On pages 310 to 312, we find, once again, a rip on churches that are not the kind the authors like. We read the testimony of Lionel Whalum, a black believer who wasn’t into church as a kid like his “emotional and showy” mama and aunties; when he got married, he and his wife only occasionally went to church, a
higher sort, if you know what I mean. Very proper, subdued, not demonstrative. If my people had visited that church, they would have said it was dead and that Jesus wouldn’t even go there. I would have said it was sophisticated and proper.
Gag! This reminds me of the “Jesus Camp” documentary, with the little brainwashed girl saying that God doesn’t like churches where people just sit there and don’t do/say anything.
And of course, Lionel’s church “fit our lifestyle” (which, oddly enough, is how people often describe those “relevant” churches these days, where people–in the suburbs–dress in shorts). Lionel and his wife could dress the same way they did for work or socializing! (I’m not sure why this is considered so wonderful or convenient, since most churches are the same.)
We saw people we knew and cared about. And we definitely were never hollered at or insulted from the pulpit. Nobody called us sinners or hinted that we might need to get something right in our lives.
I’m not sure what churches actually avoid any kind of preaching about sin. I’ve been in many different kinds of churches–Nazarene, Pentecostal, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian (USA), Orthodox, UCC, Anglican–and I don’t recall there ever being a hint that we’re all fine just the way we are and nobody needs to learn how to treat others in love.
But here, and in the following passages in which Lionel’s kids end up in the kind of church he grew up in, then start begging and pleading with him to get saved (since, apparently, he’s not saved because he goes to the “wrong” church), we get a very strong message that the “right” church is a Pentecostal church, “emotional and showy,” with pastors “hollering” at you from the pulpit. Every other kind will send you to Hell…..
Oh, yes, and then there’s the Bible study, with the leader laying out how to become a born-again Christian and trying to get Lionel and his wife “saved,” even though they’re already churchgoers. Because, you see, they’re not in the “right” church, and they don’t have the “right” teachings about how to be saved.
On pages 314-16, we have such examples of stilted language as someone in the crowd calling to Chaim, “If the leader will not beseech us to stay, why should we stay?” Who talks like that anymore?
And, yet again, as with the manna and various other things, we find the Old Testament Exodus being brought into the End Times without any biblical justification, as the ground opens up and swallows people who argued with Chaim and Tsion. But this is no longer part of the order of things since Christ came!
Then a false prophet begins performing wondrous miracles for the people who come to his show near Petra. He makes the weather hot or cold by moving clouds in front of the sun, makes the mike stand into a snake, causes a spring to gush out, imitates the feeding of the 5000, even strikes people dead and raises them again.
Tsion says, “That man was not even human. Surely he was a demonic apparition.”
But can a demon have this kind of power? From what I see in this article by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, I see nothing about demons being able to do things like this. They can delude and influence, yes, but move clouds and imitate the feeding of the 5000? This is giving demons too much power, when we should be learning to not be afraid of demons!
On page 343, we read about a believer, Luis, who, at the time of the Rapture,
had had enough exposure to campus ministry groups that when he returned to Argentina and suffered through the disappearances, he knew exactly what had happened.
He and some friends from childhood raced to their little Catholic church, where hardly anyone was left. Their favorite priest and catechism teacher were gone too.
But from literature they found in the library, they learned how to trust Christ personally. Soon they were the nucleus of the new body of believers in that area.
Yet another slam on the Catholics! You’ll note that even though Luis was Catholic, and had been through catechism training, he did not know about the “truth” of the Rapture except through campus ministry groups (presumably Protestant) he was exposed to in high school and college in the US.
Because, after all, the Catholic church does not teach the “truth” of the Rapture because it’s just wrong.
And you’ll also note that most of the people in that church back home had been Raptured–but probably because of the “literature” in the library about “how to trust Christ personally.”
So sure most of the Catholics in this church were Raptured, but only because they found this literature in their library, not because of Catholicism. Luis went to the same church, even went through catechism training, but apparently nobody told him “how to trust Christ personally,” so he was not Raptured.
On page 351 is some humor, funny but not in the way it was intended. Mac sees a man by the river, which is full of blood as is all water at this point. Abdullah, who is not a native English speaker, says, “I don’t see him, Mac. Maybe this is one of your cowboy marriages.”
He meant “mirages,” but I couldn’t help thinking of Brokeback Mountain: You could call that a kind of “cowboy marriage.”
Turns out the man is an angel; when Mac comes back, Abdullah says, “So what was it, pod’ner? A marriage?” Considering the angel is a guy–It is Brokeback Mountain!
