Thursday, January 26, 2012

Strange Religion

The Tehran Initiative by Joel C. Rosenberg

"Dead bodies were all over the scene."

Imagine! A pro-war novel, one of a string of pro-war novels, by self-proclaimed Christian Joel C. Rosenberg. What happened to the Prince of Peace?

"Blood was everywhere. Khan was writhing and screaming in pain."

Rosenberg presents a distorted, cartoon version of the Christian religion, within a story about an apocalyptic world with insane rulers in Tehran opposed by scarcely less insane rulers in Washington.

"He didn't want to kill them, but they were armed and hostile, and if he had to do it, he wasn't going to feel guilty about it."

This sounds to me more like a Nietzschean than a Christian. Nietzsche mocked Christians for being poor, guilt-ridden, and meek. He never met Joel C. Rosenberg! Jesus himself of course was crucified by the dominant empire of the day. The choice then was: Caesar or Jesus? Power against weakness. The World versus Salvation. It discredits the religion, in my humble opinion, to throw out the religion's message, its spirituality, and its integrity in defense of Caesar, which is what Rosenberg is doing.

"David smashed him over the head with the iron, sending him crashing to the pavement, bleeding and unconscious."

As for the novel itself, it's a grim propaganda piece full of props and puppets. The hero, David Shirazi, is of the Nietzschean superhero variety. Shirazi works for the CIA. The CIA demi-god heroes rescuing American Empire are thoroughly secular, consumed with high-tech weaponry, high-tech toys, pausing to pray every so often to Christ to help them save high-tech civilization as they work within a hysterical narrative for Caesar and his Pilates, their actions accompanied by gallons of blood and numerous flying body parts. The fanatical bad guys, cartoon Islamists, are projections of the author. The protagonist is a sociopathic robot. Rosenberg needs to give him a sliver of humanity, so he has his mother dying. There's only one semi-intriguing character in the entire work: The mad Mahdi, an insane but mysteriously powerful villain. He's no less cardboard than the other characters, but at least it's a colorful cardboard. Meanwhile, hero David Shirazi is busy.

"He righted himself, took aim, and squeezed off two more rounds at the officer's chest, killing him instantly."

Rosenberg's novel is an obscenity, due to its falseness. In an Author's Note, Rosenberg proclaims how Christian he is. Yet his book is one of the more un-Christian books I've read, which says a lot, given the context of today. There's a Christian way to oppose evil, but Joel C. Rosenberg hasn't found it. You'll discover no Alyosha Karamazovs in his unhappy pages.

In its way, The Tehran Initiative is as insane a novel as the one I recently reviewed by Ann Beattie. I have to rate his book higher simply because it is a page-turner. Which is fine. One doesn't need to linger long over those fast-moving pages. Meanwhile, duck your head, because more missiles are flying.

"What David didn't know was that death was already on its way . . . At an altitude of 17,429 feet, the CIA's $4.5 million, state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicle known as the MQ-1 Predator had already received its encoded orders . . . Now, a five-and-a-half foot, one-hundred-pound AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missile was sizzling through the crisp morning air at Mach 1.3."

Does this sound like it was written by a Christian? Or by someone consumed with armaments, war, and death?

PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
REVIEWED BY: King Wenclas

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