Welcome to Brian's Bits, where Brian gets to share at length about various topics stirring inside of him.
10 January 2011
For the past couple of months I have been reading a handful of apocalyptic novels — all of which envision some sort of worldwide catastrophe that radically changes human society as we know it. They were such fascinating books that I want to take a few moments to introduce them to you.
Amazon Kindle store looking for some free science fiction books. I stumbled across a book called The Last Man by Mary Shelley — whom I already knew as the British author of the famous Frankenstein and wife of the renowned British poet Percy Shelley. Hmmm ... interesting ... maybe. Well, since it was free, I decided to give it a shot.
As with many books I have read, the author devotes much of the beginning of the book to laying the foundation for what's coming later in the book, which often leaves you wondering where the story is headed and if it will be a good book after all. But as usual, the more you go on, the more interesting things get.
The story is set mostly in England at the end of OUR century (around 2070 to 2100!), which was over 250 years into the future when Shelley wrote the story. During the last seven or so years of the tale, a worldwide plague kills more and more of the human race, until only one person is left (hence the title).
As with most of the other apocalyptic books I mention below, it's very interesting to see how the author imagines the breakdown of societal structure in the face of the near or complete annihilation of mankind. And because it is written in a style of English that's almost 200 years old, there is often much beauty in the phrasing of the language and the use of words. Here is just one small sample:
"We have a power given us in any worst extremity, which props the else feeble mind of man, and enables us to endure the most savage tortures with a stillness of soul which in hours of happiness we could not have imagined."When Mary Shelley's book was published in England in 1826 it was not very well received at all. After additional printings in 1826 in France and 1833 in America, it was largely forgotten, and not republished until 1965. I think it is definitely worth reading, and I'm glad I "happened" to find it, not only for the book itself, but also because it led me to some similar books, like the one I will introduce you to next.
Earth Abides by American author George R. Stewart. Published in 1949, it won the International Fantasy Award in 1951, and later became the inspiration for Stephen King's bestselling book, The Stand (reviewed below).
Like Shelley's The Last Man, the plot of Earth Abides also revolves around a deadly, worldwide plague — but in this story not everyone dies. The main character of the story eventually gathers a small group of people together — in Berkeley, California — they have lots of babies, and over the decades build up a new clan and develop a new social order. This is a thoughtful book, not fast paced or overly suspenseful, and it gives the reader much to ponder. Here are a couple of quotes:
"These people were physically alive, but more and more he realized that they walked about in a kind of emotional death. He had studied enough anthropology to realize that the same phenomenon had been observed on a smaller scale before. Destroy the culture-pattern in which people lived, and often the shock was too great for the individuals. Take away family and job, friends and church, all customary amusements and routines, hope too — and life became walking death."Joel Rosenberg, released his latest novel in which he starts presenting a totally different take on an apocalyptic future — one that I think is much more likely to become reality than any of the other stories I refer to on this page. The Twelfth Imam (Joel's sixth novel) continues his tradition of fast-paced page-turners which leave you breathlessly on the edge of your seat throughout much of the story. Here is an official description of the book:
"In fact — and this was something that encouraged him — the younger generation showed little interest in listening to the phonograph at all; they preferred to do their own singing. He took this as a good sign: that they would rather participate than listen, rather be actors than audience."
"As the apocalyptic leaders of Iran call for the annihilation of Israel and the United States, CIA operative David Shirazi is sent into Tehran with one objective: use all means necessary to disrupt Iran's nuclear weapons program — without leaving American fingerprints and without triggering a regional war.Most Westerners are totally ignorant of Islamic eschatology (end-times) and the expected Mahdi (The Twelfth Imam — the Islamic "messiah"). I give a brief overview of these topics in my article The Islamic Antichrist. In light of Iran's relentless quest for nuclear weapons, which is fueled by these foundational religious beliefs, the scenario presented in Joel's book could very well unfold in the near future right before our eyes!
