EoA: Political Maneuverings

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 195-199 (Chapter Thirty-Four)

We now move to Washington, DC. One thing that’s curious is how every now and then LaHaye and Parshall touch on a very real problem and manage to bring it forth, only to then use it to justify their bizarro-world version of how things go in the USA.

The congressional staffers were working late again. That was one of the things that came with the territory. Low pay and long, grueling hours–at least while Congress was in session. But there was always the hope that soon they could move up the political ladder. Perhaps a job as chief legal counsel on one of the influential committees some day. Or maybe the possibility of moving into the private sector, with a six-figure job in a D.C. law firm or lobbying shop.

As you can see, the ‘revolving door’ problem that has been particularly endemic in government since the Republicans got both houses of Congress back in 1994 is touched on here. However, we quickly zoom in on one staffer, in particular.

A young female legislative assistant, who was part of the political night crew, ripped an urgent note off the top of the message pad in the lobby of Senator Wendell Straworth’s office. In her panic she tore the corner of the note.

(…)

The LA took a deep breath and then knocked twice on the door, still gripping the taped note in her hand.

The door was opened by Senator Straworth’s chief of staff. The LA thrust the note into the COS’s hand. In the background she glimpsed Straworth and Beyers sitting across from each other in leather chairs.

It turns out to be a lovenote, of sorts, from Vice President Tulrude. She’s apparently demanding some action on something or other, likely the CReDO (which I still think is the stupidest name anyone ever came up with for a currency; if you want some back story on that, check back to my entry “The Greenback Finally Quits”) implementation schedule.

“We asked for a call directly with the president,” Beyers mumbled to himself. “Why are they cloistering him like this? What’s going on? Does he have cancer or something? Has he suffered a nervous break-down? I get the feeling that Tulrude is now running the Oval Office.”

Straworth just shook his head but suggested they make the call. They had no choice.

When the vice president was finally on the line, they put her on the speaker phone. She was typically blunt. “Are we going to get the vote on this new monetary currency or not?”

What’s interesting is that the President’s medical condition, whatever it may be, is not without speculation and gossip. What also makes me marvel, again, is how this bizarro-world White House is like a sort of mirror image of the Bush-Cheney White House, about which many have speculated that the Vice-President actually made many decisions regarding the Administration’s policies.

This Beyers guy is the Majority Leader in the Senate, probably for the Democrats given that he’s been meeting with Straworth, who’s a Committee chairman. Anyway, standard legislative skullduggery commences:

“What’s your plan to deal with public opinion?” Tulrude shot back.

“Well, the CReDO issue is buried in a huge omnibus spending bill. The thing’s as thick as the New York phone book. Frankly, most of the senators haven’t read the whole bill. I doubt if the press will. But our people in the Senate generally understand that this is a must do because of the dollar being devastated in the currency exchanges.”

“Have you counted noses?”

Beyers tensed his jaw a little but forced a smile as he spoke. “Of course we’ve counted votes. It shouldn’t be a problem. We’ve got a solid majority.”

This reminds me of some massive pork-barrel spending that got rammed through Congress when everybody and their dog was busy drooling over the farce that was the Ken Starr*/Monica Lewinsky/Clinton impeachment thing. High political drama distracting the taxpayers while the legislators took advantage of President Clinton’s precarious position.

Here, it’s a little different, but the basic idea is the same: hide the thing you don’t want people to see inside something nobody would pay any attention to unless they knew where to look.

Beyers, politician that he is, demands a little quid pro quo for lining up the Senate behind the Administration (and I’m assuming the House already passed the necessary enabling legislation, so the House Majority Leader isn’t needed):

[Beyers said,] “(…) the administration will back me on the three bills I described in my message to the president the other day.”

Jessica Tulrude cleared her throat and said, “Russ, you know I’m as good as my word.”

That’s all that Russell Beyers needed to hear. He said his good-byes to Tulrude and strode out of the office to a caucus meeting while Straworth quickly offered his apologies and said he couldn’t attend.

Incidentally, the chief of staff person who’s been hanging around only just gets sent out now. Hopefully the unnamed chief of staff won’t be a security leak about that CReDO implementation thing. At this point, Straworth starts getting real confidential with the VP:

Straworth took the call off speaker and began talking on the tiny voice-activated phonecell clipped to his lapel.

“So, as you can see,” Straworth tried to explain to the vice president, “I’ve kept my part of the bargain. I’ve got the majority leader and the Senate behind the currency conversion.”

PHONE PORN.

Hey, why isn’t it an Allfone, huh, Parshall, huh?

Oh, right, Straworth’s an evil Democrat. No Allfone for you!

Anyway, the Senator and the VP get down to brass tacks about the RTS-RGS system, and how they’re gonna make that rascally Josh Jordan cough up ALL THE THINGS.

“Yes, I know, the RTS business. But I just want you to know that this morning I secured the approval of the sub-committee to authorize subpoenas to be served on Joshua Jordan. He will have no choice now but to appear and produce his RTS documents–or risk going to jail. And if he thinks he can weather a jail sentence, he will be sadly mistaken. It will take his professional career and his business reputation and reduce them both to an oil stain on the sidewalk. Checkmate. So, Madam Vice President, I’ve done everything I’ve promised.”

