Bullying an Introvert and Probable NVLDer

I thought I had found a religious and spiritual mentor in my search for the True Church, and a best friend here in my own town instead of far away, one who would always be there for me throughout life.  But I believe this is what really happened:

I fell prey to a con man who eventually decided my husband and I were of no further use to him and his wife.  He used to be a Mafia thug, and was easily provoked to violence.  He hypnotized me without my knowledge.

They wanted to get political connections, but we were too “liberal” and not politically driven; he kept getting money and stuff from us, but the economy tanked and we had money trouble; I was his confidante of his wife’s abuses of him and the children, so she, who has a family history of personality disorders, smeared me to him to drive a wedge between us; and I spoke up against the way they both had been treating their kids.

So instead of addressing the real issues, they made me a scapegoat, made up offenses and kept me always jumping over hoops.  Then because we no longer had much money to give them, I started doubting Richard’s wild stories, and I had let them know they abused their kids, they started treating my husband and I both very badly.

They found an imaginary complaint to skewer me over, so we would break off the friendship in disgust, but they would still be able to claim that it was my fault and not theirs.

Richard threatened my husband with physical violence and intimidated him.  Then in 2010, I was proven correct about the abuse, when Richard choked his oldest daughter until she passed out.  He plea bargained and served a year of probation.

For two and a half years, I was bullied, gaslit and abused by a likely personality disordered person, “Tracy,” who saw me as a threat to her marriage because I was her husband’s confidante about her abuses of him and the children.

Though he, “Richard,” had been my friend for two years already, she made him her abuser-by-proxy, and insisted on forcing her friendship on me, or else I was not “respecting” her, was “moving in on” her husband, and was somehow violating society “norms” which I had never heard of before.

In my circles, friendship was allowed to happen naturally.  Nobody I knew complained about husbands making female friends, playful and innocent flirting, or going out to lunch with a female friend.  I had never encountered jealousy.

In fact, I was the most “jealous” person I knew, simply because I did not like my husband sharing a hotel room with a female friend for an SCA (like Ren-Faire) event, which that friend called having him on a “long leash.”

My husband and I trust each other and have no requirements whatsoever on our friends.  So Tracy’s behavior shocked and made no sense to me or to my husband, who felt she did not trust Richard.

If she had not been abusive to her husband and children, and if she had not begun snarking at me and telling falsehoods about me to her husband and mother, I would have had no trouble whatsoever being her friend.

But because of the abuses, I did not want her in my life.  However, I felt forced to let her be there, or I would lose a friend who was very dear to me.

I tried to get along with her–friended her on Facebook, gave her things she needed, gave her a flower, asked for recipes, chatted with her on occasion, joked with her on occasion, agreed with her on occasion on childcare, smiled at her during conversation, played games with her, changed her baby’s poopy diaper while she was in the shower, visited her in the hospital, held my tongue whenever she snarked at me, even gave her money and a place to stay–but nothing I did was enough.

My husband thought my behavior was fine.

I did not monopolize the conversation when she was in the room, mostly letting them carry it; if Richard and I sat next to each other, I might chat with him for a while, but usually my husband was there for her to talk to, or she was on the computer or doing some other thing.

She did not start conversations with me.  She did not even try with me, but instead expected me to come up with conversation when I have trouble with this in the best of social situations.  Most of the time there was something else going on in the room, or she was talking to everyone or to somebody else or screaming at a kid, so I didn’t see it as a time for starting conversation with her.

She criticized everything I did.  She refused to accept that I was a shy, quiet introvert with probable NVLD, who had always been that way and always would be, that making conversation with her–especially with someone who bullied me and whom I had maybe just witnessed verbally abusing her husband, kids or somebody else–was practically impossible for me until she stopped the abuse and accepted me for who I was.

I needed to be accepted as a quiet person who will not say much most of the time, even among my best friends.  I tried to explain all of this to Richard, hoping that he would explain it to her and they would help make it easier for me to relax around her.  But nothing ever changed, while I got blamed for everything and continuously punished for not being extroverted.

When we were roommates, I figured there was nothing wrong with spending 10 minutes talking with just Richard, when that evening we would all be together on the couch talking or watching TV for hours.

