Month: February 2013

Research Against Helicoptering Parents

 

Hover No More: Helicopter Parents May Breed Depression and Incompetence in Their Children

The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting

I grew up in a city of 100,000, large enough for crime, abductions, various such things, even in the 70s.

But most of us walked or biked to school.  Only the kids with disabilities, and the very few who got driven by their parents, got to school via vehicle, in my first elementary school.

My second was a special school for the gifted, so many of us had to be bussed.  In middle and high school, bussing was more common, but either you were bussed or you walked.

In fact, my parents tell me I started walking to school by myself at a mere five years old, having insisted on it just a few days after starting Kindergarten.

(I also got lost.  But I soon learned the way: turn right at the big decorative rock.  I was helped by a kindly old man, who nowadays supposedly I should have rejected as a dangerous stranger.)

Instead of helicoptering, I’ve been trying to carry on my mother’s more hands-off approach, the kind my generation grew up with.

However, it’s hard to do at times, because 30 years is a long stretch of time to remember everything your parents did, other parents act like you’re neglectful if your second-grader walks to school by himself, and there’s so much contradicting advice these days.

For example, Supernanny is great for learning how to discipline children without abuse (including screaming) or even light spanking, but even she seems to encourage a certain amount of hovering (why should I be responsible for keeping my kids entertained and “stimulated”?).

Why Americans Should Demand Socialized Medicine

It’s gotten so only the rich, those on Medicare and the insured can afford health care.  Must everyone else just suffer and die from poor health, because of the outrageous prices of American health care for the uninsured?

It’s not the cost of the services–it’s profiteering by the hospitals!  Meanwhile, Medicare is able to negotiate much lower, more reasonable prices for services, paying far less than the original bill, leaving the patient with a much smaller bill as well.

Simply making everyone buy insurance or be fined, is not going to solve the problem.  Going to a single-payer system, on the other hand, could be the only thing that would.

We saw some of the outrageous prices outlined in this article, in my husband’s medical bills after surgery.  Since we have insurance now, we got “discounts,” then insurance payments, helping make them still outrageous but not nearly as bad.  (They started at nearly $20,000!)  But we also have a high deductible to help us pay the insurance premiums.

What if my past issues come back and I need yet another surgery to prevent cervical cancer?  My husband needs to make regular visits to the doctor, several times a year, for one of those overinflated tests, to make sure he doesn’t get cancer–what if he does get it?  Do we just let the cancer take over because we’re not rich?

People who glibly say things like, “If you’re having problems with health/mental health/learning disorders, then obviously you should do the responsible thing and get it checked out and diagnosed,” obviously have good insurance.

Lots of us are forced to do our own diagnoses (for such things as irritable bowels, learning disorders, or PTSD) and our own treatments (diet changes, reading about it, writing about it, pushing our dislocated shoulder back in place and wearing a sling) because we just plain can’t afford doctors, even though we are suffering from lack of treatment.

And we’re treated like we’re just leeches, with terms like “entitlements” and “lazy” and “thieves” and “communists,” when we ask for more government help.  The current system benefits no one but the hospitals–and their CEOs.

See this article in TIME by Steven Brill, Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Taken as a whole, these powerful institutions and the bills they churn out dominate the nation’s economy and put demands on taxpayers to a degree unequaled anywhere else on earth.

In the U.S., people spend almost 20% of the gross domestic product on health care, compared with about half that in most developed countries. Yet in every measurable way, the results our health care system produces are no better and often worse than the outcomes in those countries.

According to one of a series of exhaustive studies done by the McKinsey & Co. consulting firm, we spend more on health care than the next 10 biggest spenders combined: Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia. We may be shocked at the $60 billion price tag for cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy. We spent almost that much last week on health care.

We spend more every year on artificial knees and hips than what Hollywood collects at the box office. We spend two or three times that much on durable medical devices like canes and wheelchairs, in part because a heavily lobbied Congress forces Medicare to pay 25% to 75% more for this equipment than it would cost at Walmart.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 10 of the 20 occupations that will grow the fastest in the U.S. by 2020 are related to health care. America’s largest city may be commonly thought of as the world’s financial-services capital, but of New York’s 18 largest private employers, eight are hospitals and four are banks.

