Last of the "Left Behind" books comes out.

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Is Evangelical Christianity a net positive or negative for America?

Poll ended at Fri May 28, 2004 2:57 pm

Yes
3
27%
No
8
73%
 
Total votes : 11

Last of the "Left Behind" books comes out.

Postby Prodigal Son » Wed Apr 28, 2004 2:57 pm

Woo wee! That there govment of ubelievers is shore gonna git it come judgement day!

This is why I fear for America.

Left Behind, but not forgotten
Apr 15th 2004 | BOSSIER CITY, LOUISIANA
From The Economist print edition
Who needs Mel Gibson anyway?

IT IS Sunday afternoon in Bossier City and a lengthy line of fans holding books snakes around the Wal-Mart Supercentre, past NASCAR fishing reels, tyres, plastic dishes, and facial creams. Some 200 middle-class, middle-aged white people, some still dressed in their church clothes, buzz with an excitement that rivals teens awaiting a Justin Timberlake concert.
AP
LaHaye and Jenkins burn through Bossier

They have come to this corner of Louisiana to see the authors of “Glorious Appearing: The End of Days”—the 12th and final part of the “Left Behind” series of books focused on the world after the Rapture (for the unGodly, the moment when God takes away the Godly and leaves the rest of us to be ruled by Satan). Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, accompanied by several black-suited handlers, duly arrive in a glitzy tour bus that has a suitably apocalyptic if somewhat spooky motif, with bolts of lightning showering down upon a silhouetted family of four.

Most bestselling authors strut their stuff on “Oprah” and the “Today Show”, and spend as much of their time as possible in the pleasure palaces of New York and Los Angeles. By contrast, the Left Behind bus is on a tour through 12 cities in the Bible belt. More than 40% of the series' readers claim the South as home. The core buyer is a married evangelical woman, aged between 25-54, who is a college graduate and attends church weekly.

In many other countries, this would not translate into big sales. Yet the series has sold 40m copies in barely a decade; add in the spin-off books for children and that number exceeds 60m. The authors recently launched two new series of Left Behind military and political books written by up-and-coming Christian authors. Then, there are calendars, audiotapes, study guides and videos. Borrowing a trick from “Star Wars”, the authors now plan to write two new series, to serve as sequels and prequels to the Left Behind books.

The success of Mel Gibson's film on the Passion should have come as no surprise to anybody who has followed the success of the Left Behind series. Mr LaHaye, a minister and the commercial mastermind, and Mr Jenkins, who does most of the writing, published the first instalment in 1995 through a small Chicago publisher—but word soon spread across the web.

Around three-quarters of the sales for the first book occurred in Christian bookstores. By the time the fifth book, “Apollyon”, reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list, 75% of sales were in secular, mainstream outlets. Wal-Mart has done particularly well out of the books, as it has out of other conservative tomes.

Cynics may carp about their prose style; but the books cleverly blend pulp fiction with scripture—and they have struck a chord in uncertain times. People in the queue at Wal-Mart said that Mr LaHaye, a prophecy scholar, has been blessed with the voice of God whispered into his ear—just as they believe that George Bush was ordained by God to serve as president.

People still talk reverently about the moment when Air Force One landed at nearby Barksdale on September 11th 2001, for Mr Bush to address the nation after the terrorist attacks. It is rather hard to imagine John Kerry picking up many votes from Left Behind readers.
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Yes or no what?

Postby Kurt » Wed Apr 28, 2004 4:05 pm

Evangelicals who believe in separations of Church and state are good people.

Just like Atheists who want to leave religion alone are good people too.

Its the secular and religious meddlers that think they can modify the lives of others who are the baddies.

LaHay and his fundie crew just wrote a book that they hoped would get people to find Jesus..Not a big deal, glad they made some cash at it..but I am ignoring it myself.
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Postby Prodigal Son » Wed Apr 28, 2004 4:44 pm

hmmm...perhaps, but these books also represent an ideological worldview that is kind of, well, bizarre. World government is aligned with the AntiChrist in these books -- leading some fundamentalists to question US cooperation with other countries, either in the UN or elsewhere, in biblical terms rather than in policy efficacy. Israel has a special place in Biblical prophecy -- meaning fundamentalist christians here in the US are Israel's biggest supporters here in the US. Additionally, secularism, as usual, is associated with the devil. To me, there is a connection between these books and right wing tomes like the Turner Diaries, which was very influential among militia types -- including Tim McVeigh.