It’s not the same as visiting somebody, or they’re visiting you, because, well, we were roommates, and people who live together do this all the time.  And since she lived with me for six weeks and I spent every evening socializing with her and Richard for hours, I figured this was plenty to help her get to know me.

Also, in college my friends hated my fiancé Phil, whom they saw as controlling and possessive.  In turn, he tried to distance me from them, because he saw how they felt about them.  I did not see it until Pearl admitted it to me in a letter over the summer; he told me it was because he was Catholic, trying to make me see them as religiously bigoted.

To me, this was true friendship, and I saw his attempts to keep me from them as isolation and control.  This was my model for friendship, my model for what a controlling spouse acts like.  With Richard, I was now being like my friends, while Tracy behaved like Phil.

I am an introvert with probable NVLD (which socially is like Asperger’s), and cannot carry on conversations with the ease of extroverts.  Introverts must think before they speak, or they will say gibberish, and their brains use long-term rather than short-term memory to come up with something to say during group conversation.

But this takes longer, while extroverts think as they speak and use short-term memory during conversation.  So by the time an introvert comes up with a comment, or finds an opening to say it, the conversation has already moved on to some other topic.

I catch some social cues, but from the way this woman acted with me, I must have missed a whole slew of subtleties, because most of the time I thought our relationship was okay.

Tracy decided that until I turned into an extrovert (which researchers say is absolutely impossible) and someone without NVLD (which is also impossible), then she would treat me like I was trying to steal her husband away.

I had to court her favor before she would “approve” my friendship with Richard (even though he and I had already been friends for two years before I heard anything about this) and “allow” us to go out for coffee, have one-on-one conversations, or do anything at all that he could do with his other friends.

I do not believe in such restrictions put on a grown adult; I believe they are controlling and a red flag of abuse and isolation.

Because of the restrictions my brain put upon me since birth, it was maddening, an impossible requirement I was never able to fulfill, and extremely insulting, yet Richard and Tracy talked like I was making a “mountain out of a molehill,” and blamed me for not changing into an extrovert.

It was bullying and psychological abuse.

If I dealt with social situations with ease, it would have been different.  But I could not, so the motives for my behavior were all benign.

And they gave me none of the cues I asked for to tell me when she wanted to have a conversation with me, so I never noticed her doing it.

Also, I was extremely timid, scared by her aggressive personality, and felt it immoral to be friends with my best friend’s abuser.

But this was 2007, before the Internet exploded with information on how introverts are misunderstood and should be respected, so it was hard for me to explain–or to point to experts to back up my statements.

Every person I have ever known in my entire life has described me as “quiet.”  It’s the first adjective anyone uses to describe me, whether as someone they’ve just met or someone they remember from the past.

Second after that comes “nice,” “sweet,” “loyal.”  Richard called me “sweet, innocent and nice.”

So to me, Tracy’s behavior was like the mean girls and bullies from childhood, bullying me for being different, treating my quietness as if it were evidence of sneakiness and ulterior motives, laying into me with all sorts of horridly abusive, filthy words because I’m quiet–while my best friend let her do it, even talked as if she had every right to!

For two and a half years they tried to bully me into not being the way I’ve always been, treating me as if it were all my fault and Tracy had nothing to do with it, nothing to change in her own behavior.  I struggle to come up with conversation in the best of social situations; pressure like this constricted my throat and cut off my thoughts.

But it got worse: My NVLD has made me extremely gullible.  My classmates in middle school teased me for it; in college, boyfriends used it to manipulate me in ways that other people would see right through.

But my “best friend,” Richard, manipulated me also, getting comfort during a difficult time with his wife by convincing me that putting his head on my shoulder and giving me long, sweet hugs was an innocent expression of friendship and caring, NOT romance.  He told me Americans are too reserved.

So I thought Tracy did these things with friends, too–then he told me, “Don’t do them around Tracy.  She’s very jealous.”  But I was too naïve and trusting to see this as a huge red flag that he’d been lying to me.  (My best friend would never lie to me!)

And then he let Tracy flay me alive for these things, as if they’d been all my idea, as if he had nothing to do with them.

Meanwhile, he threatened my husband for sticking up for me, and wrote to him that he gets “physically violent easily if triggered.”

