News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Tim LeHaye Left Behind?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Tim LeHaye Left Behind?

I'm always looking for what I call crisis points in our spiritual landscape. One of these has been called the "culture wars." If you're on either side of this "war," you already know and understand what it's about. Far from being a tempest in a teapot, you think, this war is about the life or death of us, that which makes us who we are.

Depending on what side you belong to, this "who we are" will be either an eternal supernatural being with a destiny in another world. The other, "liberal," side thinks in different terms: some on the liberal side think there is no other world, that this one's it and if we fuck up here, well that's the point, isn't it? Others on this side, New Agers, think there are other worlds or "planes of existence," but getting to these planes has been co-opted and rented out by leaders from the other side...

These two sides can best be measured, I think, by the numbers of books that're sold by their Party writers. Books that best exemplify the conservative, religiously traditional, side of this debate are the Left Behind books. The New Age wing claims The Da Vinci Code. I take books sales very seriously in determining my spiritual outlook on the world and in this debate they really tell a story about how seriously the two sides take their ur-myths.

In terms of book sales, it looks like the Left Behind series kicks The DaVinci Code's ass. Left Behind's sold over 58 million copies worldwide--even in China! The DaVinci Code has only sold 25 million worldwide. But to its credit, Tom Hanks is starring in a movie version of the book, so it'll probably get a boost in sales after the movie. This book could do for Gnosticism what The Passion did for the Evangelicals.

No doubt, this potential success and the fact that Hollywood is filming the other side's book and not their book has the Evangelicals side feeling left out, if not left behind.

All of this is no doubt obvious and probably tedious for everyone except those with a penchant for irony like me. And besides, how's this demythologize Tim LeHaye, the co-author of Left Beind? It doesn't, it just goes to show how well I can use Google to find fun facts...

But seriously folks, here's the low-down on LeHaye, something I find odd about a man who preaches about the God of Love. According to Steve Weissman over at the website, LeHaye,

A Christian Nationalist, LaHaye would use government coercion to enforce "Biblical morality." No more separation of church and state. And no free speech to say what God doesn't want to say. As for which Christians would govern the nation, he has frequently attacked the Catholic Church and accused mainline Protestants of not being Christians at all. He has also blamed Jews for the crucifixion of Christ and regularly lambastes Islam.
Well, if that doesn't curl your pinko little toes, I don't know what does or will. I myself am not so easily riled. LeHaye has obviously had a religious experience and through this vision he's seen the Rapture of God and Jesus coming on war clouds with a sword of fire.
As LaHaye reads the Holy Writ, the Rapture leads to the Great Tribulation, with floods and earthquakes, pestilence and epidemics, anarchy in the streets, and demonic battles against the one world government of the anti-Christ, whom he portrays in his novels as the Secretary General of the United Nations, a suave Romanian named Nicholae Carpathia. The forces of good finally defeat this Emperor of Evil in a famous victory at Armageddon, after which Jesus Christ returns to rule the earth.
Who could or would want to argue with a man who's seen the end of the world? Not me. And you have to question aynone's motives who would want to even write for a website called "StateofNature" anway, right? That's obviously a veiled allusion to Darwin whose little fish will be eaten by the Big Fish Jesus.

Oh, and did I mention his last name...? But that's beside the point.

I'm not so sure I have gotten LeHaye more demythologized than maybe more mythical. I am sure he's a nice guy, has made lots of money like a true-blood American Christian should and is using those bucks to bring comfort and compassion to the poor and those rotting in prison. On the other hand, I really do think that he's onto something here. He's got more book sales than the heretical gnostics who read that Code book, so 54 million people can't be wrong, right?

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