly clear what he meant in Tribulation Force, that all those who did not get raptured are against God, gullible, weak in faith and doctrine, and perfectly willing to unite with all other religions.

Considering how he has just blasted all the practices of the Catholic and Orthodox churches which differ from the Protestants, and extensively shown how the “born-again” Christians differ from the rank-and-file Catholic Christians, he paints a bleak picture of the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Are most of them left behind because they follow these “pagan” practices?  Since these “pagan” practices are part and parcel of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, does that mean that it’s nearly impossible for a Catholic or Orthodox believer to be a true Christian?

The Catholics who did get raptured–did they all reject the doctrines and practices of their church, making them bad Catholics but practically Protestants?

After reading in the latest Orthodox Observer about the Ecumenical Patriarch’s visit to the US–about his work for tolerance, peace and understanding between religions–I wonder if LaHaye would consider this godly man to be on the side of Antichrist, especially if he hears about the concept of theosis (easily misunderstood by those who don’t know Orthodox teachings).

On page 329, we read that “aids to worship” such as icons (used in Orthodoxy and Catholicism) are demanded by unredeemed man, who “resists worshiping God by faith.”

LaHaye ties in Gaia worship, feminist movements in liberal churches, and mother goddess worship with the Catholic Church, by saying that many in the Catholic church want the Pope to make “Mary worship” “official church doctrine” and proclaim Mary

“co-redemtrix with Jesus” and the fourth member of the godhead.  In all likelihood, as soon as all born-again Christians are raptured, there will be no restraining influence to keep such perverse doctrine from being made official.

The next step, a very small one, would be for Gaia worshipers to become Mary worshipers.  Perhaps that is why Babylon–the religious beast of Revelation 17 seen with a woman on its back–controls the Antichrist’s kingdom during the first half of the Tribulation.

Revelation Unveiled, another Catholic-bashing book by LaHaye, is not on Google Books.  But you can find quotes from it here, in Carl E. Olson’s Will Catholics be “left behind”? starting on page 56.

For example, on page 60, we find a long quote in the footnotes, taken from page 269-270 of LaHaye’s book, describing his father’s conversion from Catholicism and how the Catholic Church had “clouded the way of truth with all their Babylonian pagan innovations brought up through the centuries.”

Read The Best-Selling Bigotry of Left Behind and No Rapture For Rome by Carl E. Olson for more quotes.

In case you think this is old news since LaHaye wrote Revelation Unveiled back in the 1970s, note that it is included in the Prophecy section on LaHaye’s website–showing that LaHaye must consider it still relevant.

If he disagreed with it, why would he still be selling it?  Also, the site’s description of the book specifically states that it “lays the Scriptural foundation for the Left Behind series.”

So, when we read that the Supreme Pontiff has donned colorful and garish clerical robes and a high, pointy hat, how can we not read between the lines and see this as an attack on the Catholic Pope?

To be continued….