Just as obeying our parents is good except if they command us to do evil, the same is true with sticking up for our spouses.  While it is good and right to stick up for our spouses and stand by them, if our spouse is doing or saying something abusive or evil to anyone, then it would be evil for us to stick up for them and stand by them.

This means you, too, Richard: It was evil for you to allow your wife’s evil treatment of me, and you became its participant.

Digging out from the psychological damage–which some sources on the Net call Complex-PTSD as described here–has been long and difficult.  Though you might say I started trying to dig out from it soon after I met her, the worst of it wasn’t until a day when she finally spewed her poison, her venom, all over me.

(Fellow introverts, this will really burn you up: She actually accused me of needing to “grow up and talk“!  Talk about being bigoted against and refusing to understand introverts!  Talk about being mean and nasty to someone who’s different from you!  Doesn’t that just make you furious?  And that wasn’t all she said!  Some people need to “grow up” and learn how to treat others, to start being more accepting of other people’s differences!)

I’ve seen her do this to others, too, including a mutual friend, so I know it’s not just me.  Her mother is personality disordered, and has been officially diagnosed and hospitalized for it.  Even Richard noted some of the same traits in Tracy and all her sisters; these things can run in families, whether from some genetic trait or from the effects of being abused.  I am not a psychologist, but I believe Tracy has picked it up as well.

This disgraceful treatment by who I thought was my best friend, the best friend I’d ever had, caused me to build a wall around myself so that for a long time, I barely even went on Facebook anymore to communicate with my true friends.  I do still try to get out and among people, but it’s gotten even harder than it used to be to let people get inside that wall.

Especially during the first year of recovery, I would hide inside it as they chattered away, not revealing my inner life to them, all the pain and anguish and guilt, the things that Tracy said still revolving around in my mind almost a year later.

I got disgusted to see them go up to the Eucharist when they visited my church, how they acted as if I was the one with the problem, how Richard was able to manipulate me as he does others into thinking he’s this cool, loving person–when I have seen the dark side of them both.  How he manipulated me into thinking his wife was the abusive one, but little by little, he began to show that he is also abusive, violent and manipulative.

Then something happened that finally got the attention of the authorities, and proved to me that I did not imagine the abuse in their household:

According to the local newspaper and online public access court records, Richard choked his eldest daughter on September 21, 2010 until she passed out, because she was misbehaving.

Yet in his mug shot, which was posted on the website of the local paper for well over a year, he wears an expression of contempt rather than shame.  (Because of my NVLD, it took a while, and online research, but I finally identified the expression.)  And I’m told that once, when she was very small, he beat her mercilessly.

Also, I have an e-mail and record of a phone conversation which prove I’m telling the truth.  (I held onto them just in case Richard would need an ally in court.)

I also have my husband and Todd as witnesses/character witnesses, the printouts of Tracy on a game forum doing the same things to Todd that she did to me, several of her abusive e-mails to me, the abusive posts she made to Todd on that game forum, printouts of IRC conversations in which Richard claimed to have hypnotized me and been a thug for the Mafia, posts by Todd confirming the Mafia story, e-mails from Todd describing the things he himself witnessed, and a public blog post by Richard from 2007, all confirming my story as true and not the ravings of someone who is “not all there,” as Tracy called me in 2012 when she found my blog and this website.

I have copies of e-mails I sent to friends and family describing the situation from 2007-2010.  I have a file, started in mid-2010, in which I wrote everything I witnessed while I could still remember it well, just in case I would be needed as a character witness for Richard.  I am also witness of and privy to some things which I did not post online because of their sensitive nature.

These records give me confidence that I write the truth, that I was indeed bullied and abused, and that there was also abuse in Richard and Tracy’s household.  Though for legal reasons, I must note that my writings are all opinion based on my understanding of the facts, and others may disagree with my assessments.

The first thing is, you were born this way. It is in your nature, and thus cannot be wrong.  On average, one out of every three people is an introvert, if being quiet was wrong, that would make 1/3 of the total population born lesser. –serjicaladdict, Why are you so quiet?

My Trip to Oz and Back is much like my own blogs, an account of two years spent by the writer with her girlfriend, which was actually a 50-page letter sent by the author to her ex-girlfriend.

That was in the late 90s, when the author had never heard of borderline personality disorder, so there had been no official diagnosis for her to point to.  But the more she learned about BPD, the more she knew her ex-girlfriend had it, so she posted this letter to help others who are dealing with someone with BPD.