Indeed you have, Senator. So just what’s your price, big guy? *reads ahead* Oh-ho, he wants Supreme Court Justice. Rumor has it another judge is going to retire right around the next election. The only question is, will President Corland nominate the Senator?

Turns out our Veep is very ambitious, oh yes.

“And has the President definitely agreed to step away after only one term and give you his full support during the primaries? That rarely ever happens…”

“We’ve never had a president in this situation before,” Tulrude snapped back. “Just remember, I’m in control over here…”

“I wouldn’t think of questioning that,” Straworth said. His voice was dripping with apology.

You know, Parshall, I’m going to find out where you keep your keyboard and I WILL BAN ALL THE ELLIPSES FROM IT.

There’s a lot packed into the end of this chapter, and it really is worth looking at in a little more detail.

First, the “ball-busting you-know-what” trope as attributed to Tulrude is being made use of to push the buttons of the largely conservative RTC audience LaHaye and Parshall are aiming this book at. Only Democrats, they sneer, are too lily-livered to properly run a country, and that includes letting those feminists run things. Gender stereotyping, get your overdose of it right here, people – only $24.99 US!

Second, the fact that the Vice President seems to know something very ominous about the President’s condition, or perhaps a major skeleton in his closet, and is planning to maneuver him out of the way to get the top slot next election, is a fascinating bit of foreshadowing. Given that in a political crisis of this magnitude – ongoing high inflation and unemployment, a sudden currency crisis, still processing the aftermath of a seeming miracle (the non-nuking of New York) – the last thing the government of the day needs to be mired in is a condition of unclear lines of authority and lack of decisiveness in the leaders in question.

What the book seems to be setting up for is the possibility that Tulrude’s ambition and Corland’s precarious situation could create more problems than the government is adequately prepared to deal with. On the other hand, unscrupulous plotters have catapulted themselves into tight-fisted near-dictator status by being willing to topple the old guard in a crisis situation.

We’ll see how things break out in future chapters, I assume.

Meanwhle, let’s wrap things up with the subpoena of DOOM.

BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE SENATE OF THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

TO: MR. JOSHUA JORDAN

YOU ARE HEREBY COMMANDED TO APPEAR BEFORE THE BELOWNAMED COMMITTEE OF THE U.S. SENATE, AT THE TIME AND PLACE BELOW DESIGNATED, AND THEN AND THERE TO PRODUCE ALL DOCUMENTS, RECORDS, AND PAPERS RELATING TO THE DESIGN, CONCEPTION, ENGINEERING SPECIFICATIONS, PRODUCTION, AND OPERATING PRINCIPLES OF THE WEAPONS SYSTEM COMMONLY KNOWN AS “RETURN-TO-SENDER” (RTS), INCLUDING THE USE OF LASERS TO REVERSE THE DIRECTION OR TRAJECTORY OF OFFENSIVE MISSILES.

FAIL NOT OR YOU WILL FACE THE FULL PENALTY OF LAW.

Ominous subpoena is ominous! Wonder how Josh will react. See you all next time. πŸ™‚


* I still think he missed his calling as a schlocky porn novel writer.

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EoA: The Pastor Wraps Up

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 193-195 (Chapter Thirty-Four)

We continue with Josh Jordan marvelling at the new insight he’s been given into the state of world affairs. As much as this is supposed to be a shocking, portentous revelation for reader and character alike, the previous chapter and this segment of chapter 34 mostly feel kind of flat. I think this is because I’m not a member of the intended audience, for one thing. Also, having seen Left Behind get excoriated for its own defects in presentation, containing much of the same material as Pastor Campbell’s sermon, this isn’t really anything new; it’s more retreading of the kind of Biblical interpretation that LaHaye relies on to justify his Premillennial Dispensationalist doctrine.

Paul Campbell had captured Joshua’s attention. He was beginning to see the connecting points between the Bible prophecies that the pastor was describing and the issues that were consuming his Roundtable. The erosion of American sovereignty. The movement to force United States courts to embrace the international laws of the nations of the world. The mantra calling for a single global government.

Only in this bizarro world of LaHaye and Parshall’s could the idea of a world government be regarded with unspeakable horror. One thing I’d like to stop and note here is that Tim LaHaye has been asked about the USA in relation to Biblical prophecy and has had to admit that any possibility is pretty thin on the ground (not hard to understand why, as the writers of the texts that collectively make up the Bible did not know that North or South America existed; they may well have been aware of Asia all the way to China, and possibly the Scandinavian peoples, though).

LaHaye in fact has been quoted, as linked here (RTF file):

β€œDoes the United States have a place in end time prophecy? My first response is no, there is nothing about the U.S. in prophecy. At least nothing that is specific. There is an allusion to a group of nations in Ezekiel 38:13 that could apply, but even that is not specific. The question is why? Why would the God of prophecy not refer to the supreme superpower nation in the end times in preparation for the one world government of the antichrist?” ~Dr. Tim LaHaye

So LaHaye and his coauthors have had to work pretty hard to try and fit the USA into such prophecies. After all, the RTC readership in the USA understandably would be a bit bored reading about End Times that entirely take place with no involvement of the USA at all. That said, I think LaHaye is also falling victim to the need to fit prophecy to American exceptionalism – the notion that just because the USA is a superpower it must be mentioned and heavily involved in such events to come, because the USA, that’s why.

