Friday, October 30, 2009

All That's Left Behind

Back in the very early years of this new century I was involved with a group that attempted to turn the best-selling Left Behind books into a TV series. For many reasons it was a horrible experience. In addition to the insane lawsuits between rights holders and all the related nightmares that they created, I ran into a surprising difficulty. It may seem trivial, but I think that it is symptomatic of a much larger problem.

The Bible teaches that in the Last Days a man of great evil will arise to rule the world. He has been called the Anti-Christ. This character is central to the Left Behind books. In the course of preparing to write scripts based on those books I had discussions with Dr. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. To my surprise I discovered that Dr. LaHaye does not believe that the Anti-Christ will have supernatural powers. In his opinion, he will be simply a very gifted man who becomes filled with the spirit of Satan. This elicited an extensive dialog between us both in person and in letters. The letters are stored in my collection in the Wheaton College Library Archives and are available for examination.

It was and is my opinion that this Great Evil Leader will be from his earliest days an individual of consummate supernatural power, the Ultimate Hierophant, an initiated adept into the most ancient of mysteries. I presented my case and Dr. LaHaye presented his. With all due respect, I found his arguments to be both biblically weak and, sad to say, dangerously naive. In my opinion they represented a strange kind of materialism, perhaps an echo of so-called Enlightenment skepticism that has infected a large segment of the Church of Jesus Christ.

I am a mentalist. As such I am a firm believer in the amazing power of illusion and physical trickery. The simplest of deceptions can fool the masses, deceptions that have nothing to do with supernatural abilities but appear to be miraculous. I have spent both time and treasure to learn many of these secrets. While having a strong experiential belief in the gullibility of humans, I have also spent almost 40 years studying the occult and the supernatural in its various manifestations. Through that research I have become convinced of its reality. My next novel, Dagon's Illusion (the first of The Mentalist trilogy), focuses on the collision of supernatural realities in these Last Days.

I hate blogging. I hate the idea of blogging. From a literary perspective it seems to me to be a form vomitus. Reluctantly however, I have become convinced that there is a place for it. In the days ahead I will be sharing with you some of the thoughts and research that have brought me to my strange opinions. So hang on for the ride.