It has been on the Web since 2003, and by November 2006 had received 53,000 hits.  As the author wrote on the main page,

Writing this was cathartic. It doubled as a form of therapy. I actually did send the letter; however, I doubt that it had much effect.  The more I learned about BPD, the more I realized that the likelihood of this person ever really understanding, was probably close to zero….

Why would I want to put such a personal document online?  There are several reasons. First, I wanted to give an accurate portrayal of what it is like to be in a relationship with a person with BPD.  There are many books and websites on BPD, but relatively few from a significant other’s point of view.

Second, I am hoping that someone out there might read a bit and identify with it.  When one is in a difficult situation, sometimes just hearing about another person’s similar experience can be affirming–as in, “I’m not the only one.”

Finally, I consider myself a success story–see the final chapter, the epilogue.  My wish is to give hope to others.

Like me, the author changed names and identifying details.  This is to protect the guilty as well as the innocent.  Joyful Alive Woman also wrote about her abusive, narcissist, former female friend.

The narcissist blames others for his behaviour, accuses them of provoking him into his temper tantrums and believes firmly that “they” should be punished for their “misbehaviour”.

Apologies–unless accompanied by verbal or other humiliation–are not enough. The fuel of the narcissist’s rage is spent mainly on vitriolic verbal send-offs directed at the (often imaginary) perpetrator of the (oft innocuous) offence.

The narcissist–wittingly or not–utilises people to buttress his self-image and to regulate his sense of self-worth. As long and in as much as they are instrumental in achieving these goals, he holds them in high regard, they are valuable to him. He sees them only through this lens.

This is a result of his inability to love others: he lacks empathy, he thinks utility, and, thus, he reduces others to mere instruments.

If they cease to “function”, if, no matter how inadvertently, they cause him to doubt his illusory, half-baked, self-esteem–they are subjected to a reign of terror.

The narcissist then proceeds to hurt these “insubordinates”. He belittles and humiliates them. He displays aggression and violence in myriad forms.

His behaviour metamorphoses, kaleidoscopically, from over-valuing (idealising) the useful person–to a severe devaluation of same. The narcissist abhors, almost physiologically, people judged by him to be “useless”. —The Soul of a Narcissist by Sam Vaknin

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

Left Behind: Apollyon Review–Part 3

Previous parts

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.

 

Left Behind: Apollyon Review–Part 2

 

Part 1

For various reasons, I took a break from this blog. But now it’s time to get back to it!

On page 53-54, we find that the former-pope-turned-supreme pontiff of the Enigma Babylon One World Faith, now wears “a high, peaked cap” with an infinity symbol, and clownish robes full of colors, tassels, stripes, colored stones and astrological symbols.

Since he used to be the pope, and the Pope wears rich clerical robes and a high cap, what else can we see here but a blatant rip on papal garments?  In his book Are We Living in the End Times, LaHaye makes it very clear that he considers Catholicism to be a false religion based on paganism.

So it hardly seems a straw man argument, or reading in things that are not there, to note that the new Supreme Pontiff of the false amalgamated religion looks like a clownish version of the Pope.  For example:

If Babylon is the mother of all false religions and Jerusalem is the mother of true faith (since Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and resurrected there), then Rome is the mother of an unholy mixture of the two (p. 172).

He goes on to describe how Rome, already Satan’s “spiritual headquarters,” was full of pagan temples.  When Constantine converted (which LaHaye doubts is a true conversion), he gave the pagan temples over to the Christian leaders.  This led to pagan statues being made into Christian statues, and

Gradually the pagan practices and teachings of Babylon began to worm their way into Christianity.  These included prayers for the dead, making the sign of the cross, worship of saints and angels, instituting the mass, and worship of Mary–which in the church of Rome was followed by prayers directed to Mary, leading to the 1950 doctrine of her assumption into heaven and in 1965 to the proclamation that Mary was the “Mother of the Church.”

As pagan teachings increased, biblical authority decreased.  Just over one hundred years after Constantine, the brilliant Augustine came along with his brand of Greek humanism and introduced “man’s wisdom” along with “God’s wisdom,” further paving the way for more pagan thought and practice.

