Left Behind: Apollyon Review–Part 3

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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.

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