The pandering to American exceptionalism and the hero-complex that LaHaye and Parshall want readers to identify with in Joshua Jordan is in full flower in the next paragraph:

For Joshua it was a little like being at Hawk’s Nest Ranch in the fall when the fog rolled in with a cold snap early in the morning. But when the sun broke through, the white blanket of fog would clear, and the imposing mountain peaks rising up all around would suddenly show themselves. Joshua wondered for just an instant whether his mission statement in founding the Roundtable might have been too small. So, I wanted to save America…but was that enough? What if all of this is bigger than just the United States?

(italics in the original text)

Oh, he wants to “save America”. His idea of “America”. God, what an incredible egotist this guy is.

Also, this business about him deciding only he, Joshua Jordan, knows the right way ahead for the USA, is uncomfortably reminiscent of the attitude embodied by James Mattoon Scott in Seven Days in May. I have discussed before how this book seems to attempt to tap into attitudes of contempt for civilian oversight of the military, by means of Josh’s showboating during the Congressional committee meeting. A very similar attitude is at work in the actions and words of General James Mattoon Scott, as extracted here from Seven Days in May.

[Scott said,] “The public has no faith in you.Β  The Gallup Poll may not be exactly accurate, but it’s pretty close.Β  Unless the country is rallied by a voice of authority and discipline, it can be lost in a month.”

“And that voice is yours, General?” The way [President] Lyman said it, the question was almost a statement of fact.

(Additions in brackets are mine)

And from the film of the book, we have these lines spoken by the characters:

President Jordan Lyman: And that would be General James Mattoon Scott, would it? I don’t know whether to laugh at that kind of megalomania, or simply cry.
General James Mattoon Scott: James Mattoon Scott, as you put it, hasn’t the slightest interest in his own glorification. But he does have an abiding interest in the survival of this country.
President Jordan Lyman: Then, by God, run for office. You have such a fervent, passionate, evangelical faith in this country – why in the name of God don’t you have any faith in the system of government you’re so hell-bent to protect?

(bold is mine)

Luckily, in Seven Days in May, the people desperate to protect Constitutional government succeed in staving off the coup before it can get off the ground, but it’s a near thing.

In Edge of Apocalypse, given that the “good guys” are on the side of an organization full of wealthy, well-connected people who disapprove of the current government, I’m a little less sanguine. Notice, though, the same egotism at work in both General Scott and Colonel Jordan in their exaggerated estimates of themselves.

Getting back to the chapter I’m covering, Paul Campbell explains the three Babylons:

“So there will be a political Babylon, certainly. A unification of the powers of the nations of the planet.” (italics in the original)

The use of the word “Babylon” here is intended. from my understanding of Fred Clark’s deconstruction over on Slacktivist, to indicate the center of secular one-world power. Pastor Campbell apparently interprets that it is sufficent for there to be a one-world government in order to constitute the formation of Babylon.

Campbell then goes on to discuss the second Babylon:

“But there will also be a religious Babylon in the end times. Another leg of our three-legged stool. A merging of the religions of the world into one massive conglomerate of false spirituality.”

Discussions of the First Horseman of the Apocalypse (or see here, or here) tend to indicate that the First Horseman is “false religion”.

We then get LaHaye’s favorite hobby-horse, the Raptuuuuuuuuuuuuuure!

“When will that happen? Ultimately not until the Church…and by that I mean the sum total of all true believers in Jesus Christ…until the Church is ‘raptured’…taken up instantaneously to God…and when that happens, with the restraining power of the Church gone from the earth, there will be nothing to stop this massive global merger of the world’s religions.”

BY THE WAY I REVOKED YOUR LICENCE TO USE ELLIPSES, PARSHALL. YOU ARE HEREBY SENT TO JAIL. DO NOT PASS GO AND DO NOT COLLECT $200.

The next sentence employs an interesting turn of phrase:

And that is when there will be the hideous appearing…a false prophet will come and set in motion the blasphemous idol worship of the Antichrist exactly as predicted in the thirteenth chapter of Revelation.

(bold mine)

Given that one of the Left Behind books is titled “Glorious Appearing” and is intended to refer to Jesus and God returning to Earth, I find that choice of words on Parshall’s part to be curious. It’s as though he wants to set up the diametrical opposite: the appearance of the Antichrist (hopefully not a clone of Nicky Molehills) and his False Prophet (hopefully not as cartoonishly sycophantic as Leon Fortunato) as an appearing equal in magnitude to the “glorious” appearing later on.

We then get the third Babylon, which is another of LaHaye’s hobby-horses, and which he and Jenkins so clumsily shoved into Left Behind as a sideshow necessity, slowing down the major plot until they could get the monetary union out of the way.