Although he did not intend it, his spiritualizing of Scripture eventually removed the Bible as the sole source of authority for correct doctrine.  At the same time, the Scriptures were kept locked up in monasteries and museums, leaving Christians defenseless against the invasion of pagan and humanistic thought and practice.

Consequently, the Dark Ages prevailed, and the Church of Rome became more pagan than Christian.

Had it not been for Wycliffe, Tyndale, and other valiant pre-Protestant heroes of the faith, Christianity would have been destroyed, and Satan’s Babylonian mysticism would have prevailed, effectively destroying true Christianity.

LaHaye then goes on to describe how terrible things were while “Babylonian mysticism controlled the church,” with massacres of born-again Christians, etc., things that make it, as he states on page 175,

difficult for many Christians to trust current efforts at reestablishing unity between Protestants and Catholics.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the only dispenser of salvation, which can come only by personal faith in Him, never by works of righteousness.  His work of redemption was finished for all time on the cross.

True Christians will never “unite” for the sake of religious unity with those who will not acknowledge the supremacy of Jesus Christ.  We take Peter’s admonition very seriously: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Who are those who do not acknowledge the supremacy of Jesus Christ?  LaHaye clearly points the finger at the Catholics.

Where did he get that version of church history–Chick Tracts?  And is he unaware of the existence of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which was one with the Roman Catholic Church for centuries before the Great Schism, and had/has many of the same practices as the Catholic Church?

Is he aware that the Eastern part of the Church did not go through the Dark Ages with the Western Church, did not “lock up” the Scriptures in monasteries, did not have the same Roman and legalistic bent as the Roman Church, yet somehow ended up with its own sign of the cross, prayers for the dead, mass (Divine Liturgy), and adoration (NOT “worship”) of Mary, the saints and angels?

The Orthodox Church does reject such things as purgatory and indulgences, and will not consider calling Mary “co-redemptrix” with Christ, but its practices and the Catholic Church’s stem from the same root and are very similar.

While the Orthodox disagree with some of Augustine’s writings, LaHaye’s critique of him is hardly true or fair–and doesn’t he know that the Protestant Reformers he praises, used Augustine’s teachings?

Doesn’t he know that the Early Church used the Septuagint, with its books of Maccabees, one of which speaks of prayers for the dead?

Oh, I guess he must have known something of Orthodoxy, after all.  On page 177, he describes how the Rapture would strip all the churches–Catholic, Orthodox, liberal Protestant, Evangelical–

“of any true believers and would make religious unity without respect for doctrinal differences instantly possible.  It was exactly this in our novel Tribulation Force that enabled the eventual leader of the one-world church”

to describe that all the religions are unified and no matter if you believe God is a person or concept, “God is in all and above all and around all.  God is in us.  God is us.  We are God.”

So–right here he makes it perfectly clear what he meant in Tribulation Force, that all those who did not get raptured are against God, gullible, weak in faith and doctrine, and perfectly willing to unite with all other religions.

Considering how he has just blasted all the practices of the Catholic and Orthodox churches which differ from the Protestants, and extensively shown how the “born-again” Christians differ from the rank-and-file Catholic Christians, he paints a bleak picture of the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Are most of them left behind because they follow these “pagan” practices?  Since these “pagan” practices are part and parcel of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, does that mean that it’s nearly impossible for a Catholic or Orthodox believer to be a true Christian?

The Catholics who did get raptured–did they all reject the doctrines and practices of their church, making them bad Catholics but practically Protestants?

After reading in the latest Orthodox Observer about the Ecumenical Patriarch’s visit to the US–about his work for tolerance, peace and understanding between religions–I wonder if LaHaye would consider this godly man to be on the side of Antichrist, especially if he hears about the concept of theosis (easily misunderstood by those who don’t know Orthodox teachings).

On page 329, we read that “aids to worship” such as icons (used in Orthodoxy and Catholicism) are demanded by unredeemed man, who “resists worshiping God by faith.”

LaHaye ties in Gaia worship, feminist movements in liberal churches, and mother goddess worship with the Catholic Church, by saying that many in the Catholic church want the Pope to make “Mary worship” “official church doctrine” and proclaim Mary

“co-redemtrix with Jesus” and the fourth member of the godhead.  In all likelihood, as soon as all born-again Christians are raptured, there will be no restraining influence to keep such perverse doctrine from being made official.