Employing all those people in the cause of curing the sick is, of course, not anything to be ashamed of. But the drag on our overall economy that comes with taxpayers, employers and consumers spending so much more than is spent in any other country for the same product is unsustainable. Health care is eating away at our economy and our treasury.

On pages 8 and 9, see how attempts to bring costs down were derailed by spurious criticisms of creating “death panels”:

Peter Bach, an epidemiologist at Sloan-Kettering who has also advised several health-policy organizations, reported in a 2009 New England Journal of Medicine article that Medicare’s spending on the category dominated by cancer drugs ballooned from $3 billion in 1997 to $11 billion in 2004. Bach says costs have continued to increase rapidly and must now be more than $20 billion.

With that escalating bill in mind, Bach was among the policy experts pushing for provisions in Obamacare to establish a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to expand comparative-effectiveness research efforts. Through painstaking research, doctors would try to determine the comparative effectiveness not only of drugs but also of procedures like CT scans.

However, after all the provisions spelling out elaborate research and review processes were embedded in the draft law, Congress jumped in and added eight provisions that restrict how the research can be used. The prime restriction: Findings shall “not be construed as mandates for practice guidelines, coverage recommendations, payment, or policy recommendations.”

With those 14 words, the work of Bach and his colleagues was undone. And costs remain unchecked.

“Medicare could see the research and say, Ah, this drug works better and costs the same or is even cheaper,” says Gunn, Sloan-Kettering’s chief operating officer. “But they are not allowed to do anything about it.”

Along with another doomed provision that would have allowed Medicare to pay a fee for doctors’ time spent counseling terminal patients on end-of-life care (but not on euthanasia), the Obama Administration’s push for comparative effectiveness is what brought opponents’ cries that the bill was creating “death panels.”

Washington bureaucrats would now be dictating which drugs were worth giving to which patients and even which patients deserved to live or die, the critics charged.

….If covered by Medicare, Janice S.’s $21,000 bill would have been deeply discounted and, as is standard, Medicare would have picked up 80% of the reduced cost. The bottom line is that Janice S. would probably have ended up paying $500 to $600 for her 20% share of her heart-attack scare. And she would have paid only a fraction of that — maybe $100 — if, like most Medicare beneficiaries, she had paid for supplemental insurance to cover most of that 20%.

In fact, those numbers would seem to argue for lowering the Medicare age, not raising it — and not just from Janice S.’s standpoint but also from the taxpayers’ side of the equation. That’s not a liberal argument for protecting entitlements while the deficit balloons. It’s just a matter of hardheaded arithmetic.

….The only way this would not work is if 64-year-olds started using health care services they didn’t need. They might be tempted to, because, as we saw with Alan A., Medicare’s protection is so broad and supplemental private insurance costs so little that it all but eliminates patients’ obligation to pay the 20% of outpatient-care costs that Medicare doesn’t cover.

To deal with that, a provision could be added requiring that 64-year-olds taking advantage of Medicare could not buy insurance freeing them from more than, say, 5% or 10% of their responsibility for the bills, with the percentage set according to their wealth. It would be a similar, though more stringent, provision of the kind I’ve already suggested for current Medicare beneficiaries as a way to cut the cost of people overusing benefits.

If that logic applies to 64-year-olds, then it would seem to apply even more readily to healthier 40-year-olds or 18-year-olds. This is the single-payer approach favored by liberals and used by most developed countries.

….The real issue isn’t whether we have a single payer or multiple payers. It’s whether whoever pays has a fair chance in a fair market. Congress has given Medicare that power when it comes to dealing with hospitals and doctors, and we have seen how that works to drive down the prices Medicare pays, just as we’ve seen what happens when Congress handcuffs Medicare when it comes to evaluating and buying drugs, medical devices and equipment.