"As David begins to infiltrate the Iranian government, news spreads throughout the region of an obscure religious cleric hailed as the Islamic messiah known as the Mahdi or the Twelfth Imam. News of his miracles, healings, signs, and wonders spreads like wildfire, as do rumors of a new and horrific war.
"With the prophecy of the Twelfth Imam seemingly fulfilled, Iran's military prepares to strike Israel and bring about the End of Days. Shirazi must take action to save his country and the world, but the clock is ticking."
Some readers are leaving negative reviews on Amazon.com, saying that the book ends abruptly, right in the middle of the story. Of course it does! I guess they haven't heard that this is the first book of a TRILOGY! Actually, their negative comments serve to show just how good this book really is: they've been hooked, and now they are outraged that they will have to wait a year or so (hopefully less!) until they can find out what happens next. If it wasn't a good book, they wouldn't care!
The last two books I'm going to introduce you to are in a different league than the three I've already mentioned. Unfortunately for Christian readers, they have a fair share of profane language, sexual immorality and graphic violence. (Joel Rosenberg's novels have their share of violence too, but it's not as intense. Being a Christian, Rosenberg stays away from the sexual immorality and profane language.) But if you can handle these flaws, the following books are definitely worth reading. But I'll warn you — they are pretty intense stories.
Stephen King is one of the most famous American authors of our time, I had never read one of his books. I'm definitely not a "horror" fan — neither in movie form nor in book form. But seeing that I was on my apocalyptic journey, I decided to take the plunge and dive into this 1141-page novel. And what an amazing, troubling journey it was!
The Stand (Expanded Edition — For the First Time Complete and Uncut) starts when a human-made biological weapon superflu escapes from a research lab in the California desert, leading to the death of 99.4% of the world's population in a relatively short amount of time. Using his horror-story-genre pedigree, Mr. King helps the reader imagine the horrors of such a scenario in vivid detail.
After spending a good chunk of the book laying the foundation for what's to come later, I was greatly surprised by the spiritual turn the author took. All of the main characters start having vivid, reoccurring dreams. In following those dreams, the main characters travel across the country to join either a demonic being in human form in Las Vegas, or a 108-year-old woman of God in Boulder, Colorado.
Because so many people are having such similar dreams, the source of the dreams is obviously spiritual — demonic for the evil dreams, and Divine for the good dreams — even though none of the characters are Christian (except the old woman). As the story progresses, we learn that the evil side in Las Vegas wants to completely destroy the good side in Boulder. As the book reaches its climax, the final showdown between these two sides is inevitable.
It's hard to figure out exactly where the author is coming from. While parts of the book are blatantly vulgar, Mr. King shows an insightful understanding of Christianity and the Bible. He doesn't get everything right, but on the other hand he does see a lot of truth. And some of the things he wrote really spoke to me, particularly in light of my continuing journey with God through unemployment.
To me, it seems as if God's fingerprints are all over this book — probably in spite of Mr. King's religious beliefs and his inclination towards vulgarity. Near the end of the book, some of the main character are making a journey on foot through the desert, as the old woman had instructed them. They are pondering why they had to make the journey on foot:
"Maybe to gain strength and holiness by a purging process. The casting away of things is symbolic, you know. When you cast away things, you're also casting away the self-related others that are symbolically related to those things. You start a cleaning-out process. You begin to empty the vessel."The discussion continues as they consider the TV addiction of a modern, pre-plague American, and what would happen if he was deprived of his TV:
"It makes a bigger hole in his life if he watched a lot of TV, a smaller hole if he only used it a little bit. But something is gone. Now take away all his books, all his friends, and his stereo. Also remove all sustenance except what he can glean along the way. It's an emptying-out process and also a diminishing of the ego. Your selves, gentlemen — they are turning into a window-glass. Or better yet, empty drinking glasses."Then the discussion turns to the analogy of a person being like a battery, both in the physical body and in the inner person:
"Everything you think, everything you do, it all has to run off the battery. Like the accessories in a car. Watching TV, reading books, talking with friends, eating a big dinner ... all of it runs off the battery. A normal life — at least in what used to be Western civilization — was like running a car with power windows, power brakes, power seats, all the goodies. But the more goodies you have, the less the battery can charge.... Well, what we've done is to strip off the accessories. We're on charge.... When you empty out the vessel, you also empty out all the crud floating around in there. The additives. The impurities. Sure it feels good. It's a whole-body, whole-mind enema."There are a lot of other interesting ideas woven into the story of this book — read it for yourself ... if you dare!
