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

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

This post is for unattached spoilers and discussion that are not written up in their own volume. Volumes 1, 2, 7, 11, 13-called-Prequel-1, and 16-called-13 (Sequel 1) have their own posts.

Bookmarks are not yet included in this post (sorry).

Spoilers are listed by volume, with some multivolume.

Discussion topics are listed by volume, then later by multivolume.

Read all stray spoilers and topics (they’re spoilerrific!)

Or, the list below gives the order in which the topics can be found. While we will try to keep them roughly in order, a few related items will be grouped together where it makes more sense than strict volume order.

List of Spoilers

• Volume 1: Who is Lionel Washington?
• Spinoff “The Kids” Volume 1: Who is Ryan Cermak Daley?
• Volume 2-continuing: What happens after Hattie Durham gets pregnant?
• Volume 3: How does Hattie get dumped?
• Volume 3-cont.: What does the Antichrist really want from Hattie?
• Volume 3-cont.: Does Hattie get an abortion in the Left Behind series?
• Volume 6: Does anyone else have an abortion?
• Volume 4: Does Leon Fortunado claim that Carpathia raised him from the dead?
• Volume 5: What color is Chloe’s hair? And what does she think of Pope Peter II’s style?
• Volume 5: Was Amanda White Steele working for Antichrist Carpathia?
• Volumes 1, 5, 6, 7: Who is Nancy Durham?
• Volumes 9, 11, 12: What are the lyrics to “Hail Carpathia” and “Fail Carpathia”?
• Volumes 1-cont.: Does Hattie Durham ever get saved in the series?
• Volume 9: How does Hattie Durham ultimately die or escape?
• Volume 9: How do other characters react to Hattie Durham’s reported death?
• Volume 9: When do the Orthodox Jewish characters revolt against the Antichrist?
• Volume 12: What happens to Hattie on the Day of Resurrection?
• Volume 12: Why this last farewell to Hattie?
• Volume 12: How does Rayford Steele’s family return?
• Volume 13-called-Prequel-1: How did Nicolae Jetty Carpathia get his name? This spoiler has moved to its own volume.
• Volume 13-called-Prequel-1: How did Carpathia’s parents die? This spoiler has moved to its own volume.

Discussion questions

• Volume 3: On Carpathia’s world-building schemes.
• Volume 4: On Fortunado’s alleged return from the dead.
• Volume 4: On Tsion’s claim that Satan controls the weather.
• Volumes 1-5: On Hattie “the Whore of Babylon” Durham … are you sure?
• Volume 3: On Rayford’s anti-abortion speech to Hattie.
• Volume 3: On the Tribulation Force raising Hattie’s baby.
• Volumes 4, 5: On godparenting.
• Volume 4: On Hattie’s “clinic,” whatever that is.
• Volume 4: On Hattie’s guilt.
• Volume 5: On Hattie’s bereavement.
• Volume 12: On what Hattie would do all day in the afterlife.
• Volume 12: On Irene and Amanda’s reunion.
• Volume 12: On other reunions.
• Volume 12: On whom we would like to meet in Heaven.
• General/multivolume: On teenagers.
• General/multivolume: On pets.
• General/multivolume: On the Left Behind videogames.
• General/multivolume: On “Judah-ites.”
• General/multivolume: On the Church then and now.
• General/multivolume: On Moses and Elijah.
• General/multivolume: On the burial of the dead.
• General/multivolume: On “canary in a coal mine” evangelism.
• General/multivolume: On abortion in the series.

Left Behind series: Stray spoilers

Spoiler (Volume 1; LB: The Kids, Volumes 1-4): Who is Lionel Washington? What is Buck Williams’s connection with him?

Answer: Lionel Washington is the Rapture-orphaned son of Buck’s co-worker, Lucinda Washington (Volume 1, pp. 95-96; LB: The Kids, Volume 1, p. 31, 118). Lucinda had become the Chicago bureau chief of Global Weekly magazine, “despite her being black and a woman.” The Washingtons “were among the first blacks to live in their Mount Prospect neighborhood …. It was nice to live in a neighborhood where [Lionel] didn’t have to be afraid to ride his bike anywhere or run with his friends, even after dark …. His cousins … called him ‘rich boy’ and ‘whitey’ and said he might as well not even be black.” Lucinda laughed and told them that Lionel was as black as they were, and to leave him alone.

Still, Lionel is uncomfortable. He feels isolated everywhere. Only a few children in his school are black, and none of them attend his mother’s new church (LB: The Kids Volume 1, pp. 31-32).

(Trivia alert: in conversation with Lionel, Vicki Byrne also refers to New Hope Village Church as “the white people’s church.” Vicki is white. She “had been raised to believe that black kids were beneath her … she didn’t know why they were supposed to be beneath her, other than that they were of a different color” [LB: The Kids, Volume 1, p. 19, 117]. But Vicki is friendly with Lionel’s sister Clarice. After Clarice is Raptured, Lionel and Vicki also become friends.)

Buck Williams learns of Lionel’s plight when he calls the Washington household to ask Lucinda for a post-Rapture hotel recommendation near Waukegan. Lionel, a child, is unable to answer his question. Lionel says, “I know where they are, and I can’t even say I’m surprised …. If you knew my mama, you know where she is too. She’s in Heaven.” Buck, sounding “unconvinced,” asks if Lionel is all right. Lionel says three times that yes, he is all right, so Buck hangs up.

Later, Buck Williams moves to Chicago. He takes over Lucinda’s job and office in the Chicago bureau (Volume 1, pp. 461-467; Volume 2, pp. 11-14, 16-19, 154-155; Volume 3, pp. 56-58). Although Buck and his co-worker’s son interact in the spinoff series LB: The Kids, Lionel is never again seen or mentioned in the original series.

Technically Lionel is not yet destitute: his uncle, a homeless addict and wino, also is left behind (LB: The Kids, Volume 1, pp. 33-34, 113-120). As soon as Uncle Andre realizes that his sister and her family are missing, he steals his brother-in-law’s truck and drives away, “wild-eyed, in his underwear. Lionel wondered if he would ever see him again.” Within days Uncle Andre’s unsavory acquaintances murder him and seize Lionel’s house (LB: The Kids, Volume 4, p. 5). Only now is the child homeless. Lionel the Rapture-orphan is 13 years old.

Spoiler (LB: The Kids, Volume 1): Who is Ryan Cermak Daley? What is Raymie’s connection to him?

Answer: Ryan Cermak Daley is another Rapture-orphan. Raymie Steele and Ryan Daley lived on the same street as best friends from kindergarten through sixth grade. They spent much time in each other’s homes, including meals and sleepovers. Ryan listened to Captain Steele’s stories at the supper table. Rayford Steele brought Ryan and Raymie into the cockpit of his 747 once, and afterwards gave them pilot’s caps, wing pins, and some of his old weather logs.

Ryan was a religious skeptic, like Rayford and Chloe. During the Rapture, both of Ryan’s parents die in post-Rapture accidents. Being both of them unsaved, his parents go to Hell. Ryan is only 11-going-on-12 years old (LB: The Kids, Volume 1, pp. 45-57, 121-133, 139-141).

Ryan and Lionel will join with Judd Thompson Jr. (age 16) and Vicki Byrne (age 15) to live together and to form a junior Tribulation Force cell. Their adventures comprise the spin-off series.

Spoiler (Volumes 2, 3): What happens after Hattie Durham becomes pregnant by Nicolae Antichrist Carpathia?

Answer: Initially, both Nicolae and Hattie are joyful. They both speak to Rayford Steele as a friend and cannot wait to tell him. Rayford merely stammers: “Well, isn’t that something!” and “tried to hide his disgust and loathing.” Amanda White Steele says “sweetly” that “I didn’t realize the two of you were married.” “Oh, we will be,” Hattie said, beaming. “He’s going to make an honest woman of me yet” (Volume 2, pp. 427-428).

Unfortunately, after Carpathia bombs several countries (Egypt, Great Britain, USA), he also decides to nuke his relationship.

“Potentate,” [Leon Fortunado] whispered, “we’ll need replacements for Hernandez, Halliday, and your fiancée, will we not?”

Rayford sat up. Had they already eliminated [killed] those three, and why Hattie Durham? He felt responsible that his former senior flight attendant was now not only in Carpathia’s employ, but was also his lover and the soon-to-be mother of his child. So, was he not going to marry her? Did he not want a child? He had put on such a good front before Rayford and Amanda when he had announced the news.

Carpathia chuckled. “Please do not put Ms. Durham in the same category as our late friends …. The job has passed her by. I knew that her clerical skills were suspect when I brought her on. I needed an assistant, and of course I wanted her. But I will use the excuse of her pregnancy to get her out of the office.”

“Did you want me to handle that for you?” Fortunado said.

“I will tell her myself, if that is what you mean,” Carpathia said.

Rayford regrets overhearing this conversation (Volume 3, pp. 100-101).

“Of course, Rayford would not be able to let on that he had known about Hattie’s demotion before she did. He would have to let her play the story out with all her characteristic emotion and angst. He didn’t mind. He owed her that much. He still felt guilty about where she was, both geographically and in her life. It didn’t seem that long ago that she had been the object of his lust” (Volume 3, pp. 153-154).

Spoiler (Volumes 3, 4): How is Hattie dumped? Does Nicolae end the relationship in person as he said he would?

Answer: No. He does fire her in person (Volume 3, pp. 173-174). Hattie insists that

…“he still wants me around. Still wants me to bear his child …. Losing that job was a relief, in a way.”

[Rayford says,] “Only in a way?”

[Hattie says,] “Yes. Where does that leave me? I asked him what the future was for us. He had the audacity to say, ‘Us?’ I said, ‘Yes! Us! I’m wearing your ring and carrying your child. When do we make this permanent?’”