Maybe I'm just a leftist, pinko-commie elitist, but I see Wahhabist preaching and the ideology lurking in the Left Behind books as being very similar.
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I say it again

Postby El Cynic » Wed Apr 28, 2004 6:06 pm

I;ve said it before and I'll say it again. Cool books, bad politics, fucked weltanschauung.

Transmission Ended. Now get the hell off my lawn!
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evangelicals

Postby kilroy » Wed Apr 28, 2004 7:58 pm

aren't evangelicals the ones who think that it's their duty to convert the unwashed masses? i second kurt's opinion that both religious people and athiests are fine by me, but the second they start trying to push their worldview on me is the second i start avoiding them like the plague. so christianity probably has a net positive i think, but not 'evangelical' christianity, which probably just tends to piss off the non-evangelicals.
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Postby Francisco_BR » Thu Apr 29, 2004 12:22 am

The books themselves simply suck. Cheap evangelical-pop literature.

Both extremist atheists and evangelicals, anf hell yea, muslims, are harmful do any nation.

aren't evangelicals the ones who think that it's their duty to convert the unwashed masses? i second kurt's opinion that both religious people and athiests are fine by me, but the second they start trying to push their worldview on me is the second i start avoiding them like the plague. so christianity probably has a net positive i think, but not 'evangelical' christianity, which probably just tends to piss off the non-evangelicals.

I've met many atheists who want to push their worldview (ALWAYS, as well as any religious fundamentalist, their view is 100% proven right and the only actual, immutable truth), and I also avoid them though i'm not a believer.
Both extremes are bad because at their core their have exactly the same principles, even though both accuse themselves mutually as being the wrong opposite of each other.

Anyway, it's a fact that the calvinism/puritan doctrine helped a lot the american economy development since the first pioneers.
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Postby Lochaber » Thu Apr 29, 2004 12:53 am

Anyone who believes stongly about anything without evidence that it is right or good is dangerous.

Christian fundies, Muslims, Commies, Nazis...

btw the poll question doesn't make sense. I voted "no" for "negative"
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atheists

Postby Skirita » Thu Apr 29, 2004 2:37 am

Yes, I will concede that we atheists are often as stubborn as evangelical christians when provoked...

However, I don't see bicycle-mounted, white-shirted atheist teens knocking on anyone's door. Sure, a few "born-again atheists" might set up a booth at the local college, but that's about it.

I will not bring up my beliefs until you do. Even then, I rarely try and convince you of your folly. I am generally respectful and tolerant of other beliefs. I'd like to think that other atheists share my sense of decorum. After all, evangelism isn't a central tenet in our philosophy (this is usually only a problem among former evangelical Christians turned atheists).

Most atheists also have an advantage in that they used to be religious and thus understand that mentality, whereas most Christians were never truly atheists before "finding Jesus" (all the born-agains I know were casual believers or non-observing yet still religious in a basic sense). They simply cannot comprehend where we are coming from.

I think this disdain for blind proselytizing is why atheists are percieved more as "anti-Christian" than anti-religion; Christianity is designed to replicate and spread to other hosts (you are to be "fishers of men" and "save" everyone). Atheism is not. Few other religions are so virus-like (at least in the US).

Something to ponder: in an atheistic world, humans would have one less thing to fight over (religion), because there is no secondary literature to interpret. Only one belief: gods do not exist. Hard to fuck that one up.

Many would attempt to apply this same logic to a Christian utopia. But for which denomination would it be a perfect world? Would Catholics be included? Eastern Orthodox? Christian Science? In an all-Christian world, fighting would erupt among different sects who interpreted scripture differently (as was the case between the Pope and various monastic orders in the Holy Roman Empire, for example). Under the superficially homogenous blanket of Christianity, there would still be little religious details worth killing for.
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Postby Aegis » Thu Apr 29, 2004 2:54 am

Something to ponder: in an atheistic world, humans would have one less thing to fight over (religion), because there is no secondary literature to interpret. Only one belief: gods do not exist. Hard to fuck that one up.


Yeah, that worked wonderfully for the Soviets, Chinese et al.
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Postby Captain_Solo » Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:05 am

Aegis wrote:
Something to ponder: in an atheistic world, humans would have one less thing to fight over (religion), because there is no secondary literature to interpret. Only one belief: gods do not exist. Hard to fuck that one up.


Yeah, that worked wonderfully for the Soviets, Chinese et al.


