28. Bonus: Stray (Left Behind series) spoilers and discussion topics

(The post formerly known as http://oldmaid.jallman.net/entry.php?id=33 )

Left Behind series: Stray spoilers

Spoiler (Volume 5): Was Amanda White Steele involved with Carpathia? Was Amanda spying for him or loyal to him in secret?

Answer: No. Amanda was framed (Volume 5, pp. 33-37). Hattie confesses to Rayford that the evidence was planted to sow dissension among the Tribulation Force. In the same conversation, Hattie confesses that Bruce Barnes was poisoned in Indonesia (pp. 33-34). He survived but returned to Chicago a sick man. Carpathia bombed Bruce’s hospital to make sure the pastor finally got killed. It is debatable whether Chicago would have been a target if Bruce Barnes had not been hiding in it.

Spoiler (Volumes 1, 5, 6, 7): Who is Nancy Durham? What is Hattie’s connection to her?

Answer: Nancy is Hattie’s sister. Nancy works in an abortion clinic as a “counselor” (Volume 1, pp. 266-8). When the unborn children are Raptured, Nancy loses her job.

Rayford had to admit he had never found Hattie guilty of brilliance, but now he wished he could look into her eyes. “Hattie, um, I don’t know how to ask this. But are you saying your sister is hoping women can get pregnant again so they’ll need abortions and she can keep working?”

“Well, sure. What is she going to do otherwise? Counseling jobs in other fields are pretty hard to come by, you know.”

He nodded, feeling stupid, knowing she couldn’t see him. What kind of lunacy was this? He shouldn’t waste his energy arguing with someone who clearly didn’t have a clue, but he couldn’t help himself.

“I guess I always thought clinics like the one where your sister works considered these unwanted pregnancies a nuisance. Shouldn’t they be glad if such problems disappear, and even happier — except for the small complication that the human race will eventually cease to exist — if pregnancies never happen again?”

The irony was lost on her. “But Rayford, that’s her job. That’s what the center is all about. It’s sort of like owning a gas station and nobody needs gas or oil or tires anymore.”

“Supply and demand.”

“Exactly! See? They need unwanted pregnancies because that’s their business.”

“Sort of like doctors wanting people to be sick or injured so they have something to do?”

“Now you’ve got it, Rayford.”

(from Volume 1, pp. 267-268)

Nancy is last seen working at another abortion clinic. The Durham family never see either Nancy or Hattie again.

Hattie finally forced herself to talk when Chloe somehow located her sister, Nancy, working at an abortion clinic out west. All the other members of Hattie’s family had died in various ways before the plague of locusts. Now Hattie spoke to her sister for the first time in months. Nancy had somehow avoided for a few months the sting of a scorpion locust, but now she too was a victim.

“Nancy, you must believe in Jesus,” Hattie managed, though she spoke as if her mouth was full of sores. “It’s the only answer. He loves you. Do it.”

(from Volume 5, p. 328).

Hattie’s pleas for her conversion prove futile. Nancy dies during the Sixth Trumpet Judgment (Volume 6, p. 173, 208) and goes to Hell. Hattie (in jail) is unable to attend her funeral and denied the chance to say goodbye (Volume 7, p. 167). (Trivia alert: if Hattie is Nancy’s last surviving relative, it is unclear who would organize Nancy’s “funeral,” which was done without Hattie’s knowledge. Nancy would not need a funeral to be buried in a potter’s field. This also means that every known member of Hattie Durham’s family is in Hell.)

Spoiler (Volumes 9, 11, 12): What is “Hail Carpathia?” What is “Fail, Carpathia?” What is Buck’s connection to them?

Answer: “Hail Carpathia” is an anti-hymn to praise the resurrected Antichrist. It has its own best-selling recording by the 500-voice Carpathianism Chorale. This version often is broadcast during Carpathian parades as well as during Chloe’s confinement (Volume 11, p. 146).

“Fail, Carpathia!” is a parody covered by Cameron “Buck” Williams (“ever the wordsmith, Buck changed the lyrics on the spot”—Volume 9, p. 47). The lyrics appear separately in several volumes but together on one page in Volume 9, p. 47. Lyrics for the original:

Hail Carpathia, our lord and risen king
Hail Carpathia, rules o’er everything.
We’ll worship him until we die;
He’s our beloved Nicolae.
Hail Carpathia, our lord and risen king.

Lyrics for the parody:

Fail Carpathia, you fake and stupid thing;
Fail Carpathia, fool of everything.
I’ll hassle you until you die;
You’re headed for a lake of fire.
Fail Carpathia, you fake and stupid thing.

In this way, the protagonists can sing along even when in hostile territory in public—as long as no one can read lips or is close enough to hear them.

Spoiler (Volume 9): How does Hattie Durham die?

Answer: Hattie is killed in Jerusalem by Leon Fortunato, the false prophet, when she interrupts the evildoers in a parade.

In hiding, Hattie prays in a Tel Aviv hotel room. She thanks God for Tsion, her teacher. She thanks God for Leah, Chaim, “and especially for Buck, whom she had met even before he became a believer. She thanked God for Rayford, who first told her about Christ. She thanked Him for Albie who, for some reason, cared so much for her” (p. 39).

Hattie, “who always checked everywhere before locking herself in,” realizes that someone is in her room. She swoons, as Daniel did in Dan. 8:18, 10:9-10. Hattie’s visitor identifies himself as Michael. Michael quotes Dan. 10:11-12, 19; 12:3, 10 to Hattie and leaves her “panting” with wonder (p. 40).

[Trivia alert: in Daniel 8 the angel is Gabriel. Some scholars believe it is still Gabriel in chapter 10, particularly since the visitor states that Michael stood with him against a common adversary, “the prince of Persia.” Not all scholars agree the visitor of chapter 10 was Gabriel, but since Michael is accounted for, it is not Michael. The Volume 9 novel does not state why Michael is the one quoting Daniel to Hattie. It simply may be that, in the L.B. series, Michael often visits the Tribulation Force and so they are familiar with him.]