Carpathia’s answer is, never. There “really is no room” in his life for commitment, marriage, and family. “She seemed pleased with the prospect of bearing a child, my child. Thus I did not discourage that or encourage some other option. Should she take the pregnancy to term, I will of course exercise my fiscal responsibility” (Volume 3, p. 390).

Carpathia continues that

“I have needs like any other man, Captain Steele. You understand. I would never commit myself to just one woman, and I certainly made no such commitment to Ms. Durham. The fact is I already have someone else with whom I am enjoying a relationship.” (—Volume 3, p. 391)

Rayford dares to say, “I need to ask you about the ring you gave her.” Nicolae shrugs: he will not be requiring its return. “It clearly is decorative.”

(Trivia alert: the narrative implies but does not prove that the ring is costume jewelry. The Antichrist is the wealthiest individual on earth. The ring’s jewel could be real and still be a cheap trinket to him. Either way, this may be the only truthful statement Carpathia has made. The audience never finds Carpathia with other women, and he spends at least half the series trying to murder Hattie just to be rid of her.)

Spoiler (Volumes 3, 4): What does Antichrist Carpathia really want from Hattie?

Answer: Carpathia tells Rayford different things than he tells Hattie. Carpathia’s increasingly menacing “advice” to Hattie herself is that Hattie should have an abortion. He claims he is willing to pay her; he even sends her ex-boyfriend, Rayford, as a metaphorical singing-telegram messenger (Volume 3, pp. 390-393). Twice (Volume 4, pp. 220-221). Three times, if we count Fortunado’s request on Nicolae’s behalf (Volume 4, pp. 290-291).

Spoiler (Volume 3): Does Hattie Durham have an abortion?

Answer: Not in this volume. After she loses both her job and her relationship, Hattie becomes embittered. She tells Rayford she wants to have an abortion. She thinks about it “every day” (Volume 3, p. 179). Rayford replies,

“perhaps … you would not be the best mother for it. [But] I don’t think you can shirk responsibility for it the way a rape or incest victim might be justified in doing …. It’s still the death of a person. But which person? One of the people who made a mistake? One of the people who committed a rape or incest? Or one of the people who got pregnant out of wedlock? No, the solution is always to kill the most innocent party of all.” (Volume 3, p. 296)

Hattie insists that she does not want to have a baby, keep a baby, or have a baby and not keep it. Adoption would require “the discomfort and pain of labor …. “What if I got all those maternal instincts everybody talks about? Besides nine months of living in the pits, I’d go through all that stuff delivering someone else’s child” (Volume 3, p. 294).

Although Rayford succeeds in upsetting Hattie, he fails to sway her.

He believed it, and he was convinced it was God’s view. But he also knew [Hattie] could reject it out of hand simply because he was a man. How could he understand? No one was suggesting what he could or could not do with his own body. He had wanted to tell her he understood that, but again, what if [Hattie’s] unborn child was a female? Who was standing up for the rights of that woman’s body? ( —Volume 3, p. 297)

“Rayford had been angry with himself. Why couldn’t he learn? How could he sit there spouting all that?” ( —Volume 3, p. 299)

Rayford suggests that Hattie meet with the women of the Tribulation Force. When she does, Chloe Steele Williams, Amanda White Steele, and Loretta love-bomb Hattie to tears (Volume 3, pp. 374-378), while Buck Williams sits on the sideline.

Hattie admits that her family is “encouraging” her to have an abortion. She agrees with them.

“I suppose I’m here because you’ll try to talk me out of it, and I guess I need to hear both sides. Rayford already gave me the standard right-wing, pro-life position. I guess I don’t need to hear that again.”

“What do you need to hear?” Buck said, feeling very male and very insensitive just then.

[Chloe:] “Hattie, you know where we stand. That’s not why you’re here. If you want to be talked out of it, we can do that. If you won’t be talked out of it, nothing we say will make any difference.”

[Amanda repeats that she thinks Hattie knows where they stand on the things of God.]

[Chloe:] “Something tells me your visit home was not successful. Maybe they were too practical. Maybe they didn’t give you the compassion you needed along with their advice. Maybe hearing that they wanted you to end this pregnancy was not what you really wanted.”

[Chloe continues:] “Let me just tell you, Hattie, if it’s love you’re looking for, you came to the right place. Yes, there are things we believe. Things we think you should know. Things we think you should agree with. Decisions we think you should make. We have ideas about what you should do with your baby, and and we have ideas about what you should do about your soul. But these are personal decisions only you can make. And while they are life-and-death, heaven-and-hell decisions, all we can offer is support, encouragement, advice if you ask for it, and love.”

“Yeah,” said Hattie, “love, if I buy into everything you have to sell.”

[Chloe:] “No. We are going to love you anyway. We’re going to love you the way God loves you. We’re going to love you so fully and so well that you won’t be able to hide from it. Even if your decisions go against everything we believe to be true, and even though we would grieve over the loss of innocent life if you choose to abort your baby, we won’t love you any less.”

Hattie burst into tears as Chloe rubbed her shoulders. “That’s impossible! You can’t love me no matter what I do, especially if I ignore your advice!”

“You’re right,” Chloe said. “We are not capable of unconditional love. That’s why we have to let God love you through us. He’s the one who loves us regardless of what we do. The Bible says He sent His Son to die for us while we were still in our sins. That’s unconditional love. That’s what we have to offer you, Hattie, because that’s all we have.”

Hattie and Chloe embrace for a long time. Hattie says she feels “foolish, like a blubbering schoolgirl. The other women didn’t protest. They didn’t tell her she looked fine. They simply looked at her with love.”

After the Trib Force love-bombs Hattie, the thoroughly-smitten Buck sighs that they would have convinced him (Volume 3, p. 378). Then he sobers up to what the consequences of success might be.

He tried to push from his mind that Chloe might get the idea of taking and raising as their own the unwanted baby Hattie was carrying. He and Chloe were close to a decision about whether to bring a baby into this stage of history, but he hardly wanted to consider raising the child of the Antichrist. (Volume 3, pp. 383-384)

As the Tribulation Force keeps talking to her, Hattie wavers. She speaks of a “decision” she has to make. Her inclination is still in one direction, but her resolve is weakening (Volume 3, p. 376).

Volume 3 ends with reports of the “Wrath of the Lamb Earthquake.” Many planes are reported to have crashed while trying to take off or land on unstable ground. This includes a plane which Hattie and Amanda were supposed to have taken to New Babylon. Rayford assumes that they have died. (“Lord, receive [Amanda] unto yourself without suffering, please!”) As for Hattie, Rayford wonders “if it was possible she might have received Christ before this? Could there have been somebody in Boston or on the plane who would have helped her make the transaction?” (Volume 3, p. 407)

Spoiler (Volume 4): Does Hattie Durham have an abortion?

Answer: Not in this volume. She is trying to escape from Carpathia. She never intended to take that fatal airplane trip to his capitol. She tries to hide in a “safe house” or women’s shelter (Volume 4, p. 281). It houses pregnant women like Hattie who do not want others to know their business.

These places are former churches that are “retrofitted into testing laboratories and reproductive clinics” (Volume 4, p. 337) doing “cloning and fetal tissue research” (Volume 4, p. 333). Hattie confirms that they do abortions. She insists that they also ask mothers if they have considered every option; that they put up babies for adoption; and that the “clinic” raises babies that are not adopted and not claimed.

Hattie claims that the “shelter” is “pushing” her to have an abortion (Volume 4, p. 281). [Trivia alert: since she is using a disguise and an assumed name, the employees do not know that this is the famous Hattie Durham, the mother-and-child whom Carpathia wants dead. Therefore that cannot be the reason they are “pushing” her.]

Hattie adds, “I told a counselor I felt guilty about becoming pregnant when I wasn’t married. She had never heard anything like that in her life” (Volume 4, p. 282).

The maternal feelings that Hattie had dreaded have now awakened. She admits, “I’m already growing attached to this child. I might be able to give it up, but I don’t think I could end its life” (Volume 4, p. 282). Nevertheless, “I can’t raise a child in a world like this …. I’ll have an abortion before I’ll let [Carpathia] hurt me or my child.” Buck replies, “You’re not making sense. You would kill your child so [Carpathia] can’t?” (Volume 4, p. 297). Buck offers her sanctuary, and Hattie accepts (Volume 4, p. 298).

In response, the Tribulation Force rescues/abducts Hattie and her unborn baby. [Trivia alert: But only Hattie and her unborn baby. They learn in advance that there are four female residents in a similar condition. One of the women has had “a medical procedure,” presumed to be an abortion, just before they arrive —Volume 4, p. 338. The Tribulation Force leaves the other women.]

Unbeknownst to Hattie, Carpathia already poisoned her the last time she saw him in Volume 3 (Volume 4, p. 399). In his impatience, Carpathia now sends thugs with machine guns (Volume 4, p. 358, 363; Volume 5, p. 92). Both of the raiding parties who are chasing Hattie arrive at the same time.

In the raid two unsaved employees die: a receptionist killed by friendly fire, and a guard killed by Buck Williams (Volume 4, p. 347, 360-361, 363-364). Hattie literally is tossed into the getaway car and taken to the Tribulation Force’s hideout.

As they escape, Ken Ritz blows a tire on his car. He stops the damaged vehicle, turns around, and drives (on rims) toward another guard until the man flees. Ken jumps out of the car with his 9 mm and shoots at the fleeing guard. Only after Ken and Buck drive away (still on rims) does Ken reveal that he had vandalized the Global Community’s vehicle half an hour ago and there was no chance at all that the GC could have pursued them (Volume 4, pp. 351-352). The Tribulation Force shrug off Ken’s aggression and improvisation because Ken is recovering from a head wound (Volume 4, pp. 202, 228).