But in addition to the political and religious aspects, there will also be an economic Babylon. The apostle John, in Revelation, describes this future global financial center: ‘…the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.’ (italics in the original)

He then goes on to illustrate what he means, though I highly suspect that the original text was meant to pillory Rome as an occupying power over Judea. Campbell. however, decides it means the present day or the near future:

“What are the signs of this coming global economic Babylon? We are warned in the Bible that there will be a future international system of buying, selling, trading, and investing. Revelation chapter thirteen (…)”

The chapter and verse is quoted in the book, but I will go to the Revised Standard Version and extract the quote from there, instead:

[16] Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,
[17] so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.

This is part of the Book of Revelation that is hard to figure out. People who read it usually believe it means a literal mark on the forehead or the right hand; I don’t know what alternative interpretations exist. Given that John was trashing Rome when writing this, can anyone shed light on that?

Pastor Campbell then notes he’s been given some information from the blog “The Barn Door” before it got leaned on, and he discusses the CReDO monetary unit, which he ties into his just-concluded sermon:

“Jesus rebuked the Pharisees of His day for failing to recognize the signs of the times. Of course, some people will say that the Bible assures us that we can’t know the specific time that Christ will return to the earth. And that’s true. On the other hand, why would Jesus, as we are told in the gospels of Matthew and Mark, have given us an exhaustive list of the events that will precede His return if He didn’t want us to use that information? If He didn’t want us to watch the times and to discern them so we could recognize the signs of His coming soon?”

The discussion of the “specific time” that Christ will return has to do with the oft-quoted phrase “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” which is given in Matthew 25:13. Parshall wraps up with this:

“His Word says that the world is heading toward a global, unified economic system. And that, my friends, is something you can definitely bank on…”

The thing is, though, is that the only reason this sermon works is because of authorial fiat. Of course Campbell is correct that you can bank on his interpretation of the Bible – the authors wrote things that way! This is why the “End Times” literature I’ve read tend to normally be kind of pedestrian and boring (like Left Behind) unless the author tries to structure things so we honestly have no idea if maybe our entire view of things is wrong (hello, Christ Clone) until the Big Reveal.

I’m going to stop here and take up the remainder of this chapter later on. We’ll be revisiting the movers and shakers in Washington, DC at that time.

EoA: The Pastor Elucidates Us

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 185-192 (Chapter Thirty-Three)

So now we officially start Part Three, and we pick up with Pastor Paul Campbell, who was introduced in Chapter Seven, and was unintentionally written with the result that he appeared to be creeping on Abigail, because of the limitations of the perspective Parshall apparently chose to take in introducing the Rapture/End Times material to us, the readers.

Unlike Bruce “Smile Pastede On Yay” Barnes, he doesn’t try apologizing for penny-ante crap and launches straight into the good stuff:

“Chaos. Death. Destruction. Is that what you’re thinking?”

He paused. No one was moving.

“Is that what floods your mind when you think about the end of the world? Armageddon. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Whatever phrase you might want to use.

Well, if that isn’t an attention getter and a half!

Then he launches into his spiel:

“When people imagine it, they visualize the horror. But let me challenge that idea. The God who controls the future is a merciful God. In the midst of catastrophe, He will still give us all the choice to be saved through His grace. (…)”

He goes on to explain the final end result: everlasting life, paradise, et cetera. Now you all might wonder who else is in this here church with him. Guess no more.

Pastor Paul Campbell was addressing a packed church from his position in the ornate pulpit of the Eternity Church in downtown Manhattan.

Sandwiched between his wife and daughter in the pew, Joshua Jordan was waiting for the minister to get to the point. He knew a little about Campbell’s background. He had checked out his credentials on the Internet. Ph.D. in philosophy, Th.D. in theology. Campbell had written two books, both of them about the Bible and end-times prophecy. And yes, Joshua had to agree, Campbell was a dynamic communicator. He had heard him a few times before at his wife’s urging.

Hey, buddy, where’s Cal? And they’re in New York, for chrissake. Maybe Josh badgered him to take the train again and Cal, not wanting to see Grand Central any time soon, told him no.

That, at least, would be a lot better than Josh just forgetting about his son (as he usually seems to in this book).

Now let’s look at Paul Campbell. Educated fella, he is. And he better be a “dynamic communicator”, considering he needs to keep his congregation interested and keen to hear about his sermons. Half the reason I follow Slacktivist is that Fred Clark is a good sermonizer, and I mean that in the non-pejorative sense. He reaches out to his audience and tries to couch the moral message he articulates in terms of what the Bible indicates is the correct thing to do.

Well, if Paul Campbell is effective at what he does, that means we’ll hopefully read a relatively engaging account of how he plans to relate recent events (the sudden nuclear launch, the reversal by RTS-RGS, the collapse of the US dollar and so on) to Biblical texts which may shed some light on them. Clearly, he has indicated he’ll be referring to texts that discuss End Times, predominant among them the Book of Revelation.

Incidentally, I laid some emphasis on the fact that LaHaye and Parshall are dog-whistling using scare phrases like “one-world government”, et cetera. Well, in the book it says Paul Campbell’s discussion of the day is: “Globalism–Three Signs of the End Times”. Now if that isn’t a shout-out to the intended readership, well I’ll be just flabbergasted.

