Tag Archives: Fred Clark

This About Sums It Up

Fred Clark sums up America’s real problem with government programs in this Twitter thread.

If you don’t want get into the morass that is Twitter, here’s what he says:

Progressive agenda — labor, education, health care for all — is very popular in U.S. but only up until the moment POC also have access.  Public schools & universities? America loved ’em … until Brown v. Board, after which public was happy to let them collapse.  Labor unions? Americans wanted them good and strong … until they had to be integrated, at which point U.S. let them wither away.  Go through the whole list of New Deal and Great Society efforts to improve our standard of living — the pattern repeats.  This was what started the Tea Party, which furiously opposed assisting struggling homeowners & thus re-channeled the rescue to banks.  White Americans want Nice Things, but not if “those people” get them too. In that case, they’d rather let their own house burn down.  Want single-payer Medicare for all? Me too. Getting there means figuring out how to change this pattern.

It reminds me very much of a quote attributed to the commenter Deus X. Machina in a thread from Balloon Juice:

The salient fact of American politics is that there are fifty to seventy million voters each of whom will volunteer to live, with his family, in a cardboard box under an overpass, and cook sparrows on an old curtain rod, if someone would only guarantee that the black, gay, Hispanic, liberal, whatever, in the next box over doesn’t even have a curtain rod, or a sparrow to put on it.

White America would rather not have good things at all than have to share them with those they deem undeserving.

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Preaching the Anti-Gospel

Anti-Christ Handbook 2

So I’ve been reading book 2 of The Anti-Christ Handbook, Fred Clark’s collection of the blog posts that he wrote, starting in 2003, criticizing the Left Behind books by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins.

I’ve reached the posts, titled Boutros Boutros Carpathia (a reference to Boutrous Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time the Left Behind books were written) where Nicolae Carpathia, the Antichrist, makes his debut before the United Nations.

In the world of Left Behind, the United Nations is not a collection of powerless diplomats, dependent on its member nations for every dime and employee, permanently half-paralyzed by competing interests among its most powerful members. In Left Behind, the United Nations is the de facto government of the world, with a relationship to member nations similar to the U.S. federal government’s relationship to the individual states.

(Mind you, this isn’t a deliberate alternate reality; Lahaye and Jenkins believe that this is, or will be, how the United Nations works in our world.)

This, of course, means that to conquer the world, Carpathia must conquer the UN. This results in the infamous scene where he wows the crowd at the UN by reciting the member nations’ names in order, saying each name in the language spoken by the people of that nation. We later find out that Carpathia has supernatural mind control powers, but he’s apparently not supposed to be using them in this scene; L&J genuinely believe that reciting a list would bring the UN General Assembly to their feet in a standing ovation and start whoever could perform such a feat on the path of world domination.

It’s a shame, really. That would be a demonstration of supernatural power indeed, to have a character almost literally reading from the phone book, and have the crowds go wild while the unaffected few are left looking around themselves and wondering what the hell is going on.

But Fred points out that there is an even larger missed opportunity here: Nicolae is the Antichrist. This is a perfect opportunity to draw a contrast between him and the Christ, thus demonstrating the character of both. Now, while a gathering of “all nations under Heaven” hearing Carpathia speak in their native tongue is a passable anti-Pentecost, Pentecost wasn’t one of Jesus’s miracles. That one goes to Peter, the Apostles, and the Holy Spirit well after Jesus had returned to Heaven. Instead, there should be some sort of anti-Baptism performed by an anti-John (the character Jonathan Stonagal was almost certainly supposed to be this – why couldn’t they wrangle some way to have him make Carpathia’s introductions at the UN? They have Rayford Steele, a civilian, get hired to pilot Air Force One.). And rather than reciting a list of member nations, this would be a good opportunity for Carpathia to preach his anti-Gospel, complete with anti-Beatitudes.

That got me thinking. What would anti-Beatitudes look like?
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The Risks of Writing What You Know

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“Write what you know” is, on the whole, very good advice. You pick up innumerable details by sheer osmosis from lived experience, and those details get into your writing without you even knowing it. Your readers will be able to sense the authenticity when you write what you know. And as Get Jiro illustrates, “write what you know” doesn’t have to limit you to writing semi-autobiographical literary novels.
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Fred Clark’s Book The Anti-Christ Handbook is now available at Amazon!

Anti-Christ Handbook

I’m a few days late with this, I suppose, but I just have to share the news even if it’s not really news anymore.

For those of you who’ve never heard of Fred Clark, the Slacktivist, you clearly haven’t been reading this blog for very long.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Fred has spent more than ten years reviewing the Left Behind series of fundamentalist Christian apocalyptic novels.  And while outside reviewers have written individual articles about how the Left Behind novels are nothing more than a very long sadistic revenge fantasy written for an audience who would never admit to harboring such fantasies, Fred’s page-by-page attention to detail and intimate knowledge of Evangelical Christian culture gives a true understanding of “the horror and hilarity of Left Behind” that you just can’t get anywhere else.

And now, after ten years, Fred has finally collected the posts where he examines the first 200 pages of Left Behind into his own book:

The Anti-Christ Handbook

The Anti-Christ Handbook has already shot to number one in its very, very specialized niche on Amazon, and been praised by the writers of The Daily Show.

For my own part, I can’t recommend The Anti-Christ Handbook enough.  Fred Clark’s Left Behind posts have been some of the most valuable writing resources I’ve ever found online.  Not only do they give some of the best examples in all literature of What Not To Do, but they generally follow up with advice and suggestions on how it could have been done better (spoilers: just about anything would be better).  Also, since Fred is an evangelical Christian himself, he gives us outsiders an insight into the subculture (and all the literary tropes that go with it) that we otherwise would have no way of getting.  All done with his trademark compassion and biting humor.