“[Hattie] took the message to mean she was to speak out against the lies of Antichrist.” She prays for courage and knowledge of whether she is deluded or correct. She says, “I look at what I’ve written and I don’t even sound like myself. I know I don’t deserve this any more than I deserved God’s love and forgiveness.” Finally Hattie concludes that if she “chickens out,” then she will know that her decision is not of God. This decision is to go to Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa and defy Carpathia in the streets. She writes an e-mail to “Dr. Tsion” and sets the system to deliver it two days later (pp. 40-41, 62). She tells him plainly that by the time he reads this, she may be dead.

From pp. 54-55:

Heads and eyes turned toward a high, screeching voice from the base of Golgotha. The crowd evaporates from around a woman who stood pointing at Carpathia and Fortunato.“Liars!” she railed. “Blasphemers! Antichrist! False Prophet! Woe unto you who would take the place of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! You shall not prevail against the God of heaven!”

Buck [Williams, in the crowd] was stricken. It was Hattie! Chaim [Rosenzweig, also in the crowd] dropped to his knees, clasped his hands before his face, and prayed, “God, spare her!”

[Hattie] lifted her pointing finger from the two on the hill and raised it above her head. “As He is my witness, there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus!”

Fortunato pointed at her, and a ball of fire roared from the black sky, illuminating the whole area. Hattie burst into flames. The masses fell away, screaming in terror as she stood burning, mighty tongues of fire licking at her clothes, her hair, enveloping her body. As she seemed to melt in the consuming blaze, the clouds rolled back, the lightning and thunder ceased, and the sun reappeared.

A soft breeze made Hattie topple like a statue. People gaped as she was quickly reduced to ash, her silhouette branded onto the ground. As the fire died and the smoke wafted, Hattie’s remains skittered about with the wind (pp. 54-55).

Spoiler (Volume 9): How do other people react to Hattie’s death?

Answer: From p. 56: “Buck was overwhelmed with memories of meeting Hattie, of introducing her to Carpathia. He turned and grabbed the praying Rosenzweig by the shoulder and yanked him to his feet. ‘That should have been you,’ he hissed. ‘Or me! We should not have left her with the responsibility [of standing up to Carpathia alone].’” Buck believes that “God’s call is clearly on Chaim. If Hattie had the courage to do what she had done, surely knowing she couldn’t survive, how could any of them shirk their duties again?” (pp. 69-70).

Carpathia and Fortunato pointedly resume their journey. The silent crowds follow. But “as people passed the smoldering ashes, some spit, and others kicked at the powdery stuff” (p. 56). At an impromptu press conference, security chief Walter Moon makes fun of Hattie’s death, “apparently [thinking] that would elicit a laugh … it didn’t …” (p. 59). The crowds just want to get their mark and get it over with. “That would insure them against the fiery fate of the crazy woman at Mount Calvary,” or so they hope (p. 70).

As for the former lovers, Carpathia does not behave as if he even remembers Hattie.

Meanwhile, Chloe, who has been watching “the boring TV feed from Jerusalem, waiting for the fiasco to reach the Garden Tomb” (p. 61), behaves as if Hattie’s death was not televised. (Chloe had been watching TV long enough for Kenny to go to sleep; p. 61.) She returns to the television to see the last few minutes of Chief Moon’s post-parade press conference (p. 62). Only after Tsion forwards Hattie’s e-mail to Chloe, does Chloe learn that Hattie is dead.

[Trivia alert: on pp. 56-57 Chloe implies that Fortunato’s act of incineration was televised, but that somehow the audience could not actually see Hattie as she was being incinerated. It is unknown whether Hattie was out of focus, at a distance, or off-camera. Distance is possible, since Hattie’s strong and carrying voice does not seem to have been picked up by the televised feed so that Chloe could recognize her voice. Chloe asks Rayford, “What was that? Clearly Fortunato zapped someone, but they didn’t show who! Was it Chaim?” Curiously, only four pages later, Chloe calls the televised footage she has been viewing “boring.”]

From pp. 71-72:

Rayford had known Hattie for years, of course, and had once jeopardized his marriage over her. … At first neither he nor his daughter could speak. Finally Rayford said, “It seems forever ago that you met her.”

“Think she accomplished anything, Dad?”

“That’s not for me to say. She obeyed God, though. That seems clear.”

Rayford tried to dismiss an intruding thought but couldn’t. “Chloe, are you envious?”

“Of Hattie? … Of course I am. More than I can say … Dad, am I a scoundrel? … She was there, Dad! Front lines. Doing the job … Just put me out there next time, will ya?”

“We’ll see.”

Buck lingers by the Garden Tomb, grateful that Carpathia did not enter it and that it is untouched by the earthquakes. Guards watch Buck but do not challenge him. Buck asks permission to enter the tomb. The “mannequin” who guards the entrance gives no answer. Buck shrugs and enters the tomb. Chaim follows, weeping in grief and guilt. Suddenly the guard appears behind them. It is Anis. He quotes Luke 24:5b-6a, Num. 6:22-27 and vanishes. Buck and Chaim hasten to a souvenir shop, puzzled that Carpathia has not shut it down but in too much of a hurry to ask questions. Chaim buys “a small, cheap replica of the container in which the Dead Sea Scrolls had been found.” He returns to what is left of Hattie’s ashes and carefully scoops a handful into the little pot (pp. 72-75).

Chang Wong sends an e-mail that sends word that “Apparently [Security Chief] Walter [Moon] was spooked by the change in the attitude of the crowd with the martyrdom of the dissident,” among other developments (p. 79). Moon reacts by ordering the military to get marked immediately. The civilians who have been waiting in line in the hot sun begin to grumble (pp. 80-81). Hattie’s death is starting to change things.

Hattie’s death is not enough in itself to spark a riot. At least it gets Fortunato into trouble with his boss. “What good is a religion if you cannot come up with some miracles, Leon? You cooked a harmless woman with a big mouth.” –p. 257. (The riots start when some Orthodox Jews observe Carpathia defiling the Third Temple [p. 157]: he kills a nameless lackey inside the sanctuary, slaughters a giant pig, cavorts in its blood, and howls, “I wanted roast pork!” [p. 163].)

