Secular Move means Profits for Prophet

The New York Observer recently had an interesting piece by Rachel Donadio on Tim LaHaye’s move into mainstream publishing (unfortunately only a cached version is now available). Apparently LaHaye has just made his

largest deal yet with a major secular publisher: The four-book Babylon Rising series, featuring a swashbuckling, evangelical Indiana Jones–like archeologist who acts out biblical prophecies.

A rather odd concept – does this mean the “evangelical Indiana” is going to marry a prostitute, like Hosea? Or that he’s going to go around tattooing “666” on people’s heads? But of course I’m being facetious: Babylon Rising is a prequel to the Left Behind franchise, set before the Rapture, and the hero (Michael Murphy) goes around finding artefacts that prove the Bible. According to Donadio, the deal, which involved Bantam Dell head Irwyn Applebaum making a personal visit to LaHaye,

entailed Bantam paying Mr. LaHaye about $40 million for a four-book series, the second of which came out last month. (Mr. LaHaye said that he and Bantam had since “readjusted” the sum downward.)

Not sure that LaHaye, who boasts (literally) two doctorates, will appreciate the “Mr”… But there’s more. As well as the Bantam deal, LaHaye’s agent Joel Gotler (who tells us he was “instrumental in branding” LaHaye) says that a deal with Viking Penguin is about to be signed (for The Jesus Chronicles), as well as one with Kensington. Plus:

Even Esquire magazine is getting in on the action. Alongside essays by pop conservatives Tucker Carlson and Andrew Sullivan, this month it published a pro-Bush screed by Mr. LaHaye in which the minister makes outlandish claims that a Kerry victory might lead to Alan Dershowitz and Laurence Tribe winding up on the federal bench.

Those who wish to pay can read the article here. LaHaye argues that Democrats have had the temerity to appoint liberal judges who are the moral equivalent of Islamic terrorists (nice to see Dershowitz in such a role at least):

America is at war! Not just with terrorists from abroad who want to destroy our country as we know it, but with anarchists who have worked from within for the better part of a century to attack our nation’s values and principles as outlined by the Founding Fathers in our Constitution. Their weapon of choice? The judiciary branch of our federal government, consisting of the Supreme Court (which has a five-to-four liberal majority) and the federal court system, with its more than eight hundred predominantly liberal judges…If John Kerry is elected, we can expect him to continue the tradition of appointing radical, left-wing liberals to all federal judiciary positions and to his administration, with probable appointees such as Alan Dershowitz or Laurence Tribe taking the bench. If George Bush is reelected, you can expect him to appoint constitutional constructionists like Charles Pickering or Al Gonzales to the bench, judges who believe their duty is to interpret the Constitution accurately, not subvert it.

An attack on Ted Kennedy and those who opposed Robert Bork’s 1987 appointment follows.

Donadio notes that both Appelbaum and Gotler are Jewish, and that the co-author (i.e. the actual hack) for his first Babylon Rising novel is non-religious (Greg Dinallo, who wrote the Six Million Dollar Man). I was also amused to read the company profile for Kensington:

We are considered a leader and innovator in such areas of publishing as African-American (Dafina), Gay and Lesbian, Erotic Romance (Brava), Wicca, and Alternative Health (Twin Streams) and of course romance.

Well, I suppose since Zondervan and HarperCollins are owned by Murdoch and even Hodder & Stoughton are part of a stable that includes an erotic imprint (Delta) one shouldn’t be too much of a purist. I once saw a Bantam edition of The Late Great Planet Earth that had adverts in the back for A Complete Guide to the Tarot, Power Through Witchcraft, The Spaceships of Ezekiel and God Drives a Flying Saucer.

(NY Observer article brought to my attention by Publishers Lunch and CBA)