Book: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Click here to get this on Amazon!
Click here to get Pure on Amazon!

I have always been fascinated by post-Apocalyptic worlds. Whether films, TV or books, I love tales of humanity in a world where we lost it all. But missing from most post-apocalyptic worlds is something basic to human nature: religion. Herschel waxes religious occasionally on The Walking Dead, and Rick prayed once, but other than that, religion plays a minuscule role in these worlds if it’s present at all.

Which always struck me as odd, given how central religion has been to human existence. Where are my apocalyptic stories featuring God? (And I’m not talking about The Road, which is amazing and all about God but where religion still doesn’t feature prominently in the story).

Enter Pure by Julianna Baggott, hailed by many as “the next Hunger Games”.Continue reading


This series of posts is my attempt to demonstrate that the language of the Revelation was actually symbolic code that was very intelligible to a first-century Jewish Christian living in the Roman Empire.  I’m re-writing the Revelation to communicate the same message, but to a twenty-first century American Christian audience, using symbols we understand.  This particular section parallels Revelation chapter 14.  If you want to catch up, here’s a PDF of the entire series so far: The Revelation to JR. – Chapters 1-16.

Next, I saw another awesome sign in heaven: seven angels that had seven plagues (these are the last plagues, because once they’ve been unleashed, God’s wrath will be fulfilled).  I saw what looked like a sea of molten glass, and along its shore, sitting at organs or playing Taylor guitars, stood all the peoples who had conquered the Beast and his image and the number of his title.

They sang the song Moses – God’s slave – wrote, and the Lamb’s song:

Lord God, General of Heaven’s Armies,
What you’ve done is wondrous and amazing!
President of all countries,
Your policies and ways are always just and correct.

Lord, who doesn’t respect and give you your due honor?
Because you alone are holy and righteous.
Every country and people in the world will come and worship you,
Because your judgments have finally been revealed to everyone.

Then I looked and the Temple (which is really the Tabernacle in Heaven) was opened, and out came the seven angels that had the seven final plagues.  They were wearing bright white graduation robes and they had beautiful golden sashes across their chests.  One of the four creatures gave the seven angels seven golden offering plates full of the eternal God’s wrath.  God’s glory was so bright that the Temple seemed to be filled with a smoke or haze, and so powerful that no one could enter until the seven angels’ plagues had finished.

A loud voice from the Temple called out to the seven angels:

Go and pour out onto the Earth the seven offering plates of God’s wrath.

So the first angel poured his bowl onto the Earth, and anyone who had the Beast’s mark or worshiped its image developed a putrid, painful sore.  The second angel poured his bowl into the ocean, and it turned into congealed blood, and everything in the oceans died.  The third angel poured his bowl into the rivers and they turned to blood.  At this, the angel that commands the water said,

Eternal Holy One, you have judged these things and your judgments are just.
They shed the blood of saints and prophets, so you have given them blood to drink.
It’s what they deserve.

And I heard the altar respond,

Yes, Lord God, General of Heaven’s Armies, your judgments are always just and correct!

The fourth angel poured his bowl into the sun, and it was allowed to burn them.  They were burned by the sun’s fierce heat, but they cursed God, who had authority over the plagues.  They didn’t repent or acknowledge God’s supremacy.

The fifth angel poured his bowl on the desk of the Beast, and its nation fell into darkness.  The peoples’ sores were so bad they gnawed their tongues and cursed the God of heaven… but they still didn’t repent.

The sixth angel poured his bowl on the Pacific Ocean, and its waters dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the Orient.  I saw three evil spirits like snakes coming out of the mouths of the Dragon and the Beast and the False Prophet.  These are demons that work miracles and go to the kings, presidents and prime ministers of the whole world to call and assemble their armies for battle on the great Day of God the General of Heaven’s Armies.

Watch! I’m coming like a thief!  The one who says awake, ready and dressed, is blessed.  Don’t go around naked and embarrass yourself!

The demons assembled the world’s powers at the place that in English is called “The Meadows” and in Spanish is “Las Vegas”.