Stripping away what is now the sellers’ overwhelming leverage in dealing with Medicare in those areas and with private payers in all aspects of the market would inject fairness into the market. We don’t have to scrap our system and aren’t likely to. But we can reduce the $750 billion that we overspend on health care in the U.S. in part by acknowledging what other countries have: because the health care market deals in a life-or-death product, it cannot be left to its own devices.

Put simply, the bills tell us that this is not about interfering in a free market. It’s about facing the reality that our largest consumer product by far — one-fifth of our economy — does not operate in a free market.

Brill’s ideas for fixing the problem are on page 11; he does not endorse a specific kind of system, single vs. multiple payer.  His criticisms are not just against Republicans, but against Democrats and Obamacare.  His ideas involve forcing costs down.

 

Erotic Vampire Dream; Letter to Shawn; I Ask Out James; Peter Calls!–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1993, Part 1

Letter to Shawn

I sent Shawn a heartfelt and beautiful letter in October, trying to set his mind at ease about my intentions–friendship only, despite residual feelings I admitted to–and asking to just start over.  I said,

I do not want to go out with you or be anything more than friends; you don’t have to be paranoid about that.  I put those thoughts out of my mind as long ago as before spring break….

I’ll admit that I have feelings for you.  I always have, and they got so strong last year that I’ll probably always feel something special for you.

But just because I have these feelings doesn’t mean I want to go any farther than you do.  They’ve gotten tamer, much easier to control, and they’re dominated by my belief that I wouldn’t be able to handle being married to you, let alone being your girlfriend.  I just don’t want to be that so much anymore.

What means the most to me is our friendship, and that’s all I want to be–close friends.  That’s always been more important, especially now.  All those things in our past, they’re just that for me–in the past.  Not forgotten, but gone.  I’ve put my standards back up again.

A bit about how we both can be restored to purity, so don’t torture yourself over this.  I complained that as late as the spring, Shawn had brought up my problems with Peter, even though for me that was becoming ancient history.

It’s been a year since you’ve been a mere Peter-replacement [ie, September 1992], and it always grated on my nerves to hear you say you’re not him.  I know you’re not him (why do you think I liked you?); he was just my only point of reference.

Then a little bit about my going to parties and scheming with Pearl on ways to get James interested, though I did not name James, just coyly said that Shawn knew him.  I have no idea what Shawn did with my previous letters, but I know he read this one, for a reason I mention in the December chapter.

****

By our October meeting, we had chosen two faculty advisers for InterVarsity.

I have a picture of Clarissa and me selling Candy Grams.  This is probably when I first began saying “Candy Gram!” and knocking on the table, like the Land Shark on those classic, 70s episodes of Saturday Night Live.  We sold these Candy Grams for InterVarsity in October; the picture was taken on October 20.

Erotic Vampire Dream (Inspiration for Alexander Boa)

Of all the lecture series events that semester, the coolest by far was “The Devil, you say..?” by Scott Keely.

He dressed up as the Devil.  I don’t remember it being at all anything most Christians would object to; it was, instead, an excellently worked performance of Satan trying to defend himself to us.  I believe Keely also had a trunk on the stage, and would periodically get little costume props from it.

The auditorium was dark, with red light on Keely.  He even dressed up in the tail and pitchfork and horns and all that to cater to common representations, then took them off because they weren’t really what he looks like.  A description of his performance is here.

This October 6 lecture affected my October 25 dreams.  From my journal for that day:

Like in tonight’s dreams, which were one continuous theme: a girl, having been kissed, etc. by the vampire who wants to take over her school, is under his power in a way and wants to join him, but to keep up appearances she acts like one of the other heroes and heroines trying to break his control.  All she really wants is to be with him–an odd love story.

Now I can tell you what the dream was about.  In the first one, Dracula and I stood together in a room.

He began to kiss me.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to kiss him, him being Dracula and long dead, etc.  But somehow he put me under his power, and I was drawn to him.

When we kissed, he kept his fangs behind his lips so I wouldn’t be hurt.  He pulled me on the bed, and we started–you know.  We got down to it.  I woke up before we finished.

