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Friday, June 06, 2003

Better Late Than Never Dep't.

The Catholic bishops of Illinois finally get around to criticizing the insanely-popular "Left Behind" series for the drivel it is.

Co-author Tim LaHaye responds: "Some of my best friends are Catholic!"

Although the critique appears to be slightly whiny (playing the victim), it seems pretty solid, to the extent it is described in the article.

The series also chalked up another black mark in my eyes: the anti-christ character's middle name is "Jetty." Good Lord. What--was "Bucky" already taken? On that note, this would be a good time to refer you to Rod Dreher's hilarious review of the first "Left Behind" film, "Do Fake Boobs Go To Heaven?" While I'm at it, here's Rod's article pointing out the fact the pre-trib rapture folks follow a decided minority view in Christendom.

The key to understanding that LaHaye is indeed an anti-Catholic is his nonfiction work, which is Hislopian in its paranoia and halfwit "scholarship."

Still, there are certainly plenty of anti-Catholic jibes in the work, done sotto voce. Full disclosure: I occasionally take a gander at them in the bookstore, in all their wide-margined, triple-spaced glory. [The series was originally only supposed to be seven volumes in length, but the sales volume persuaded the publisher to persuade LaHaye to stretch it out a bit--to 12 books. At this point, you can raise marlin in this "milk."]

The first is the reference to Il Papa being raptured. But this only happened because the Pope had become a "faith alone" spouting evangelical. Note the deft subtlety with which the authors brain the reader on that point.

"See? See? Get it?--even the Pope--Understand, this is the Pope!--can get raptured--Get it?--if he's not really Catholic!--See? Now we move on to another "As you know, Bob..." expository scene where one of our heroes explains how we see the Book of Daniel being played out in the pages of the Washington Post...."

Another masterpiece of understated allusion that leapt out was a scene depicting a crowd of the anti-faithful, waiting in line to see the sorta-resurrected A-C. The wait is lengthy, and there's a statue of Jetty Whiplash in the square. Instead of continuing to wait in the interminable line, one of the anti-faithful suggests worshipping the statue as a substitute, which is regarded as a capital idea by sidekick Evil Bert (or whoever). The narrative (I'm being generous here) carefully notes that the suggester is Mexican.

"You know those Catholic Mexicans and their statues--they're just a half-step from restarting human sacrifice without The Gospel™, and they'll fall like ten pins for the Beast." Don't you be one of 'em, my little brown brother!"

The beat goes on. The only good news about the series is that there's only one book left to go. In any event, it's nice to see the Bishops worry about truly problematic popular religious culture. As opposed to, say, kvetching about unseen movies intended to faithfully depict the Gospels.

[Link via Amy Welborn]

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