The next step, a very small one, would be for Gaia worshipers to become Mary worshipers.  Perhaps that is why Babylon–the religious beast of Revelation 17 seen with a woman on its back–controls the Antichrist’s kingdom during the first half of the Tribulation.

Revelation Unveiled, another Catholic-bashing book by LaHaye, is not on Google Books.  But you can find quotes from it here, in Carl E. Olson’s Will Catholics be “left behind”? starting on page 56.

For example, on page 60, we find a long quote in the footnotes, taken from page 269-270 of LaHaye’s book, describing his father’s conversion from Catholicism and how the Catholic Church had “clouded the way of truth with all their Babylonian pagan innovations brought up through the centuries.”

Read The Best-Selling Bigotry of Left Behind and No Rapture For Rome by Carl E. Olson for more quotes.

In case you think this is old news since LaHaye wrote Revelation Unveiled back in the 1970s, note that it is included in the Prophecy section on LaHaye’s website–showing that LaHaye must consider it still relevant.

If he disagreed with it, why would he still be selling it?  Also, the site’s description of the book specifically states that it “lays the Scriptural foundation for the Left Behind series.”

So, when we read that the Supreme Pontiff has donned colorful and garish clerical robes and a high, pointy hat, how can we not read between the lines and see this as an attack on the Catholic Pope?

To be continued….

 

Left Behind: Apollyon Review–Part 1

Apollyon  by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 0-8423-2926-9, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

Sorry, no “Buck was struck” tally for this book.  Surprisingly, I never saw it, not even once.

As usual, you can find reviews of this book on Amazon which describe the plot–such as it is.  Here I just record my impressions of various things that happen.

On page 20, Ken Ritz–yet another pilot who’s currently chatting with Rayford–says, “So, three pilots, a doc, and a rabbi–sounds like the start of a joke.  The only member without a specialty is your daughter, and she’s what I call the voice of reason.”

Er, yeah, she has no specialty because she dropped out of college after the Rapture!  I guess an education is superfluous now, even though she could’ve had seven years to use that education at a job or maybe have insights helpful for the Tribulation Force.

On page 23, we have a new character, Dr. Floyd Charles, who insists, “Call me anything you want except Floyd.”  In that case, can I call you Pink?

On page 29, Chloe, Buck and Tsion are speaking with Chaim Rosenzweig, the inventor of Israel’s famous formula for food production and wiping out hunger, dupe–er, friend–of Nicolae Carpathia, and all-around-decent-Jew except for that persistent refusal to convert to Christianity.

Chaim is not aware the Antichrist is the Antichrist, so he advocates for him, asking that Nicolae have a place on the program of Tsion’s Meeting of the Witnesses in Jerusalem.

This conference is meant to bring together the 144,000 Jewish converts to Christianity who have turned missionaries to the world.  Tsion is the speaker.  Chloe cries,

“A place on the program!  Impossible!  The stadium will be full of Jewish converts who are convinced Nicolae is Antichrist himself.”

Chaim condescendingly calls her “sweetheart,” smiles at her as if she’s a silly child, and says, “Nicolae Carpathia?  He seeks world peace, disarmament, global unity.”

Chloe responds, “My point exactly.”

Wait–Er–What?  What’s her point?  Is she saying that Carpathia is obviously the Antichrist because he seeks these things?  Since Christ himself preached peace, goodwill and compassion, does that mean that Christ is the Antichrist?

In the last book, we learned that Amanda, Rayford’s now dead wife, could have been a double agent working for the Antichrist.  I kept hoping and hoping that she truly was, because such an unexpected twist could spark suspenseful writing, the depth of Rayford’s feelings of betrayal, possibly even a breakdown–and oh, the eventual showdown between Rayford and the Antichrist would have been sweet.

But, wait, I forgot who was writing this book.  On page 36, we discover that the writers dropped the ball: Amanda was not a double agent, after all.  So much for added intrigue.

On page 43, our heroes [cough] arrive at the Meeting of the Witnesses.  As the stadium fills with participants, along with shouts and chants, Buck asks, “What are they saying?”  The response: “‘Hallelujah,’ and ‘Praise the Lord.’  And they’re spelling out the name of Jesus.”

