Left Behind: The Mark Review–Part 1

The Mark by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414334974, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

In Book 8 of the series, you’d think the series would have hit its stride by now, but no, it’s still slow as molasses.  So many of the writing and theological problems of the older books are still around, that it would be too repetitive to list them all.  So these reviews may end up being shorter.  Or maybe not.  We shall see.

Hey, here’s some good news: “Buck was struck” made a reappearance, after disappearing for so long, on page 72!  Well, that is, if you’d call that good news.  At least it’s something interesting.

On page 2, we read,

Should David be able to see evidence that the man was now indwelt by Satan himself?  The body, the hair, the complexion, the look were the same.

But an intensity, an air of restlessness and alertness, flowed from the eyes.  Though he smiled and talked softly, it was as if Nicolae could barely contain the monster within.

Controlled fury, violence delayed, revenge in abeyance played at the muscles in his neck and shoulders.  David half expected him to burst from his suit and then from his very skin, exposed to the world as the repulsive serpent he was.

I hope this indwelling changes this Antichrist into a more formidable opponent.

On page 73, Chaim’s jaw is wired shut for reasons I’ve forgotten because these books are just so dang long and unmemorable.  Yet he sure is saying quite a bit just the same, full sentences and paragraphs in a conversation with Buck and Tsion.

On page 74, Buck tries to convince Chaim that Chaim’s memory (from the first book) of a conference–a conference with the heads of the countries at which Nicolae shot Stonagal and Todd-Cothran–is wrong.  If you take out the dialogue, however, the body language becomes much more interesting, thus:

The old man put a quivering hand on Buck’s knee….[Chaim] Rosenzweig began to shiver until his whole body shook.  He pressed his hands against his tender face to stop the quivering of his lips.

Ooh la la!  What is it with the men in these books touching each other’s knees?  I thought in American culture that means you want sex!

Chaim finally remembers what happened at the conference.  Then he says, “Thank you, Jehovah God.”  But–why would a Jew say “Jehovah God”?  That is an error made by a Christian trying to figure out God’s name.  Here are the names which are far more likely.

On pages 92-94, Steve Plank shows up again–in a wheelchair, most of his face gone and covered by a mask, a new ID (Pinkerton Stephens), and a new status as a believer.  He takes off his mask to show Rayford and Albie his cross, so we get to read all the gory details of how icky his “face” (or lack thereof) now looks.

Though why the authors keep making things as gross as possible and describing everything, while virtually ignoring descriptions of characters normally–I don’t know.  I think the authors must love horror movies.

On page 101, Rayford and Albie discover Hattie on the floor after a botched suicide attempt.  Hm, Rayford gives Hattie mouth-to-mouth!

On page 108, Zeke explains to Buck that gasoline itself doesn’t burn, but the fumes.  But when he first tells Buck that the gas doesn’t burn, we read,

Buck felt stupid.  He had been a globe-trotting journalist, and a virtual illiterate was trying to tell him gasoline fires aren’t what they seem?

Er, way to be a patronizing, arrogant and pompous ass, Buck.  Especially since Zeke works at a gas station and should know what he’s talking about!

On page 118, Albie makes a little prayer for Hattie: “God, save that girl.”  Girl?  Isn’t she at least 30 by now?  Poor Hattie just doesn’t get a break.

On page 126, David’s love, Annie, has been killed by lightning brought down by Nicolae–or was it Fortunato?  I can’t keep it straight because it’s hard to pay attention to the details in such boring books.

Anyway, a little group of believers decides to gather around him and pray.  Mac lays a hand on David’s shoulder, while Abdullah reaches for his knee….

Er, his knee?  Geez, man, personal space!  Yet again, one man reaches for another man’s knee in these books.  They abound with unintended homoeroticism.

The other thing I find unbelievable is the sudden prayer Mac gives.  It seems so fake after they’ve just discovered that Annie is dead.  Would any of them even be able to speak for the sobs?

I find it interesting that, such as on page 128, the group of believers is using “Nick” currency, the GC-printed money named after the Antichrist.

Considering that the mark of the beast, which you can’t buy or sell without, is quite likely money printed with the image of the Beast (as I read once on a Catholic website), aren’t the believers buying and selling with the mark of the beast? making them subject to condemnation?

The scene on page 134 is rich with unintentionally erotic imagery. Check it out:

Rayford stepped out, and Hattie nearly lunged at him.  “Let me see, let me see!” she said, staring at him.  “I can see yours!” she said.  “That means you can see mine!  Can you?”

His eyes were still adjusting to the sun, but as she pulled him out of the shadow by the door, it hit him.  His knees buckled and he almost fell.

Dang, that door must have hit you hard.  Or was it from the sight of what Hattie is showing you?

“Oh, Hattie!” he said, reaching for her.  She leaped into his arms and squeezed him around the neck so hard he finally had to push her away so he could breathe.

“Does mine look like yours?” she said.

Hmmm.  If it does, then you must be a darn skillful transvestite, because nobody had a clue.

He laughed.  “How would I know?  We can’t see our own.

We can’t?

But yours looks like every other one I’ve seen.

How many have you seen, Rayford?

This is worth waking Albie for.”

A threesome!

“Is he decent?”

Not if he wants to be in this threesome.

“Sure.  Why?”

“Let me.”

Rayford unlocked the door and Hattie burst in.  “Albie, wake up, sleepyhead!”

I’ve got a surprise for you!

He didn’t stir.

She sat on the bed next to him and bounced.  He groaned.  

I bet he wouldn’t groan if you bounced nekkid….Or maybe he would.

“C’mon, Albie!  The day is young!”

“What?” he said, sitting up.  “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing will ever be wrong again!” she said, taking his face in her hands

HMMMM, what do you have in mind, Hattie?

…and pointing his bleary eyes toward her.  “I’m just showing off my mark!”

Er–What?  You’re showing off your BELIEVER’S MARK?  That’s what this is about?  Sheesh.  Bummer.

To be continued.

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