The unpredictable poison—described as “slow-release”—is never identified in the series as to whether it is biologic, radioactive, or chemical. Dialogue in Volume 6, p. 32 describes it as being “like” cyanide but not being cyanide. Moreover, it can even be contagious. Whatever it is, Hattie only begins to show symptoms some days after the rescue/abduction.

Spoiler (Volume 5): Does Hattie Durham have an abortion?

Answer: No. Her pregnancy appears as if it will run to term. But Carpathia poisoned Hattie two volumes ago, and she finally miscarries. (Best guess: in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy.) The Tribulation Force rush her to Dr. Floyd Charles and Nurse Leah Rose, but nothing can be done.

What, Rayford wondered, might the offspring of the Antichrist look like?

The dead baby was so small and underdeveloped that it slipped quickly from Hattie’s body. Floyd wrapped it and pieces of the placenta, then handed the bundle to Leah. “Pathology?” she asked.

Floyd stared at her. “No,” he whispered firmly. “Do you have an incinerator?”

“Now I cannot do that. No. I have to put my foot down.”

[snip]

“What?” Hattie called out. “What? Did I have it?”

Leah stood with the tiny bundle in her hands. Floyd moved to the head of the operating table. “Hattie, you expelled a very premature, very deformed fetus.”

“Don’t call it that! Boy or girl?”

“Indeterminate.”

“Can I see it?”

“Hattie, I’m sorry. It does not look like a baby. I don’t advise it.”

“But I want—”

Floyd pulled off his gloves and laid a hand gently on her cheek. “I have grown very fond of you, Hattie. You know that, don’t you?” She nodded, tears rolling. “I’m begging you to trust me, as someone who cares for you.” She looked at him wonderingly. “Please. I believe as you do that this was conceived as a living soul, but it was not viable and it did not survive. It has not grown normally. Will you trust me to dispose of it?”

Hattie bit her lip and nodded. Floyd looked to Leah, who still appeared resolute. He placed the baby in a carrier.

[snip]

Rayford could see by the look on her face and the set of her jaw that Leah was not going to dispose of the fetus. Apparently Floyd gathered that too. After performing the [curettage] procedure on Hattie, he gently picked up the wrapped body. “Where?” he said.

“End of the hall,” [Leah] whispered. “Two floors down.”

[Floyd] walked out, and Hattie sobbed aloud. Rayford approached and asked if he could pray for her.

“Please,” she managed. “Rayford, I want to die.”

“No, you don’t.”

“I have no reason to live.”

“You do, Hattie. We love you.”

(from Volume 5, pp. 77-79).

After months of wishing away all things, Hattie desperately wants the baby that has been taken from her. Hattie cries, “Did it die? Did I lose my baby? No! I’m only staying alive for my baby!” (Volume 5, pp. 71-72). Hattie is inconsolable and repeats that she wants to die. They take her to the Tribulation Force’s safe house to rest.

Hattie’s mood swings range from dramatic grief to homicidal rage at Carpathia. She needs no convincing that he is the Antichrist; she calls him that herself (Volume 5, p. 92). “She grieved the loss of her child so deeply that Rayford was haunted by her stifled wails in the night” (Volume 5, p. 255). Dr. Charles diagnoses her with post-partum depression (Volume 5, p. 111).

Spoiler (Volume 6): Does any named character in the series have an abortion?

Answer: Head Nurse Leah Rose has the only confessed abortion. She tells her testimony to the Tribulation Force (Volume 6, pp.93-96).

It was twenty years ago. She was seventeen years old, the product of a broken home, promiscuous, a drug addict, and suicidal. Afterwards, she tried to “drink away the horror” of the abortion. A rehab clinic helped her get clean and sober. She married a nice man and built a successful career in nursing. But her abortion was the one trait that never could be erased.

Leah was unable to have any more children. She later lost their two adopted children to the Rapture. Her husband then committed suicide. Leah also attempted suicide but survived.

Spoiler (Volume 4): Does Leon Fortunado claim that Antichrist Carpathia raised him from the dead?

Answer: Yes. After the Wrath of the Lamb Earthquake, Leon Fortunado tells a remarkable tale. Mac McCullum and Rayford Steele are deeply disturbed:

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)

Rayford challenges Carpathia in person:

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). [Trivia alert: Neither Fortunado nor Carpathia specify whether the alleged deed is resuscitation, revivification, or resurrection. See the Discussion Topics for details.)

Spoiler (Volume 5): What color is Chloe Steele Williams’s hair? And what does she think of Pope Peter II’s own appearance?

Answer: Her hair is blond. Chloe and Buck attend a massive stadium rally, where Mac McCullum identifies Buck Williams as the husband of “the cute blonde” (Volume 5, p. 56, 62; cf. Volume 14-called-Prequel-2, p. 34).

Chloe asks the men with a smile, “Don’t you think Peter’s getup would work on me, maybe as an evening kind of thing?” Peter Matthews arrives at the rally wearing a long train embroidered with astrological symbols. He tops his garb with

a high, peaked cap with an infinity symbol on the front and a floor-length, iridescent yellow robe with a long train and billowy sleeves. His vestments were bedecked with huge, inlaid, brightly colored stones and appointed with tassels, woven cords, and bright blue, crushed velvet stripes, six on each sleeve, as if he had earned some double doctorate from Black Light Discotheque University (—Volume 5, p. 54)

Buck stifles his laughter. (Most of the readers don’t bother.)

Spoiler (Volume 5): Was Amanda White Steele involved with Carpathia? Was Amanda spying for him, related to his staff, or loyal to him in secret in any way?

Answer: No. Amanda was framed (Volume 5, pp. 33-37, 93). Hattie confesses to Rayford that the evidence was planted to sow dissension among the Tribulation Force. Amanda was utterly devoted to Rayford. The “root beer lady” died unaware of the lies that the enemy invented about her. The reason that Rayford never saw a Saved Seal on Amanda’s corpse was that she died before the Seals appeared on anybody.

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.

[Context: Rayford and Hattie are talking to each other via landline telephone.]

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

Hattie [who has been stung by scorpion locusts] 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: Does Hattie Durham ever get saved in the Left Behind series?

Answer: In Volume 1 … no. Rayford witnesses to her twice (Volume 1, pp. 375-377, pp. 390-cont.) but she does not convert for him.

Meanwhile, Hattie sees Carpathia on television. How handsome he is! she gushes. Buck introduces them. When Buck sees Hattie again (page 447), her “Nicky” announces that Hattie has left “a stellar career in the aviation industry” to become his personal assistant (page 452). Rayford and Chloe see Hattie and her “Nicky” on television. Rayford immediately mutters, “I hope Buck wasn’t behind that” (page 465).

In Volume 2 … no. As Carpathia’s personal assistant, Hattie files harassment charges against Rayford and calls it a practical joke (Volume 2, pp. 153, 284). She also “stalks” Rayford by proxy by doing it to Chloe (Volume 2, pp. 247-248, 254-255, 262, 286). And she has a very different opinion of Carpathia than does Rayford:

[Rayford:] “You told him I was a Christian.”

[Hattie:] “Sure, why not? You tell everyone else. I think HE’s a Christian, anyway.”

[Rayford:] “Nicolae Carpathia?”

[Hattie:] “Of course! At least he lives by Christian principles. He’s always concerned for the greater good.” (—Volume 2, pp. 281-29)

Hattie becomes pregnant by Carpathia. She says they are engaged to be married. Chloe breaks down at the news. “Buck, we have failed that woman.” Buck knows it, but what more can be done? “What are you going to do, Chloe? Tell her she’s carrying the Antichrist’s child and that she ought to leave him?” Chloe replies, “It may come to that.” (Volume 2, p. 278-cont.) They do not do it (in this volume).

In Volume 3 … no. Carpathia decides to fire her (“the job has passed her by”) and to end their relationship (Volume 3, p. 100). Pregnant, alone, and humiliated, Hattie appears to be free of his hypnotic spell. She asks Rayford plainly and repeatedly if he thinks Carpathia is the Antichrist (Volume 3, p. 180). She knows that Buck the reporter is calling him such, in public. “But [Rayford] had seen broken romances heal before, and the last thing he wanted was to give Hattie ammunition that could be used against him with Carpathia” (Volume 3, p. 293). Rayford decides to stick to talking Hattie out of having an abortion, and puts less emphasis on getting saved in this novel.

In Volume 4 … no. Hattie goes into hiding. She has only sporadic contact with the Tribulation Force, and most of those e-mails and phone calls are about her pregnancy.

In Volume 5 … no. Hattie spends the book living with the Tribulation Force, heavily pregnant and fighting Carpathia’s parting-gift of poison. “Rayford had heard the death-rattle breathing before, but the emaciated frame of his former co-worker, friend, and object of flirtation strangely moved him” (Volume 5, p. 24). Rayford and Dr. Charles wonder why she will not get saved. “I plead with her all the time,” the doctor said, “She’s stubborn. Waiting for something. I don’t know. I’m at a loss” (Volume 5, p. 25).

Hattie confesses her sins to Rayford. She knew that Carpathia poisoned Bruce Barnes. She helped to frame Amanda White Steele. She could have said something about both situations in time, and did not tell anyone. Also, “there’s even more that’s worse than that” (Volume 5, pp. 33-36).

Rayford offers to talk about her [i.e., about her salvation]. Hattie replies,

“Spare me that, Rayford …. There’s nothing you can tell me that I don’t already know …. Should [God forgive me]? I don’t feel that in my heart. …. I know as well as God does that I’m not worthy.”