Hattie Durham’s ashes come “home” to Rayford’s resistance cell in Chicago (p. 364), and are scattered by Tsion in Petra (p. 403). It is here her story ends, until Volume 12 and the day of resurrection.

[Other events in Volume 9 include: The Trib Force prepares Operation Eagle to evacuate Jewish individuals who do not worship Carpathia. Chaim changes his name to Micah and calls down Biblical plagues upon people who have taken the mark. Chaim and Buck confront Carpathia, who does not recognize them, though his lackeys do. Viv Ivins pours perfume on Carpathia’s feet. Carpathia makes his lieutenants take lie detector tests, and joins them. Rayford receives a laying on of hands from the archangel Michael. Laslos and David Hassid are separately ambushed and shot to death. Chaim preaches Jesus to the Jewish resistance. Steve Plank returns. Chloe recruits a church of street people called The Place, led by Enoch. George Sebastian is captured. Carpathia orders a strike on Petra.]

Spoiler (Volume 12): How does Hattie return on the day of resurrection?

Answer: In its entirety from page 393:

Melancholy washed over Rayford when he recognized Hattie Durham embracing Jesus. How he had misused her and nearly given up on her, but what a brave saint she had become in the end. When she knelt, Michael the archangel handed Jesus a crystalline tiara, which He placed on her head. “My daughter,” He said, “you were martyred for your testimony of me in the face of the Antichrist and the False Prophet, and so you will bear this crown for eternity. Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Spoiler (Volume 12): Why this last farewell to Hattie Durham?

Answer: Because every other major character who was introduced in Volume 1 has been accounted for and/or will return in Volume 16-called-13. Hattie will be alive in the earthly paradise but does not return in the story of that kingdom. Basically we’re tying up loose ends here.

Spoiler (Volume 12): How does Rayford Steele’s family return?

Answer: In a reference back to the first sentence of Volume 1, the final chapter begins:

Rayford Steele’s mind was on a woman he had not touched in more than seven years. What would Irene look like in her glorified body? What would they say to each other? Had she been aware of him all this time, watching, knowing, what he was doing? Did she know he had become a believer? (p. 389)

Somehow the Lord arranged it so that only those who knew each tribulation saint witnessed them getting their reward. So, rather than Rayford’s having to wait through the ceremonies for a million or two strangers to see a friend or loved one, as soon as the festivities began, Bruce Barnes [who died during the tribulation] approached the throne …. And then came Amanda, Rayford’s second wife (pp. 392-3).

And finally, there was Chloe, and right behind her Buck and Tsion. Rayford kept shouting and clapping as his daughter, son-in-law, and spiritual adviser received their well-done, their embrace, and their martyr’s crown. The entire heavenly host applauded each martyr, but Caleb, one of the angels of mercy, came out from behind the throne to embrace Chloe. Rayford would have to ask her about that (p. 394).

There were Buck and Chloe running to Kenny as he ran to them. And seemingly out of nowhere, at Rayford’s elbow stood Irene. One thing he could say for the glorified body: She looked herself, and as if she had not aged. No way she could say the same for him.

“Hi, Rafe,” she said, smiling.

“Irene,” he said, holding her. “You’re permitted one cosmic I-told-you-so.”

“Oh, Rayford … I’ve just been so grateful that you found Jesus and so thrilled at how many souls are here because of what you and Chloe and the others did.”

Rayford turned and there was his son. He scooped him up in a tight embrace. “Even you knew the truth that I didn’t.”

“I can’t tell you how great it is to see you here, Dad.”

[Buck, Chloe, and Kenny] approached shyly, but it was Buck who broke the ice as Chloe gathered in her parents. “So nice to meet you, finally,” he said, shaking his mother-in-law’s hand. “I’ve heard so much about you.”

Kenny seemed fascinated to have a real uncle, and one so young (pp. 395-397).

[Trivia alert #1: In Volume 1, Raymie was twelve. If he had aged normally, he would be 19 or 20 by now. To a preschooler like Kenny, Raymie would look like an adult, although a younger adult than Chloe. To an adult like Rayford, an adult Raymie his own size would be too large to “scoop up.”]

[Trivia alert #2: Volume 16 drops the idea of Raymie looking like a minor. It also drops the idea of children aging normally in the intermediate heaven.

 

Rayford turned and there was his son, suddenly full grown. He scooped him in a tight embrace. (Volume 16, p. xxxvi).

One morning Cameron was praising Jesus … when he noticed Kenny was not playing alone. Half a dozen other kids—all seven or under, of course, because youngsters alive at the time of the Rapture had been taken and returned as grown-ups at the Glorious Appearing—had joined him … (Volume 16, p. 4).

The most probable reason for the change in Raymie’s return and the change of age in all raptured children is that the authors had not yet decided what kinds of adventures Raymie might have in the afterlife.]

[Returning to Volume 12]

… As they laughed and hugged and praised God for each other and for their salvation, Amanda White Steele approached.

“Amanda,” Irene said, pulling her close. “Would you believe I prayed for you even after I was raptured?”

“It worked.”

“I know it did. And you and Rafe were happy for a time.”

“I was so afraid this would be awkward,” Rayford said.

“Not at all,” Irene said, “I didn’t begrudge you a good wife and companionship. I was so thrilled that you both had come to Jesus. You’re going to find that He is all that matters now.”

[Amanda] turned back to Irene and took her arm. “You know, your witness and character were the reasons I came to the Lord.”

“I knew that was your testimony,” Irene said. “But I hadn’t recalled making any impression on you.”

“I don’t think you tried. You just did.”

Rayford had the feeling that his family would be close, affectionate friends throughout the Millennium. He didn’t understand it all yet, in fact hardly any of it. But he had to agree with Irene: Jesus was all that mattered anymore. There would be no jealousy, envy, or sin. Their greatest joy would be in serving and worshiping their Lord, who had brought them to Himself.