On page 371, Buck says to Chloe, “How bad is it with Leah and Hannah? I don’t know either of them that well, but Leah would get on anybody’s nerves. She still pining for Tsion?”
I’m not sure why they keep picking on Leah about Tsion. I’ve seen nothing at all demonstrated to explain why they do.
All I’ve seen are some snarky remarks about her “stalking” Tsion or wanting to go to Petra to be with him, but no indication that she’s actually doing anything that would qualify as “stalking,” not even in the modern broad usage of the term (which seems to include everything anybody does who cares even an iota about some other person in any way other than behaving like an unfeeling robot).
Not even anything about how much she likes him–no mention of pictures on her wall, or obsessive chatter, or anything at all to suggest she likes him any more than anybody else does. Just a few snarky comments.
And what was wrong with her wanting to go to Petra? It just makes no sense at all, and for the reader to take these snarks seriously, we need a lot more to go on than this. Otherwise, it just looks like people picking on her for no reason, accusing her unjustly.
And as for her getting on people’s nerves–Sure, now that Hattie is gone, let’s pick on Leah!
I’m not even sure how she gets on people’s nerves. It seems to me more like, she only gets on their nerves because they’re hypersensitive, and that it’s usually Rayford the chauvinist who has trouble with her.
On page 393, more people and animals, and even plants and fish, die because of heat so intense that it burns people to death. There’s just so much carnage in these books that it’s hard to stand, and not only do “sinners” die, but so does everything else.
On page 400, we read that the temperature has gone back to normal–no more blazing hot sun burning people and things to ashes–but now there is a plague of darkness. The sun, moon, stars, electric lights, flashlights, emergency signs–everything that emits some sort of light, is now dark. At all hours of the day or night, it is impossible to see anything.
People screamed in terror, finding this the worst nightmare of their lives–and they had many to choose from. They were blind–completely, utterly, totally, wholly unable to see anything but blackness twenty-four hours a day.
We read how desperately people begin trying to find or make light of any kind:
Find a candle! Rub two sticks together! Shuffle on the carpet and create static electricity. Do anything. Anything! Something to allow some vestige of a shadow, a hint, a sliver. All to no avail.
As if this weren’t bad enough, “Chang wanted to laugh.”
He wanted to howl from his gut. He wished he could tell everyone everywhere that once again God had meted out a curse, a judgment upon the earth that affected only those who bore the mark of the beast.
Chang could see. It was different. He didn’t see lights either. He simply saw everything in sepia tone, as if someone had turned down the wattage on a chandelier.
Why, thank you for your Christian compassion on the suffering, Chang.
Because the annoyance does turn into physical suffering. As we read on, we find that the extended darkness does not keep people from getting food and drink, but they can’t work, or talk about anything but the darkness. And then they begin feeling pain: itches, aches, until:
For many the pain grew so intense that all they could do was bend down and feel the ground to make sure there was no hole or stairwell to fall into and then collapse in a heap, writhing, scratching, seeking relief.
The longer it went, the worse it got, and now people swore and cursed God and chewed their tongues. They crawled about the corridors, looking for weapons, pleading with friends or even strangers to kill them. Many killed themselves.
The entire complex became an asylum of screams and moans and guttural wails, as these people became convinced that this, finally, was it–the end of the world.
But no such luck. Unless they had the wherewithal, the guts, to do themselves in, they merely suffered. Worse by the hour. Increasingly bad by the day.
This went on and on and on. And in the middle of it, Chang came up with the most brilliant idea of his life. If ever there was a perfect time for him to escape, it was now.
Chang is surrounded by all these suffering people, and instead of having an ounce of compassion, or wanting to help them in their suffering, he thinks only of his own skin?
Like a sociopath he laughs at their pain, and just thinks how the believers being able to see, while everyone else is blind, means he and his friends can get him out of there without obstruction?
He cares nothing for the people who are so miserable they’re committing suicide? He can’t even try to comfort them or tell them that Christ can take them out of their misery?
On page 403, we read Chang’s thoughts about what a wonderful break this is for the believers:
Now, for as long as God tarried, for as long as he saw fit to keep the shades pulled down and the lights off, everything was in the believers’ favor. “God,” Chang said, “just give me a couple more days of this.”
Is this the Christianity we’re supposed to emulate? Is this the Christianity that would inspire unbelievers to believe? “God, please keep everybody around me so miserable they’re chewing their tongues and trying to kill themselves, so I can save my own skin”?
Is this the ultimate result of Calvinism: Christians good, unbelievers so worthless they deserve everything they get?