[Rayford:] “So you’re going to decide for Him.”

[Hattie:] “If it’s up to me—”

[Rayford:] “And it is.”

[Hattie:] “I’ve decided I’m unworthy and can’t live with that much …”

[Rayford:] “Grace? …. Inequity?”

[Hattie:] “That’s it. God saving me when He and I both know who I am and what I’ve done—that’s too much of an inequity.” (—Volume 5, pp. 35-36)

The Tribulation Force continues to implore Hattie to get saved and/or talk to each other about getting Hattie saved (Volume 5, pp. 112, 173, p. 282, 374-375).

Hattie challenges Tsion Ben-Judah, with just a hint of a smile, has she convinced him yet that she is a lost cause? Tsion replies as his eyes fill with tears.

“I feel such compassion for you, such a longing for you to come to Jesus …. Somehow God has allowed me to see you through His eyes—a scared, angry, shaken young woman who has been used and abandoned by many in her life. He loves you with a perfect love. Jesus once looked upon His audience and said [Matt. 23:37b].

“Miss Durham, you know the truth. I have heard you say so. And yet you are not willing. I pray for you … Because Jesus went on to say about the hard-hearted people of Jerusalem, [Matt. 23:39].

“I look at your fragile beauty and see what life has done to you, and I long for your peace. I think of what you could do for the kingdom during these perilous times, and I am jealous to have you as part of our family. I fear you’re risking your life by holding out on God, and I do not look forward to you how might suffer before He reaches you.

“I’m sorry if I embarrassed you, but you asked.” (—Volume 5, pp. 274-275)

Most of the characters were left behind [i.e., not Raptured] because they rejected the idea that they were sinners. But Hattie freely acknowledges that she is a sinner. She insists, “I don’t care what happens to me.” Rayford protests, but we care. “You’ll be all right,” says Hattie, and turns away. Tsion privately tells Buck,

“I fear for her. I hoped she was merely getting things off her chest and that once she spewed her venom she would turn to God. But she has convinced me she is sincere. She believes in God, knows that He loves her, and knows what He has done for her. But she has decided that she knows better than He, and that she is one person who chooses not to accept His gift for the very reason the rest of us jumped at it.”

[Buck:] “She knows she’s unworthy.”

[Tsion:] “It’s difficult to argue with. She is an adult, an independent moral agent. The choice is hers, not ours. But it is painful to see someone you care for make a decision that will cost her her soul.” (—Volume 5, pp. 374-375).

But Hattie has a different goal. Carpathia has seduced her, impregnated her, fired her, dumped her, shamed her, stalked her, poisoned her, killed her baby, and sent gunmen to murder her. She needs no urging to believe that Carpathia is the Antichrist; she calls him that herself (Volume 5, p. 92).

Hattie Durham has had enough. Hattie is going to kill Nicolae Jetty Antichrist Carpathia. “I will do this thing if it’s the last thing I ever do.” And she hopes it is. She wants to get well enough to kill Carpathia, and then she wants to die. If she dies killing Carpathia, that is her preferred outcome (Volume 5, pp. 92-93, 165-166, 329, 370).

Hattie suffers all the plagues that unfold through Volume 5, which leaves her ill and in pain for almost a year. Actually, she suffers more than do other unsaved characters, because she also endures Carpathia’s time-released poisons and the miscarriage that results. As soon as she appears to recover Hattie is stung by the demonic scorpion locusts (Volume 5, p. 314), a plague that torments her for five long months yet leaves her unable to die. “Listening to … her anguished screams at all hours of the day and night … became so stressful to the Force that Rayford made an executive decision and moved her to the basement” where the Trib Force cannot hear her. She is not officially locked in a dungeon, but almost no one visits her and she lacks the strength to get out. When Rayford does visit, he is too frightened to go alone, and he cannot sleep that night afterward (Volume 5, pp. 327-328).

Despite it all, Hattie Durham still refuses to get saved. She does implore her sister Nancy to get saved (Volume 5, p. 328). Hattie accepts her own suffering by explaining, “I’m only getting what I deserve” (Volume 5, p. 282, p. 327)

Hattie makes one other observation that makes Rayford pause. “I still make you nervous, don’t I?” Despite the years that have passed, Rayford’s attraction remains fresh in both of their minds (Volume 5, p. 327).

Rayford then makes Hattie pause. Her escape attempts have interfered with Dr. Charles’ attempt to smuggle an oxygen tank to his other patient—the pregnant Chloe. Rayford tells Hattie, “You go on about not being worthy of God’s forgiveness, and then you try to prove it” (Volume 5, p. 378). Buck agrees with Rayford. “Where would [Hattie] go in the middle of the night besides crazy?” (Volume 5, p. 393).

In Volume 6 … no. Hattie bolts after the death of Dr. Charles. She is captured by the enemy and sent to “Buffer,” a women’s prison in Belgium. Rumors arise that she escaped.

In Volume 7 … no. Hattie and the Tribulation Force never encounter each other, and Hattie speaks with them on the telephone only twice.

In the first conversation, Hattie tells Buck that she is trying to get home to Colorado but fears she is being followed. Buck answers that if she can elude her pursuers, and if the Tribulation Force has room at their safe house, they might offer her shelter again. Hattie replies, “You were all better than I deserved …. Just tell everybody I’m safe and so are they, and thanks for everything I didn’t deserve.” Buck replies that they all love her and are praying for her (Volume 7, pp. 188-190).

In the second conversation, Hattie, “near hysterics,” calls Rayford to warn him to evacuate that very same safe house (Volume 7, p. 373). “Don’t ask me how I know,” she says. She insists she did not give them away. The audience never does learn how Hattie heard the news. She called Rayford several hours too late.

In Volume 8 … Hattie hangs herself.

Hattie has been captured yet again by the Global Community. Her last known location is a bunker in Colorado Springs, under the control of Deputy Director Pinkerton Stephens. Two men arrive at the prison to escort her back to the Buffer prison in Belgium (Volume 8, pp. 53, 64-69)

As they finish the paperwork, they hear banging sounds from Hattie’s cell.  Hattie has hanged herself from the “flimsy” light fixture. (It broke.) Her eyes are dilated, but the short man insists he saw the body twitch. The tall man immediately performs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, refusing to stop until she gasps and breathes.

“Hattie cried and swore.” She won’t go back to Buffer, she can’t, she won’t. The tall man tells her, you won’t. Despite the disguises she knows his voice. Rayford Steele has come to take her home (Volume 8, pp. 100-102).

Deputy Stephens [a.k.a. Steve Plank] tells the prison staff that Hattie is dead. The enemy now lists her as such. No one will hunt her ever again. Rayford and Albie transport her on a gurney, under a sheet, to the fighter jet that will load the body (Volume 8, pp. 103-104).

The trio check into a remote motel outside of Bozeman, Montana. Albie witnesses to Hattie (Volume 8, pp. 113-117). Like Hattie, Albie’s entire family is now dead. Like Hattie, he had his foolish pride. Both call themselves “unlovable” and marvel that their mutual friend Tsion Ben-Judah can love the unlovable (Volume 8, pp. 113, 116). But Albie adds,

“I have just met you, and yet God has given me a love for you. Rayford and his family and friends speak often of you and their love for you. That gives the lie to the claim that you are unlovable.”

“They shouldn’t love me,” she said, just above a whisper.

“Of course they shouldn’t. You know yourself. You know your selfishness, your sin. God should not love us either, and yet He does. And it is only because of Him that we can love each other. There is no human explanation for it” (Volume 8, pp. 116-117)

As the three exhausted fugitives retire (two rooms), Hattie says quietly, “Thank you for saving my life.” But long after everyone has gone to bed, Rayford can hear Hattie sobbing in the night (Volume 8, pp. 117-118).

The first to awaken the next morning is Hattie. Rayford groans. It is too early for her to be so “chipper.” She is bored, she says. She is “starving hungry,” she says. And she will “keep banging [on the walls] until I get company for breakfast.” Rayford grumbles, takes a shower, and joins her outdoors.

Hattie is stretching in the warm morning sun. Then suddenly Rayford’s knees buckle at the sight that meets his eyes. Hattie throws herself into his arms and wraps her arms so tightly around his neck that he has to push her off to breathe again.

“Let me see,” Hattie cries. “Let me see! Does mine look like yours?” No one can see their own, only everybody else’s. The Seal of the Saved is on her forehead.

None of this commotion awakens Albie. Rayford admits this is worth waking him. Hattie bounds in, sits on the bed and bounces until he finally wakens. What is wrong, he asks. “Nothing will ever be wrong again,” she said, taking his face in her hands and pointing his bleary eyes toward her. “I’m just showing off my mark!” (Volume 8, pp. 133-134).

Later, Albie tells Hattie that “a wise man once counseled me that apologies must be specific, but now that I am a believer, I am not sure I agree. If your friends know that you are sorry, deeply remorseful, and that you mean it when you apologize, I expect they will forgive you.” Hattie asks: without making her “rehash everything I did?” Albie doesn’t think that would be a very born-again response, now, would it? (Volume 8, p. 152) Hattie thinks about this, and asks Rayford if it means that now she can quote 1 Corinthians 13 at the Trib Force and “they’d better forgive me, if they know what’s good for them? …. I’m kidding!” (Volume 8, p. 160).

Reintroductions do not quite go that way. The believers do not yet know that Hattie is saved. (For some reason neither Hattie nor Rayford mention it over the telephone.) She receives a chilly reception before making the rounds.

Chloe especially is hard on her.