The seventh angel poured his bowl into the air, and a loud voice called out from the Temple,

It is done!

Lightning fell like hail, thunder crashed like jets flying overhead, and an 10.0 earthquake struck – worse than anything anyone’s ever experienced.  The great city split in three and all the great cities of the world fell.  God didn’t forget about Babylon – he made her drink from his cup, the juice of his furious wrath.  Every island sank and every mountain fell.  Huge hailstones the size of Volkswagens fell on people from the sky, and everyone cursed God because the hail plague was so horrible.

The End of the World, A Few Years Early

The Beard Goes Home is an ongoing chronicle of my trip to Israel, Cairo and Rome from November 3-18.  If you want more information on a picture, hover your mouse over it for a pop-up caption.  If you want to see a bigger version of the picture, click on it.

Thomas at the entrance to the ruins of Mt. Megiddo. He looks pretty happy for a guy at the end of the world.

On our way back to Jerusalem, Thomas and I decided to stop off at Mt. Megiddo.  We left Tiberius and drove southwest, passing just a few miles south of Nazareth and through the Valley of Jezreel.  Jezreel was the site of quite a few bloody battles, and most of them did not turn out well for Israel.  By the 7th century BCE, the place had already acquired a pretty awful reputation (God told Hosea to name one of his sons Jezreel; this would be sort of like naming a child today Auschwitz).  It was sometimes known as the Valley of Slaughter.

The round rock formation is the ancient Canaanite altar that has been uncovered. It's about 5,000 years old. That's when you start calling idolatry a legacy, I think.Mt. Megiddo is at one end of the Jezreel Valley, and it was inhabited steadily from about 3,000 BCE until the 4th century BCE or so.  The Canaanites first lived there, and today you can see an ancient Canaanite worship space – archaeologists have identified 17 layers of Canaanite temples.  The Canaanites’ chief god was Ba’al the storm god; Israel often turned away from God to worship Ba’al and his goddess wife, Asherah.

After Israel conquered the Canaanites, Mt. Megiddo was fought over by pretty much everyone.  It’s been ruled over by Egyptians, Israelites and Assyrians.  In fact, the Egyptians killed King Josiah – one of the most faithful of Israel’s kings – at Megiddo.

A shot of the Jezreel Valley from the top of Mt. Megiddo. Looks dangerous, doesn't it?Another of Israel’s kings, Ahab, turned Mt. Megiddo into one of his three major centers of government.  Much like Herod did to Masada, Ahab transformed Mt. Megiddo into a luxurious palace complex complete with stables for hundreds of horses.  He even dug a tunnel through the mountain (which is really more hill-like) to the spring at the foot of Megiddo, so that during a siege the city still had access to water.  Ahab was one of Israel’s most politically successful kings, but the Scriptures judge him as a failure because he openly embraced Ba’al worship thanks to his wife, Jezebel.  Mt. Megiddo’s long history of Ba’al worship The place had an eerie silence about it. Not quite in a creepy way, but it still feels very abandoned.might be part of what drew Ahab there in the first place.

After the Assyrians conquered Israel (including Mt. Megiddo), they fell to the Persians and Mt. Megiddo lay an abandoned ruin at the edge of the Valley of Slaughter.  It had a long history of idol worship and warfare, and was a place of shame and sin in the Hebrew culture.

The Hebrew word for ‘mountain’ is har.  But the New Testament was written in Greek, which doesn’t have an ‘h’ sound, so Har Megiddo became Armegiddo.  Here’s what John saw in the Revelation he received:

I'm at Armageddon, and you'd better believe I brought my game face!I saw three foul spirits like frogs coming from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet.  These are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.  And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. – Revelation 16:13-16

That’s right, everyone.  I made it to the end of the world.  I just showed up a little bit early (Which was fine with me).  With everything that Mt. Megiddo represented to a person shaped by the Old Testament, is it any wonder that John chose this place as the site where the Unholy Trinity would gather their forces to wage war on the Kingdom of God?

The ruins of Mt. Megiddo, with the Valley of Jezreel spread in the background.