Exactly. Secular ideologies can be just as violent as religious ones, as Aegis points out. The freaken Marxists were fighting each other all the time. "My communism is more correct then yours!" and "That is not how the Communist Manifesto or Das Kapital says how to do it! Your a traitor to the workers revolution", etc.

As for that stupid "Left Behind" series it quite frankly sucks. LaHay is a creep. I hate these Evangalical Christians (I was raised as one so I know how they are) go around with their self-righteous attitudes, yet are the first to serve Mammon when the chance presents itself. The person who compared LaHay and his band of Armageddan fanatics are of the same clothe as the Turner Diaries and David Koriesh and his Branch Davidians is not far from the truth. Anyone else see any the similarity between the Christian Identity Movement and the 700 Club?
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Aegis, Solo

Postby Skirita » Thu Apr 29, 2004 4:58 am

Aegis - Instead of disagreeing with me out of principle, please take the time to form a logical argument.

Mine was based on a hypothetical scenario where every last notion of religion was erased from human memory. An atheistic "perfect world".

I.e. no Falun Gong, no Russian Orthodox, no Christians, no Muslims, nothing. If religion is absolutely nonexistent (every last trace of it is gone, including history), logic dictates that humans can't argue about it.

Last I checked, the Chinese and Marxists didn't succeed in that respect, so assuming all the conditions of my hypothetical scenario are met, your comparisons are invalid, because they cannot exist within it.

Solo - Granted, but I said "in an atheistic world, humans would have one less thing to fight over", not "everyone will get along always". The Marxists were at odds oves political ideology, not religion. Big difference, technically.
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fine then...

Postby Aegis » Thu Apr 29, 2004 5:34 am

I was just being bloody minded with the last post, but fine...

Something to ponder: in an atheistic world, humans would have one less thing to fight over (religion), because there is no secondary literature to interpret. Only one belief: gods do not exist. Hard to fuck that one up.


That kind of logic can be applied to anything. If there was no notion of material wealth then people would have one less thing to fight over. However, the notion of material wealth is no more intrinsic to human nature than the belief in a diety. To an extent they even go hand in hand: grave goods have been been around as long as there have been graves, and as grave goods imply the notion of wealth (we bury Og with OG'S spear) the ceremonial treatment of a corpse implies belief in an afterlife (otherwise Og wouldn't need his spear, now would he?) and by extension a cannon of beliefs.

Essentially, your hypothetical asks humans to stop being human.
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Heh...

Postby Aegis » Thu Apr 29, 2004 2:54 pm

I must be writing poorly lately. I'm the one defending religion. Its Skiritai who proposed the idea of atheism taking away one of the many things people fight over.
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Re: fine then...

Postby Captain_Solo » Thu Apr 29, 2004 3:55 pm

Something to ponder: in an atheistic world, humans would have one less thing to fight over (religion), because there is no secondary literature to interpret. Only one belief: gods do not exist. Hard to fuck that one up.


Well technically if everyone was a Roman Catholic or a Twelver Shi'ite Muslim or a Raelian then no one would have any religious differnces to fight over.
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Solo

Postby Skirita » Thu Apr 29, 2004 4:38 pm

Your counterpoint was anticipated and already addressed, but I'll go into greater detail.

If you think that would work, do some research into the various Roman Catholic monastic orders in the Middle Ages, and how well each group got along with their fellow Catholics. Even if everyone in the world were, say, Roman Catholic, they would find minor details to argue over, because there is such a tremendous volume of supporting literature that must be interpreted.

Various sects would be labelled "heretics" for the way they read certain Biblical passages, as happened between the Franciscans, Benedictines, Dominicans, Augustinians, Waldensians, etc. in the Holy Roman Empire. Even today there are no shortage of conflicts between churches within the same denomination. Take, for example, the issue of homosexual priests in the Methodist church. Or birth control among Catholics.

There are simply too many details for everyone to be on the same page.

Even if the entire world were converted to an "unorganized" religion like, say, Wicca, someone would start arguing that ritual daggers should have a black handle, others would say "no, it should be white." Even within that comparatively straightforward religion ("do as ye will; harm none"), there are many different rituals, a wealth of supporting literature, and various established orders (Dionysian, Celtic, etc).

Atheism, in contrast, has NO supporting literature to be interpreted. The only tenet of atheism is that there are no gods. No "atheist bible", no "ten atheist commandments", no "gospel of the atheists", etc. It's a non-issue.
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