[Hattie] “ought to be grateful for all the time and effort and expense … I don’t know if you realize how risky that was. And investing Dad and Albie’s time and an aircraft—I mean, it’s not like you did anything to deserve it—Don’t start the waterworks with me. We go back too far. For all we know, the old safe house [Donny and Sandy Moore’s house] is ashes because of [you] ….

Of course I still care about you, but you may not find all of us as soft as my dad. There’s a delicate balance here, and a lot more people than before. Even in a place as huge as this [a skyscraper], it’s not easy living together, especially with people who have a history of putting THEIR needs ahead of everybody [else].” (—Volume 8, p. 162)

(Trivia alert: Chloe is not describing the loss of the Moore house correctly. Rayford also mentally accuses her of compromising their safe house [Volume 8, p. 26]. But Hattie had nothing to do with it. The Tribulation Force exposed their own safe house location by their own words and actions. Chloe and Rayford would know that because they were there. See the “Baby Kenny” spoiler.)

Hattie tells Rayford, “Chloe didn’t sound like she’s going to forgive me. They hate me!” Maybe Hattie would have been better off returning to Buffer and taking her chances. At least if she died, she would go to Heaven. Hattie reflects, “[Chloe] probably only said what I would have said if the shoe was [sic] on the other foot” (Volume 8, pp. 162-163)

Hattie doesn’t blame them. She says, she is only getting what she deserves (Volume 8, pp. 162, 172).

Chloe is very apologetic when she learns that Hattie is saved. They have just learned that Annie Christopher is dead. Tsion Ben-Judah prays, “Praise God. Lord, You take one away [Annie] and send one anew [Hattie]” (Volume 8, pp. 171-172).

Then Buck confides, “You’ve never forgiven me for something that was far worse than anything you ever pulled, Hattie. I introduced you to Nicolae Carpathia.”

She nodded, smiling through tears. “That was pretty bad … but how could you know? He fooled almost everybody at first. I wish I’d never laid eyes on him, but I also wouldn’t trade a thing about my life now. It all pointed to today” (—Volume 8, pp. 173-174).

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

Answer: Rayford notices that “Hattie was getting on everyone’s nerves.” He and Tsion enjoy her spirit, but “the others’ eyes seemed to glaze over each time she exulted over something new (Volume 8, pp. 177-178). Soon, even Rayford finds “her mere persistence” tiring. “In many ways she was the same forthright woman she had been before, nearly an obnoxious as a new believer as she had been as a holdout.” He still doesn’t think Hattie’s sense is humor is as funny as she thinks she is. But of course, everyone is happy she is finally on the Saved team (Volume 8, pp. 308-310).

[Trivia alert: all of the believers in the Strong building have cabin fever (Volume 8, p. 178)—but Hattie is the only one who is mentioned as causing problems.]

Rayford decides to separate the group. He send almost a dozen people out on assignments. Hattie will get a rookie’s job of surveillance, with some “processing” of vehicles and drivers with Leah Rose (Volume 8, pp. 362-363).

Immediately the Tribulation Force notice that “somebody” missed her rendezvous. They feel “exposed” for as long as they do not know Hattie’s whereabouts. David Hassid reminds them that the enemy lists her as dead. Buck protests, “That could be what they want us to think they believe” (Volume 9, p. 7).

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 [the archangel] 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 the archangel 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.”

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. (By quoting John 1:29 and 1 Tim. 2:5 at him. See also Acts 4:12, Hebr. 9:15).

Hattie 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 [the false prophet] 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 characters react to Hattie Durham’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 Steele Williams, 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 Baby 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 [Steele] 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 Antichrist 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. (Anis appears elsewhere in Volume 3 and in Volume 16-called-13). 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 their Mark of the Beast applied immediately. The civilians who have been waiting in line in the hot sun to be marked 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” (Volume 9, p. 257).

Chaim gives the improvised urn to Rayford, adding, “We do not worship the remains of those who go to God before us, and my wish is to toss what is left of these to the winds from a high place of worship to the one true God here at Petra. I believe it is what our impetuous but sincere young sister would have wanted.” Leah Rose offers David Hassid’s telephone in his memory. Rayford takes both relics to Tsion (Volume 9, pp. 324-325).

Just as Tsion quotes Rev. 12:11, and starts to scatter Hattie’s ashes, Antichrist Carpathia’s bombers soar over Petra and nuke them all (Volume 9, pp. 403-405).

It is here Hattie’s story ends, until Volume 12 and the day of resurrection.

Spoiler (Volume 9): So what does start the riot and the Jewish resistance?

Answer: The Orthodox Jews watch Carpathia defile the Third Temple. He rides a large pig along the Via Dolorosa (pp. 48-49), taunts its suffering as it falls to its knees under his weight (p. 52), slaughters it inside the Temple (inefficiently), cavorts in its blood, and howls “I wanted roast pork!” (p. 163). He kills a nameless lackey inside the sanctuary (Volume 9, p. 157). Then he “disrobes” [takes a shower] in the holy water. He sits on a throne and summons a golden statue of himself into the Temple.

The crowds murmur in anger and press against the statue’s bearers. A few stray shots are fired by GC personnel to clear space, but someone is hit. The throng erupts. Medical tents topple. Benches and tables are upended. GC personnel are trampled and their weapons snatched. Television monitors tumble and shatter. The guillotine is overturned and destroyed. “People raged, screeching, ‘Down with Carpathia! Death to the monster! May he die and stay dead!’” (pp. 166-167)

The Antichrist retaliates by telling his staff to kill the rebels (p. 253). He asks: don’t they think the guillotine is too painless a death for the Jews? Carpathia wants them placed in concentration camps. He wants to know how much pain they can endure before they finally die. The tormentor who keeps his prisoners alive the longest gets a financial bonus (pp. 368-369, 381).

[Other events in Volume 9 include: The Trib Force prepares Operation Eagle to evacuate Jewish individuals who do not worship Carpathia. Chaim Rosenzweig 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. He passes his own lie detector test, because he truly believes what he is saying. 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 Durham 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 participate 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 [his raptured first wife] 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 [martyred] 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 [Baby] 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)

Stray discussion questions (by specific volume)

(All questions which are general/series 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). Finally, he announces thermonuclear strikes on three countries (Volume 2, pp. 440-449).

Now in Volume 3 Carpathia makes the rest of his power grabs.

• Carpathia takes control of “business, education, and healthcare” (pp. 125-130).
• He suspends democracy and the right to vote (pp. 129-130).
• He abolishes cash (pp. 125-126).
• He forces all money transfers to operate electronically, so that he can impose a ten-cent tax on each 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). Example: if a country’s GNP were one trillion dollars, that country must give to Carpathia either 300 billion dollars or 500 billion dollars—every year, forever—or he will nuke them. In the case of the “rebel” countries, that would be to nuke them again.
• He plans to build continent-spanning “sixteen-inch pipelines” [sic] to drain the oil fields of Alaska (pp.126-127).
• Especially dastardly in the eyes of the fuel-guzzling Tribulation Force, Carpathia adds a dollar tax on every barrel of oil on earth. He adds a ten-cent tax on every gallon at the gas station. He plans to raise these prices to at least double in the time left to him (pp. 126-127).
• Population control.

Thereafter Carpathia will make only minor changes until Volume 6, when he murders Pope Peter II, and Volume 8, when the evildoers implement the Mark of the Beast.

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).

One of these things is an especially recurrent theme and plot point in the series: abortion. In fact, the characters are so concerned about it that they do not mention—do not notice? discuss—the other implications: Carpathia is killing GOMERs and anyone else who is not dead yet (Volume 3, pp. 132, 369-370).

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 of economic and social changes 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. See also the Discussion Topic below regarding Moses and Elijah.)

Leon Fortunado does not specify which deed Carpathia performed, only that Carpathia raised him from the dead. 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. This so offended the foes of Jesus that they planned to kill Lazarus and make him dead again! (John 12:10).

(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 a timely resuscitation or something mightier? 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 Ben-Judah 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; Job 1:8-19, 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 28:24-27; Job 36:27-37:22; Job 38:22-34; Psa. 29:3-10; Psa. 68:8-9; Psa. 77:17-18; Psa. 135:7; Jer. 10:12-13, among others. Whatever Tsion’s reasoning may be, he himself never cites any Bible verses to support his statement.

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 (Volumes 1-5): Rayford and Hattie’s acquaintanceship has a lot of problems, all of which can be traced to a lack of right relationship. Other discussion topics may point to lust, condescension, double standards, and convenience. What is missing with Rayford and Hattie today, in this volume, is a lack of listening.

Fanon sometimes gives Hattie the nickname “the Whore of Babylon” (because the Antichrist lives in New Babylon, and Hattie becomes his lover). Is this fair? Hattie does flirt. Even her strongest defenders admit this. But the fact that men want Hattie in a sexual way is sometimes taken or mistaken for Hattie flaunting herself sexually before men. When other characters conclude that Hattie is the problem, they seem to be less likely to listen to her. One of the surprises to which Rayford is not listening that the Antichrist may have hypnotized Hattie into having sex with him.

“[Nicolae Carpathia] made me do things I should never have done. And you know what—while I was doing them, I enjoyed it. I loved his power, his appeal, his ability to persuade. While I was making Amanda look like a plant, I actually believed I was doing the right thing. And that was the least of it.” (Volume 5, p. 93)

Carpathia has hypnotized Buck Williams (Volume 1, pp. 294-306), President Fitzhugh (Volume 2, pp. 361-366, 371), and assorted minor characters (Volume 1, pp. 412-413, 449-458; Volume 2, pp. 148-149, 154-155).  At the time, those characters all believed that pleasing Carpathia was the right thing to do. But the Antichrist’s mind-control powers eventually faded if his unsaved targets were isolated from him.

