So, it is early August 2008. I am driving through the desert with my mother headed to the San Diego zoo for her 65th birthday. Her and I have taken several road trips together for business in the past and have always enjoyed audio books on cd to help the miles pass. For this particular journey we bought 2 books on cd and for the life of me I cannot remember what the second one was. Which is the whole point of this blog.
Just to give a little background, I was a 43 year old, married father of 4 sons aged 11, 9, 7 and 5. Born and raised Jewish and active in the religion only until I was bar mitzvahed. Which is pretty common here in the US of A. My God was a god of history that seemed to have been fairly silent for a long time. I viewed being Jewish as more of a cultural thing and as more of a people that existed alongside and outside of the very religious Jews. We would say prayers and blessings in a language most of us did not know and had no intimate relationship with our Creator. We just accepted lightly that we were God's Chosen Poeple and left it at that. I say we because although I have not spoken to anyone at length about my observations I am convinced there are many American Jews with much the same upbringing.
Ok back to the trip with my Jewish mother for her birthday . . . So, the audiobook is called "Left Behind" a sort of science fiction/fantasy novel about what the world would be like if suddenly all the true believers in Jesus Christ were taken away in an instant to be with Him. A fascinating concept and what seemed like an intriguing story. In fact it was well written and set in current times and was full of action from the beginning. My mother and I listened to the story all the way to San Diego from Tucson, Arizona and all the way home after a long weekend of celebrating her birthday.
It took me several days of listening to the end of the story while I drove to and from work only to find out at the end that it was book 1 in a series of 12! Now, the story was fantastic! Millions of people disappeared in an instant, there was chaos and confusion and fear, etc . . . There was also the beginning of the rise of the Antichrist from humble civil servant, blah blah blah. Like I said the book was well written and interesting so I sought out my local used bookstore and started buying up used copies of the remaining 11 novels in the series.
I read nothing but the "Left Behind" series for the next 3-4 months. The series kept me interested the whole time. Sometimes I lose interest with an author after several novels and have to take a break from his/her writing for a while. Not so in this case and believe me I was ready for the religious rhetoric to get to be too much so I could put it down.
I had met all kinds of religious nuts in the past. Watching street evangelists being mocked in downtown Seattle. Being argumentative towards Jehovah's Witnesses when they came to my door. An old old friend of mine who found Jesus and seemed to go off the deep end with it. I had passed by Messianic churches and scoffed at my people who seemed to be a little nuts or something.
But in this story I never found the references to Jesus or Scripture to be offensive for some reason. I am not sure I gave it a whole lot of thought but what kept coming to my mind as I read novel after novel was just how deeply the characters believed in Jesus and God. It got me to thinking about what I believed in. And I came up with some interesting answers for myself.
(to be continued)