I went back to sleep, and this time I joined some others, who included Pearl, who wanted to break the vampire’s hold over our school.  He was in the old church’s [one I grew up in] sanctuary, but it was here at school.

We listened to some speaker who said we needed to do four things.  I’d done one already, so I took out only three of my long, white containers.  We’d fill them with something and put them back.

As for me, I only pretended to be working against him.  I remembered our incompleted time together, and therefore was drawn to him.  I didn’t want a stake to go in his heart; I wanted to see him again, and went to him.

Maybe we kissed again, maybe by a door, a black door and/or a darkened room.  Other people, maybe young boys or young men, at least one with black, thick hair, were trying to help us “vampire slayers” or whatever we were.  I woke up again, maybe around 7:45, and fell asleep again.

I returned to him, and he took me with him in a small, covered vehicle.  He put me in a sidecar.  Pearl and another person, maybe Sharon, were in the car.  The car moved, and we looked out over and admired the beautiful, magical-like landscape.

In one spot we saw a natural fountain–the water squirted up, but this wasn’t man-made.  There was green, maybe other colors, like blue or purple or yellow.  Maybe there was another guy, a ghost, with the vampire.

I soon wrote my dream into a story about a vampire taking over a school; this story was also influenced by Keely’s performance, with the vampire doing a similar performance, and staying in the equivalent of Krueger Hall just as writers for the Great Lakes Writers Conferences sometimes did.

This story is now in my collection The Lighthouse, titled “Alexander Boa: Or, I was a co-ed vampire slave.”

I Ask Out James

On October 10, InterVarsity went to a Margaret Becker concert.  I discovered that I didn’t enjoy loud rock concerts as much as I used to, which made me feel “old and mellow.”  (Kind of odd, considering that my musical tastes were hardly “old and mellow.”  Still aren’t.)

I had thought about James all summer.  Now, I told Pearl about my crush on him.  She said that freshman year, he used to stop by her room and play Pictionary all the time.  She decided to help me out, and help herself, by throwing a Pictionary party after the fine arts event on Saturday the 16th, the Spanish dancers.  She would ask her crush to the party, and I would ask James.

I made myself look cute on Tuesday, October 12, and waited until James came in just before I was to leave my shift.  I was terribly nervous.  I only had ten minutes or less to work up the nerve to do it.  I said,

“My friend Pearl is having a Pictionary party on Saturday after the dancers.  Do you want to come?”  Could he tell how nervous I was?

“I played Pictionary with them once,” he said.  “I didn’t like the game.  I don’t know if I’ll go.”

Argh!  I hoped he’d change his mind.  Yet I also decided to look for other guys to flirt with at the party.

I still felt happy because I did it!  I asked a guy to a party!  Maybe this would only be the beginning: maybe one of us would ask the other out in the future, and not get turned down.

I hoped he really did like me back, as I’d suspected all sophomore year, and that this was just a minor glitch.  If I asked him to a movie, something that was obviously a date, would he say yes?

Peter Calls!

On Wednesday, October 13, I went to a Bible study on Job in Pearl’s room.  Pearl’s friend Dave O’Hara, Peter’s friend, came over afterwards.  I had a paper to do, but he was cute and new to me, so I stayed.  He even had sky-blue eyes, my favorite color.

He spoke of, among other things, his brother Phil and his sister Maura.  I flirted with him, and thought we got along great.  He soon owed me a backrub.

Starting that year, IV members divided into pairs, forming prayer partners who would meet at regular times.  I met with Pearl in the cafeteria, and this really helped me throughout the year.  We could talk over things that were bothering us or making us happy, and then pray about them.

On Thursday, October 14, Pearl and I got together for one of our first prayer-partner meetings.  Pearl prayed that God would bring into my life whomever He had been preparing for me, and whomever He had been preparing me for.  I believe I prayed the same for her.

Later that evening, after an InterVarsity information meeting, I got a call.  I didn’t recognize the voice.

The caller said, “You really don’t know who this is?  This is Peter.”