Joshua’s mind started drifting. Back to their log mansion in Colorado. They had left their ranch in the Rockies at the crack of dawn that same day by private jet. Joshua was now smiling as he was thinking about the trail ride on horseback that he, Abby, and Debbie had taken the day before. (…)

The chapter goes on to note in some detail that Josh couldn’t reach Rocky Bridger; the man had taken off early on an “urgent family matter”. We, the readers, know he’s just found out about Roger French, his son-in-law.

Since Josh didn’t know, he had decided to go on the horseback riding adventure. We find out his horse is named General Billy Mitchell, which strikes me as the kind of name an egotist like Joshua would choose. We end up back at church, riding along with Josh for this chapter:

But then something brought Joshua’s mind back from the towering vistas of the Rocky Mountains. What was it? He was back again in the crowded sanctuary of the church. It was another comment by Campbell that had caught Joshua’s attention. A little like someone gently tapping him on the shoulder in a crowded room.

“To clearly understand what God intended for our future, we need to recognize that He has laid it all out for us in the Bible. The Bible contains God’s agenda for the future of planet Earth, and everybody who dwells here. All right, so how do we know that the Bible is true?”

Josh thinks to himself it’s a tall order for the Bible to predict the future. I suddenly find myself agreeing with this man, which makes me marvel that stopped clocks exist in Edge of Apocalypse. (I’ll even give Josh a freebie on the “twice a day” thing.)

Campbell said, “Besides being the inspired word of God, the Bible has proven itself over the centuries. Let’s focus first on just one major prophecy. It is, perhaps, the most astounding evidence of the fact that we are seeing the approach of the end times of the planet Earth and the coming of Jesus Christ to establish His new kingdom. And that proof comes in a single word. Israel.”

Campbell’s argument was simple. When Israel was recognized as being a sovereign state on May 14, 1948, by the United Nations, it was nothing less than a modern-day miracle. “That one fact–the rise of modern Israel as a nation–was a startlingly accurate fulfillment of the 2,500-year-old prophecy recorded in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, chapter thirty-seven.

The text is given in the book, but given how neglectful LaHaye and coauthors tend to be in terms of context for the Bible quotes they give, and how selective they can get about it, let’s follow along and snag our own Bibles for this. I’ll be using the Revised Standard Version for this; they’ve extracted their quote from a different Bible, judging from the punctuation.

Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all sides, and bring them to their own land;
[22] and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms.
[23] They shall not defile themselves any more with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
[24] “My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes.
[25] They shall dwell in the land where your fathers dwelt that I gave to my servant Jacob; they and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there for ever; and David my servant shall be their prince for ever.

I haven’t done a thing to the text here except to clean up the spacing around verse 24, but the context around this is a lot different than the cherry-picked version of the quote in the book, which reads: “Behold I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel.”

I am no expert on the exact meaning of this, but context in that chapter reads strongly like this thing is so ill-defined and vague it could mean anything. Israel doesn’t even have a king, and its President is elected. So how can any modern-day leader of Israel be descended from David except by the sheerest happenstance?

This kind of picking-and-choosing really hacks me off, actually, because any old huckster could do this – peel off a bit from this and a bit from that and wrap it up and sell it to enough suckers, then get while the getting’s good before they run you out of town. The beauty of this PMD hucksterism by LaHaye is there’s no way to prove him wrong. He, unlike the unfortunate Harold Camping, has been smart enough to avoid fixing exact dates on these things.

The other repellent aspect of LaHaye’s brand of Christianity (which I have called “LaHaye-ism”, because it seems to be PMD with his unique take on things) is that it peddles fear, not hope. Contrary to Pastor Campbell’s statements in the book, the basic philosophy is being afraid. Afraid of what? Of being on the wrong side: the wrong side of the nebulous criteria set forth by Premillennial Dispensationalists. One must constantly be worried that one is not truly saved in Christ, and that perhaps, like Bruce Barnes, one’s faith was not quite up to spec.

I’ve seen some videos where a Rapture-believing Christian believed his or her friends were taken to heaven, and the resulting tearful BSOD afterwards is painful to watch. They’re terrified. They’ve been taught for who knows how long that if the Rapture happens, they’ll be among the chosen ones getting to chow down on popcorn and watch the sideshow while the rest of us unfortunate jerks get to suffer. And when it looks like they’re stuck on Earth with those “left behind”…? Well, I wouldn’t want to be in that person’s mental shoes, as it were.

Let’s get back to Paul Campbell, and follow along. He talks a good game about the Bible being chock-full of prophecy, and how it really honestly truly was written by God because it predicted stuff!

With that Campbell clicked his remote, and screens on each side of the sanctuary lit up with a huge image of a black Bible. Emblazoned across the bottom of the Bible was a red arrow pointing to the word “prophecy.” He zoomed in on the arrow. Suddenly, the cover of the Bible disappeared and a parade of prophetic Scripture verses started appearing one after another, scrolling down the screen. Old Testament predictions of the terrible curse that would befall the man who would rebuild the city of Jericho, in the ninth century B.C. Prophetic warnings delivered to King David that as a result of his sin, “the sword would never depart from your house,” a fact later established beyond question. Verses containing precise predictions about the manner of death that would befall the evil king Ahab and his equally corrupt wife, Jezebel, all fulfilled down to minute detail. Six separate prophecies regarding the fate that would befall the ancient city of Tyre, each having occurred just as foretold.