Why do I suddenly have this vision in my head of thousands of Jewish Witnesses spelling out with their arms and singing, “It’s fun to stay at the J-E-S-U-S!”

The MC explains that Dr. Tsion Ben-Judah will “preach and teach for as long as he feels led.”  Oh, dear, settle in because it’s going to be a loooooong night.

On page 49, during Tsion’s sermon, he states that,

Jesus himself said he was the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man can come to the Father except through him.

This is our message to the nations.  This is our message to the desperate, the sick, the terrified, the bound.

By now there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind–even those who have chosen to live in opposition to God–that he is real and that a person is either for him or against him.

Tsion makes it very clear that “against him” means not being a Christian.  This is important to note, that non-Christians are considered to be “against God,” because later the lines will be drawn.

This contradicts the message I find again and again when researching Orthodoxy: that only God can say who will be found to be inside the Church, who outside.  It’s not just about whether or not you belong to a certain faith or denomination.

As the American Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios wrote in his Reflections (page 3) in the September 2008 issue of the Orthodox Observer,

[I]t is appropriate to speak of a broad rather than narrow understanding of humanity as “God’s people” [in the theme of “Gathering God’s People to His Home”].

A broad interpretation of humanity without any exclusions, discriminations, or exceptions is entirely consistent with Christ’s parable of the Great Banquet in the Gospel of Luke, where the substance of our theme is vividly expressed.

In that parable, the householder…goes to the people on the streets and lanes, on the highways and the hedges, in other words, to those people who make their “homes” in the margins of society.  In this sense, “God’s home” is also identified in broad rather than narrow terms.

This passage from Luke is compelling of how God communicates directly to us that “His people” includes the entirety of humankind and that “His home” includes the entirety of our planet….

[This means] that our work is unlimited.  It means that our mission has no boundaries.  It means that we are called to gather every human being of every continent to God’s home.

The Archbishop also wrote on page 20 in April 2008,

Because God has given to the people the freedom of conscience, we do not cast judgment on the teachings of other religions nor upon those people who hold them.

We do insist however, that on this day of Holy Pascha we are invited to come to a closer understanding of the centrality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Christian faith and its fundamental meaning for our lives as Orthodox Christians.

While Orthodoxy does believe that we are all tainted by sin and desperately need a Saviour, it rejects the doctrine of total depravity, or that even the good we do is evil until we are saved.

Orthodoxy sees “the divine image imprinted upon every person” (Encyclical, Archbishop Demetrios), distorted by sin, rather than destroyed by sin as some would say.  Actually, there is a distinction between the image of God (freedom, reason, creativity, etc.) and the likeness of God (being like God in character).

Because each person has the divine image, even sinners are precious to God.  We can cooperate with God’s grace in synergy if we so desire–in fact, though salvation is a free gift and only possible because of what Christ did for us, we must choose between good or evil, because God will not violate our free will.

God’s grace is not seen as irresistible, as in Calvinism: He knocks at the door, but we must open it.  (For a fuller treatment of this topic, see The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware, p. 218-224.  Excerpts of the book are available here, but the most pertinent section is “Man, his creation, his vocation, his failure.”  Sometimes you can find it online, sometimes not.)

So how can we be “against God” unless we specifically choose to be?  How can we be “against God” simply because we chose the wrong religion in our limited human knowledge, or followed Catholic teachings instead of premillennial dispensationalism?

Tsion’s “us vs. them” theology runs counter to Orthodox theology, because it is based on total depravity.  The judgments in the Left Behind series, many of which do not discriminate between good and bad, Christian or non-Christian, may be seen as just in the doctrine of total depravity, because even the “good” are evil if they are not in the Church.  But this goes against Orthodox theology.

Christ clarifies that some who claimed to be his followers will find themselves shut out of Heaven, while the division of the sheep and the goats is based on how people treated each other in life.  Only God can judge who is for Him and who against.

This does not mean that Christianity is just one of many ways to go; rather, it means that if any non-Christians are saved, it’s because Christ died for us all and God’s mercy and grace extend wherever He wills.

An Orthodox Christian View of Non-Christian Religions
The Last Judgment–from An Online Orthodox Catechism

 

To be continued….