Now in Volume 3, Hattie admits that she felt “stricken” the first time she met Carpathia (Volume 3, p. 169). She thought she was in love with him. After he stops spending time with her, Hattie says, “I don’t feel anything anymore” (Volume 3, p. 171). It is at this point that Hattie—who had wanted his baby in Volume 2—also says that she thinks “every day” about having an abortion (Volume 3, p. 178).

The Volume 5 (p. 93) quote above suggests that the Antichrist did use mind control to teach Hattie how to do her job. We have proof that he hypnotized Hattie into doing things she does not remember, such as lying about the deaths of Stonagal and Todd-Cothran, which she witnessed. (See Volume 1, pp. 449-458.) Some of the old legal definitions also would support Hattie—that it is a crime to “seduce and debauch” a target who is overmatched. Yet Hattie herself denies these things. She insists, “I was not with [Carpathia] long enough for him to have affected me this much. I know I was no better or worse than the next girl” (Volume 5, p. 92).

Do you think that Hattie was hypnotized to have sex with the Antichrist character? Why or why not? In what ways does this feel the same, or feel different, than the examples of mind control which Carpathia was said to have used on all of the men? Does it change the way you perceive the Hattie character?

Discussion topic (Volume 3): After the Antichrist impregnates Hattie Durham, he discards her. Thus begins an uncomfortable 2-3 years of homeless Hattie’s living on the Trib Force’s sofa.

Hattie tells Rayford that she contemplates an abortion “every day” (Volume 3, p. 178). In response, Rayford urges Hattie no less than four times to adopt Amanda as a mother figure and let Mom discipline her. (In Rayford’s mind, having his new wife and his ex-girlfriend adopt each other is a really good idea.) When Hattie balks, Rayford presents an anti-abortion argument as he understands it:

“perhaps … you would not be the best mother for it. [But] I don’t think you can shirk responsibility for it the way a rape or incest victim might be justified in doing …. It’s still the death of a person. But which person? One of the people who made a mistake? One of the people who committed a rape or incest? Or one of the people who got pregnant out of wedlock? No, the solution is always to kill the most innocent party of all.” (Volume 3, p. 296)

As it turns out, nobody likes this prepared speech. Hattie doesn’t like it. Rayford berates himself later i.e., he doesn’t like it. (“Rayford had been angry with himself. Why couldn’t he learn? How could he sit there spouting all that?” –Volume 3, p. 299.) A pro-choice blogger doesn’t like it. An anti-abortion blogger doesn’t like it. This sort of thing is why your host says, we need to set aside our prepared speeches—everybody has a prepared speech—and actually talk to people. We get comfortable with speeches and cease to listen.

This does not mean that we cannot borrow from the Bible or derived resources. Indeed, there are times when we do need to have something memorized, such as favorite prayers or Bible verses. But it is questionable whether God would enjoy being on the receiving end of some prepared speech either. We mentioned in the previous topic that Rayford may not be listening to the possibility that Carpathia hypnotized Hattie into having sex. If that were the case, would not Hattie qualify as someone who could “shirk responsibility” (to use Rayford’s own words)? Rayford certainly is “spouting” something, but is it truthful? Is it pro-life? Is it both? Is it neither?

At the same time, what is missing from the love-bombing (Volume 3, pp. 374-378) is the grave matter of Hattie contemplating a mortal sin: one done with forewarning, free will, and full knowledge. The relationship that the Trib Force women have with Hattie is still unspoiled, and they are minimizing their beliefs to keep it unspoiled. They believe that life begins at conception, yet none of them plead for the life of her child. This is the more significant in that two of the three women are bereaved mothers (Loretta and Amanda having lost children to the Rapture). They never mention it.

How can we speak with both truth and love? Imagine that Hattie has come to you for advice. What would you say to her?

Discussion topic (Volume 3): After the Trib Force love-bombs Hattie (Volume 3, pp. 374-378), the thoroughly-smitten Buck Williams sighs that they would have convinced him. Then he sobers up to what the consequences of success might be.

He tried to push from his mind that Chloe might get the idea of taking and raising as their own the unwanted baby Hattie was carrying. He and Chloe were close to a decision about whether to bring a baby into this stage of history, but he hardly wanted to consider raising the child of the Antichrist. (Volume 3, pp. 383-384)

Note that Buck has been willing to accept money, titles, tools/toys (including his ubiquitous Land Rover), housing, identification, and privileges from the Antichrist’s hand, but protecting a child from the Antichrist is too unthinkable and distasteful for him. Put it another way: Buck, who is anti-abortion, worries that his wife Chloe might be too pro-life. Buck’s priority is to get the baby born. After that, it’s on its own.

Buck and Chloe never have that hypothetical conversation. Based on what you know of the characters, describe the conversation as it would have happened if they had had it.

Related: Hypothetically speaking, how might the series unfold differently for these characters if the Williamses had said Yes?

Discussion topic (Volumes 4, 5): Buck’s hunch is correct. Chloe is interested in the welfare of Hattie’s baby. Hattie tells Rayford that she and Chloe “were going to be godmothers to each other’s [children]” (Volume 5, p. 371; see also Volume 4, p. 390). Twice more the characters refer to Chloe’s baby as Hattie’s godchild—that is to say, Volume 5, p. 371 says it three times in one conversation. Notice that this is the only expression of care in the series for the soul of Hattie’s baby. It’s always about Hattie’s actions; no mention is made of the salvation of the child.

There are two commonly accepted definitions of “godparent.” On the one hand, the Christian godparent is an adult who stands with the parents, and takes vows with the parents, when a baby or small child is baptized. The adults vow that they will bring up the children in the faith. Baptism is a sacrament, an outward manifestation of an inner grace. Christians who believe in infant baptism do it to claim this child for Jesus, and to claim that grace for the child. When the children are old enough to take vows for themselves, the children go through Confirmation. They confirm that they choose the baptism they already have received. However, infant baptism does not happen in New Hope Village Church. Instead, the adolescent characters sign up for Believer’s Baptism at age twelve or thereabouts (LB: The Kids, Volume 1, p. 10).

On the other hand, Chloe and Hattie may be using the term “godmother” in the “cultural Christian” definition of the word, as sort-of aunties. Chloe and Hattie want each woman in the other baby’s life, as mothers who are “sisters” (Volume 4, p. 391), not as babysitters.

By either definition, the status of godmother gives the unsaved Hattie some claim on Buck’s baby, and it charges Chloe (and her husband) with some responsibility toward Hattie’s baby. As an adult, what are your responsibilities to other people’s children?

Discussion topic (Volume 4): Hattie hides from Carpathia in a “safe house” for pregnant women (Volume 4, p. 281). Former churches are “retrofitted into testing laboratories and reproductive clinics” (Volume 4, p. 337) doing “cloning and fetal tissue research” (Volume 4, p. 333). Hattie asserts that they do both abortions and adoptions, but that “the clinic” raises babies that are not adopted and not claimed. Where they would get the money and inclination to collect abandoned babies is a mystery until the reader recalls that the Antichrist, servant of Satan, is the one who funds it.

Carpathia publicly endorses eugenics, assisted suicide, and euthanasia for GOMERs and anyone else who is not dead yet (Volume 3, pp. 132, 369-370). Later in the series he will practice executions. Even if the “clinic” were doing all of the above human experimentation, they already have more children (born and unborn) than they can possibly use: Volume 3 (p. 132) says that Carpathia has been “forcing” abortions all over the world to reduce his financial expenses. He is trying to save resources to build up his armies. What then is the clinic’s purpose? What do you think they are really doing with these extra babies?

Related: how long did it take for you to notice that Antichrist Carpathia has infiltrated the homeless shelters and the shelters for battered women and children?

Discussion topic (Volume 4): Hattie Durham claims that her “safe house” / “women’s shelter” is “pushing” her to have an abortion (Volume 4, p. 281). She adds, “I told a counselor I felt guilty about becoming pregnant when I wasn’t married. She had never heard anything like that in her life” (Volume 4, p. 282). Pardon the pun, but isn’t that rather inconceivable? Given that most of the mainline Protestants and virtually all of the Catholics were left behind (i.e., not Raptured), one would think that books like Abby Johnson’s Unplanned are still available. Groups like Rachel’s Hope, Project Rachel Ministry, and Project Joseph should still be in business. Even the retreats might still be operational. (It’s true that Peter II Matthews of Ohio might disapprove, but the Buckeye Pope is no more likely than his predecessors to get the American protagonists to do as he bids.)

Early in the series, Hattie resisted waiting for an abortion. She expressed worry that if she did wait, she would “develop all those maternal feelings” (Volume 3, p. 294). Now she has them (Volume 4, p. 282). Interestingly, the narrative does not specifically state that her guilty conscience arises from those maternal feelings. She seems more humiliated about being unmarried: from “First Lady” of the planet to “Free to good home.”

At the risk of sounding repetitive, we find ourselves asking in these abortion questions, what exactly is going on here? If the series is supposed to be anti-abortion, why don’t they include some actual pro-life success stories?

Discussion topic (Volume 5): As mentioned upthread, the “godmothers” promise between Chloe Steele Williams and Hattie Durham is only expression of care for the soul of Hattie’s baby in the series. It is always about Hattie’s actions; no mention is made of the salvation of the child. When Baby Jo dies—

(Yes, we went there. We named it. We hear the howls of protest: You cannot name it! If you name it, you might get attached to it! Yea, verily. Isn’t that what the Tribulation Force wanted—for Hattie to become attached?

(We chose “Baby Jo” because “Nicky Junior” isn’t fair to the child, and “Harry/Harriet” isn’t fair to Hattie. She dislikes her name and her mother for so naming her [Volume 3, p. 179]. “Jo” is good for a boy, good for a girl, and gives both Baby and Hattie a decent father role model. Jesus was brought up by a Jo, and He turned out pretty well.)