I cried, “Whaaat?”

“I thought it was about time the silence was ended.  I’ve been acting like a jerk-off for the past year and a half.  It took me that long to sort out my feelings.  I’ve been thinking about you all summer.”

My heart thumped, and neither one of us could believe what was happening.  He really wanted to be friends again.

We talked for a long time, mostly catching up on the time we were apart.  He had come to visit with his “brothers” in the Zeta suite; Dave O’Hara told him I’d changed; so he called.

He kept saying that, just from talking to me, he could tell I had changed in many ways.  It’s only natural, of course, especially when you go to college; he had changed a lot, too.

I have wondered a few things ever since, however, though they didn’t come to me at the time:

  1. How did Dave know I’d changed when I’d never even met him before?  Was he going by what Peter told him, half-truths or misunderstandings or both, not on the way I truly was before?
  2. Why did I have to “change” before Peter called me?  I didn’t have to “change” to be worthy of his friendship, and it had been a year since I had stopped wanting to date Peter.

He said that he got drunk only twice and never again, though Shawn would later tell me that he seemed plenty drunk several times when he saw him.  Peter said he’d get a “buzz” but didn’t want to get drunk ever again, because he didn’t like “praying to the porcelain god.”  He was twenty-one, so when he said he would drink, I said, “Well, you are of age.”

He said, “I never expected to hear that from you!”  He kept saying how much I’d changed.  I had; college was changing me in many ways that seemed good to me: philosophy and spirituality, musical tastes, feeling more open about and proud of my “weirdness” rather than wanting to hide it, maturity.

He no longer claimed that I made up the idea of the mental Link.  In fact, he brought up a mental link in the movie Demolition Man.  I said that, freshman or sophomore year, I asked a hypnotist who came to Roanoke how a link can be broken down, and he said, “If someone’s afraid of it or doesn’t want it.”

“I know that wasn’t me,” Peter said.

We laughed about each other still using certain words we used when going out.  His was probably “Holy cats.”  Peter laughed when I used the word “disc,” a South Bend slang term meaning “dang” or “drag.”  I do believe that “Mensch” was also mentioned; I don’t remember if Peter actually used it during our conversation, but he might have.

This part of our conversation, and the friendly way we talked, matched a dream I had and wrote down back in the summer of 1992.  Its message, that we would one day be restored to friendship and have our relationship begin on a new level, was true.

At long last, it had come to pass, not just figuratively but literally.  I had many precognitive dreams for some time after Peter and I had our mental Link and one back when I was only a child, though I don’t recall having any since.

We talked for a long time on the phone before he suggested we go get some Mountain Dew in the Pub.  It was only about an hour before closing time.  When we met, he gave me a hug, and off we went.  With that hug, it felt like all was forgiven on both sides.

One of his friends, who was in the Pub, gave us a funny look when we walked in together.  This was a blonde girl, I believe.

My old boss Nancy was even there, and looked at me as if to say, “Are you two back together again after all this time?”  I didn’t know if we were, but it didn’t matter so much as the fact that we really had forgiven each other and liked each other again.

He was still smoking, and still trying to quit.  But at least he hated getting drunk now, and all the horror stories I’d heard about him weren’t quite so true, at least not anymore.  If only God were still in his talk.

I had a Mountain Dew; I believe he had a beer.

He had turned scuzzy, however.  He hadn’t shaved; his hair had grown long and, I think, greasy.  I wondered if he planned to ask me out; I didn’t mention that I did not want to date him.

With his scuzziness, the cigarette he was smoking, and things he said that showed me he was no longer Christian, he was no longer the Peter I had once loved.

I wondered if he sensed my feelings, and if that was the reason he didn’t ask me out.  Or if friendship was all he’d wanted all along.  I would never know.  It’s not the sort of thing you ask.

I admitted I had always liked his hair better just before he cut it, and he said, “Why didn’t you tell me?”  Of course, how could I tell him, when I thought he liked his hair short?

