A July article in Roll Call (“The Newspaper of Capitol Hill”) profiles Chris Stewart, who will be a Congressman from Utah from November:
Stewart… is a conservative Republican who surprised political observers by winning Utah’s 2nd district nominating convention with more than 60 percent of the vote, thereby avoiding a primary.
…While in the USAF, he started writing, and his list of books includes a Latter Day Saints-like version of Tim LaHaye’s and Jerry B. Jenkins’ apocalyptic Christian fiction series “Left Behind,” as well as historical novels.
Stewart’s website notes that his latest book, “The Miracle of Freedom: Seven Tipping Points that Saved the World,” was a New York Times bestseller. Conservative media personality Glenn Beck praised the book, which might explain its popularity.
The Miracle of Freedom is published by Shadow Mountain, but his “Latter Day Saints-like version” of the Left Behind series is published by Glenn Beck’s Mercury Ink. The series is entitled Wrath and Righteousness, and ten “episodes” are due to be published over the course of one year. Here’s part of the blurb for episode three:
The death of the Saudi King has removed the final barrier between peace and chaos. Prince Abdullah al-Raman, a pawn of Lucifer and the Forces of Darkness has taken over the throne and is now in a position to draw Israel and the United States into an unprecedented war.
…Against the backdrop of torn-from-the-headlines Middle Eastern drama, theWrath & Righteousness series is a fast-paced thriller that explores man’s role in the eternal battle between good and evil.
The books also come with a quote from Tim LaHaye:
“It really grips you… I lost a lot of sleep reading it.”
Beck has himself enthused over the books as “the Left Behind series for a new generation”; this may perhaps have annoyed Left Behind publisher Tyndale House, which posted an article to its website last year announcing “Tyndale Repackages ‘Left Behind’ Titles for New Generation of Readers” (new features include “test your prophecy IQ”).
The quote from LaHaye is a comment on Stewart’s literary style rather than a theological assessment, but it perhaps shows that LaHaye has mellowed over the years: back in 2004 he railed against his own publisher for publishing a novel that took a different theological perspective from his own, yet here he is now endorsing a book by a Mormon! However, the New York Observer reported in May that the books have been de-Mormonized. The original version was a series by Stewart called The Great and Terrible, which was published from 2003 to 2008 by the Deseret Book Company:
Mr. Beck rewrote them, removing references to Mormon scripture and gospel beliefs from the books, which the Wall Street Journal otherwise described as a blend of “Middle East politics, techno high jinks, and end-of-the-world derring-do.”
One difference from Left Behind is that although the Saudi “pawn of Lucifer” is perhaps not the same thing as the Antichrist, the series appears to be exploiting the popularity of the “Muslim Antichrist” theory, as expounded on Glenn Beck’s TV show by Joel Richardson (who occasionally stops by this blog to make a comment). LaHaye’s Antichrist, by contrast, reflects 1990s Christian Right anxieties: he’s an Eastern European, and the post-Rapture Secretary General of the United Nations. Christian Right arguments over the identity of the Antichrist can be bitter.
Mercury Ink was established last year, and its website showcases a few other books: there’s a science fiction series for young adults, by Richard Paul Evans, that “teaches important life lessons without ever preaching”; a non-fiction book by Paul Kengor on how Barack Obama’s ideas are derived from Frank Lloyd Davis’ communism; and We Are Brothers, billed as “The Official RESTORING COURAGE Photo Book” (more on “Restoring Courage” here).
Mercury is also launching Mercury Ink, a new division that will discover, publish and promote books and authors that Glenn is passionate about across a variety of genres. The division will be run by Kevin Balfe, Mercury’s SVP of Publishing, who will acquire titles for the imprint. Mercury Ink titles will be co-published with Simon & Schuster.
There is at least one “Mercury Ink” title available from Simon & Schuster that does not appear on the Mercury Ink website; this is a book about Occupy Wall Street by “Buck Sexton, a former CIA counterterrorism and counterinsurgency analyst”.
There is currently speculation that Mercury Ink is the “much larger national publisher and distributor” which David Barton claims will re-publish his Thomas Jefferson book, following the book’s withdrawal from sale by Thomas Nelson. It seems likely: Beck regards Barton as “the most important man in America right now”, and the two men are close associates.
David Barton, author of The Jefferson Lies, which Thomas Nelson pulled from shelves last week, is in negotiations to publish a new edition of the book with Mercury Ink, Glenn Beck’s publishing arm.
…Barton said the new edition “will not include any substantive changes, but I will rephrase some things to remove any potential confusion.” He also plans to add back some of the content Nelson cut in their editing process…
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