by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414335008, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

On pages 1-2, we learn the darkness is only over New Babylon, not the whole world.

On page 13, apparently Rayford has changed a lot since the first book: Back then, he just hurried through the suffering people on the tarmac after the Rapture when planes fell out of the sky.  Now, he’s moving through the darkness of New Babylon, surrounded by suffering people, and he’s desperate to help them.

He finds a lady who has the Mark of the Beast, but has always despised it; she’s praying in her agony; on page 16, she says,

“I’ve been praying that God will save my soul.  And when he does, I will be able to see.”  Rayford didn’t know what to say.  She had said herself it was too late.  “In the beginning,” she said.  “For God so loved the world.  The Lord is my shepherd.  Oh, God…”

Too late?  This woman is still alive–It’s not too late!  Whether you believe souls can still be saved after death, they can certainly be saved before death, and she’s still alive!

This screwed-up Left Behind theology makes things needlessly hard and tragic.  Don’t discourage her when she is repentant!  On page 18, we read,

Rayford knew the prophecy–that people would reject God enough times that God would harden their hearts and they wouldn’t be able to choose him even if they wanted to.

But knowing it didn’t mean Rayford understood it.  And it certainly didn’t mean he had to like it.

He couldn’t make it compute with the God he knew, the loving and merciful one who seemed to look for ways to welcome everyone into heaven, not keep them out.

Yeah, go with that, Ray!  No, it doesn’t compute.  But whether this woman can be saved or not, she has become an ally for the Tribulation Force–as long as she still lives.

This is mentioned again on pages 36 as Ray thinks, “But she was beyond help now,” then his “counseling” the woman (telling her she’s beyond hope) on this question on page 40.

But how do you know she’s beyond help?  Just because Tsion thinks so?

And on page 40, when she says, “This hurts.  It hurts worse than the pain from the darkness.  Just learned it too late, I guess, that you don’t mess with God.”  This makes him sound like the Mafia or an abusive person!

On page 23, our newest young lovers, Ree Woo and Ming Toy, want to get married, but everyone tries to talk them out of it.  Everyone, that is, except Chloe, who understands that despite all the hardships of being married and having children during the last year of the Tribulation, it’s all worth it.

And, well, there’s the issue of, you know you only have one year left, there’s no guarantee you’re going to live to see the Millennium, and it’s your last chance to have sex in a religiously-approved union before you die horribly.  Go for it!  Though, of course, the author doesn’t mention this….

On page 45, Rayford and his new friend Otto board an elevator with three executives who–unlike them–can’t see in the darkness.  One executive says to the other that he took the crystal off his watch so he can feel what time it is.

But Otto taps the guy on the shoulder and rubs his thumb against the guy’s watch at the same time, moving the hands.  When the executives leave, Otto laughs that “that was the last time he’ll have the time right.”

Well, that was a dirty trick!  This is our book’s Christians?  Playing nasty little tricks like gremlins?

On page 86, we find Albie in Iran, and that without so many Christians in the world, the cities of Abadan and Al Basrah have gone totally Sodom and Gomorrah-like, with “every form of sin and debauchery” “displayed right on the street.”

You’ve got “bars, fortune-telling joints, bordellos, sex shops, and clubs pandering to every persuasion and perversion teemed with drunk and high patrons.  Hashish permeated the air.  Cocaine and heroin deals went down in plain sight.”

And this is not “the seedy side of town,” but the town itself.  Yeah…Because only Christians are concerned about law and order or morality.  This is Iran, right?  Where is the Muslim influence?

Page 97 is confusing.  Albie, who is in a hurry and trying to make a deal with an old “business” associate who can bug Carpathia’s meeting room, sees a tattoo artist come in the room.  The associate tells him, “She has neither ears nor tongue.”  But on page 97, she speaks to the associate.  What?  Continuity!

On page 102–Bye, bye, Albie.  I liked you.  🙁

On page 111, oh, sure enough, there it is: Carpathia’s government is the “New World Order.”  Gotta fit that old conspiracy in there somewhere!

Add the “lady’s” name–Krystall–who is Carpathia’s secretary; on p. 203, they talk more about poor doomed Krystall, saying she

“made her decision, took her stand, and accepted the mark….She’s going to die anyway…and when she does, she’s not going to like what eternal life looks like.  That doesn’t mean we can’t befriend her and be grateful for her help.  Or that we can’t feel sorry that she waited too long to see the truth.”

Argh!  Can’t you at least try to save her?  She’s not even dead yet!  What if you’re wrong and she can still be saved?  Wouldn’t you just kick yourself if you didn’t give her the chance?

There’s more of this on page 253, only with other people who are about to be executed for not taking the mark, three people who “looked miserable” and who Chloe assumed “were among the hard-hearted who may have been desperate to change their minds but had waited too long.”

But–if they’re so desperate to change their minds, they still can!  They’re not dead yet!

On page 273 is an interesting little observation by Tsion: “When people hear the truth of God preached on the Carpathia-owned networks, well, it is like taking the gospel into the very pit of hell.”

Actually, the gospel message was already taken to the pit of Hell when Christ preached there during the three days when his body was lying dead on Earth–and his message included even the people you Trib Force people think are irrevocably damned!  (Since all people of all times were present at his preaching, according to my priest.)

On page 278, Tsion gives a sermon and says to those who have not yet taken the mark, “it may still be too late, because you waited so long.  You pushed the patience of God past the breaking point.”

While he does give some hope that it’s not yet too late, this statement still makes me want to cry out, No!  God is so patient that he even comes to us after death (Christ preaching in Hell).

On page 318–which comes after Chloe has been executed for not having the mark–Kenny hangs onto his father Buck when Buck has to leave.  This is impressive in its poignancy, as we see a child who has lost his mother and doesn’t want his father to leave him, too.

On page 357, Armageddon has begun, and there are actually horses with riders for some reason, even though you’d think Carpathia–with 90% of the world’s weapons, tanks, etc.–would have no need for such primitive tactics.

The “good guys” set up 100 DEW (directed energy weapons) operators, who “fire invisible beams of directed energy at the enemy.  In essence, they heated soft tissue past the tolerance point in less than a second, and if the rider or horse didn’t elude the ray, their flesh would burn.”

On page 364, the DEW operators zap “the black rim of horses and horsemen surrounding Petra.”  George cracks that “Some of that horse meat is probably well done.”  Poor horses.  🙁  They didn’t ask to be the horses of the Antichrist; they’re just horses.

Then on page 366, George says, “..wasn’t it fun to attack with the directed energy weapons?”  What–FUN?  Okay, are you Shaka Zulu, enjoying killing?

On page 393, Buck is mortally wounded–while he’s on his cell phone.  So he dies while doing what he loved most in life.  I hope there are phones for him in Heaven.

On page 403, an addendum called “The Truth Behind the Fiction” (which is funny in itself), talks about the rise of China and its possible role in the End Times.

I had to laugh because back in the 80s, the prophecy pushers said Russia was the big player.  Now they’re changing it to China.  Really, the only way you can know for sure is for the End Times to come: Nations rise and fall all the time.