We talked on and on even there in the Pub, finding we both liked techno dance music.  Peter was surprised, and said I’d always been listening to Christian music.  (He said this even though he knew I liked Metallica and KLF and other secular artists as early as freshman year.)

He said he had a copy of KLF’s The White Room and could get me one; I asked him to, but he never actually did.  It was hard to hear in the loud Pub.

I asked, “Did you know about Shawn and me?”  He said, “Yes.  Several people were surprised that you and Shawn weren’t going out.”  (Come to think of it, it’s highly probable that my involvement with Shawn finally showed him I wasn’t still hung up on him.)

Peter and I both had lost weight since we dated; he was skinny now, and I had gone from maybe 135 to 115 or 120, which was plenty skinny enough for me.  (I looked better at 120 than I did at 115.)  So we congratulated each other.

When giving us our bill, the woman bartender said to Peter, “Are you going to pay for your lady-friend?”

We laughed.  “It’s nothing like that,” we said at the same time.

Clarissa knew about this right away, of course, being in the room when Peter called, but I had to tell my friends the next day.

For some reason, for the next two weeks or more I felt antsy and a little depressed.  For the first few days, I expected to hear from Peter again, and wondered if he would ask me out.

Despite his changes into a person I wouldn’t want to date, I felt like I wanted to say yes.  I felt like maybe I was still in love with him.

The more days passed without me hearing anything, the more antsy I felt.  Clarissa knew I felt this way, because she saw it and I would talk about it somewhat.

I wrote about it on October 26.  It seems I was a little confused about what God’s promise to me was.  Earlier in the year, I had realized that maybe God’s promise was for a restored friendship, not a restored romantic relationship.  This had filled me with joy.  Now, I saw that He had fulfilled this promise.  Maybe I still half-expected that His promise was for more than that.

In time, I would feel less antsy, but I still felt that either Peter or Phil (to be mentioned soon) was the one I was to marry, and I didn’t know which it would be in the fullness of time.  I thought this because Peter called the very night after Pearl prayed that God would bring the One into my life, and then I met Phil two days later.

Of course, years later, I discovered that it was all self-deception, that God never made a promise of a restored relationship of any kind–unless, of course, you count the dream I had in 1992 of pleasantly chatting with Peter.

After all, we joked about “Mensch” in the dream just as we did in real life on October 15, 1993, as I wrote above.

But looking for signs from God is not the way to determine His will, and some have even said that God will be silent if we do such a thing!

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

The Erotic Gore-Fest of “Glorious Appearing”: Left Behind Review–part 1

Glorious Appearing by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414335016, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

My first point is on page 149 because there isn’t a whole lot that actually happens in this book.  You’d think that nearly 400 pages of the climax and conclusion of this loooong series would be exciting, especially coming as they are at the time of Armageddon and Christ’s second Second Coming (that is not a typo)–but they’re not.

On page 190, for example, we’re still waiting for Jesus to arrive in the sky–and nothing much else is happening except for waiting and occasional skirmishes with the armies of the Antichrist.

Anyway, on to page 149.  The skies are full of supernatural lightning, as one of the Tribulation Forcers, Enoch in Illinois, worships and enjoys “The awful and terrible wrath of the Lord on display for the whole world!”

Er–What about calling it the wonderful deliverance of God’s vastly outnumbered people, about to get slaughtered?  Does everything have to be about wrath with these writers?

On page 178 is more of the same idea of God hardening the hearts of the “evil” people who refuse to repent despite all the many Tribulation events that are obviously the battle between God and Satan.

While I can see the writers’ point, I still have trouble with the idea that even if the unbelievers do change their minds, they can’t repent and become Christians, even though they haven’t even died yet.

Usually, doctrine says you can repent up until you die–or, in some doctrines (what I’ve seen in Orthodox and Catholic doctrines and theological opinions), after you die.  If it’s possible to repent even in Hades, then you should still be able to repent even up until Armageddon.

On page 191, Chaim says that,

I do not believe the Son of God is going to sit on His horse in the clouds with a gigantic sword hanging from His mouth.  He is not going to shake His head and slay the millions of Armageddon troops with it.  This is clearly a symbolic reference.