The Camp of the Saints was published in 1973 by French author Jean Raspail. Like The Stand, this book has its share of foul language, sexual immorality and violence. But again, if you can get beyond that, this is a chilling story that seems to be coming true before our very eyes, although in a much more subtle and slower method than imagined in the book. A Wikipedia article on the book summarizes the plot in this way:
"The Camp of the Saints is a novel about population migration and the consequences thereof. In Bombay, India, the Dutch government announces a policy in which Indian babies will be adopted and raised in the Netherlands. The policy is soon reversed after the Dutch consulate is inundated with poverty-stricken parents eager to give up their infant children. An Indian 'wise man' then rallies the masses to make a mass exodus to live in Europe. Most of the story centers on the French Riviera, where almost no one remains except for the military and a few civilians, including a retired professor who has been watching the huge fleet of run down freighters approaching the French coast.It was the actual reality of Western Europe being increasingly infiltrated by non-Western immigrants that motivated Raspail to write this book. The looming Islamic takeover of Europe through Muslim immigration (see my article Why Islam Will Win) makes this book even more relevant than it was when it was written nearly 40 years ago. In the author's new preface, written 12 years after the book was originally published, he warns the West:
"The story alternates between the French reaction to the mass immigration and the attitude of the immigrants. They have no desire to assimilate into French culture but want the plentiful food and water that are in short supply their native India. Although the novel focuses on France, it is not just the people of France that befall this fate. Near the end of the story the mayor of New York City is made to share Gracie Mansion with three families from Harlem, the Queen of England must agree to have her son marry a Pakistani woman, and only one drunken Soviet soldier stands in the way of thousands of Chinese people as they swarm into Siberia. The one holdout until the end of the novel is Switzerland, but by then international pressure isolating Switzerland as a rogue state for not opening its borders forces it to capitulate."
"To be sure, a mighty vanguard is already here, and expresses its intention to stay even as it refuses to assimilate; in twenty years they will make up thirty percent, strongly motivated foreigners, in the bosom of a people that once was French."Here are some more quotes from the story itself:
"It will probably not happen as I have described it, for The Camp of the Saints is only a parable, but in the end the result will not be any different."
"The West is empty, even if it has not yet become really aware of it.... the West has no soul left.... it is always the soul that wins the decisive battles."
"[Modern Western citizens] form a nation of petty bourgeois which, in the name of the riches it inherited and is less and less deserving of, rewards itself — and continues to reward itself in the middle of crisis — with millions of domestic servants: immigrants. Ah! How they will shudder! [We must] either learn the resigned courage of being poor or find again the inflexible courage to be rich."
"When freedom expands to mean freedom of instinct and social destruction, then freedom is dead."As The Camp of the Saints make painfully clear, there are only two basic options open to the West: either resist non-Western immigration, with violent, lethal force if necessary, or else capitulate and let the non-Western inhabitants of the world invade the West and destroy it. The author's main point in the book is that idiotic left-wing liberal ideology is driving the West to self-depreciation, capitulation and destruction. Therefore the only other option left for the West is violent resistance.
"Who knows how things might have worked out if the peoples of the West, in similar straits, had put their faith in God, by name, and stormed their churches the way they did in those blessed ages past, when plagues and invasions buttressed their faith?"
"Perhaps there's a clue to be found in this basic disparity in viewing the marvelous. Two opposing camps. One still believes. One doesn't. The one that still has faith will move mountains. That's the side that will win. Deadly doubt had destroyed all incentive in the other. That's the side that will lose."