Apparently, there’s quite a lot of prophecies that are in the Bible; I found the Wikipedia site listing a number of them when I Googled to find the exact number of such. What immediately leaped out at me is that, again, LaHaye and Parshall are guilty of cherry-picking: they’ve picked all of, like, six prophecies. Woooooooo. *twirls finger as I radiate sarcasm*

LaHaye and Parshall try to recover by having Campbell blabber some more:

“Dr. John Walvoord was one of the greatest prophecy scholars of the twentieth century–a prolific writer and president of Dallas Theological Seminary. He once described over a thousand prophecies in the Bible, more than half of which have already been fulfilled. Only God can write history in advance and have it come to pass. Those fulfilled prophecies prove to us beyond a shadow of a doubt that the end time prophecies of the Bible will also be fulfilled literally, just as over five hundred of God’s predictions have already occurred throughout the past ages. Some of those end time prophecies are unfolding even now, in our own generation.”

I’m highly suspicious of the bombastic “ZOMG 500 PREDICTIONS” because I’m sure a great number of them are probably claimed to be fulfilled without reference to any external evidence. Using the Bible to prove the Bible is about the most circular of logic I can think of. Internally consistent evidence in a book, when it makes supernaturalistic or otherwise very confidently unusual predictions, needs, as the saying goes, “extraordinary evidence”.

I punched that name into a Google search and came back with several entries, among them this Wikipedia entry. From what I gather, LaHaye must have been influenced by this person’s philosophies regarding Premillennial Dispensationalist doctrine. I also found a website devoted to him; the odd thing is I can’t find any way in which his path and LaHaye’s could have crossed. Yet it appears LaHaye was influenced enough by Walvoord to have specifically mentioned this man in a book via one of its characters.

That said, it could be because LaHaye and Parshall simply wanted to stamp an imprimatur of apparent third-party confirmation of LaHaye’s own ideas about the End Times. He’s certainly been criticized enough not just from secular and atheist circles, but from some Christian circles as well. There are sects of Christianity whose doctrinal interpretations make LaHaye’s look positively liberal by comparison, and there are others which pooh-pooh the very idea of a Rapture, as I’ve noted before*.

But then the pastor took a turn that caught Joshua by surprise. Campbell began to zero in on a single person in the Bible. Seconds later Joshua realized that he should have seen it coming.

Campbell was forging an argument about who Jesus was, based on His fulfillment of multiple prophecies.

I won’t bore you with the details of the rambling Campbell engages in, but suffice it to say, all the usual items-to-check-off-to-prove-Jesus-WAS-the-Messiah-SO-THERE get trotted out, and the usual justifications of Christian exceptionalism come into play.

Now, I’ve said before in this blog that LaHaye and Parshall have been increasingly unsubtle about their shout-outs to their intended audience, which appears to be a broad and loose “coalition” if you will, of Premillennial Dispensationalist Christians, fringe right-wing political groups and probably a fair chunk of the more conservative Republican contingent in the USA. These shout-outsΒ  have included grossly inaccurate depictions of the domestic and international state of affairs which are wildly at variance with reality; for example, consider the laughable idea that the United Nations could ever impose its will on the US Government.

What little subtlety is left just gets torn away as Josh begins wondering about the globalism thing.

Joshua found Campbell’s comments interesting enough, but his mind was starting to wander. What about the title of the sermon? What about the rise of “globalism?” That was the threat that he and his fellow members of the Roundtable had recognized. An increasing loss of American sovereignty to a world order. That’s why he came to the church that night.

Pastor Campbell wastes no time getting down to brass tacks, as he sees it, regarding this issue:

“So, now let’s look at prophecies about the future, the end times. While there are many important signs of the return of Jesus Christ and end of this age, signs that the disciples asked Jesus about, one of the most prominent in our current world is one we call ‘globalism.’ Previous government officials had called it a ‘one-world government.’ In fact, the world planners, whoever they might be, came up with the idea after World War I. So they called it the League of Nations. The Senate of the United States rejected the idea, and the notion wasn’t revived until 1945. That is when it was called the United Nations.

“Now you can look at the idea of a unified world system, what the Bible refers to as the future ‘Babylon,’ like a three-legged stool. Global Government, Global Economy, and Global Religion. In the Bible, each of those are prophesied to be world powers at the end of the age. And by the way, each of them will be destroyed by God according to biblical prophecy. You can read it for yourself in last book in the Bible, Revelation, chapters seventeen and eighteen.

I note at this point that the Book of Revelation is subject to considerable plasticity in interpretation, because one explanation that fits the facts is that the author was trashing the Roman Empire, and had no desire to be seen too openly criticizing it.Β  As a result, much of the book is “hidden” behind cultural references and metaphors that lose much in the translation twofold:

  1. Only someone who can read the original language can understand the meanings of the words given without the inevitable altering of concepts that come in translating to English. For example, consider slang expressions. They’re rather difficult to accurately render when changing languages, and care often has to be taken to try and communicate the concept, if not the wording.
  2. We’re about 2000 years removed from the culture and time period in which those referents were made. Consider the phrase “to hang higher than Haman”. It used to mean that someone had committed an extremely serious crime or offence in the eyes of the person making the statement, and required a cultural context in which vastly more people, living in what was essentially a monoculture, learned from a more limited body of knowledge and literature than today. An example, from the Congressional Record which has been annotated rather heavily, is here.** It has, however, fallen into disuse because other terms have evolved to now mean a serious crime or offence has been committed. Similar arguments hold for why some phrases will simply have no meaning to us which would have been fraught with meaning to someone at that time period.