 

Left Behind: Soul Harvest Review–Part 7

 

Previous parts

On page 390 I got confused: Hattie, who was poisoned by the Antichrist, has lost her baby and is on her deathbed.  She doesn’t feel worthy of salvation by Christ, and says, “Just let me die.”  Chloe responds, “No!  You promised to be my baby’s godmother.”  Later on, Chloe says, “You’re my friend, and I want you for a sister.”

Sister?  Godmother?  I’m not sure how being a godmother makes you the mother’s “sister.”  If she means spiritual sister, wouldn’t that apply to a daughter of Chloe’s godmother?

And godmother–isn’t this verboten in the branch of Christianity represented by these books?  You get to be a godmother by being the sponsor at a baby’s baptism.  Tim LaHaye is a Baptist.  Baptists are opposed to baby baptism.  So how could Hattie be Chloe’s baby’s godmother (or Chloe’s sister, for that matter)?

To try to find an answer to this, I tried searching for Jerry Jenkins’ affiliation, but could not find it.  Still, premillennial dispensationalism tends to be doctrine among the branches of Christianity which reject baby baptism; the mainline churches which do practice baby baptism, tend to reject dispensationalism in favor of amillennialism or postmillennialism.  So Chloe’s comments about a godmother, make no sense to me.

When Chloe says, “I want you for a sister,” Hattie says, “I’m too old to be your sister.”  Oh, come on, Hattie–You’re less than ten years older than Chloe!  Siblings can easily be that far apart in age, even farther, in fact (my eldest brother is ten years older than I am).

Buck then whispers with “his lips near her ear”: “You want Jesus, don’t you?”  Come on, baby, you know you want Jesus!

On page 400, after hearing from Hattie that Nicolae had Bruce poisoned, Buck ponders murdering Nicolae.  Rayford also has such thoughts periodically, such as on page 416.  These violent thoughts are quite disturbing, especially when these are supposed to be born-again Christians who are taught by Christ to love their enemies.  I can only hope the characters will be properly chastened later.

Page 406 shows the problem inherent in any story which is supposed to represent the future: Tsion decides to run his computer on batteries during a storm, but remain connected to the phone lines.  What, no cable modem, DSL or wireless router?

On page 410, in the middle of a divinely ordained hailstorm, “plummeting tongues of fire” begin coming down, then showers of blood.  From the sky.  Not only does this scene (like many others) strain plausibility, but Rayford’s response to the blood is “a peace flooding his soul.”

But this show, this shower of fire and ice and blood, reminded him yet again that God is faithful.  He keeps his promises.  While our ways are not his ways and we can never understand him this side of heaven, Rayford was assured again that he was on the side of the army that had already won this war.

That’s an odd reaction to fire and blood showering down from the sky!  Does he feel no repulsion, or even concern for the people and animals who might get caught underneath the hail, fire and blood?  Also, what about understanding for why people still may not turn to the book’s version of God, since they don’t know what’s going on or why God is treating them this way?

Tsion’s reaction is, “Here comes the blood.”  (Cue Sammy Davis Jr.’s “Here comes the judge!“)  Then he shouts,

Praise the Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth!  What you see before you is a picture of Isaiah 1:18: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Eh?  For one, how did he connect the hailstorm with Isaiah 1:18, and for two, why is he praising for this?

More of the same is on page 417, when the news reports a massive comet on its way to a collision course with Earth.  This comet is expected to cause unknown devastation–possibly even split the earth in two.  And what is Rayford’s response?  “It’s happening!…This is going to be some ride!”

The comet finally hits, followed by a meteor called Wormwood.  (I guess that means LaHaye doesn’t follow the school of thought which says “Wormwood” refers to the Chernobyl disaster.)

We follow the edge-of-your-seat action as–Oh, wait, there is no edge-of-your-seat action, because the whole thing is summarized in about three pages tops.  Then a few pages later, the book ends.

There is suspense in the question, Was Amanda, Rayford’s new wife, a double agent for the Antichrist?  I keep hoping that she is, because it would provide a twist to make the books far more intriguing than they have been so far.

But in the hands of a better writer, we would have seen the comet’s devastation as it unfolded, and felt worn out from the tragedy as now Wormwood threatened the earth.  And the writer teaches other people how to write?

[August-November 2009]