"Heaven help the white race the day it refuses to voice its basic truths — even mumble them under its breath — for lack of anything better! That day was about to dawn."
"The one real question in the world today: whether those rights of man that we hold so dear — of certain men, that is — can be preserved at the expense of others."
"It's a known fact that racism comes in two forms: that practiced by whites — heinous and inexcusable, whatever its motives — and that practiced by blacks — quite justified, whatever its excesses, since it's merely the expression of a righteous revenge, and it's up to the whites to be patient and understanding."
"The rats won't give up that cheese called "The West" until they've devoured it to the very last crumb. Big and thick as it is, that will take them some time. They're at it even now."
"In the Philippines, in all the stifling Third World ports — Jakarta, Karachi, Conakry, and again in Calcutta — other huge armadas were ready to weigh anchor, bound for Australia, New Zealand, Europe. Carpet-like, the great migration was beginning to unroll. Not the first time, either, if we pore over history. Many a civilization, victims of the selfsame fate, sits tucked in our museums under glass, neatly labeled. But man seldom profits from the lessons of his past...."
For most of the right-wing, conservative, "Christian" West — even the religious "Christian" West — this violent resistance is a viable option. Those Americans who identify themselves as Evangelical Christians are often strong supporters of the nation's military. Right-wing extremists like neo-Nazis, the KKK, and paramilitary militias may find this option of violence against non-Western non-whites to be attractive and even desirable.
But for those followers of Yeshua (Jesus) who want to truly follow in His footsteps and live the unambiguously non-violent message of the New Testament without compromise, ANY type of violence against ANYONE is not an option AT ALL — even in self-defense. Therefore, in light of the mass-immigration scenario depicted in The Camp of the Saints, the only option left to authentic followers of Yeshua would be to allow the immigrants in, even if that meant the destruction of their own culture and society.
In fact, I believe that if Yeshua were physically here on earth today, He would not only allow the immigrants in, He would actually welcome them and in love serve them. This is the attitude which Mr. Raspail bestows upon the Pope in his story:
"On this Good Friday, day of hope for Christians the world over, we beseech our brethren in Jesus Christ to open their hearts, souls, and worldly wealth to all these poor unfortunates whom God has sent knocking at our doors. There is no road save charity for a Christian to follow. And charity is no vain word. Nor can it be divided, or meted out little by little. It is all, or it is nothing. Now, at last, the hour is upon us. The hour when all of us must cast aside that halfway spirit that has long caused our faith to founder. The hour when all of us must answer the call of that universal love for which Our Lord died on the cross, and in whose name He rose from the dead."This is the true spirit of Biblical Christianity, but elsewhere in the book the author mocks and condemns this attitude. For Raspail, this is not a viable option. For him, the only viable option — which he is certain the West will NOT have the "courage" to take — is that of violent resistance.
So in the final analysis, the idiotic liberals and the idiotic followers of Yeshua choose the same option: surrender to the onslaught of non-Western immigration — even if that mean the loss of their culture, their nation, and even their own lives. However, there is a major difference between the two groups. In the book, the liberals choose surrender for the wrong reasons, and in the end realize the error of their surrender, but it's too late. In real life, the true followers of Yeshua surrender for the right reasons, and don't regret their decision, even when they lose all and are being martyred.
Well, there you have it — an introduction to the five apocalyptic novels I have been reading for the past few months. They are all definitely food for thought, and I believe they give us various glimpses into some of the circumstances which will come upon the world in the not-too-distant future. How can I be so sure? For one, my heart tells me that these things are coming. For another, the book of Revelation in the Bible gives us glimpses into this future. One day it WILL come — it's just a matter of time. Reading these books can help us prepare our hearts and minds so that that time does not catch us off guard, "like a thief in the night."
For a further look at our all-too-certain apocalyptic future, be sure to read my next article, Cascadian Reckoning
This article is 6th a series of articles on this Web site related to Literature, Music and Photography which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
There are no reader comments for this blog entry.