The fact that Revelation has “hidden meanings” has unfortunately bred generations of people who try to mine it for possible portents of the future, hoping that perhaps if they are secure in the knowledge of things to come, they will have an advantage over those of us who lack such foreknowledge.

I suppose much the same thinking applies to why people consult psychics, or believe they have special mental powers of clairvoyance or far-seeing.

And just in case the “globalism” button-pushing wasn’t subtle enough, LaHaye and Parshall hammer it so hard I’m wondering if their readers will start to think they’re being treated like a bunch of brainless dolts.

“Ever since the seventeenth century there have been those who dreamed of a global government and used the slogan ‘global peace’ as the supposed goal. But what was behind it? Ultimately a craving for control over the lives of people through the iron grip of ever-expanding government. In recent times you can find countless leaders in media, education, and the government who have tirelessly supported the goal of a global economy. George Soros, one of the most influential and richest men in the world, has gone one step further, openly declaring that you can’t have a world economy unless you also have a world government.”

ZOMG THAT EVIL GEORGE SOROS.

Campbell closes out with foreshadowing that should be very familiar to those of us who’ve followed along with Fred Clark over at Slacktivist, regarding the kinds of things LaHaye expects to have happen as the checklist for the End Times begins being filled in.

…this very day I believe we are seeing the stage-setting for the eventual rise of this new Babylon. For there must be, the Bible says, a global unification among the nations gathered around its grand capital. A political and legal coalition. It’s right there in chapters seventeen and eighteen of the last book of the Bible.”

Then Campbell put a capstone on it in a voice that cracked a bit and grew raspy with emotion. His words rose up, almost pleading, as he said, “Be honest with yourself…as you look around, don’t you see the beginning movement among the nations of this planet to work together to create a new world order?”

You can practically hear the Ominous Drum Beating happening as this chapter ends. I’m partial to imagining the opening riffs of Terminator or Terminator 2 during the title scenes. πŸ˜›

We’ll revisit with Joshua Jordan in Chapter Thirty-Four.


* And if you may recall, a fringe sect I used to believe in went to the trouble of revisiting Biblical evidence for a “Rapture” and insisted it was not possible to find such an interpretation.
** I admit that the mere fact that the URL seems to go to a Tripod site does not inspire confidence, and it uses ableist language in places and has a very odd and bizarre set of notions about tobacco; that said, it is possible to compare to other records of the Congressional proceedings and verify the accuracy, at least, of the original statements made by the Congressmen.

Blog Readability Discussion

So I was browsing around for some themes, and I was wondering about what you, the readers, would prefer. I’ve kind of narrowed down my list to the following:

  • List now defunct

Which one would you like me to switch to? I like the theme now (Andreas09) but the text size is a bit small and I imagine manually cranking the font size each time you see this site can get kind of annoying. So vote one, vote all. πŸ™‚

You can find themes here: WordPress Themes πŸ™‚

This is superseded by the post on 6th November 2011.

EoA: Part Three Begins

Edge of Apocalypse: page 183 (Part Three Quotes Page)

*blows lots of dust off Edge of Apocalypse*

*coughing fit*

Hello, everyone! Welcome back and we’ll have a nice easy reintroduction to the work of LaHaye and Parshall.

Part Two was on Page 139, and now we’re on 183. That’s 44 pages, exclusive of the first page. Pretty small for a plot arc, if you ask me.

As with Part Two, we have a selection of quotes, which are carefully chosen to be slanted to the target group – that is, right-wing RTCs who believe in LaHaye’s basic message of imminent Rapture and the End Times to follow. Now, in between the time I stopped posting here and then later dropped off Slacktivist for a while, there was an announcement by a man named Harold Camping about a possible end-of-the-world scenario on May 21 2011. One thing I would be curious to know is if this event and the non-disaster that followed has had any impact on Tim LaHaye’s following, especially given that Camping is also, apparently, a PMD and believed in the Rapture.

Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as “internationalists” and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure–one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.

David Rockefeller, Memoirs (also attributed to President Woodrow Wilson, 1918)

So first out of the gate, we have those sinister words internationalist and one-world, which are dog-whistle words to that camp in the USA which assiduously (even vehemently, to lessen my understatement) embraces a nativist and fundamentally insular outlook on the world beyond the US’s borders, and their political kissing cousins, the RTCs, to whom those words do not just spell an end to American (exceptionalist) sovereignty, but also the beginning of the rise of the AntiChrist.

I find it curious that Rockefeller was chosen, given that a similar-pronunciation name, Stonagal, was given to an international financier in Left Behind, and who has given financial and other backing to the AntiChrist, Nicolae Carpathia. Fred Clark and others have remarked on the influences to LaHaye’s thinking, one of which has been the “big bad Jewish financiers” theme of fringe conspiracy-theorist groups. Reconciling this with his strong desire for Israel to help fulfill the End Times predictions, LaHaye changed all his fictional financiers to WASPs, or in the case of men like Ceasar Demas, garden-variety Europeans. Score one weak point for avoiding anti-Semitic stereotypes, I suppose.

