Tag Archives: Left Behind

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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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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This Week’s Left Behind Friday: Narcissism and Unreliable Narrators

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As promised, here is the first of what I plan to be many posts connecting to Fred Clark’s magnificent weekly seminar in What Not To Do for writers, Left Behind Fridays.

This week’s edition:

What Would Rayford Do? (Do The Opposite)

For those of you who’ve had neither the misfortune to read the Worst Books On Earth nor the pleasure of reading Left Behind Fridays before, a bit of context:

Several years before this scene takes place, the Rapture occurred.  All prepubescent children (including fetuses) and Real True Christians (as opposed to Catholics, Mormons and other apostates – the acronym used on Slacktivist is “RTC’s”) were taken bodily to Heaven.  Rayford Steele and the other protagonists took this as a sign that they should dedicate their lives to Christ.  It would be wrong to say their behavior didn’t change – immediately upon conversion, they all started behaving like lifelong members of Tim Lahaye’s evangelical subculture – but they didn’t become noticeably better people.  In some ways, they became worse.

Just before the Rapture, Rayford – an airline pilot – was carrying on some sort of weird quasi-affair with his head stewardess, Hattie Durham.  Two years later, she’s the girlfriend and personal assistant of the Global Potentate (the Antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia.  Yes, really.), and he is said potentate’s personal pilot.  Despite the fact that Rayford supposedly belongs to an RTC resistance cell known as the Tribulation Force, he hasn’t taken advantage of any of the obvious opportunities this presents.

New York, Chicago, London, and a number of other cities across the world have just been nuked on Nicolae’s orders.  World War III has begun, but Rayford has transported Nicolae safely to his capital city in New Babylon.  Left at loose ends, Rayford has been invited out to dinner by Hattie.  Rayford’s primary concern in this scene, as an RTC and a married man, is to avoid all appearance of impropriety.

No, seriously.  That’s it.  He is concerned with neither: a) getting his legs broken by Nicolae’s bodyguards for nosing around Nicolae’s First Lady, nor b) pumping said First Lady for information.  But that’s for another post.

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