Oh, sure, with all the other unbelievable stuff you insist is literal, that is obviously symbolic!

Finally, after 202 pages of waiting and waiting and waiting and slowly moving and very little actually happening (other than people constantly wondering when Jesus is coming), Jesus finally arrives!  And the gorefest begins!

Page 204–gore.  Page 205–gore.  Page 208–gore.  Page 210–gore.

Basically, wherever this Jesus goes, Unity Army (Antichrist) soldiers just fall dead, “their bodies ripped open, blood pooling in great masses.”  Or their skin dissolves.  Horses die, too, and birds eat their fill.

As Susan R. Garrett writes in What Do Presbyterians Believe About Evil?:

In the final volume of the Left Behind series all the vengeance envisioned in the later chapters of Revelation is carried out. Here LaHaye and Jenkins understand divine power as just like worldly power, only more so.

“Power” in their view means fire-power, the power to destroy. So, at his glorious appearing Jesus slays millions of non-Christian storm troopers by the sheer power of a spoken word, and then causes their bodies to be instantly decomposed.

This is an image of Jesus wielding the power of death. But it is a false and idolatrous image.

God’s power is not the power of death, for death is “the last enemy,” which will itself be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26).

God’s power is the power to create, the power to endure, the power to forgive, the power to love. God’s power is resurrection power. It is the power of life.

Such power, freely given, is God’s answer to the problem of evil, until that great day when all creation is set free from its bondage.

Then Jesus begins speaking to the Christians, each person hearing his own name spoken simultaneously.  In an odd and clueless juxtaposition, we read on page 212, “Rayford sat in the middle of the carnage surrounding Petra, his heart bursting, the love and adoration he felt for Jesus coming right back at him from the clouds.”

Wait–in the middle of carnage?  Then in the middle of Jesus speaking to everyone, Rayford slides to the ground and repeats, “I am so unworthy…Unworthy, unworthy!”

Pages 213 and 244 are full of what an ungodly (pardon the pun) amount of the whole book is full of: clipping and pasting Bible verses and sticking them in the mouth of Christ (or others, on occasion).

It really feels like Jenkins had 400 pages to fill and only a tiny amount of plot, so he just started throwing in verses from the Bible to pad it.  These scenes also seem very corny.

Then on we go with more carnage and gore, things like entrails and innards gushing to the desert floor, Carpathia and Leon driving a Humvee that gets “bogged down in a reddish brown mud” and Leon having to get out into a sea of blood to push the Humvee out.

Pages of gore: 225-9, 239, 247, 249, 250, 252, 253, 254-6, 258, 273, 274, 278-9, 286….

Can we say, gratuitous?

Pages 275-276 are words in Jesus’ mouth which are clipped and pasted from Isaiah 40 and Zechariah 14.  So this is where the gorefest comes from, including the flesh dissolving–

But are we really supposed to take this so literally?  Couldn’t this be metaphorical imagery used to demonstrate the power of God over his enemies, written in a more barbaric age?

On page 278, Enoch, in a neighborhood in Illinois, goes through an earthquake and “heard Carpathia loyalists screaming for their lives.”

So–didn’t he go do anything to help them?  Or did he just let them die?  There is no indication that he does a thing.

On page 323, we read, “Jesus had told [Chang] that He was there when Chang was born, when he was raised in a godless home and an aberrant religion.”

I’m having trouble figuring out what “aberrant religion” Chang was raised in; it does not seem to be named, at least that I can remember over all these books, or find on the Net.  Just that it’s not Christian.

But in any case, that statement of a “godless home” and “an aberrant religion” is not only contradictory, but insulting to Chang’s family’s religion.

On pages 331 to 337, we see the new world with Christ now in charge. The weather is “hot, clear, refreshing, as if they were breathing new air.”  The trees and bushes are “suddenly full and healthy.”  Everyone can speak his own language while understanding each other.

