Left Behind: Indwelling Review–Part 1
The Indwelling by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 0842329293, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:
Plot summary here.
South Park has a much more entertaining version of the birth and possession of the Antichrist: Woodland Critter Christmas But for the moment, we’re stuck with these books.
One thing I’ve noticed again and again in these books is how rude the Christians get to the non-Christians, as if just because they’re not “believers,” they’re somehow not deserving of basic human respect.
In this case, p. 46, it’s David Hassid, a believer, returning rudeness for rudeness to Guy Blod, the GC minister of creative arts. Guy is, of course, portrayed as anti-God, profane, ridiculous, self-important, self-absorbed, temperamental, an “artiste,” and flaming gay. The token Gay Guy must, of course, be a f*g.
And David, like Buck or Rayford or any of the other “believers” in these books who have to deal with non-believers they find annoying, is snippy and rude with him. We saw this with Buck and Verna Zee, who, by the way, is also gay.
And of course, Rayford gets rude and snippy with Bo, Hattie, Leah, and anybody else he feels is beneath him (even though Leah is actually a believer). What happened to turning the other cheek? Is verbal sparring considered a Christian virtue in these books? And are gays deliberately being portrayed as unpleasant?
On page 60, we finally meet Guy Blod–pronounced gee blod, not guy blood or jee blod or anything else the author thinks it might be pronounced as, and Guy is rather insistent about this.
I’m not quite sure why we are told that “Blod” is pronounced like “cod,” as if Scandinavian. Scandinavian???
Why is it Scandinavian or an indication of Guy’s fussiness that his last name is pronounced exactly the same way English words spelled “–od” are normally pronounced? How else would we pronounce it?
Sure David keeps calling him “Blood,” but that’s just David being an ass. Phonetics don’t support that.
Guy is “outrageous and flamboyant,” with a “small entourage of similarly huffy and put-out men in their late thirties. Despite their differences in nationality, they could have been quints from the way they dressed and acted.”
Oh my gosh–It’s a gay Ruby Rhod! Though Ruby Rhod already seems gay, he actually is quite the lady’s man. Guy Blod, on the other hand, is fully gay. Gotta wonder if the authors saw Fifth Element before writing this part. The names even rhyme.
And of course, when David tells him he’ll need a hard hat and protective clothing (for inspecting his 24-foot bronze and iron statue (idol) of the deceased Carpathia), Gay Guy looks at his mates and says, “I love new clothes.” The stereotypes in this character are revolting.
On page 67, Carpathia, in announcing Greece’s inclusion in what are now called the United Holy Land States, says to the Greeks, “You are a deeply religious people, with a rich place in the histories of many cherished belief systems.”
From this statement, we must assume that the Greeks left behind after the Rapture are still included as “deeply religious people.” Yet they were left behind. What religion is deeply ingrained in Greece? The Orthodox Church, of course! So what does this tell us, that the authors believe about the Orthodox Church?
I also find it interesting that the “exploding” church goes underground to keep out of GC’s notice.
Why not fill the Orthodox churches, since Carpathia obviously has no problem with those? Or are the Orthodox churches not really “Christian”? I see the Orthodox Church is not even called the “church,” but only this new “real-true Christian” church.
I also note that the Greek evangelists who converted them are Messianic Jews who attended Tsion’s conference in Israel, then returned to Greece to “win tens of thousands of converts to Christ.”
BUT THE CHURCH WAS ALREADY THERE IN GREECE!!! IN FACT IT’S A LONG-ESTABLISHED INSTITUTION!
What are the Orthodox believers, chopped liver? Are the Greek Orthodox priests incapable of leading their flocks to Christ?
On pages 77 and 78, we read,
Tsion had studied the discipline of intercession, largely a Protestant tradition from the fundamentalist and Pentecostal cultures.
Those steeped in it went beyond mere praying for someone as an act of interceding for them; they believed true intercession involved deep empathy and that a person thus praying must not enter into the practice unless willing to literally trade places with the needy person.
Hm, this concept of intercession is news to me. I find the Orthodox and Catholic practices of asking the saints for intercession (since the prayers of a righteous man availeth much, or rather are energized) to be more practical than trying to put your mortal self into various emotional and physical contortions to make your prayer effective enough.