When Baby Jo dies, the characters (and the authors) deny Baby Jo the soul’s dignity of a name. Some anti-abortionists and some pro-lifers—not really the same thing—speak of abortion as a holocaust. In a real Holocaust museum, there is a room which is dedicated to preserving every name. Each soul receives the dignity of having one’s name read, spoken, remembered. Moreover, for Christians there is a Catholic “Rite of Final Commendation for an Infant” (OCF # 337-342) that could have been used even under the circumstances described in the novel. It can be celebrated even in the hospital, with or without the presence of the child. Note that the rite is a model and may be adapted e.g. with other readings from Scripture, or by asking the parents to name the child as part of the rite. Granted, the characters are neither Jewish nor Catholic. But the novels seem to have forgotten something.

The characters (and the authors) deny Baby Jo a Christian funeral. The Tribulation Force cannot baptize the stillborn; baptism is for the living. But they never bathe, dress, or anoint the body either. They do not gather together. They do not pray. They deny Hattie her requested right to view the body. Perhaps it would be a painful sight. But is it really more horrifying than the things Hattie has seen during the Tribulation or by Carpathia’s side? Rayford describes it as a preemie, not as a monster. It is Dr. Charles who insists that the stillborn must not be seen. Reality is probably somewhere between these extremes.

(Aside: this is not to insist that Hattie must look. Rather, a mother knows her own needs. Sometimes the mother wants to see her dead baby despite the pain. Sometimes she doesn’t. If Hattie had protested that she did not want to look, would she have been forced to do so? “But wisdom is justified of all her children” [Luke 7:35]).

The choice of language also changes. Hattie finally is using words like “boy” and “girl,” just in time to be told to stop using those words. (Aside: they should have been able to detect a heartbeat at around the 4th week and to guess the gender by the 18th week.) It is Dr. Charles (Volume 5, p. 78) and Rayford (Volume 5, p. 79) who call Baby Jo a fetus, twice. Isn’t that the opposite of what the Trib Force wanted? The opposite of what they believe? What would they have done if Baby Jo had been born deformed but very much alive?

Finally, they deny Baby Jo a burial. Burying the dead is one of the great acts of Christian charity, because it is a kindness that can never be repaid. Instead, Dr. Charles makes the unilateral decision to dispose of the stillbirth in the hospital incinerator. Granted, in Volume 6 they learn that the poison is contagious, but they don’t know that yet. Also granted, they don’t want to draw attention to the safe house by digging up the yard. But if they are in no danger from digging a grave for Sandy Moore (Volume 4, pp.78-79) and digging a bigger grave for Floyd Charles (Volume 6, pp. 60-62), why would they be endangered if they dig a hole for a shoebox? Hattie is denied even the rights that a grieving pet owner might secure for their animal.

Whether Baby Jo’s “living soul” (in Dr. Charles’ previous words) is laid to rest as remains or as cremains, Hattie had the right to have them if she asked, and the right to say good-bye. Leah Rose, the only character to have had an abortion, now recognizes Hattie’s rights as a grieving mother and the child’s right not to be tossed in the trash. Therefore Leah twice refuses to obey Dr. Charles. But the two men in the room suddenly start calling Baby Jo a “fetus” and that is how they treat it. In the end Leah reluctantly tells Dr. Charles where he can find the incinerator so he can do it himself.

There is a horrible expression that life begins at conception and ends at delivery. The Tribulation Force regarded the unborn baby as a person, until it was actually born. Real people get dignity. Plot points only get discarded.

Do you think Hattie’s baby was always destined to die? Did you ever name the baby or see it as a person? Were you looking forward to seeing its storyline, or are you relieved that this situation is finally over? What do you think the reader was supposed to learn from this convoluted and tragic tale?

Related: if the deformed or dead baby had been Chloe’s son (Baby Kenny), do you think the Tribulation Force would have responded differently?

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 participate in 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 Shel 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 post-Tribulation 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): Irene Steele is Raptured in body and soul and spirit. She spends more than seven years in Heaven as a Glorified believer.

Meanwhile, Amanda White Steele dies during the Tribulation. Her body remains at the bottom of the Tigris River for approximately four years. Presumably her disembodied spirit and soul spend those four earthly years in Heaven. After the Sheep-and-Goats Judgment, Amanda receives her Glorified body: her resurrection-body, her forever-body. Her spirit and soul are reunited with her body at this time.

As soon as they are permitted, the Glorified Irene and the Glorified Amanda seek out the people who were important to them. Irene goes to her husband Rayford (still in his Natural, version 1.0 body). Rayford’s second wife, Amanda, then approaches them both. The conversations are those of people who have not seen each other for a long time.

[Irene to Amanda]: “Would you believe I prayed for you even after I was raptured?”

[Amanda to Irene]: “It worked.”

[Irene to Amanda]: “I know it did. And you and Rafe were happy for a time.”

[Irene to Rayford]: “I didn’t begrudge you a good wife and companionship. I was so thrilled that you both had come to Jesus.”

[Amanda to Irene]: “You know, your witness and character were the reasons I came to the Lord.”

[Irene to Amanda]: “I knew that was your testimony. But I hadn’t recalled making any impression on you.”

[Amanda to Irene]: “I don’t think you tried. You just did.”

(—Volume 12, pp. 397)

Note that Irene and Amanda have been waiting for four years to express very important matters: to discuss Amanda’s salvation; to reassure each other about the second marriage; and to give thanks. They both seem to be aware of Rayford’s life, but not necessarily aware of each other’s afterlife.

Our Lord Jesus told His disciples that “In My Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2). But does “many mansions” mean “many wonderful but isolated compartments”? Did Amanda experience “soul sleep”? Does time work differently in the afterlife? Other?

Do you think this was an honest oversight by the authors, or is it intended to teach us something about the nature of Heaven? Why do you think Irene and Amanda were in Heaven at the same time for four years but never encountered each other until now?

Related: Irene says that she prayed while she was in Heaven. Does this mean that she walked up to her Savior, closed her eyes, folded her hands, and prayed to the One Who was standing in front of her? Or did she just talk to Jesus as His disciples did on earth, and she simply called it praying? Do you think there is prayer in Heaven in the sense that we use the term here on earth? If not, what do you think we might be doing instead?

Discussion topic (Volume 12): Rayford’s reunion with his family is thorough, but not complete. We meet Rayford’s two wives [Irene and Amanda], but not Amanda’s two husbands. (One would think they might have something to discuss—as brothers in faith, of course.) Many other characters lost relatives to Heaven. Leah lost three children: one to abortion and two to the Rapture. Abdullah a.k.a. “Smitty” lost his wife and two children to the Rapture. Chang and Ming lost their parents to martyrdom.

Even Hattie Durham watched one relative go to Heaven. Your host took the liberty of naming Hattie’s stillborn child “Baby Jo Durham.” After all, “Jo” was a character from Volumes 2-5, or one-third of the 12-volume series. Entire plots revolved around it. From the onset (Volume 1, pp. 92-93), Left Behind automatically bestows Saved status upon all small children, born and unborn. Given how important it was to Hattie Durham that even one member of her family should enter Heaven, it feels unfinished that the series would omit even a cameo appearance of the one Durham who did. In your host’s personal headcanon, such a glimpse might look like this:

• (Volume 16-called-13, p. 341) … “The same crowd returned for Mac McCullum’s millennial bash …. Dear ones from the past began a long procession past Rayford …. His heart was filled as he was greeted by [name], [name], [name].” The smile froze on his face. Nicolae Carpathia? No, no. He had his mother’s eyes. His face was strong but kind. “Son,” said Rayford, squeezing the young man’s hand. “Jo,” replied Jo Durham. “Thank you for never giving up on me.” And Rayford’s smile was genuine.

Or perhaps:

• (Volume 16-called-13, p. 38) … “[Cameron] found miles of tables lined end to end … laden with bowls and goblets to receive a feast …. Stretched from sky to sky were spectators, the angels, who in no way qualified as guests. In their bright robes they sang out praise and glory to the Lamb.” As he glanced around, Cameron was struck by the sight of her, a few tables from his, talking animatedly with other young people he assumed to be her friends. Of course her parents were two of the most attractive people Cameron had ever seen. But now, her body glorified by the Father, saved by the Son, and aglow with the Holy Spirit, Jo Durham truly could be said to be divinely beautiful. She sensed him glancing her way, and her radiant smile nearly brought him to tears. Wonderful!

Choose a character other than Rayford and his listed relatives. Based on what you know of the characters, describe their reunion with their Glorified returning relatives.

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: 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 (Volume 12, pp. 273-274). 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 helpless 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: 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: 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 Hebrew Scriptures were history. For us, the New Testament days that they experienced are now history, and are recorded in said New Testament. Left Behind purports to guide modern readers through End-Times 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 Group Two 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 just before Jesus, during His ministry, and just after Jesus. They have no Scriptures to read except what Jesus had to read. They have no forms of worship, of discipline, and of practices other than the kinds that His followers observed. 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: 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?

Related: In Volume 9 through the end, Chaim and Buck assume that Chaim is called to be the new Moses. The catch is that he will lead the Jewish people out of the Promised Land into Petra (in Jordan). The other catch is that there already is a Moses in the series: the real one. What do you think about that?

Discussion topic: The Tribulation Force loses many members and loved ones. Sometimes they dispose of the bodies left behind. Sometimes they do not do it.