As Buck and Chloe continued to interact with Irene and Amanda, Rayford borrowed Raymie. “There are so many people I want to see, Son. You must meet them all. And we’ve only got a thousand years.” (pp. 397-398)

Spoiler (Volume 13-called-Prequel-1): How did Nicolae Jetty Carpathia get his name?

Answer: Nicolae’s surname is Carpathia because his legal father Sorin’s surname is Carpathia (pp. 1, 91, 94). If Marilena Titi Carpathia had been single when she gave birth, her son would have been named Nicolae Titi. (Trivia alert: as in, Nicolaitans. See Rev. 2:6.) Marilena’s handlers—who turn out to be Satanists—inform her that the child is to be named Nicolae “because it means ‘victory of the people’ and was thus prophesied” (pp. 105, 130). Marilena chooses the middle name “Jetty” because her son was born on a jet-black night (pp. 154, 157-158).

Thus the Antichrist, the rival to Jesus Christ (“JC”), has the initials “NJC”. On the night Jesus was born, the angels filled the sky with glory and song (Luke 2:13). On the night Nicolae was born, his mother had never seen a darker night than this.

Spoiler (Volume 13-called-Prequel-1): How do Nicolae Jetty Carpathia’s parents die?

Answer: Marilena tells her son (now nine years old) to fasten his car seat-belt. He refuses. They get into a shoving match and swear at each other. Nicolae bites her forearm so ferociously as to require fourteen stitches (pp. 222-228). “Aunt” Viv Ivins scolds her and leaves with Nicolae, never to return. As Marilena’s condition deteriorates, she breaks into Viv Ivins’ bedroom and reads the files that the Satanists had collected on her. The words “vessel” and “expendable” convince her that she was provoked into fighting with her son so that her doctor could poison her (pp. 154, 250-256, 259, 262, 265, 271-273). She shoots the doctor, but not in time to save her own life (p. 279).

Marilena remembers hearing voices from someone other than Satan and his followers, but she thought it was “megalomania. Only someone thoroughly insane would believe that God and Lucifer were competing for her soul” (p. 108). She remembers when three British college students came to her door as missionaries (pp. 120-125). She found them cheerful and engaging, and she spent hours with them enjoying the debate as an exercise. At the time she had said, “No, not tonight.” As Marilena is dying, she calls the nearest Christ Church (pp. 245, 256-257) but only reaches the answering machine. Marilena begs and prays to the Christian God to save her (pp. 243-245, 274). Fade to black.

When Nicolae is told that his mother has died, he shrugs and tells Viv to make him breakfast (p. 276).

(Trivia alert: In Volume 7, Nicolae’s childhood is falsified for public consumption. A video montage purports to show him at his fifth birthday party and later “hugging his parents at high school graduation” [Volume 7, p. 328]. Neither event happened. Sorin Carpathia left Marilena. Marilena acquired her baby via sperm donation. Marilena and “Aunt” Viv brought up Nicolae with no participation of either a father or a father-figure. No parties are mentioned; Marilena always thought Viv was too indulgent. [Viv bought him a pony.] Also, as just mentioned, Marilena was murdered a decade before the purported graduation.)

When Nicolae is nineteen, he demands to learn the identity of his sperm-donor father (p. 351). The fictional Antichrist has two biological fathers, a homosexual couple who deceived Marilena to become their unsuspecting rent-a-womb. Their sperm had been spliced through experimental genetic engineering (pp. 115, 253). They are Sorin Carpathia (Marilena’s husband) and Baduna Marius (Sorin’s husband). Nicolae is blasé about having two biological fathers, but he is displeased that the Satanists have paid them a lavish pension for two decades. He gives orders that his fathers shall be killed immediately (p. 352). Fade to black.

Stray discussion questions (by specific volume)

(All questions which are multi-volume topics will follow this section.)

Discussion topic (Volume 3): Antichrist Carpathia’s schemes to take over the world are so invasive and widespread as to change every daily activity on earth, except bathing, eating, and sleeping. (The divine Judgments will tackle those items.) In Volume 2 Carpathia takes control of the press and installs Cameron “Buck” Williams as figurehead journalist (Volume 2, pp. 124, 148-149, 154-155; Volume 3, p. 128). The Antichrist also installs Peter Archbishop Matthews of Cincinnati, Ohio as the new Catholic Pope and head of the amalgamated Enigma Babylon One World Religion (Volume 2, pp. 271, 275, 279, 401). Now in Volume 3 Carpathia makes the rest of his power grabs. (Thereafter he will make only minor changes until Volume 8 when the evildoers implement the Mark of the Beast.)

Carpathia now takes control of “business, education, health care.” He suspends democracy and the right to vote (pp. 129-130). His system abolishes cash, forces all money transfers to operate electronically, and imposes a ten-cent tax on every electronic money transfer, anywhere (pp. 125-126). He imposes a tax on the GNP of every country on earth. Rebel countries like the USA, Great Britain, and Egypt will pay fifty (50) percent tax on their GNP every year. All other countries will pay “only” thirty (30) percent tax per year (p. 126). Especially dastardly in the eyes of the fuel-guzzling Tribulation Force, Carpathia adds a dollar tax on every barrel of oil on earth, adds a ten-cent tax on every gallon at the gas station, plans to raise these prices to at least double in the time left to him, and builds continent-spanning “16-inch pipelines” [sic] to drain the oil fields of Alaska (pp. 126-127).

In the midst of these changes, the Tribulation Force notices only the last of Carpathia’s schemes:

“Due to the incredible cost of rebuilding, the fewer people we must feed and whose standard of living we must raise, the more quickly and economically we can do this. As the population level decreases and then stabilizes, it will be important for us to ensure that it does not then explode again too quickly. With proper legislation regarding abortion, assisted suicide, and the reduction of expensive care for the defective and handicapped, we should be able to get a handle on worldwide population control” (p. 132).

