Friday, December 08, 2006
I don't believe in an interventionist God:
I'm waiting for callbacks from both the 1st and 4th Infantry Divisions right now, and I took the opportunity to finish reading the worst and most repugnant novel ever to have sullied my eyeballs: the first in the Left Behind series.

If ever you should think that millions of people couldn't all be wrong about a piece of fiction for so many years, let this awful thing stand as irrefutable counterexample. Leave aside for one second the hideous plot. The series' two authors, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, mangle the language in a way I haven't seen since high school. At one point they employ the image of a juggernaut sailing across the waters. You tell me what that's supposed to mean.

All right, a second is up. Left Behind is a despicable revenge fantasy perpetrated with a malicious heart by the sort of vile believer who sees only impurity around him. It hinders his ascension, and he must have satisfaction. So many so-called Christians are left behind after the rapture, and the sneering attitude by LaHaye and Jenkins informs you that they told you so.

The novel's enemies are familiar. Perfidious Europe. The secular and venal national media. The United Nations. The Jew. There's even Catholic-bashing of the ancient vintage: the unraptured President of the United States is an earthy lout named Gerry "Fitz" Fitzhugh. The Jew is my favorite enemy, of course. Israeli Dr. Chaim Rosenzweig creates a formula to make the desert bloom (thanks for that Ben-Gurion reference, assholes) and uses his resulting prestige to usher the Antichrist onto the world stage. Hey Krauthammer, these are your friends here.

This one passage, I think, sums the whole wretched thing up. Our hero, Buck Williams, ace reporter for the Global Weekly, first gets introduced to God when he witnesses the miraculous destruction of the Russian Air Force as it attacks Israel. (Bear with me here.) Only Williams opts to keep the Lord at arm's distance until it's too late. Finally, he comes face to face with his mistake:
Why, Buck wondered, hadn't [the direct intervention of God during the Russo-Israeli war] made more of an impact on his own introspective inventory? In the lonely darkness he came to the painful realization that he had long ago compartmentalized this most basic of human needs and had rendered it a nonissue. What did it say about him, what despicable kind of subhuman creature had he become, that even the stark evidence of the Israel miracle--for it could be called nothing less--had not thawed his spirit's receptiveness to God? [Emphasis added]
"What despicable kind of subhuman creature"! They're talking about you. Because they are the righteous.

[UPDATE: Courtesy of commenter Moonbiter, Slacktivist's LOL-worthy assessment of LB
--Spencer Ackerman
Had you the fortune to have been reading Fred Clark, you wouldn't have had to slog through the book. His review of the book is probably both longer and better-written than the novel itself.
Blogger moonbiter | 11:19 AM

LB is my greatest airport non-purchase of all time. (In my defense, I had no idea what it was all about just that I'd seen a billion people reading them and the covers looked cool. And it was 10 years ago...)
Blogger Pooh | 3:37 PM

The spin-offs are even more surreal. Driving around rural Maine this summer I caught an episode of the LB-for-kids radio program. Priceless line (offered by a lovesick young French girl to her stalwart Christian soldier in an Inspector Clouseau accent): "Don't worr-ee, Judd. We steell have plenty of time [for passionate, but chaste love]. Je-sus doos not return for tree more years."
Blogger TheWaldganger | 4:07 PM

Main Entry: jug·ger·naut
Pronunciation: 'j&-g&r-"not, -"nät
Function: noun
Etymology: Hindi JagannAth, literally, lord of the world, title of Vishnu
Blogger marc | 7:47 AM