by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 141430577X, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:
A plot summary is here.
And we trudge ever on to the end of the series….The funny thing is that character development–so sorely lacking in the other books–is finally here:
We see Carpathia’s sociopathy in action. We see how Buck became a star journalist. We discover that Rayford was tapped as a potential pilot for Air Force One long before Carpathia needed a pilot.
It would have been helpful to know all this way back in the beginning of the series, where we wanted to know these things but were denied.
And on we go to page 15. Irene and Rayford are arguing, yet again, over religion, because even though they’re both Christians, Irene has decided the family church is not Christian enough.
Rayford sees her personality change, and that she’s turned into a zealot. He says, “What’s the difference between a zealous Christian and a zealous terrorist who believes God or Allah or whoever has told him to bomb buildings or kill people?”
Irene says, “Well, for one thing, have you ever heard of a terrorist attack by a born-again Christian, claiming God told him to do it?”
So Rayford throws the Crusades in her face, instead of saying, Why yes, I have: Just Google “abortion clinic bombings.” Christian terrorism does actually exist. So while Rayford is being mean to Irene, lumping her in with terrorists, both of them are also using faulty arguments.
On page 34, he recognizes that his “perky blonde daughter” reminds “him of himself” with her intellect and questions, yet his “many dreams” have been pinned on his son….Why no dreams pinned on Chloe? Is it because she’s a girl?
On page 54, Irene goes to visit Rayford’s mother, whose mind has been going. Irene says to her, “Mom, do you ever pray?”
Ray’s mom says, “Why, yes, of course I do. I pray every day. I am a Christian, you know.”
To which Irene wants to retort, I know you think you are.
Of course, Irene soon discovers that Ray’s mother really is a Christian because she read her Bible and found out she had to have Jesus in her heart. But just because her view of Christianity was different from Irene’s, Irene was so quick to believe her not a true Christian!
Being a true Christian is about believing in and following Christ. You can do that no matter what church you go to, whether you believe in infant baptism, saying the sinner’s prayer, or whatever. You can behave like you follow Christ, or behave with no morals or values or compassion, no matter if you go to a liberal UCC church or a little Bible church.
On page 110, we learn that Buck “eschewed the standard who, what, when, where, why, and how inverted-pyramid formula and got to the point in the first paragraph.” So–You mean his stories don’t have the necessary facts for the reader to know what’s going on? I hate news stories like that.
On page 112, we read that Buck “had been lounging in the editorial office, gassing with a couple of photographers”–What the heck is gassing? Are they smoking weed?
On pages 135-136, an aide at the health-care facility where Rayford’s father is, tells Irene that he led Mr. Steele to Christ. He called in the code blue as Mr. Steele died; before the crash cart came, the aide told him to get right with God.
He did the whole Evangelical routine, asking do you know you’re a sinner, do you know Christ died for your sins, etc. etc. Mr. Steele says he has already prayed and accepted Jesus into his heart, when Irene told him how. (Mr. Steele has Alzheimer’s, and is not always lucid enough to respond to Irene.)
Um, are aides allowed to do this? And how would he know if Mr. Steele was a Christian or not? What gave him the idea he could assume? Or does he do this to everyone he finds dying–which, again, brings up the question, is this allowed?
On pages 137-138, Irene and Rayford argue, yet again, over Irene’s sudden zealousness. She begins by saying, “I swear, if there is no mention of your father’s faith during the eulogies I’m going to say something.”
To Ray’s, “Don’t embarrass me or the pastor,” she replies, “It would embarrass you to have people know that your father was a true believer?”
Um–What the–Why is it such a big deal to put this into the eulogy that she would embarrass people over it, if it’s not there??!! The argument continues:
“A deathbed convert is more like it, Irene. After your browbeating and that Filipino kid’s badgering, what choice did a confused, dying man have? Anyway, he’s already known in this church as a true believer for a lifetime.”
“This won’t be doing justice to your father.” This was the last thing she wanted to fight over, but it was as if she couldn’t help herself.
“Just promise me you won’t do anything weird, Irene.”
“You’d consider it weird if I merely told the truth?”
“I’d be humiliated.”
She pressed her lips together and shook her head, despising that she felt so weak. “I won’t humiliate you, Rayford.”
“I do wish your mother could be here. You couldn’t stop her from telling the truth.”
“Depends on your idea of truth,” he said. “People would pass it off as the ravings of an Alzheimer’s patient.”
“But I would know better. And so would you.”
“You know what I think, Irene. The truth is my dad has always been a Christian. He didn’t just get religion before he died.”
Then during the funeral, instead of crying over her loss, she weeps “throughout the service” because
[w]hile all the familiar Scriptures about death and rebirth were employed, nothing that was said explained them or brought the point home.
Mr. Steele was revered, but there was no mention of his coming to a saving belief in Christ, no mention of his ever repenting of sin and putting his faith in God.
But why would there be mention of this, when he was a lifelong Christian and everybody knew this?
This reminds me of my time in an Evangelical Free church, during which I felt bad for my Lutheran husband because people kept saying Lutherans weren’t really saved.
Lutherans baptize babies, you see, and have confirmation, rather than telling people they have to say the sinner’s prayer and convert even if they’ve been born and raised in the Church.
I was also taught this growing up in a Nazarene church, that Catholics, Lutherans, etc. weren’t really saved unless they did the sinner’s prayer, because they did it “wrong” by baptizing babies and calling them Christians.
I do seem to recall mention made, during his funeral, of my own grandfather coming to Christ right before he died. There is nothing wrong with speaking of the religious faith of the deceased.
But Irene will not be satisfied with less than a bludgeon-over-the-head fire-and-brimstone sermon saying that Mr. Steele lived his life in the wrong church, not truly believing, until he did things the way her church said it needed to be done–complete with calls for the mourners to repent of their sins before it’s too late.
This is not what a funeral is for! It’s easy to see why Rayford was turned off to her brand of Christianity.
But his not being Raptured with her sends out a strong message from the authors: that even if Christians turned you off to the church, no matter what reason you’re not “saved,” God won’t look on your heart, won’t have mercy on you.
And all because you didn’t believe in something, the truth of which is impossible to prove in this life. And even because you were in the wrong church.
To be continued…..