I also don’t see why it would be necessary. Doesn’t Jesus tell us that God is a loving Father who will give us bread and not a stone? who knows what we need before we ask it?
In any case, since I haven’t heard of this practice before, Tsion’s method is my introduction to it: He first examines his own willingness to truly intercede for Rayford. He can’t trade places with Rayford, who is suspected of assassinating the Antichrist. “But he could affect that posture in his mind; he could express his willingness to God to take that burden, literally possible or not.” Er, okay, not quite sure what this means.
“Yet even that did not assuage Tsion’s discomfort. He tried dropping to one knee, bowing his head lower, then slipping to both knees, then turning to lay his arms on the seat of the couch and rest his head on his hands.”
Naturally, he’s worried about Chloe seeing him, but not because he looks silly: He’s afraid she won’t understand if she sees him “in a posture of total contrition–something foreign to his nature. He often prayed this way in private, of course–” of course?– “but Chloe would see this ‘showing’ of humility so aberrational that she would likely feel obligated to ask if he was all right.”
But he stops thinking about Chloe and starts feeling “such deep compassion and pity for Rayford that he moaned involuntarily and felt himself sliding from the couch until his palms were flat on the floor.”
Now his head presses against the front of the couch, and his back is to the quiet TV. He groans and weeps as he prays. His focus shifts from Rayford to the majesty of God, and he feels unworthy, ashamed and impure, as if in God’s very presence.
Now, “Knees sliding back, palms forward, he lay prostrate, his forehead pressing into the musty carpet, nose mashed flat.” What? This is just getting–weird. Of course, when Chloe comes in and finds him like this, she’s alarmed. He says he’s just tired, so she tells him to take a nap.
What is the purpose of all this contortioning? Does mashing your nose against the carpet really make your prayer more effective?
These intercessory prayers really start getting interesting when on p. 232, Tsion begins having out-of-body experiences while praying, looking down on the earth, and having visions of–even interacting with–angels. (That’s funny, I thought Evangelicalism typically views astral projection as a dangerous Occultic practice.)
The difference between the ascetic prayers of Orthodox monks and what’s going on here with Tsion is described here: Orthodox Monk: Pentecostalism and the Jesus Prayer. It shows how Tsion is going into dangerous territory because he doesn’t have the advantage of spiritual guides or the asceticism of the monastery to keep him from error (the trouble with God removing all the mature Christians from the earth and leaving baby Christians to figure out how to do things).
A description of the proper use of prayer is here. It also describes the dangers of seeing angels or other visions during the prayer, as quoted from St. Gregory of Sinai:
It is natural for the mind to reject what is at hand and dream of something else to come … to build fantasies and imaginings about achievements before he has attained them.
Such a man is in considerable danger of losing what he has and failing into self-delusion and being deprived of good sense. He becomes only a dreamer and not a man of continual prayer (i.e. a hesychast). (St. Gregory of Sinai, 14th c., Texts on Commandments and Dogmas)
If you are truly practicing the continual prayer of silence, hoping to be with God and you see something sensory or spiritual, within or without, be it even the image of Christ, or an angel, or some saint, or if an image of light pervades your mind in no way accept it…always be displeased with such images, and keep your mind clear, without image or form…and you will suffer no harm.
It has often happened that such things, even when sent by God as a test before victory, have turned into harm for many…who have then done harm to others equally unwise…leading to pride and self-conceit.
For the fathers say that those who live rightly and are faultless in their behavior with other men…who seek God with obedience, questioning and wise humility…will always be protected from harm by the grace of Christ. (St. Gregory of Sinai, Instructions to Hesychasts)
Intercessory prayer, on the other hand, is described here–without all the stuff Tsion is doing. The closest I can find to such things is this Orthodox Monk blog post on Intercessory Prayer:
In praying the Jesus Prayer, we should not ‘hop around’ various names and intentions: we should once and for all fold into all our being all those people and all those intentions for which we want to pray, and concentrate on the Prayer.
It is a temptation to ‘hop around’ names and intentions; that prevents us from progressing into the depths of the Prayer so as to purify our inner being, optimally so as to purify our heart in conscious sobriety.
To be continued….