Bad Omen for American TV

A little more news about NBC’s attempt to cash in on the Left Behind phenomenon:

(Variety) Feature star Bill Pullman (“Igby Goes Down”) has joined NBC apocalyptic thriller “Revelations” in the limited-run series’ leading male role, while Natascha McElhone (“The Truman Show”) has taken the female lead…Pullman will play Dr. Richard Massey in “Revelations,” which comes from Pariah TV. The character is a Harvard professor whose daughter is murdered by satanists. McElhone stars as a nun who recruits Massey to help investigate whether what’s told in the Book of Revelations is starting to come true.

The story will be scripted by David Seltzer, who brought us The Omen back in the 1970s. In an earlier report from Variety magazine, Seltzer enthused that:

What the Book of Revelation predicted is at hand…Nuclear brinkmanship, worldwide terrorism, collapsing economies and environmental atrocities make it clear that the critical mass of injury to this planet is sufficient to bring down the wrath of God and put the biblical prophecies into play. What is not written in the Bible is whether man can do anything about it. This is where our story begins.

Perhaps not as fatalistic as LaHaye’s efforts, but it’s still religious paranoia dressed up as entertainment. And it’s going out primetime over the Olympic period.

Seltzer promises “a respectful look” at the Bible. This is the man who made up awful doggerel for The Omen which he then ascribed to the Book of Revelation:

When the Jews return to Zion, and
A comet rips the sky,
And the Holy Roman Empire rises
Then you and I must die.

From the eternal sea he rises,
Creating armies on either shore;
Turning man against his brother
‘Til man exists no more

Meanwhile, nine years after the first Left Behind novel, we discover ourselves still unraptured and the final novel in the series, Glorious Appearing, about to be released. Apparently the first print run is already sold out. The book ends with the return of Jesus (sorry to give it away), but this will not stop Jerry Jenkins and Tyndale Books from milking this cash cow even more: check out Soon.

The great creation of Türkmenbasy, Native land, sovereign state, Türkmenistan, light and song of soul, Long live and prosper for ever and ever!

A great new blog by The Blogmenbashi charts “President Sapurmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan and the infinite wisdom of his words and deeds”. Niyazov, the “Turkmenbashi” (father of the Turks), is a flamboyant megalomaniac in the tradition of Caligula and Amin, and like them his despotism is so excessive that tragedy comes interlaced with black humour.

Niyazov is Turkmenistan’s former Communist ruler who has made Turkmenistan into “his own little USSR”, according to a foreign diplomat, with a cult based around his own personality mixed with Islam. As he writes in the Ruhnama, his Book of the Soul which Muslims and Christians must touch whenever they enter a mosque or church:

Fate gave me the role of being leader of Türkmenistan at the juncture of the second and third millennia. The burden of the responsibility of taking my people from the last years of the second millennium, in which things did not go well, to the summits of the third millenium fell onto my shoulders.

This position and responsibility, which have been given to me without my asking, have motivated me to call up my spiritual, intellectual and physical strength that Allah granted me with and use them as a societal force to achieve progress in my country.

This means political and religious oppression, as well as bizarre rulings such as renaming the word for “bread” after his mother. Contrary to Islamic teaching, Niyazov has declared himself to be a Prophet. The current Sunni Mufti is in prison for opposing the personality cult, and religious groups other than Sunni Islam and Russian Orthodoxy are banned – as, Ross Perot-like, are beards. Dissenters risk being taken to “The Ministry of Fairness”. But as an opponent of Islamic fundamentalism, Niyazov is unlikely to face much pressure from the West to mend his ways.