Only one of these things is a recurring theme and plot point in the series: abortion. If we include all of the economic and social changes listed above, their total still would not equal the amount of attention the series devotes to abortion.

In Volume 1 the characters were uncertain whether they would be able to have children after the Rapture. How would the series be different if the characters never discussed abortion because they could never have children again? Look at the list above and decide what the series would be talking about instead.

Discussion topic (Volume 4): After the Wrath of the Lamb Earthquake, Leon Fortunado claims that Carpathia raised him from the dead. (Regarding terminology: resuscitation, revivification, resurrection. Resuscitation is what first-responders do to bring back a human in the first few minutes. Revivification is a miracle. It means that a human is raised from the dead, healed of whatever killed them, and healed of decomposition since death. Resurrection is a miracle. It means to come back from the dead in a resurrection body and resurrection nature: a forever-body and forever-nature. Christ is the firstborn of the Resurrection. More details are included below, in the discussion topic on Moses and Elijah.)

Leon Fortunado claims that Nicolae Jetty Antichrist Carpathia revivified him. Mac McCullum and Rayford Steele are suspicious:

Mac: “Here’s the story the way I saw it. I take Carpathia back to the [earthquake] shelter …. We go in and find a big staff of people working, almost as if nothing’s happened. I mean, there’s people cooking, cleaning, setting up, all that …. Somebody tells Carpathia there were no survivors at headquarters, and I swear, Ray, it looked to me like Carpathia paled. It was the first time I’ve seen him rattled …. When was the last time you saw Carpathia go anywhere by himself?”

Rayford: “Never.”

Mac: “He’s gone about half an hour, and the next thing you know he’s back and he’s got Fortunado with him …. [Fortunado] claims he went crying and screaming down in the [earthquake] rubble along with everybody else. He said halfway down he was wondering if it was possible to get lucky enough to be wedged in somewhere where he could breathe and stay alive until rescuers might find him …. When he hit, he said, it felt and sounded like he’d cracked his head open. Then it was like the whole weight of the building came down on him. He felt his bones breaking and his lungs bursting and everything went black. He said it was like somebody pulled the plug on his life. He believed he died.”

Rayford: “And yet there he is, wearing a dusty suit and not a scratch on him?”

Mac: “I saw him with my own eyes, Ray. He claims he was lying there dead, not conscious of anything, no out-of-body experience or anything like that. Just black nothingness, like the deepest sleep a person could ever have. He says he woke up, came back from the dead, when he heard his name called. At first he thought he was dreaming, he says. He thought he was a little boy again and his mother was softly calling his name, trying to rouse him. But then, he says, he heard Nicolae’s loud call, ‘Leonardo, come forth!’ …. It sure sounded like Nicolae was pretending to be Jesus or something.”

“You think the story’s a lie?” Rayford asked. “You know, the Bible also says it’s appointed unto man once to die. No second chances.” –(Volume 4, pp. 41-43)

Here is Rayford’s account:

Rayford: “Is it true you used the same words Jesus did with Lazarus?”Carpathia: “So Mr. Fortunado says. I was unaware of precisely what I said. I left here with full confidence that I would come back with him, and my resolve never wavered …”

Rayford wanted to vomit. “So now you’re some sort of deity?”

“That is not for me to say, though clearly, raising a man from the dead is a divine act. Mr. Fortunado believes I could be the Messiah.”

Rayford raised his eyebrows. “If I were you, I’d be quick to deny that, unless I knew it to be true.”

Carpathia softened. “It does not seem the time for me to make such a claim, but I am not so sure it is untrue …. Let me just say, especially after what happened last night, that I have not ruled out the possibility …. Come now, Rayford. Do not assume I do not see the irony. I am not blind. I know a faction out there, including many of your so-called tribulation saints, labels me as antichrist, or even THE Antichrist. I would delight in proving the opposite.”

Rayford: “Let me get this straight. There’s a possibility you are the Messiah, but you don’t know for sure?”

Carpathia nodded solemnly.

“That makes no sense,” Rayford said.

“Matters of faith are mysteries,” Carpathia intoned. “I urge you to spend time with Mr. Fortunado. See what you think after that.” –(Volume 4, pp. 86-87).

Fortunado offers to tell Rayford and is rebuffed (Volume 4, p. 142). But Fortunado does tell his tale to P.M. Peter II Matthews (offscreen; Volume 4, p. 286). Fortunado twice tells a global television audience (offscreen; Volume 4, p. 215; Volume 5, p. 103). He briefly mentions it at Carpathia’s funeral (Volume 7, p. 347).

Obviously the incident is meant as imitation and mockery of the miracle when Jesus raised (revivified) Lazarus of Bethany from the dead (John 11:1-44; 12:1-2, 9-11). Aside from the claim, the incidents have little in common. Everyone saw Lazarus die. He had been dead and buried for four days. He was verified dead. “Lord, he stinketh” dead. Jesus revivified Lazarus from the dead in plain sight of friend and foe alike.

(Aside: your host reflected upon this Bible passage when Pope John Paul II died. JP2 had left instructions that he was not to be embalmed. The whole world saw his body pass through stages of decomposition, putrefaction. This was what Lazarus of Bethany looked like. It seemed to your host a testimony that even in death, JP2 believed in the Christ Who could revivify that, and Who will resurrect us.)

In contrast, Carpathia does not lead a crowd to the place where Fortunado is said to be entombed. This makes it difficult to determine if Fortunado was revivified, resuscitated, or even if he was ever there. Carpathia was gone for half an hour, which is long enough to stage an event.

(Aside: as a Christian, your host is well aware that no human witnessed Christ’s moment of Resurrection. We have the word of His followers that He appeared to them as a resurrected being, including to 500 witnesses [1 Cor. 15:6]. We know that nonbelievers may not accept these testimonies. However, nonbelievers may be satisfied that Jesus was dead. The Romans were trained to kill people. They satisfied themselves that He was not pretending to be dead. They speared Jesus through the side (John 19:34, 20:27; 1 John 5:6, 8). “Blood and water gushed out,” indicating a through-and-through of the peritoneum and all organs in the way. Note that the wound was large enough for Thomas to put his hand into it.)