The Tribulation Force hides in the abandoned house of Donny and Sandy Moore (Volumes 3-7). Sandy Moore and Dr. Floyd Charles die on the Moore property and are buried there. Tsion and Buck kneel and quote a hymn at the grave of their sister in Christ (Volume 4, pp.78-79). The full Tribulation Force holds a graveside service with prayers when they bury Dr. Charles (Volume 6, pp. 58-60).

However, Hattie Durham (Volume 9, pp. 54-55) and her stillborn baby (Volume 5, pp. 77-79) get cremated. No one collects Baby Jo Durham’s ashes; far from it. Dr. Charles puts the stillborn baby into the hospital incinerator with the medical waste. He does this despite the objections of other members of the Tribulation Force, and despite the fact that Hattie and company are returning to safe-house property later that same day.

Meanwhile, the enemy cremates Hattie. Chaim and Buck put themselves in some danger to respond. (Carpathia’s adherents were spitting on the ashes and kicking/scattering them; Volume 9, p. 56). Chaim and Buck collect what they can of Hattie’s remains, only to see Tsion scatter the ashes (Volume 9, pp. 403-405). Chaim Rosenzweig explains, “We do not worship the remains of those who go to God before us” (Volume 9, p. 324).

The biggest surprise is that the Tribulation Force do not bestir themselves to bury Bruce Barnes (Volume 3, p. 349). In terms of Bruce’s role in the series, this is comparable to not making the effort to bury evangelist Billy Graham, or a pope. [Trivia alert: when we wrote this topic, the Reverend Billy Graham was alive. He has since passed.]

Pastor Bruce Barnes was Antichrist Carpathia’s biggest enemy. At this point in the series, he was a bigger threat to Carpathia than was Tsion Ben-Judah, who replaced him. The decision to abandon Bruce’s body would have been noticed; the whole world was watching. Would it make a difference to the dead? No. But it reflects the values and priorities of the living. It also would be a witness to nonbelievers.

The Tribulation Force spend hours on a public funeral (eulogy, prophecy lesson, testimony night, and altar call). They have mourners lined up “out the front door, through the parking lot, and down the street” (Volume 3, p. 334). The church has enough manpower to bury Barnes themselves. Instead, they leave him to an undertaker’s queue (three to five weeks long) with no graveside service.

[Rayford]: “If your could simply inform us when the burial has occurred, we’d appreciate it. We will not have a service, and no one will attend.”

[Loretta]: “That seems so sad. Are you sure not even one of us should go?”

[Rayford]: “I’ve never been much for graveside services. And I don’t think anything more needs to be said over Bruce’s body.”

[Loretta]: “That’s true. It’s not like that’s him. He’s not going to feel lonely or neglected.” (—Volume 3, p. 349)

Maybe it is a matter of convenience and proximity. Unlike old churches, New Hope Village Church probably does not have a contiguous graveyard. Normally all such matters are farmed out to professionals, strangers. Now, during the Tribulation, they make choices for themselves. They could offer to help the undertaker. They could sanctify a corner of the church’s lawn for their own tiny graveyard. They could arrange for cremation and bury the ashes. Their choice is to entrust the body to an overloaded system.

The text makes plain that the Wrath of the Lamb Earthquake occurs about 10-15 days after the funeral (Volume 3, pp. 326-327, 351). In all probability Bruce’s body never arrived at the cemetery. At a guess, his casket bounced around the warehouse, popped open upon impact, and was crushed under the building. And there he rests to this day, unless the evildoers cleaned up the destruction. We are not trying to be macabre or unkind, just realistic. A regional “health emergency” had been declared. If the earthquake had not happened, a month is long enough for the commencement of mass cremations or common graves. The Tribulation Force knew what would happen. They chose to leave him.

The respectful disposal of the dead is not about “worshipping the remains” as Chaim declares—and Chaim, as a Jewish convert to Christianity, should know that. (Chaim’s statement may have been directed at First-Century churches such as Catholics and Orthodox, who do keep body parts of the saints in shrines; discuss.)

Many persons of faith—such as Chaim’s ancestors—were buried. Abraham bought a piece of land in which to bury Sarah his wife, and probably paid more than it was worth (Gen. 23). Most of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs were buried there (Gen. 49:29-32). Sometimes the mourners traveled hundreds of miles through deserts and brigand country; and sometimes they gathered together despite family feuds that had separated them for decades (Gen 25:8-10; Gen. 35:29; Gen 50:1-14).

Other famous tombs are those of Deborah (Rebekah’s nurse; Gen. 35:8), Rachel (Gen. 35:19-20), Joseph (Gen. 33:19, Josh. 24:32), Eliezar son of Aaron (Josh. 24:33), and Joshua (Josh. 24:29-30).

As we know, Lazarus of Bethany, a man of faith, was buried for four days before Jesus revivified him from the dead (John 11:17-44).

Scripture declares that cursed be every one who hangs upon a tree (Deut. 21:22, Gal. 3:13). But Torah adds that they should be buried (Deut. 21:23). Many people who die on a tree are entombed, whether in earth, in caves, or in cairns (Josh. 8:29, 10:26-27; Matt. 27:57-60, Mark 15:45-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42).

Moreover the Bible describes the executions of seven young men (2 Sam. 21:1-14) whose only known crime was their relation to the dead King Saul. After they were hanged, the nation did not bury them despite the instructions of Torah. Rizpah the concubine kept vigil over the bodies of her sons and their nephews for more than six months. When King David learned of her deeds, he collected the bones, purified them, and buried the seven men, and Saul, and Jonathan, in the Kish family tomb. Then God caused the famine to end in their land.

Finally, as the LORD sealed Noah into the Ark (Gen. 7:16), the LORD buried Moses (Deut. 34:5-6).

Altogether, since Deut. 21:22-23 required that the worst man in the land should be buried, and the LORD buried Moses, the best man in the land (Deut. 34:5-6), ancient Judaism concluded that burial is appropriate for all who live in the land. Christianity inherited this custom of burial from Judaism.

Burying the dead is one of the great acts of charity, because it is a kindness that can never be repaid. It demonstrates respect for something that was formed by the hand of God (Gen. 2:7; Job 10:9-12; Job 33:4; Psa. 119:73; Psa. 139:13-16; Isa. 64:8). And because Jesus rose in the flesh, we know that our bodies also will rise from the dead (John 12:24; Acts 17:8, 32-33; Acts 24:15; Eph. 1:18-21; Philp. 3:10; 1 Peter 1:3; Acts , 1 Cor. 15:35-57).

In recent centuries, both Judaism and Christianity have softened their views somewhat on cremation. While burial is preferred, cremation can be accepted if it is performed with respect, and if it is not done with the intention of denying the resurrection of the dead.

(Aside: for the Catholics, respect includes the burial of the cremains entire. The ashes are not to be scattered, not to be incorporated into jewelry or trinkets, and not to be kept around the home as knick-knacks or collectibles. We include this because we did not know it until we looked it up, and because the Catholics are among those Christians who sometimes enshrine body parts of the saintly dead.)

Obviously there are times in the Left Behind series when the Tribulation Force are unable to retrieve their dead. But when they can safely retrieve their dead and lay them to rest, the Tribulation Force do not always do it. They at least are no respecter of persons, in that they bury neither a stillborn baby nor a world-famous evangelist.

This is not to single out the Left Behind books. Other epics such as Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and Last Survivors by Susan Beth Pfeffer illustrate similar transformations. An ordinary world erodes into chaos. People start dying. Characters find themselves making choices they might not have made during ordinary times of safety and peace. They re-evaluate their routines, their relationships, and their values. We merely note that the Tribulation Force has reached the point where they are making those choices.

The Tribulation Force has mourned many friends. Discuss the practical ways they handle the bodies left behind. Discuss the difference between funeral/memorial services versus the decent disposal of the remains. Discuss which parts of the process are meant for the living, which parts are meant for the dead, and which parts give honor to God Who created body and spirit and soul. If you wish, discuss some death in the series that you wish they had handled differently.

Discussion topic (Volumes 1, 5, 11): In the Volume 1 bonus post, we mentioned “canary in a coal mine” evangelism. Once is a character trait. Twice is a meme. Three times could be construed as a teaching. These are just three that we noticed. If your study group finds more examples, feel free to mention them and discuss.

In Volume 1, Rayford aggressively campaigns for his daughter Chloe to get saved. He starts this campaign more than 55 pages before he himself converts and is saved (on Volume 1, p. 216).

The unsaved Hattie Durham begs her unsaved sister Nancy Durham to get saved (Volume 5, p. 328). Hattie herself will not get saved for another three volumes i.e. another year and a half.

The unsaved Krystal (Volume 11, pp. 34-40) is proud of her saved Uncle Gregory and helps him whenever she can. For his sake, she then helps the Tribulation Force for the rest of her short life. This is all the more remarkable because Krystal not only is unsaved, but is unsaveable—she bears the Mark of the Beast.

Do you think the unsaved can knowingly lead others to Christ? Don’t you have to be among the elect yourself before you can make that choice? Why do you think the unsaved characters care so much about the salvation of other characters?

Discussion topic: 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 the Spoilers upthread.)

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, Matt. 1:7.]. 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 (2016 edition), 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-choice 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?

Related: Why does Left Behind make abortion the subject of multiple discourses in multiple volumes, even though we never see an abortion take place? Why is it more prominent in this series than in previous rapture fiction and literature? Is it a theoretical exchange, much like passing a law against robbing banks in the wilderness, on the space station, or on Gilligan’s Island? Is this grave matter included as merely a political or tribal shibboleth? Left Behind is supposed to be an end-of-the-world series. Do you think there is a connection? Why or why not?

Related: the Left Behind series is described as promoting a pro-life position. Now that you have finished the series, do you consider Left Behind to be truly pro-life or merely anti-abortion?

{End.}

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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'").