Since all the evil people of Jerusalem and Israel are dead and gone, the million righteous survivors can live in their houses.

All animals are docile, and fat cows and sheep happily line up to be butchered for delicious meat.  The groves and even the city trees are full of fresh fruits and vegetables which just fall off the trees.  Yes, that appears to include vegetables falling off city trees.

As soon as the produce falls and is gathered, the branches ripen again.

Money is no longer needed.  It’s bright day and night–which I expect would suck when you’re trying to sleep, or want to get out of the glare.

All damage and residue from the earthquakes has vanished, leaving a clean, safe city.  Even the houses are clean and orderly, “as if a cleaning crew had swept through the entire place.”

And when people say grace before a meal, Jesus answers each of them “audibly and immediately and personally” in their heads.

No flies bug the food as they stop to listen and worship while Jesus keeps talking, which in normal circumstances would make everyone impatient to eat.  But for them, hunger can wait, and the food retains its heat.

On pages 351 to 352, the character Eleazar explains that during the Millennium, “anyone born during the Millennium who does not trust in Christ by the time he or she is a hundred years old will be accursed and die.”  While believers get to live all the way through to the end of the Millennium.

While the quoted passage (Isaiah 65:17-25) does talk about long life for the righteous, it does not specifically say that unbelievers will die at age 100.  Nor does it say that all righteous will live to the end of the Millennium.

Heck, it doesn’t even necessarily fit into the premillennialist doctrine of the Millennium, or 1000 years of a literal reign by Christ on Earth before the Judgment.

The passage says this is a “new heaven and a new earth,” or rather, a purified, glorified earth.  This comes at the end of time–as we see in Revelation 21, it’s after the Great White Throne Judgment.

The Orthodox Study Bible connects the Isaiah passage to Revelation 21.  So the references to people living long, babies, people dying, must be metaphorical, because after the Judgment, no one dies or is born or ages.

But LaHaye and Jenkins yank out of this hard-to-understand passage the concept that you have until age 100 to decide to “trust in Christ,” and if you don’t, you die; if you do, you live to the end of the Millennium, up to 1000 years.

You’re just making this up!  It just gets so unbelievable as the authors describe it, that the Isaiah passage must be meant metaphorically.  Especially since, in Isaiah’s day, Christ had not yet come to Earth, so he would not have been referring specifically to Christians!

An interesting aside on Isaiah 66:24, which is about the continual burning of the bodies of the wicked, and the righteous looking upon them, after all wickedness is finally defeated:

The Talmudists (t) observe from hence, that the wicked, even at the gate of hell, return not by repentance; for it is not said, that “have transgressed”, but “that transgress”; for they transgress, and go on for ever; and so indeed the word may be rendered, “that transgress”, or “are transgressing” (u); for they interpret it of the damned in hell, as many do; and of whom the following clauses may be understood:

for their worm shall not die; with which their carcasses shall be covered, they lying rotting above ground; or figuratively their consciences, and the horrors and terrors that shall seize them, which they will never get rid of. The Targum is,

“their souls shall not die;”

as they will not, though their bodies may; but will remain to suffer the wrath of God to all eternity: neither shall their fire be quenched; in hell, as Jarchi interprets it; those wicked men, the followers and worshippers of antichrist, will be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; they will for ever suffer the vengeance of eternal fire; and the smoke of their torment shall ascend for ever and ever, Revelation 14:10,

and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh; the true worshippers of God, Isaiah 66:23 to whom their carcasses will be loathsome, when they look upon them; and their souls abominable, because of their wicked actions; and who cannot but applaud the justice of God in their condemnation; and admire distinguishing grace and mercy, that has preserved them from the like ruin and destruction. The Targum is,

“and the ungodly shall be judged in hell, till the righteous shall say concerning them, we have seen enough;” Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

From what I understand, the Targum was an oral explanation of the Torah given by rabbis in ancient times, to help the people understand the Torah better.

So–according to the Targum, the punishment goes on because the wicked never stop sinning, yet this eternal punishment only lasts until the righteous ask for it to end?

To be continued….

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