Do you think Carpathia did bring back Fortunado from the dead? If yes, do you think it was revivification or just a timely resuscitation? What are the implications if Carpathia brought back Fortunado from the dead?

Related: Carpathia tells Rayford that he (Carpathia) does not know for a certainty what he did or how he did it. He also claims he does not know for a certainty who he really is. Do you think Carpathia knows he is the Antichrist? Do you think he thinks he is the Messiah and the power he serves is the rightful ruler of Heaven? Carpathia knows by now that his hypnotic powers do not work on Rayford Steele. He must know that Rayford will report everything Carpathia says. Why do you think he is telling Rayford these things?

Discussion topic (Volume 4): Tsion states, “Eons ago, God conceded control of earth’s weather to Satan himself, the prince and power of the air” (Volume 4, p. 323). Tsion may have based his belief upon reading Job 1:12, 18-19, Eph. 2:2. Those who disagree cite verse such as Exod. 19:16-19; Deut. 11:11, 14, 17; Judg. 5:4, 6:37-40; 2 Sam. 22:10-17; Job 38:22-34; Psa. 68:8-9, 77:17-18, among others.

In the words of science-fiction writer Diane Duane, air is the realm of “weapons, words, and wings.” Certainly Carpathia manipulates these things. But does evil actually have rights in the creation that God formed and called ki tov, “it is good” (Gen. 1:6-8, 31)? Did God specifically give authority to Satan that he should be called “prince” of the air? Or is our enemy only called “prince” because men choose to follow him? Discuss Tsion’s assertion and its Biblical implications.

Discussion topic (Volume 12): This may be an odd question (as evidenced by the ROFL-copters done by the persons to whom your host first posed the question). But it’s a question about Hattie, who will be mentioned in Volume 16 as a guest on a list (“name, name, Hattie Durham, name”) but otherwise will not return to the series.

The C.S. Lewis character Susan Pevensie has something in common with the rich young man discussed in Mark 10:17-27: the narrative does not tell us whether they ever came back. Susan and the young man still had to finish their earthly lives. In the novel Soon I will be invincible! a Susan-styled character returns to (alternate) Earth still arrayed as a queen of (alternate) Narnia. When she loses her family, not-Susan dons her royal robes, takes up her magical scepter, and smites evildoers as the superhero Regina. She marries, retires young, and vanishes into trackless suburbia. Regina can be spotted now and then in rare public appearances, still looking every inch the queen of two worlds: not-Narnia, and not-Earth. In her presence, her stepdaughter not-Wonder Woman reverts to the persona of a sullen teenager. The narrator muses, “I wonder if Regina wore that crown around the house.”

All of this is a long way to go to set up the punch-line, as it were. Hattie is one of the ones who came back. What will Hattie Durham do in the Millennium? Certainly she is suitably attired for heaven. Her crystalline crown will reflect the light of the divine, making her shine like a figure from the first Pentecost, adorned with tongues of flame and light. Next, it proclaims her victory over the evildoer’s fire that killed her. The crown’s crystals might even refract light in Silverstein-inspired rainbows, in “colors that haven’t been invented yet”. (Science fiction fans ask if Klingons will be able to see the color red in heaven, and we will see their colors amarklor and kalish.) So this crown is a fitting adornment for Hattie to enter eternity in God’s presence.

But in Left Behind’s interpretation of the end times, the righteous dead will walk the earth alongside the living. The earth becomes a garden paradise, with farming coming back in a big way. Hattie still has 1,000 years on earth to go. If she goes back to being a flight attendant—there are airplanes in Volume 16—will Hattie wear that crown around the airplane? If she becomes a farmer, will she wear it around the beet field? We’re not teasing her, just asking since we won’t see her again. What do you think the resurrected Hattie Durham might do or like to do during Volume 16’s thousand-year Millennium?

Related: Leah Rose is a doctor in some contexts and a nurse in others. In the Millennium no one will get sick. What do you think Leah might do or like to do during the thousand years of the Millennium?

Discussion topic (Volume 12): In the last lines of Volume 12, Rayford wants to introduce his son to all his friends. When we are reunited with those who have gone before us, who are you looking forward to seeing again? Also, who would you like to meet?

Stray discussion questions (general or multi-volume)

Discussion topic: How many volumes did you read before you realized there are no teenagers? (They have their own series, but they didn’t when the original series began.) It is true that the Tribulation Force recruits several brilliant young people such as Donny, Chang, and Naomi, people who can hack systems and help the cause. Where are the “C” students, who can offer only themselves?

Discussion topic: Ask a gamer to join your study group or book club for a visit or two. Let the gamer explain how videogames work, and how the Left Behind videogames compare to other products in that market. Who are the characters? How does a player win? How does a player lose? Does the game adapt (grow) with the user’s playing ability? Which elements are supernatural and which are human? Which characters do users choose, and which characters do they avoid? Is the game internally consistent? Does it motivate players to play again and/or tell others about the game? What qualities do gamers appreciate about the game, and what recommendations, if any, would they offer to improve it?

After your study group or book club thoroughly understands the videogames, compare the games to the Bible, your church, and/or to the Left Behind series. Discuss this form of witness.

Discussion topic: How many volumes did you read before you realized there are no pets? What happened to them? What do you believe happens to animals when Christ returns?

Related: In Volume 12, Jesus returns in glory and eradicates the enemy cavalry. The horses die of melting-to-death, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style just like the evildoer humans on their backs. Your host heard—and still hears—comments about this scene, that readers were shocked that Jesus would melt the horses. It should be noted that the series finale was written before the tragic deaths of Barbaro, Eight Belles, and Ferdinand, but it was written after the deaths of Exceller and Ruffian. How would you answer a reader who was disturbed by this scene, this portrayal of Christ?