Additionally, I note that conflicting versions of this quote appear. In my copy, it states Woodrow Wilson made it. However, a Google search and a check on the printed version in the bookstore shows that it is David Rockefeller from whom the quote originates.

I suspect an editor did a last-minute check of the galleys and fixed this, or Parshall may have corrected it himself.

That said, there are good reasons to oppose the kind of internationalism wealthy people want, because the version they would have would not improve the lot of the common person to the degree they could possibly avoid that state of affairs. A simple example is that the work week hasn’t been any shorter than 40 hours for over 50 years now; one would almost suspect that having too much leisure time might give working people time to ask themselves what they want out of life instead of frantically pounding the treadmill of working to beat the band.

The next quote is this:

To stabilize and regulate a truly global economy, we need some global system of political decision making. In short, we need a global society to support our global economy.

George Soros, socialist billionaire

I find the very idea of George Soros being called a “socialist” to be utterly ludicrous and without foundation. This man has made billions of dollars making use of floating exchange rates, at times ostentatiously working against the interests of nations by targetting their currencies and forcing the hands of their central banks.

Now he’s written books saying how sorry he is about it and gosh golly gee, we need to change things. Excuse me while I roll my eyes a bit. Even people like Warren Buffett have more credibility in my eyes than Soros does.

But viewing his quote through a PMD lens shows us that again, the placement of this quote is to activate the dog-whistle – the “dangerous” notion that US sovereignty must erode away and be replaced by a global (read: one-world) government. Instead of viewing this as a natural state of growth of harmony among the human race, PMDs are to view this as something that is to be resisted at all costs, for… dun-dun-dun, it brings on The AntiChrist!

Let’s round things out with the last quote:

If we can learn from our experience of turning unity of purpose into unity of action, we can together seize this moment of change in our world to create a truly global society.

Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister

Well, HDU Gordon Brown!

This is basically another hit-the-dog-whistle quote, reminding us that all these eeeeevil foreign people are supposedly cooperating with some wealthy Americans to… horror of horrors, try to strengthen world unity instead of inciting world divisiveness! Please, I roll my eyes a lot now thank you, LaHaye and Parshall.

It’s really kind of sad that LaHaye and Parshall basically want to teach their readers that they should be afraid of a world government. Not because of legitimate criticism of imposition of the government from above instead of an organic evolution from below, or because the process should be slowly and carefully considered, but because it fulfills a Checklist of Doom. The Checklist of Doom, which is not even doctrinally accepted among all Christians, or even supported by all members of all non-Christian religions, tells LaHaye and his followers that they must be hunkered down in their metaphorical turtle shells, suspicious and fearful of any change, be it as simple as the ascension of a biracial man to the Presidential Office, or as world-changing as the elevation of the United Nations to a true international governing body.

They are so suspicious and fearful that they ascribe powers to these people and groups that they simply don’t have. They honestly believe the United Nations is a powerful and dangerous incipient world government. They honestly believe Barack Obama was elected only to Take Things From The Deserving People.

And the sad thing is, these ideas, as erroneous as they are, have been amplified by the Religious Right’s effective reach into Republican halls of power and been translated into political grandstanding of the likes of Jesse Helms’s misuse of his power to unilaterally play games with the US’s dues owing to the UN, or more recently, Republican naysaying over any meaningful health insurance reform without watering it down so much and delaying the implementation schedule that by the time Obama leaves office it may yet be totally rescinded.

Even more recently, the brinkmanship over the national debt borrowing threshold (“debt ceiling”) has been motivated by the magic words “cut spending” (which really means stop spending money on them and spend more on us), which has taken on an almost mystical, magical quality. And we know from Fred Clark’s analysis that aspects of LaHaye’s thinking and that which he has absorbed from RTC circles is the idea of treating prayer as magic. Say the incantation, and by the mere act of doing so, the result will be as desired.

I have called this book a kind of look into a political bizarro world that has taken on the appearance of reality, and I think this latest selection of quotes reinforces that statement. Stay tuned for Chapter Thirty-Three. πŸ™‚


A note: Part One is “Under the Nuclear Shadow”; Part Two is “When the Lion Tells the Story” and Part Three is “The Global Tower of Babel”. The first is self-explanatory but the latter two are clearly ‘coded’ for Biblical references I may not fully grasp. I do know that the Tower of Babel has the significance that it represents God purposely destroying cooperation among peoples by creating different languages so they could not communicate.

I would appreciate commenters shedding their own light on the above section names.

Hello Everyone!

I’m baaaack. πŸ™‚

I’ll be busting out my copy of EoA soon and we’ll get back into the world of Joshua “Prima Donna” Jordan, with Abigail “Love Bomber” Jordan, Deborah “Rocklike!” Jordan, and Cal “Artiste” Jordan. πŸ˜€

Thanks for sticking with me, and I hope to make your time worthwhile as I analyze the remainder of this book.