The best advice I can give you is to pick up a copy of The Anti-Christ Handbook today.

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Interesting Links:The Rapture Edition

Warrior Angel 01

One of the most popular tropes in Christian “Rapture” fiction is the destruction and chaos immediately surrounding the Rapture itself.

(For those unfamiliar, “The Rapture” is a belief from certain strains of American fundamentalist Christianity.  According to this belief, all of the true believers in the “correct” Christian denominations, along with all children too young to be accountable for their actions, will taken bodily to Heaven before the commencement of the horrors of the Book of Revelation.)

Rapture fiction lovingly describes scenes of plane crashes and car crashes, the vehicles deprived of their Washed In The Blood pilots.  Some describe pregnant women’s bellies deflated, emptied of their innocent fetuses (they don’t usually take into account the complications this would cause).  Some take a certain spiteful pleasure in describing the suicides of those who succumb to the despair of being Left Behind, but most seem to forget the deaths caused by doctors disappearing out of surgeries and other, less-spectacular incidentals.

If the purpose of the Tribulation – that is, the seven years of cataclysms between the Rapture and the Final Judgment (as described by those same strains of Christianity) is to give those Left Behind one last chance to repent and accept Jesus-ah, this all seems both counterproductive and cruel.  After all, every person who dies in the chaos surrounding the Rapture goes straight to Hell, with no chance to even figure out what’s happening!

With that in mind, Chris the Cynic of Stealing Commas has given us two alternatives.

The first assumes that the Rapture and the Tribulation are necessary on some level so fundamental that even a merciful God has no choice but to go forward with them.  For that, Chris gives us:

A No-Kill Rapture

The other assumes that God hasn’t given the angels sufficiently good reason for horrific things He’s about to do, so they decide that they’re not going to stand idly by and let it happen:

Not Even The Angels In Heaven

Chris actually wrote both some time ago, but I was reminded of them when he reposted them in the comments of this Left Behind Fridays post by Fred Clark, which discusses the utterly inhuman sociopathy of the “Heroes” of Left Behind.

For the record, I don’t necessarily think that Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins, the writers of Left Behind, are sociopathic themselves, despite the fact that they clearly think their characters’ concern with travel arrangements and telecommunications in the face of mass death is a sympathetic plight.  More likely, it’s just that they’ve lived lives of wealth and privilege for so long that they think their own daily struggles represent true human hardship.  Kinda like how Stephen King, who, at the beginning of his career, could do remarkable portrayals of a wide variety of working-to-middle-class characters, but who now has trouble writing anyone but wealthy writers (but because he’s a much better writer than L&J, can still muddle through if he tries).

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Interesting Links – January 18, 2015

Hey, all.

Just wanted to share a few interesting articles I didn’t get a chance to deal with properly during the past week.

The first was sent to me by Red Molly:

12 Zodiac Signs Reborn as Terrifying Monsters

Oh baby, you know what I like.  BTW, am I the only one who detects a certain influence by HR Giger?

The next two are from Stealing Commas, and you might call them fix fics for the infamous Left Behind series.  The first is called “A No-Kill Rapture“, and while it does ruin one of Lahaye & Jenkins’ favorite scenes – the blood, fire and destruction that is unleashed upon the world (and all those obstinate sinners who just wouldn’t listen to them) when all of the Real True Christians are raptured – it deals with the theological problem of a God who wants everyone to be Saved, but kills thousands in the act of rapturing the Elect, thus denying them the chance to learn from the example.  The other, A Light In The Darkness, also works on the “maybe Heaven has some entities in it that give a damn about mortals” theme.

Finally, we have two from Fred Clark, of Slacktivist.  Fred is an old newsman, so he follows the news – which means these last two are kinda grim.  First, we have one that’s a few days old, and I’m afraid that the comment section is large enough to make it cumbersome on my browser, but it’s still worth reading:

Appalling Results From a Small Study of College Men Highlight A Public Safety Emergency

The study is indeed small, but it is supported by more extensive ones, and it illustrates why the most dangerous thing a woman can do is trust a man.  And yet the world only moves forward because they do.

The other is more recent, and just as troubling:

Cops Behaving Badly (1.17)

Yes, there have been other installments.  I think that says more than I could.

 

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Two Interesting Links and an Interesting Picture

World of Godzilla

That’s the interesting picture there.  Thought I’d start right out with it.

I had no idea that Godzilla 2014 was so vast compared to the older Godzillas.  I guess my posts asking about this actually underestimated his size.

 The first interesting link is from Fred Clark at Slacktivist.  The reviews for the new Left Behind movie are pouring in, and they are all negative.  You never saw such a critical bomb.  But then, it couldn’t be otherwise.  Yes, by all accounts the acting was weak and the special effects were Nineties-vintage CGI.  But even if that had not been the case, this movie could never have been good.  The source material is just too awful to make into anything good.  As Fred puts it, “You can’t make chicken soup out of chicken poop.”

It’s not simply a case of a bad book.  Good movies have been made out of bad books before (and vice versa – far more often, vice versa).  The problem is that the plot of Left Behind cannot move forward if people behave like human beings.  This supposed prophecy cannot happen if the world is anything like ours.

Fred explains it more completely in:

Bad Theology Makes For Bad Movies: ‘Left Behind’ is a Story With No Place For Real Humans

The next link is much lighter, and really needs no explanation:

11 Photos That Will Instantly Cure Your Fear of Horror Movies

And finally, the most interesting link of all (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it):

Guardian Cats of New York City: Shin Nephura’s Neighborhood is up on Smashwords!  Support the artist!  Just $0.99.

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