Discussion topic: After Tsion Ben Judah endorses Jesus as the Messiah in Volume 2, the villains refer to the Christians not as Christians but as “Judah-ites.” Does this mean that Tsion’s version of Christianity differs from any version that exists today? How does this compare to Paul’s protests against terms like “of Paul” or “Peter-ite” (1 Cor. 1:12-16, 3:4-11)? What message does it send that the authors rarely use terms like Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Amish, or even Christian, but then create and promote the name and concept of “Judah-ite”?

Discussion exercise (optional): In the days before, during, and after Jesus, the followers of God looked to Christ and to prophecy to guide them through the days they were experiencing. Most of the events in the Scriptures were history. For us, the days they experienced are now history. Left Behind purports to guide modern readers through days which are not yet history.

Develop a course, a mini-series, or even a “village.” In one population, participants live in contemporary times. They have complete Bibles and can observe the usual worship service, children’s Sunday school, etc. They answer questions from any Group Two population who visit them. In the other population, participants “live” in a village like one in which Jesus and His followers lived. Participants organize their worship as believers did in the years after Jesus: having no Scriptures to read except what Jesus had to read. Participants dress and behave as First-Century people. They answer questions from Group One visitors. What would it be like to be a Christian in a world where the New Testament had not yet been written? What would early believers say if they visited us now? This can be an ambitious but exciting idea for Vacation Bible School.

Discussion topic (Volume 1-6): Moses and Elijah. Before we begin, a quick course on terminology: resuscitation, revivification, resurrection. Resuscitation is a technique performed by first-responders, preferably within four minutes before the onset of brain damage. Before people knew what resuscitation was and how to do it, it must have looked miraculous. It really is a medical procedure.

Revivification is a miracle. A revivified human is raised from the dead, healed of whatever killed them, and healed of decomposition since death. Thus a person could be dead for four hours, four days, or for four thousand years and still be revivified. This miracle appears over ten times in the Bible. See 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:18-37; 2 Kings 13:20-21; Ezek. 37:1-14; Matt. 10:8; Matt. 11:5; Matt. 27:52-53; Acts 9:36-42; Acts 20:9-12, Hebr. 11:35. Three famous revivifications performed by Jesus are for the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:12-16); the daughter of Jairus (Matt. 9:18-19, 23-25; Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; Luke 8:41-42, 49-56); and Lazarus of Bethany (John 11:1-44, 12:1-2, 9-11).

As we see, the majority of Biblical miracles of raising the dead are revivifications. Someday, every soul will experience something very different: resurrection.

Resurrection is a miracle. It happened first with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He rose from the dead in a resurrection body and resurrection nature: a forever-body and a forever-nature. This is why Col. 1:18, Rev. 1:5, Psa. 89:27 calls Christ the first-born of the dead: He was the first resurrected human. Death no longer has dominion over Him (Rom. 6:9). Those who are resuscitated or revivified remain mortals in mortal bodies. They will live out their lives and die. When we are resurrected, we will never die again.)

Now, the discussion topic. Two “witnesses” appear at Jerusalem’s Western Wall (always called the Wailing Wall in the novels). In the Left Behind series, the Two Witnesses, the Two Lampstands, and the Two Olive Trees of Zech. 4:2-3, 11-14 and Rev. 11:3-13 are portrayed by Moses and Elijah. LaHaye’s nonfiction books contend that Moses called down the most plagues, and Elijah was the only figure in the Old Testament associated with fire (Revelation Unveiled, c1999, p. 186).

As a child, your host was taught that the Two Witnesses probably would be entirely new heroes of faith (possibly walking among us now). Alternately, your host was taught by a different teacher that these Two Witnesses could be the actual Law (Matt. 5:17-18, Luke 16:17, Gal. 3:19-25) and actual Prophets (Matt. 11:7-14, Mark 9:11-13, Luke 1:17, John 5:39, Acts 13:27). They died when Jesus died, because their work was done. They rose when Christ rose in their new and imperishable form, and they are glorified when God’s people obey them (Matt. 7:12, Matt. 22:36-40, John 12:26, John 14:15-17, John 15:7-17, Rom. 13:8-10, Gal. 5:14; 1 John 1:7-8; 1 John 5:18-20).

As a child your host was taught that Moses and Elijah would have been the logical candidates to be those Two Witnesses, except that Moses and Elijah were not eligible. The Bible states seven times that Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land (Numb. 20:12, 27:12-14; Deut. 1:37, 3:23-27, 31:2, 32:48-52, 34:4). He died on Mount Nebo and God buried him in Moabite territory. None know the place of his burial to this day (Deut. 34:5-6).

(To put the matter beyond all doubt, your host was taught that Moses could visit the new Promised Land on the New Earth in his new, resurrection body. Until then, it was a total and absolute ban, lifted only for Matt. 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36. In fact the Transfiguration was supposed to be one of the proofs that Jesus is the Son of God and is God: Jesus had authority over the ban.)

Furthermore, your host as a child was taught that the Two Witnesses should be Jewish (or at least Israelite). They could be converts to Christ, such as Peter and Paul—but they had to be children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). Elijah was a Tishbite of Gilead (1 Kings 17:1). Gilead had been Amorite (Canaanite) territory (Num. 32:39-40). By Elijah’s time it was part of the Northern Kingdom, and Canaanites like Jezebel were intermarrying there. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the father of a prophet also was called a prophet, and both men were named (“the prophet So-and-so, the son of Thus-and-so”). It is worth noting that Tsion Ben-Judah calls Elijah a priest (Volume 2, pp. 327-328) but fails to cite a source. Priests also often were listed as name-son-of-name. Elijah’s parentage is unlisted. This gives the impression, whether false or true, that Elijah was a Gentile.

Finally, as a child your host was taught that Elijah was taken to heaven by a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:1, 11) and by horses of fire drawing a chariot of fire. (See also 2 Kings 6:17, Psalms 104:4.) He went to Heaven and went directly to Heaven. When he entered Heaven, he received his imperishable body, his resurrection body, his forever-body (1 Cor. 15:42-50). For it is written that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50).

Therefore your host as a child was taught that Moses cannot enter the Promised Land until he has a resurrection body. Meanwhile, Elijah already has a resurrection body. They could not fill the role of the Two Witnesses, because the Two Witnesses die (Rev. 11:7-13). Resurrected people cannot die (Luke 20:36).

(On a side note, your host sometimes heard reference to Enoch and Elijah. Enoch entered Heaven alive and never tasted death (Hebr. 11:5). Enoch the Gentile is a glorified immortal who cannot die. Like Elijah, he could not be one of the Two Witnesses, we were told.)

Obviously, Moses and Elijah must have found a way to enter the Left Behind series: to live, to die, and to be resurrected. After all, if they can qualify, they are logical candidates. What were you taught? What do you think?

Discussion topic (Volumes 1-6): Abortion, abortion, abortion. The series spends a large amount of time discussing abortion despite the fact that none of the characters actually have one. (Well, Nurse Leah had one twenty years ago. It was awful. More on this in a different discussion topic.)

As the series begins, all children under an Age of Accountability, whether born or unborn, are Raptured (Volume 1, pp. 46-48, 92-93; LB: The Kids, Volume 1, pp. 88-89). It is commendable that the authors recognize unborn babies as children. Of course, the Antichrist character does not. He promotes abortion aggressively, even makes it mandatory in some cases (Volume 3, pp. 132, 369-370).

Because of these premises, the Gentle Browser who is new to Left Behind Land should be advised that “abortionist” is one of the worst things any character can ever call another character. Ever. “Abortionist” may be the ultimate obscenity, the 12-letter obscenity, the series equivalent of “ye who doth love the mother (or father) carnally and inappropriately—See also: Nero, Absalom, Tamar and Judah, Lot and both daughters, etc.”

(Aside: with the obvious exception of Nero, every one of those 12-letterers became ancestors of the Messiah, who is Jesus Christ our Lord. Even Absalom: his daughter Maacah—whom he named after his mother Maacah [2 Sam. 3:3]—married Rehoboam son of King Solomon and Naamah the Ammonite. King Rehoboam and Maacah’s son was King Abijah [1 Kings 14:31, 15:2, 2 Chron. 11:20-22.]. As for the different spellings i.e., is it the same Absalom, see Judg. 12:6. And we all know King David, descendent of Tamar (probably a Canaanite like her mother-in-law), Judah, and the Moabite Ruth. Yes, the 12-letter word is a real word. Yes, words like “sin” and “death” are real words—but with our God, they are not the last word.

Does this mean, Let us sin, that grace may abound! Certainly not. When the Corinthians reported that a man was 12-lettering his father’s wife, Paul told the church to kick him out [1 Cor. 5:1-5]. Those who have died to sin ought not to live in it anymore [Rom. 6:1-11, Hebr. 10:26-31; John 20:19-23; 1 John 1:8-9, 5:16-17]).

The Catholic Church may have the most advanced theology of the unborn and the sanctity of life. See catechism and commentary on the Commandment: Thou shalt not kill. (If the Gentle Browser finds the font too small to read and would search other websites, some especially useful passages are CCC 2271, CCC 2272, CCC 2274, and CCC 2322.)

The Left Behind characters are non-denominational Protestants, not Catholics. They would use the Left Behind Wiki, which compares abortion to child-burning, to the human sacrifice of children to the god Molech [Moloch] (Lev. 18:21, 20:1-5; Deut. 12:31, 18:10; 2 Kings 17:17, Ezek. 23:37, 39; Acts 7:43). As for the child-burners, there are a few of those in the Messianic line as well [Ahaz, 2 Kings 16:3, 2 Chron. 28:3; and Manasseh, 2 Kings 21:6, 16; 2 Chron. 33:6].

The wiki actually is an incomplete entry. As a child your host was told about baby-killers like Pharaoh (Exod. 1:15-22) and Herod the Great (Matt. 2:13-18). Nobody specifically mentioned Onan (Gen. 38:8-10), but beyond a certain age this was expected to be part of a complete entry as well.

The wiki does not mention Gen. 1:26-27: that God created all humanity, both male and female, in God’s image, after God’s likeness.

The wiki does not mention the murder of Abel. Gen. 4:10-11, Job 16:18, Ezek. 24:7-8 and Rev. 6:10 declare that the killing of a man does not stop his cry unto God; his blood cries out for him. God tells Cain, “Thy brother’s blood cries to me,” using the plural tense, literally, “bloods.” All of Abel’s descendants who would never be born “cry out.” And there is the Jewish expression, “He who saves one life, it is as if he saves the world entire.” This is because if something, or someone, had killed Adam, that would have killed the whole human race.

Finally, the wiki does not list verses regarding the personhood and spiritual state of the unborn (Psalms 51:5, 53:3, 58:3, 139:15-16; Isa. 48:8; Job 14:4; Jer. 1:5). These verses also mention sin, but an unborn life has to be a soul and a person to even have a sin problem. Jeremiah was called and consecrated from the womb, before he was born (Jer. 1:4). John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). Paul says he was set apart and called before he was born, and only later came to know it (Gal 1:15-16).

In the interest of full disclosure, we must mention Exod. 21:22. Even a cursory comparison of translations will show interpretations ranging from miscarriage to stillbirth to birth of a viable preemie—and that is before the verse requires compensating for the lost life with mere money. Your host’s class was neither introduced to that verse nor taught any refutation of it. However it is popular with the pro-abortion crowd. And it must be noted that the Left Behind Wiki does not address it either.

Also in the interest of full disclosure, your host diligently looked up all of the above verses in the Scofield Reference Bible, 1917, c1909 [“SRB-1917”] and none of them made reference to abortion. Why do you think people are talking more about it nowadays?

What additional verses, authors, or resources would you cite or include in a reference source?

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Author: The_Old_Maid_of_Potluck

Author of Potluck2point0: The resource formerly known as http://oldmaid.jallman.net (a.k.a. My humongous [technical term] study of "What's behind 'Left Behind'").